The Perfect Router for Table Mounting
Although you can mount nearly any handheld router upside down in a router table, some are better suited to this line of duty than others. For example, many routers now sport built-in lift mechanisms that you crank to adjust bit heights from above the table, as shown above, without removing the router or reaching below the table. These routers typically require an extra hole in the insert plate to operate the lift mechanism. But beware: With some of these routers you still have to reach below the tabletop to lock the collet, negating half the benefit of a lift.
If you already have a router you like and don't want to upgrade, you might be able to get the same convenience by installing its motor in a router lift. These units come attached to insert plates with adjustment mechanisms built in, as shown below. Keep in mind, though, that with prices ranging from $175 to $450, a lift might cost more than a new router. Router lifts specify which router models will fit, and some require adapters.
You should also look for a router with variable speeds so you can slow it down for large-diameter bits. Another essential feature: electronic speed control, which maintains rpms when the routing gets tough. A 3-hp motor really hogs away material, but a midsize model (11⁄2 to 21⁄4 hp) will get you by if you taker lighter cuts.
When mounting any router in a table, position it so the variable-speed control will be easy to reach, because this cannot be controlled from above. Add an auxiliary power switch to avoid reaching under the table each time to power the router. Also, be careful to mount the router so any above-the-table adjustments won't be covered by the fence during operation, because you might need to tweak a bit's height with the fence in place.
We've used a lot of routers over the years at WOOD® magazine. These three rank among the best for table routing:
Porter-Cable #892, 21⁄4 hp, 10,000–23,000 rpm, $190, 888-848-5175, deltaportercable.com.
■ The 892 features two power switches plus a speed dial marked in rpms, and its lift mechanism works smoothly and accurately.
Triton #MOF001, 21⁄4 hp, 8,000–21,000 rpm, $220, 888-874-8661, tritonwoodworking.com.
■ This easy-to-use router with built-in safety switch won't accidentally power up while you're changing bits.
Freud #FT3000VCE, 3 hp, 8,000–21,000 rpm, $350, 800-334-4107, freudtools.com.
■ You won't bog down this robust router, and the spindle locks from above the table for one-handed bit changes.