489 Hello Router Table System

August 4, 2012

At the heart of my workshop’s redo is the massive Bench Dog Router Table system I reviewed with ToolSelect.com – see the review HERE. Compared to previous router tables in my shop, this version is a beast! Of course it’s not really a fair comparison, given its predecessors were all bench top models, but that’s beside the point.

The Bench Dog ProMax RT router table system provides woodworkers with a number of great options for customizing their own version. The system in my shop is a cast-iron top on an enclosed cabinet, but it could easily be a phenolic top instead. Or I could choose to have either one of those tops on an open stand.

For me, what really makes this new router table system so invaluable in my shop IS the cabinet. The enclosed cabinet has enough storage space built into it that it’s become my all-in-one router center.

All my router bits, router accessories and even my routers can be stored in it and there’s still room for more. What it takes up in floor space, it makes up for with overall storage space…I actually have some empty shelves…I wonder what I can put on those?

The beauty of the system is the fact it has options! And speaking of options, one that will be making a dramatic change in my operations at the router table is the addition of a router lift. In the realm of router table upgrades this one is like going from a bicycle to a jet plane! See my review of it on ToolSelect.com HERE.

Everyone who’s used a router table knows the frustration there can be when dialing in just the right height between cuts. Having a router lift allows you to raise or lower your router from the top of the table where you can easily see what’s happening versus the old method of reaching underneath and often blindly making the adjustments. How many times have you done this only to realize the bit is much higher or lower than you wanted?

Router lifts are pricey, and to be honest I always had one on my list but I never considered it a necessity as far as I was concerned. But after using this one just for some test cuts and demonstration purposes, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it get bumped up to the top of the list for anyone who uses their router table frequently. The accuracy and ease of adjustability it provides will dramatically help with router operations in my shop.

And then there’s the fence system. Regardless of which table top, base or whether you choose to go with a router lift or traditional insert plate, if you don’t have a good fence system it won’t matter. The Bench Dog Fence system is worth the money!

Links for items mentioned in today’s show:
Bench Dog 40-300 ProMax RT
Bench Dog Tools 40-150 ProLift
Bench Dog Featherboards
Kreg PRS3090 3″ Dual Locking Caster-Set

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Comments (7)

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  1. mike siemsen says:

    I really have to ask, when does one get a shaper instead of an amped up router table? The pro max RT goes for Around $800 and you still need to get a router. A Jet one HP shaper that has all of the fences and dust collection and has height adjustment knobs on the front of the machine goes for a bit over $1000. It accepts 1/4 and 1/2 inch router bits as well as shaper cutters and is reversible. Maybe a side by side review is due? The shaper is probably a less dangerous machine than most router tables as it typically comes with better fences and adjustments.

    • tom says:

      do shapers have enough rpms for small diameter bits

    • Matt says:

      Hey Mike,

      A shaper never really crossed my mind simply because I’ve always associated it more with a production shop vs a home shop (especially one my size).

      Also, typically when I’m thinking shaper, I’m thinking of a machine for running long lengths of moulding or even large profiles that normally I wouldn’t use. It sounds like something I would’ve wanted when I was first getting into woodworking simply because it was big…and in order to be a woodworker you needed big tools LOL!!!

      BUT…if the price is similar, the options are more plentiful and the safety features are maybe a little more robust…it sounds like something that needs to be investigated. Thanks for sharing!

  2. John Verreault (aka JohnnyVee) says:

    Hi Matt
    Great episode. I seriously considered the Bench Dog system last year when I was looking to get my first big router table. All the points you’ve made struck a cord with me and I had “toured” it at a woodworking show the previous autumn. My wife intervened with a surprise birthday gift last October of a floor model table and 3.25hp router by Freud. The Bench Dog is still way ahead for storage (mine has a lower shelf) and I do like the plywood cabinet & cast iron top better. Looks like I have some “tool & bit storage” projects in my future. Any good articles, videos, etc. that you might recommend on that front?


  3. Bobby Slack says:

    Hey Matt,
    As usual, great review. I have one question. Once you have the fence in position how do you make micro adjustments to take heavier cuts using the fence (sorry for repeating myself)
    Sometimes I raise the bit and increase the width of cut with my fence.
    Bobby Slack

    • Matt says:

      Bobby are you asking about microadjustments for the distance from the bit to the fence? Or opening the zero clearance inserts? Or microadjusting the height of the bit in the table opening?

      For the distance from the bit to the fence there isn’t a microadjuster, so it’s a matter of just loosening one side and ever so gently pushing it backwards or forwards. For the zero clearance inserts, it would be just a matter of opening and then reclosing them to match the new height. And for the height of the bit in the table opening, in this case, the router lift allows for very slight micro adjustments…something like 1/64″ + or – current positions.

      I hope this helps.

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