by Christopher Schwarz
Some router tables have gotten so complex and expensive that they actually rival a decent shaper. I’ve always preferred simple router tables, so I was curious to assemble and use the new Kreg Precision Router Table.
Like most Kreg products, the parts are well-made, nicely finished and fit together with little fussing. In particular, the base is made from heavy, well-finished steel. And the 1″-thick tabletop is smooth and flat. All the components bolt together, so I recommend you add a little thread-locking fluid to the nuts and bolts to keep the base solid through years of use (router tables tend to vibrate a bit).
Let’s start by looking at the tabletop. It’s made from a high-pressure laminate over an MDF core. To keep the top from sagging under the weight of a heavy router (or lift), Kreg includes two heavy folded steel supports below that stiffen the top.
The included 3⁄8″-thick insert plate is made from phenolic and stayed flat when I hung a heavy 13⁄4 horsepower router on it. The insert plate needs to be drilled and counterbored for your particular router, or you can ask Kreg to do it for you. The plate is leveled to the tabletop with eight Allen-head screws and secured with four machine screws.
The router table comes with three plastic throat inserts that have different openings for large and small bits. They lock and unlock cleverly with an included tool. Finally, there is an aluminum T-track at the front of the table so you can use a coping sled or other shop-made accessories that use a miter bar.
One of those accessories is the included router table fence. Surprisingly, it locks like a T-square fence for a table saw on the right-hand side of the table. Then you lock the left end of the fence with a toggle. This system allows the fence to stay parallel to the miter slot, which is handy for cope cuts.
The T-square fence moves smoothly and allows you to square it – both to the miter slot and to ensure the fence is 90° to the table (a nice touch). One of my few beefs with the fence is the toggle clamp on the left end. After setting it to lock nicely, it would loosen up after a couple of operations on the router table. An F-style clamp can fix that problem, or perhaps a little rosin on the threads of the machine screw that locks everything.
One of the nicest features of the fence is its micro-adjust knob. Normally, these are too complex to be effective. The Kreg is ingenious, dead-nuts simple and doesn’t get in the way when it’s not needed. The fence also includes a decent dust-collection port, a guard to keep your fingers intact and the aluminum T-track on its top so you can add a variety of stops and accessories, such as featherboards.
At $499, you would be hard-pressed to build a router table this nice without some serious scavenging for parts. So if you want a table that is simple, well-made and gets you to the part where you are making furniture (not shop appliances), the Kreg is real contender
From the August 2015 issue