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Hang a Router….Perfectly

Surfire router plate installation

By Jennifer Feist

Are you tempted by the benefits of owning a router table plate but hesitate to take the plunge because of the hassles involved in mounting it in your table? That’s understandable because a poorly fit router table plate leads to endless frustration.A loose fit makes it impossible to maintain a consistent distance between your bit and fence. A plate that’s set too high or too low in the rabbet creates catch points for stock and makes depth-of-cut settings difficult. Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with these headaches. Here’s how to correctly install the plate for peak performance.

If you’re still worried about approaching your immaculate tabletop with a screaming router, do what I did and practice the procedure on a piece of scrap first.You’ll need a pattern bit (Photo 1), a jigsaw, a drill,double-stick tape and some 1-in.-thick stock. (The 1-in. material can be made from built-up sheet stock.)

1. Choose a pattern bit with the same radius as the corners on your router table plate.

Click any image to view a larger version.

2. Make an exact template using your plate as a guide.We used 1-in.-thick stock to accommodate the depth of the bit and the bearing (Photo 3). Double-stick tape works great for holding the boards in place without making holes in your router table top.

3. Set the bit depth using a template board and your plate as a guide.The depth-of-cut equals the thickness of the template boards plus the thickness of the plate.

4. Rout the rabbet after adding support boards for the router base to the middle of the cutout.

5. Rough cut the opening with a jigsaw. Be sure to support the cutout so it can’t break off before the cut is finished. Predrilling the corners helps start the cut and makes cutting the corners easier.

Accurately Centering the Router on the Plate

If you want to use template guide bushings with your router table plate, the router must be mounted dead-on center, and that’s not easy.

Rousseau has developed a baseplate mounting system that’s simple and accurate. The bit includes a centering disc, alignment pin, longer mounting screws and pointed tapping screws that accurately mark where to drill your plate.This system works with any plate that accepts 1-3/16-in. guide bushings. Priced at $5, it’s well worth the headaches it saves!


Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Hartville Tool,, 800-345-2396, Top-Bearing Pattern Bits: # R3004, 1/2-in. dia.; Double-Stick Tape: #12638, 1 in. x 36 yards.

Rousseau Baseplate Mounting System,, 800-635-3416.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker February 2000, issue #85.

February 2000, issue #85

Purchase this back issue.

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