Router Bits and Table For a New Shop?

Article - June 23, 2008

This week’s question comes from Craig, who writes:

My question is basically about a router table. I am just starting out in the woodworking arena as a hobby. I have a Dewalt Miter saw, a Bosch Table Saw, Bosch router (fixed and plunge kit) and am looking to start some woodworking. I have carved a section of the basement out for my shop. 16×10 – and have been reading and researching for a few months. So much so I haven’t even turned on the saw or router yet, and I must say I am glad. Based on your site alone I have learned so much from you on safety and doing things that I shudder at what I might have been like if I jumped right in.

Since the router did not come with a bit I am also looking to get some router bits and was looking at a good intro set if you have any suggestions but more importantly, I felt a router table would be my next purchase and a good way to round out my starter shop. Was wondering if you had a suggestion for a good router table. I see the tops for sale at Rockler and they seem good. I know you need to have a nice wide surface and a level surface and a good fence and I wanted to know your thoughts. I would prefer to get something self standing but I see you can buy the top and some legs separate. I guess I could always make some legs but might be easier to start with something made and then maybe one day strive to something better with storage etc. I know a router table can be made out of any flat surface to serve its purpose but I feel that it is important to get something halfway decent to learn on and grow with. Any thoughts you could lend to this would be greatly appreciated and keep up the good work. Thanks

And here was my response:

As for the router bits, there are a few things you can do. And it depends on the type of woodworking you plan to do and how much money you want to spend. What I usually recommend to beginners is that they pick up an inexpensive starter set. Something like this: Price Cutter Bit Set. Although these are inexpensive bits that probably won’t last very long, their real value is the fact that you can use them until they are ready to throw away. And by that point, you will be in a much better position to make a judgment call on which bits you use the most. Then you can simply replace those bits with their higher quality cousins. And what do you do with all the inexpensive bits you never used? Just hold on to them. One day you will find a use for them and you’ll be glad you kept them around.

Now if you are one of those “buy your last tool first” folks, I would recommend a set like this: Eagle America 12-Piece Set. A solid investment!

Now for a stand and table, the Rockler setups are a pretty darn good bargain and they are hard to beat. Can you find a better table? Sure you can. But you will pay quite a bit more for it too. So I would say that most of the Rockler setups are going to treat you right. If you want to buy a higher quality table that you are much less likely to replace in the near future, I would take a look at some of the models offered by WoodPeckers or Jessem. Hope that helps. Thanks Craig and take care.

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