While table saws often get the lion’s share of attention (and budgets) in most woodworking workshops, routers are far more versatile tools. Combined with one of the best portable or benchtop router tables, they can tackle hundreds of everyday tasks with ease.
A router table and fence can be used for profiling, dados, jointing, cutting from templates, and so much more. Benchtop and portable router tables also take up very little space, and some models even connect to a table saw for even more space-saving in tight spaces.
Read also: 12 essential woodworking tools for beginners: Start your woodshop right
To help you get started, I’ve put together this extensive guide to the best router tables on the market, as well as a few DIY router table tops for those with a bit more time on their hands for customization.
If you’re short on time, check out the quick picks below for the best router tables of each type. Looking for some inspiration for your small workshop? Check out some woodworking interviews and workshop tours here on Tiny Workshops!
Affiliate disclosure: Articles on Tiny Workshops may contain affiliate links.
Best router tables: Quick picks
Bosch RA1181 Router Table
- Best benchtop router table for the money
- 27×18-inch aluminum table and mounting plate
- Includes aluminum fence with MDF faceplates and featherboards
Rockler Convertible Router Table
- Best portable router table
- 18×16-inch laminate table and fence
- Can be mounted on a benchtop or wall
Jet 737000CK Router Lift with Cast Table Kit
- Best free-standing router table
- Premium offering with cast iron table, router lift, and all necessary accessories
- Professional-grade machine with a price to match
Router table uses
So let’s start off with a quick question: Why exactly do you need a router table?
Well, combined with a good router, it can become the true workhorse of your shop. It’s also much safer than a table saw (especially for small or short stock).
Here’s a short list of things you can do with a router table:
- Profiles and moldings
- Raised panel doors
- Dovetail joints
- Box joints
- Mortise and tenon joints
- Jointing edges
- Using templates or jigs
- Stopped cuts
- Flush trimming
Plus, a router table is also… a table! Lower the router bit and you can use it for assembly or as an extra surface when your workbench is full.
While it’s true a router without a table can achieve many of these things as well, it’s nowhere near as convenient or safe. Trust me, once you’ve used a router table, you’ll rarely use a handheld router if you can avoid it.
What to look for in the best router tables
Generally speaking, router tables are easier to shop for (or make) than other woodworking tools because the cutting tool itself is a separate piece. You can also upgrade a router and router table separately, which isn’t possible for most table saws, joiners, and other essentials.
However, there are some things that separate the best router tables from the rest. Here’s what to look for:
- Table surface size: Sizes range from 18×16 inches to 24×32 inches. Larger tables are more versatile, but may not fit in smaller workshops.
- Surface type: MDF, laminate, phenolic, cast aluminum, and cast iron are common. As long as the surface is flat, any of these will work.
- Fence: A router table with a fence is essential. These can have split intake and outtake fences, or one continuous fence across the piece. All products linked below have them, although they can be purchased separately for DIY router tables.
- Integrated track: An integrated T-slot in the table enables more accessories, like featherboards and a miter gauge.
- Router table type: Benchtop models sit on another surface, and are semi-portable. Portable models are smaller, and free-standing models are larger. Learn more in the next section.
- Baseplate/mounting plate: These can be made after the fact, but the best router tables come with pre-drilled plates that fit many router models. Micro adjustment for a flush fit is also a great feature to have.
- Router lift: Lifts allow quick adjustment to bit height without removing the router from the plate. Only high-end models come with router lifts, but they can be purchased after the fact.
Benchtop vs portable vs free-standing router tables
- Best for small or medium workshops
- Designed to sit on another surface
- Many great options on the market
- Best for small workshops
- Fold up for transport or storage
- Less robust and precise
- Small surface area
- Best for medium or large workshops
- Large surface area
- Next best thing to a wood shaper
The most common type of router table on the market is a benchtop router table. These have shorter legs and are designed to sit on another surface to reach working height.
Benchtop designs are great if you have a small workshop. Once you’re finished with it, you can either stow it out of sight or lower the bit and use it as another surface.
Portable router tables are even better for small workshops, and can be taken on the road when the need calls. They typically fold to fit in a cabinet or hang from a wall.
Read also: Japanese saws: The definitive guide to Japanese pull saws
The downside is that they’re even smaller than benchtop models. You won’t get much table space for larger pieces. Depending on the type of work you do, this may not be a dealbreaker.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you have free-standing router tables, which don’t fold up and stay stationary in your workshop. These are great if you have the space, and can easily be incorporated into other worktops to create large work surfaces.
The next step up from that is a wood shaper, which is a heavy-duty machine intended for industrial workshops. These use bits with three cutting heads instead of the two found on standard router bits, and are significantly more expensive.
One other solution is incorporating a router table on a table saw. You will most likely need to build this yourself, although there are a few products on the market that fill the niche, which we’ll get to later.
If you build your own, you have complete control over how tall, short, big, or small your table will be. However, if you want the best results you should consider buying a pre-finished router table top. I’ve recommended a few further down in the article.
Now that you know a bit about each type of router table, let’s take a look at some of the best router tables in each category, starting with benchtop models.
Best benchtop router tables
There are many benchtop router tables on the market, with great options from popular brands like Bosch, SawStop, and Kreg to suit all budgets.
Here are my top 4 picks for the best benchtop router tables.
- Best overall: Bosch RA1181 Router Table
- Best premium: SawStop RT-BT Assembly
- Best budget: Skil RAS900 Router Table
- Honorable mention: Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
Best overall: Bosch RA1181 Router Table
Bosch is one of the most trusted names in tools, and its heavy-duty router table is a great buy. For about $200, it has all of the accessories and tools you need to speed up your workflow right away.
The Bosch RA1181 has a 27×18-inch cast-aluminum top for added durability and precision. The fence is also aluminum with adjustable MDF faceplates and two featherboards.
It also comes with an aluminum mounting plate that will fit most routers, although if you need a router the Bosch 2.25HP fixed base router is a very popular choice.
This router table doesn’t come with a router lift, and it isn’t compatible with most aftermarket lifts. However, Bosch makes an under-table router base that does (almost) the same job at a fraction of the price. You can get it bundled with the router table here, or buy just the table at the button below.
If your router table will occupy a permanent place on your worktop, Bosch also makes a great cabinet-style router table that might be a better buy for you.
Best premium: SawStop RT-BT Assembly
If money is no object, this premium benchtop router table might be for you. Made by the popular American company SawStop, the RT-BT Assembly has the same incredible quality fans have come to expect.
With a 27×16-inch cast-iron table, this thing is built to last. It’s compatible with a wide variety of routers and accessories, although not all of them are included in the box.
To make the most of the purchase you’ll want to buy the SawStop router lift, as well, which nearly doubles the price. Thankfully, the table is also compatible with standard JessEm router lifts, so you can save a bit of money by buying off-brand.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you already have a SawStop table saw or cabinet saw, the company makes a router table accessory for it. This extension is compatible with a few other table saws as well, but I’ll touch on that more further down in the article in the section about table saws with routers.
Best budget: Skil RAS900 Router Table
While all of us would love to spend thousands of dollars on our woodworking workshop, in truth few of us can afford to. The good news is that you can get a working router table for less than $150.
The laminated MDF top isn’t quite as luxurious as the cast metal options above, but it more than gets the job done. Plus, the table router comes pre-assembled, so you can spend more time woodworking and less time with setup.
Since the entire product is one piece, it also folds up nicely to fit underneath your workbench or in a cabinet. All of the extra collets and accessories fit into two compartments in the legs.
Obviously there are some concessions, and one of those is the fence. It will work fine at first, but you may want to replace it with a better alternative if you want to use it for more than just occasional DIY work.
Honorable mention: Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
This Kreg router table didn’t get my top pick due to some missing accessories in the box, but it’s still a great buy for most woodworkers. It certainly deserves a mention among the best benchtop router tables.
The 16×25-inch MDF top is more than serviceable, and the metal legs are exceptionally sturdy. It also has mounting plate levelers so you can make sure your table is perfectly level every time. The Kreg PRS5000 Precision Router Lift is also a great buy, although it costs more than the table itself.
However, the base model doesn’t include any featherboards or even a router switch. At $250, basics like these should come included in the box.
Best portable router tables
Not everyone has the space for a benchtop router table, but that’s where these portable models come in. Small in size, they’re slightly more limited than their larger peers, but they can still speed up most tasks, whether in the shop or at the job site.
Here are my picks for the best portable router tables:
- Best overall: Rockler Convertible Router Table
- Best budget: Grizzly Industrial T1240
- Best mini: Dremel 231 Portable Rotary Tool Shaper
Best overall: Rockler Convertible Router Table
This lightweight and convertible table is my pick for the best portable router table, although it can also serve as a capable benchtop model. It features folding legs that can be clamped to a workbench or attached to a wall.
The tabletop is small at roughly 18×16 inches, but once folded it doesn’t take up much more space than that. However, it doesn’t come with any featherboards, which are a vital accessory if you want accurate work.
The listing linked below includes two mid-sized mounting plates, which should fit most Makita, Bosch, DeWalt, and Porter Cable. Compact routers may require a different plate, which you can buy or make yourself.
Best budget: Grizzly Industrial T1240
Although it’s not as portable as the option above, the Grizzly Industrial T1240 is small enough to stow and transport just about anywhere. Despite the name, it’s one of the cheapest router tables on this entire list and it’s perfect for beginners or small workshop woodworkers.
The table itself is laminated wood and measures just 17×16 inches. The steel legs are very sturdy, but light enough to keep the whole thing portable. It also comes with a full kit of accessories: adjustable fence with hold-downs, featherboard, miter gauge, and 1.5-inch dust port.
However, the mounting plate does not come pre-drilled. You will need to drill the holes yourself, which is a bit more work but means it should fit nearly any router.
Best mini: Dremel 231 Portable Rotary Tool Shaper
While it isn’t suitable for large woodworking projects, this tiny table for the Dremel rotary tool is perfect for working on miniatures or other small projects.
The table is just 8×6 inches, but it’s compatible with a wide range of wired and cordless Dremel rotary tools. Just clamp it onto a table and run your pieces through it slowly.
Dremel tools, including this portable router table, are not intended for hardwoods or large stock. Thankfully, it’s very inexpensive, but don’t buy this if you want to make raised panel doors or any other kind of furniture. It’s designed for model makers.
Best free-standing router tables
Portability isn’t an issue if you’ve got the space for a free-standing router table, and it comes with a few key advantages. Typically they have larger tables and more features, although at a higher cost.
Here are my picks for the best free-standing router tables:
- Best overall: Jet 737000CK Router Lift with Cast Table Kit
- Best value: Kreg PRS1045 Router Table kit
- Best budget: Grizzly Industrial T10432
- Honorable mention: SawStop RT-FS Assembly
Jet 737000CK Router Lift with Cast Table Kit
While most of the best router tables listed so far are amateur or semi-professional level, this beast of a machine from Jet is the first true professional-grade pick.
It comes with all the bells and whistles: a large cast iron table, sturdy rolling stand, precision router lift, customizable fence system, an enclosed dust collection system, and onboard tool storage for accessories.
The wheels allow it to effortlessly roll around your shop, which is great because the cast iron tabletop is very heavy. The precision router lift is also a dream to use, and takes out a lot of the aftermarket research involved in finding a compatible lift when upgrading cheaper router tables.
That said, it’s significantly more expensive. It also comes in several boxes and requires a lot of assembly since it’s a heavy-duty machine. If you can afford it, this router table will serve you well for decades of woodworking projects.
Best value: Kreg PRS1045 Router Table kit
For those on a tighter budget, this router table kit from Kreg offers many of the same accessories at a much lower price point.
Most of that is due to the lack of a cast iron table and router lift. Instead, it has a laminate top with an MDF core and a heavy-duty mounting plate. You can upgrade to a router lift when you need one.
This extensive kit includes the Kreg router table with fence, a router table switch, a twist-lock ring set, set-up bars for easy depth measurement, two featherboards, a stop, a steel base, and four casters.
All you need is a router and you can start getting work done. You can also save $150 and get just the router table and fence without the accessories.
Best budget: Grizzly Industrial T10432
For those on an even tighter budget, this Grizzly Industrial router table with fence comes in at half the price. The 32×24-inch table is a melamine laminate with an MDF core, but it’s great for the price.
Apart from the table, legs, plate, and fence, there isn’t much else to talk about. It’s not the highest quality router table out there, but it’s a decent option for the price.
If you can spend a bit more, the Grizzly Industrial G0528 has a cast iron top, a smooth sliding table, and a few other accessories. It’s also cheaper than the Kreg option above, although you’ll still need to supply your own router lift.
Honorable mention: SawStop RT-FS Assembly
Spending a bit more on a high-quality cast iron table will pay off in the long run, which is why I’m including the SawStop RF-FS Assembly as an honorable mention.
The 32×24-inch cast iron top, legs, and casters are very well-engineered, but you won’t get any other accessories with the purchase. Even the mounting plate is absent. If you can, get this alongside a router lift like this one from SawStop or any standard lift from JessEm.
You can also save a bit of money and get the same model with a phenolic top, although I’d recommend spending a bit more if you can.
Table saws with router tables
For small or medium-sized workshops, getting a table saw with a router table extension can save a lot of space. Plus, you have more surface area to work with, which is critical for larger projects.
The bad news is that most table saws with a router table built-in are exceedingly expensive. You will need to drop $2000+ on a cabinet saw to even have the option of adding a router table extension from the manufacturer.
If you want to go down this route, one of the most reasonably priced is this table saw with router table from Grizzly Industrial. It’s not the largest or most feature-packed machine, but it’s a great space saver for small workshops.
Another great option is this product from SawStop. The 27-inch cast iron top fits effortlessly in line with most SawStop table saws (older models may need an updated rail system). It can also fit into other manufacturer’s saws, although you may need to modify the rails. It also doesn’t come with a mounting plate, although if you’re spending that much you’ll probably want to invest in a router lift, as well.
You can also, of course, build your own extension. This can be difficult, but it will allow you to add a router table to just about any table saw. You can use MDF or laminate for the table, but I’d recommend investing in a cast iron extension table like this one to ensure a perfectly flat surface. You can also spend a bit more on an official SawStop router table top intended for table saw extensions.
DIY router tables
If you have time on your hands, you can also build your own router table. It’s not the most difficult shop project, although there are a few things to keep in mind before you do.
The legs and base of a router table are essentially the same as any cabinet, which any beginner woodworker should be able to tackle without issue. The top, however, is another matter entirely.
DIY router tables are very difficult to get perfectly flat, and fences are even more finicky. Fortunately, it’s easy to buy a router table top and fence to attach to your own cabinet.
Here are a few of the best router table tops you can buy:
- Kreg PRS1025 Router Table Top: 24×32-inch laminate top with MDF core and steel reinforcing struts. Mounting plate included. Router table fence sold separately.
- JessEm Mast-R-Top: 24×32-inch phenolic top with an extruded aluminum track. Does not include plate. Router table fence and router lift sold separately.
- JessEm Mast-R-Lift: 24×32-inch router table top with an integrated router lift. Fits most routers, but a fence must be bought separately.
Note that all of the above products can be paired with legs or a cabinet sold by the same manufacturer. The pre-drilled holes make installation a breeze. However, it’s simple to fit them onto any other cabinet as long as you plan ahead.
What does a router table do?
A router table flips your router upside down, enabling tons of tasks that are difficult or unsafe with a handheld router. They’re extremely versatile but are most often used for moldings, joints, and rabbets.
Can I use a router table as a jointer?
Yes, although there will be limitations to board depth based on bit size. For small stock, a router table is every bit as convenient as a dedicated jointer.
Do I need a router lift for my router table?
While you don’t necessarily need a router lift, it’s a worthwhile upgrade to any router table. JessEm makes excellent lifts, but make sure they fit your router and router table before purchasing.
What kind of table router surface is best?
All surfaces are viable as long as they are perfectly flat. However, aluminum and cast iron are preferable, as the metal is more durable and less prone to warping than MDF and laminate materials.
Do router tables create a lot of dust?
Router tables create far less dust than handheld routers, especially when used with a proper dust collection system. Most router table fences have an integrated bit guard and dust port, but a dust cabinet beneath the table can also reduce particles in the air. However, you should still always use proper protection while using woodworking machines.
Is my router compatible with this router table?
You can check compatibility on the manufacturer’s website, but if you are comfortable drilling holes in your mounting plate nearly any router can be compatible. Router lifts are more finicky, and you should always check compatibility beforehand.
That’s it for this guide to the best router tables you can buy. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge you need to buy or make your own router table and get to work!