How to Route the Inset for a Router Table Plate

Written by jim wildman
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A router plate insert is made from a material that will not sag under the weight of the router over a period of time; for example, some router plate inserts are made from aluminum or thick Plexiglas. The router plate insert is designed to drop into a table, then adjusted to become flush with the table top. The insert must be large enough that the router can be removed from the table without having to take it off the router plate insert.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Safety glasses and hearing protection
  • Router table insert plate
  • Double-sided tape
  • Table saw
  • 3/4-inch MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
  • Router with 1/2-inch straight bit and 1/2-inch guide
  • Drill with 1/2-inch bit
  • Jigsaw

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  1. 1

    Put on your protective gear.

  2. 2

    Decide where you want to place the router plate on your router table top. (If you plan on using the router table for small items, locate the router toward the front of the router table. If you have a cabinet shop and will be using the router table for raised panels, position the router plate toward the far end of the router table top.) For most people, the middle of the router table works best.

  3. 3

    Be sure the router plate runs parallel to the router table's edge. Leave enough room to add a miter track for jigs and accessories later on. Temporarily tape the router plate in place with double sided tape until you have the template made to cut out the opening to support the router plate.

  4. 4

    Build the template for the router plate. Rip four pieces of 3/4-inch MDF, measuring 3 inches wide and 16 inches long, using a table saw.

  5. 5

    Tape two pieces of the MDF next to the long side of the router plate, so that they extend past the plate at least 3 inches on either side. Measure the distance between the two pieces of MDF you just taped down. Cut the remaining two pieces of MDF to length and tape them into place on the short side of the router plate.

  6. 6

    Remove the router from inside the template.

  7. 7

    Set up your router with a 1/2-inch collar and 1/2-inch straight bit onto the template with the bit over hanging the template. Plunge the router down until it touches the table top. Lock the router in place at this position. Check the specifications that came with your router plate to determine the depth of cut needed to install the router plate.

  8. 8

    Adjust the router set stops for the dimension require to install the router plate. Start the router and plunge it into the table top and router around the template in a counter clockwise rotation. The router will follow the template with the guide collar and give you the perfect outside edge for the router plate to set into.

  9. 9

    Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the middle of the template. Remove the template material.

  10. 10

    Use a jigsaw to cut out the material inside of the router plate that is remaining. Leave the 1/2-inch groove cut by the router. The inside edge of the groove will act as your cut line for the jigsaw to follow.

  11. 11

    Finish by installing the insert plate into the router table top and adjust so that the top of the plate is even with the top of the router table. Refer to the specifications provided with the router plate for details on how to level the plate.

Tips and warnings

  • Check the instructions that came with the router plate for any specific instructions needed for your particular router plate.
  • Use a dust mask when cutting MDF; it creates a very fine powder sawdust.
  • Don't force feed the bit and overload your router.

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