This is an unbiased review of a product I purchased. I am not compensated for it in any way whatsoever.
A few years ago I had points on my credit card that were about to expire. At the time I was in the market for a router table and to my delight found I could get one with my points.
I opted for the Bosch RA1181.
The table features;
27” x 18” aluminum work surface
Aluminum mounting plate pre-drilled to accommodate most routers brands and models
Hardware for mounting most Bosch routers
Aluminum fence with MDF face plates with built-in dust collection port
2 Adjustable feather boards
Dual outlet switch
6 Feet power cord
3 mounting plate insert rings, mounting,
Adjustable clear guard,
Starter pin and guard,
2 out-feed fence shims
The router table retails for between $190 and $200.
With the exception of the top and fence, the whole case is plastic.
Assembly was simple and only required simple hand tools although a small socket makes securing the mounting plate easier.
I was not thrilled with the fascia which holds the switch assembly. It is a thin plastic panel secured to the frame front by screws and in my opinion flexes to easily. As this panel holds the switch that is going to be repeatedly pushed, it should have been made of either a heavier gauge plastic or perhaps even aluminum.
There are holes at the four corners of the cabinet so that it can be bolted to a table. Since the case is just plastic, one needs to be careful not to over-tighten the bolts less you crack the plastic.
The mounting plate will accommodate most popular brands of routers. The instruction manual has a chart explaining which hole pattern to use for various brands and model routers. Hardware is included to accomplish this.
After the router is secured to the plate and placed in the table, it can be aligned with the table using a straight edge and the eight leveling screws threaded into the lip in which the plate sits. Once the plate is aligned, it can be permanently secured to the table via four mounting screws. Using a small socket will make securing these a lot easier.
The power cord from the router plugs into the outlet which allows the router to be controlled from the front panel switch. You just need to make sure the power switch in the router remains on. If your router has a trigger type switch, you can use the lock-on button or secure the switch with a zip-tie.
I mounted my Bosch 1619EVS 3.25hp plunge router in the table with no issues. There were operational issues with using this router in a table which I will get into later.
The adjustable fence is robust L-shaped heavy gauge aluminum. It is secured by two bolts and clamping knobs. The fence is channeled to accept the adjustable feather-boards which are also secured with bolts and clamping knobs. There are spacers which allow the feather-boards to sit fence facings. On the back side is a dust collection port that accommodates most popular size shop vacuum hoses and works well in keeping the bit area clear of debris.
The two fence facings are good quality laminated faced MDF. Both facings are adjustable to accommodate the use of various size router bits. Two spacers are included which allows you to set up the router as a jointer using a straight bit. There are instructions in the included manual explaining how to do this. The clear guard mounts to the fence, is adjustable up and down and helps protect from accidental contact with the bit.
There are three table-top insert rings that allow you to adjust the opening of the throat. The
1″ diameter ring is for using bits with diameters up to 7/8″. The 2″ diameter ring is for using bits with diameters up to 1-7⁄8″. The 2-3⁄4″ ring is for using bits with diameters up to 2-5⁄8″. If no ring is inserted, bits with diameters over 2-5⁄8″ and up to 3-1⁄2″ can be used.
The included starter pin has an integrated guard to protect the operator from getting fingers to close to the bit.
Once I had everything setup I tried it out. This is where the difficulties with the 1619EVS router come in.
The 1619EVS is a plunge router so adjusting height is difficult in the router table. I use the router on a bench top so it is not bolted down. To make adjustments, I have hold the table down, release the plunge lock lever and try to get the height as close as possible, re-lock it and then use the fine adjustment knob to get it where I need to.
I have considered replacing it with a fixed base router, but one of comparable HP would set me back over $300, an expense I cannot afford. I gave some thought to removing the plunge springs but a careful examination of the router shows this cannot be done without almost completely disassembling the router. I have resigned myself to just making the plunge router work. One day I may come up with an external adjustment system perhaps using a scissor type lift.
The table works surprisingly well. I have tried out various round-over, cove and flush trim bits and had no issues. I set it up as a jointer using a straight bit and the shims. It worked reasonably well. You probably could not accurately joint an eight foot board but it works well for smaller pieces. Of course the lumber thickness is limited to the length of the bit.
One issue I had is that because the table had no feet, it tended to slide on the workbench or other moderately smooth surfaces unless it was clamped in place so I fashioned my own my own feet for it.
My FiL used to work at a brewery (when he retired was the worse day of my life). When they switched from the poplar wood bungs to rubber they were going to throw out the wooden ones. My FiL grabbed a bunch and gave me some.
Using a centering jig I built, I marked the middle and drilled a hole using a 1/4” bit. I then used a 1/2” bit to counter-sink the head of the bolt I would use. I passed a 1/4” x 2” bolt through the bung and the hole in the case securing it with a washer and nut. I then cut out disks from some leftover rubber tool drawer liner and secured them to the feet with hot glue using 2 disks per foot. The table no longer slides when I use it.
I have since used this table for a number of projects and have been pretty satisfied with it. Aside from the aforementioned issues with the plastic carcass and lack of feet, this is very good router table for a small shop. With a router of 3hp or higher, you can even do raised panels on it.
I am already planning for the day I have a bigger shop. I plan to build a stand-alone cabinet with a larger surface top area and mount the whole top from this table into it.
Bosch does make a less expensive router table with an enclosed cabinet made of particle board. However the trade off is a smaller table top made of laminated MDF which would not be as stable as aluminum. Reportedly the mounting plate does not accommodate as many router models and the adapter plate for this is no longer sold.