February 26, 2022
I often get asked a lot by newbie woodworkers who want to build their router table about the most recommended adjustable router table insert plates. They would often ask me about which brands and models they should purchase. Of course, the various brands and models of insert plates in the market make choosing a bit confusing. Yet, you do not need to rack your brain or get daunted by the myriads of choices at hand.
You will find, for example, 10-mm phenolic inserts or 6-mm aluminum inserts in the market that offer an excellent mounting for the router. The phenolic insert is thick and made of hard plastic. It can hold its shape against any routing projects, but it is best for lighter usage. On the other hand, the aluminum insert is more durable than the phenolic insert and is suited for heavier use.
Both options, however, come with a blank base underneath. Hence, you will drill onto it to have your router fitted onto it. Each of these two options also comes with a centering guide template informing you about how to drill them.
You will also find a 10mm aluminum option that is much faster to set up and features a universal circular base connected to the plate’s underside. This base comes pre-drilled for accommodating different router types. Attaching the routers to this universal base is also simple and easy.
You will also find a router lift/elevator with a universal base for accommodating different routers. If your router fits well with the 10-mm insert, it doesn’t mean that it will fit well with the elevator.
The elevator lets you adjust the cutter’s height above the table. This elevator comes in handy if you often alter the cut depth, and it will save you time using it. With the elevator, you don’t need to reach underneath your table just to adjust your router every time you need to alter its height.
Most Recommended Adjustable Router Table Insert Plates
If you finally got your new router, and now you want to figure out which among the available router table insert plate you would install on your router table, you may end up scratching your head, not knowing which to choose. To help you in the choosing process, I am giving you a rundown of the most recommended router table insert plates in the market today:
Last update on 2023-09-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1) KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift
If you do not want to be reaching under the table more often to adjust or change the bit, you should go for the KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift. It lets you engage in precise changes above the table for your table-mounted router. It features above-the-table collet access that lets you change your table bit.
The KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift features a hard and anodized aluminum plate with the following dimensions of 3⁄8″ x 91⁄4″ x 113⁄4″. Being made of aluminum, it doesn’t sag, and it doesn’t succumb to scratches. It also fits all of the Kreg router tables and other routers of competitive brands. It also features a bearing-guided carriage for smooth operation.
The KREG PRS5000 Precision Router Lift also comes with a precision indexing ring equipped with a micro-adjust scale that lets you easily make changes to the bit’s height. This precise adjustment ensures accuracy sans backlash. It accommodates more than 20 popular routers sans needing adapters or pads.
2) JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02121 Router Lift
If you want a router lift that fits almost all fixed-base routers, you should go for the JessEm Mast-R-Lift II 02121 Router LiftJessEm Mast-R-Lift II. This router lift comes with a typical and innovative clamping block system (adjustable). Its top plate is wrought in hard-anodized aluminum, making it a very rigid plate that does not sag.
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II comes with five double-sealed bearings that provide you with a lifetime of usage even if you pair it with the heaviest routers. It also comes with the patented feature for adding tension to the spindle, removing backlash and vibration, and preventing changes in setting while you rout. Moreover, it comes with a dedicated locking mechanism for long-term and heavy-duty routing operations.
The JessEm Mast-R-Lift II comes with a crank handle for raising and lowering the Lift. It is also hydraulically-pressed into the large diameter mount. The shaft mount is also attached to the top plate to spread the lateral load, offering a durable and rigid mount that can stand to the most challenging routing operations.
3) JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift For 3-1/2″ 02310
The JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Router Lift has greater similarities to the Mast-R-Lift though you can avail of this router lift at a lesser price. It is wrought in aluminum along with a top plate made of phenolic. It comes in five different styles, depending on the router diameter and the router you intend to use.
You can use it with Porter Cable 690/890 and many other routers with 3.5 wide motors. Moreover, its shafts are pressed onto a shaft mount and come with hydraulic pressure. These shafts are connected to the top plate. They are likewise fastened to the top plate, using more than one screw to spread the lateral load while providing a durable and rigid mount that could stand even the most challenging routing operations.
You can smoothly lower or raise its motor because of its double-sealed bearing of the spindle. Besides, it comes with the following dimensions of 9.25 x 11.75 x 10.1 inches. It is also 8.8 pounds heavy.
How to Install the Router Table Insert Plate?
Installing a router table may appear like a challenging task for newbies in woodworking. But given the proper guidance and being cognizant of the following steps on installing it, you can breeze through the process without a hitch. Soon you will be routing and completing many routing jobs in no time at all. Here is a rundown of the simple steps you need to follow to install the table insert plate:
Step 1: Decide on Where to Best Locate Your Router Table Insert Plate
Your router table can be broad or narrow. Hence, you should find it hard to find the right location for your router table insert plate. One tip, however, would be to locate your router closer to the side where you will work. The user side, of course, is more advantageous than locating it in the center.
One advantage in situating your router near the user’s side is that it allows you to reach easily under your router table if you would like to adjust the router’s height. If you don’t have the crank-style plate, you will occasionally reach toward the table’s center. Moreover, if you have it close to your side, you will have a better stance and balance as you work on your router.
Step 2: Keep Your Plate Leveled with the Router Table
When mounting the plate on your router table, you need to cut a hole on your router table. This hole should be precisely cut so that the insert plate will fit nicely onto the spot. Once you have measured and cut the hole, you can then position the insert plate.
Once set, check if the insert plate levels with the table surface. Pass a timber section over the plate and check if the timber hits a snag when it passes between the plate and the table. You can lower the plate if the timber snags on the plate.
You can also use grub screws to adjust the plate’s level. You can likewise tighten or loosen the screw to alter plate’s height. The insert plate must be flushed with the table to ensure that your routing work will have no hitch or snag.
You can utilize a straight edge to ensure that the plate levels with the table surface. Tighten two central bolts once done with the leveling. Moreover, you can also adjust the bolts below the table to even the plate with the table surface.
Step 3: Measure the Router and the Bit Relative to your Router Table’s Mount Template
To figure out the template’s size, you must know the distance between your router bit and the router base’s outside. Take time to check in all directions. If you get off measurements, you can loosen the screws of the router base plate and adjust the base plate.
Step 4: Set the Fence
When making a tongue and groove joint, for example, you need to use your miter to make it. Many people find it hard to make this joint because the height, bed, and fence location should be perfect. So, the spot of the fence is crucial to the routing process.
The router fence comes with a scale on one of its sides that moves forwards and backward. This feature lets you accurately line up your router fence with the cutter. Moreover, it has a lock knob to hold the fence in place. You should ensure that the knob has a washer to prevent it from wearing quickly.
The work will revolve around the cutter, so it is not important whether the fence is perfectly parallel to the table front or not. The important thing is that the cutter should remove the amount of stock you would like to remove. You should likewise ensure that the fence is straight using the t-slot.
If you utilize a bearing-guided router cutter, you could adjust your fence to align it to your router. Again, you can use a straight edge to check if your bearing’s outer edge levels with your router fence. If the bearing gets exposed too far beyond the router fence, it will make the wood push out as you let it pass along the fence.
Frequently Asked Questions
You should gobble up every information about how router insert plate is installed. For this reason, you may also find the frequently asked question useful to you for it may also be the question you may be having in your mind:
Does the Router Table Insert Disc’s Size Matter?
The router table insert discs will surely help reduce the hole’s size and improve the extraction. It also provides you with greater stability when working on your table. Thus, it will help to choose the right size of the disc. If you have drilled too big a hole, the wood might get snagged in the hole. This leads to the wood hitting the cutter awkwardly and may fling the wood chips away.
The insert discs come in different sizes. You will also find blank inserts allowing you to create a custom hole. Moreover, it will help to choose an insert disc according to the cutter’s size you will use.
As a woodworker, you will indeed need the router in many of your woodworking tasks. Besides, if you want to complete your tools and equipment, you must have a table router. The table router will indeed help you engage in advanced wood projects. Of course, if your projects only include routing once in a while, having a routing table may seem superfluous. Nevertheless, having one is definitely very useful.
Don’t be daunted by the thought of having to set up your router table insert plate, for if you know the steps on how to do it and have selected the right router table insert plate, you will surely figure out how to mount the router table insert.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.