Best Material For Router Table Top (4 Options Explained)

For active builders, having a router table top is a must. But building one is no child’s play. One needs to use the right dimensions and use the best materials. 

Are you wondering what’s the best material for a router table top?

MDF, plywood, hard maple, and Formica can be probable options. MDF and plywood are the perfect combinations of affordability and effectiveness. Hard maple will provide you the utmost robustness and protection. Whereas Formica will give you the much-needed smooth and clean working surface.

Although they serve the same purpose, each of them has different attributes. On the basis of their properties, price point, drawbacks, etc. 

We’ve dived into further details about these materials down below. 

4 Best Materials For Router Table top

best material for router table top

One of the most valuable upgrades you can make to your shop is a router table. In fact, it is one of the most essential tools for beginner woodworkers

Both of your hands are free to manipulate the workpiece during the woodcut. Because the router is securely positioned on a table. 

So you need to pick the best materials to build it. Here are our top picks –

Material 1: Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF)

MDF has become one of the most preferred materials. All due to its low cost and relatively consistent stability. 

You can get more than enough from 100$ -200 $. That isn’t to say that compromise is inevitable. It can give years of mild to medium-duty operation if it’s built to a reasonable standard.

However, MDF has the disadvantage of being hydrophilic or water-loving. It swells as it absorbs water. That’s not good! As a result, the MDF must be sealed.

A good way to do that is to create a water barrier by laminating it. Or you can use good-quality paste wax. 

Here are some paste wax that you can try-

With these paste waxes, you can protect your MDF no-problem.

Material 2: Plywood 

Plywood is another ideal choice for router tabletops. It has a smooth, flat surface that won’t warp or bend. The workstation you design will not change dimensions from one use to the next. Since plywood is dimensionally stable. 

Depending on how you build it, it may be as robust as you need it to be. It can support as much weight as you need. Plywood of 19/32 inches can hold around 185 pounds.

However, the primary reason for using plywood is affordability. You can get enough sanded softwood plywood for $100 to $200. 

Material 3: Hard Maple 

Hard maple completely lives up to its name. It’s dense, hefty, and has strong strength properties. Its high density makes it pretty resistant to scratches and dents. It possesses excellent abrasion and wears resistance. 

It also has outstanding steam bending capabilities. It is also partially water-resistant. 

The boards come in a variety of thicknesses and widths. They range from 3 inches to 11 inches and beyond. So you don’t need to worry about stacking to get your desired thickness. The boards also range in length from 8 feet to 16 feet.

Material 4: Formica 

Unlike the previous options, this is not a type of wood. But rather a covering for the wood. 

Formica has a thick surface that not only minimizes damage but also keeps everything cleaner. You can easily wipe off spills and coffee rings without leaving a mark.

You can also use wood cleaners without any hesitation. In case you were searching for other kind of wood cleaners, we’ve prepared a list just for you-

It has a pleasant appearance, is flat, and comes in a variety of colors. Make sure to cover Formica with at least a 3/4″ sheet of your preferred wood. As it’s meant to act as a cover, not the entire base.

Although it can get quickly scratched if you drag anything sharp over it. If not glued down properly, it can break if hammered on as well.

Which Material to Pick for Router Tabletop

If you are tight on budget,  go for MDF or plywood. Plywood is more durable than MDF. And if you use MDF, you need to add a protective layer.

If you want something with the most durability, go for hard maple. It has great steam bending capacities and resistance. 

For a smooth working surface, get Formica. It’s easy to clean and looks great. But it acts as a cover for the wood. So you’ll need to layer it with another sturdy wood. Here are some of our top choices for a sturdy wood layering for MDF-

That’s all the materials that would be the best choice for a router table top. We made sure to only pick the best ones so you can have a good router table top. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How thick should a router plate be?

Answer: A router plate should be around 3-8 inches thick. The thickness depends on the weight of the work. You may not be able to find your desired material with this thickness. In that case, simply stack two to three slabs to get the desired thickness. 

Question: How high should my router table be?

Answer: The height of your router table should be modified based on your height. This ensures optimal comfort for usage. The optimum height is 5 to 7 inches above the tabletop from the end of your bent elbow.

Question: Does the router table need to be flat?

Answer: It’s very important for your router table to be as flat as possible. A reliable straight rule with a length of at least 24” is required to properly assess the flatness of the top.

Final Words

What are you waiting for? Use the best material for router table top to make one for yourself. Your projects are sure to be smooth with your new router tabletop. 

You’ll be able to find most of the material in your nearest store or online shops.

We hope you found this article insightful.

Kevin Smith

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