I am starting to build my shop and realize one of the most important tools is your router and table. I am wondering if anybody out there has any good suggestions on what to buy. Should I take the time to build a table? If so how involved is it and who should I buy the components from. What characteristics are most important in a table? What price points are appropriate for a good table? What brands would you recommend and which would you stay away from. Basically any info about router tables, jigs, setup would be appreciated. I want to do it right the first time.
The best answer to all of your questions, especially the "What is best.." ones, is: Only you can answer that. Helpful huh? :P
Here's what I tell most folks: Get yerself a 2'x3' sheet of 3/4" thick something. Doesn't matter what, really. MDF, plywood, melamine, anything that has a smooth surface. Drill a hole somewhere - doesn't matter where. Some folks put it in the center. The hole should be a bit bigger than your biggest bit (or less, if you hardly use that one - the biggest one you use most). Now mount yer router so the bit goes through that hole and clamp a 2x4 (a STRAIGHT one) to it to act as a fence.
Yep, simple. It's supposed to be. If you've never used a router table, the first answer of "Only you can answer that" is kinda hard to flesh out. It's a chicken and egg situation. Buying or building is an investment and you'd really be best served by going in knowing what you want ahead of time. Only way to know is to use one for awhile.
I know that wasn't exactly what you wanna hear right off the bat. But you'd kick yourself if you put a bunch of energy into something that you end up hating.
After wasting $90 on a crappy craftsman one and 2-3 days building my own, I am now on my 3rd table and completely happy. It has everything I want - which happens to be a combination of features not found on commercial tables without having to pay for features i don't want.