A Review of the Sommerfeld Router Table and Fence

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  • A Review of the Sommerfeld Router Table and Fence

    Over the years, Iíve had multiple router tables. Everything from a small aluminum Craftsman benchtop model, to the router mount on my BT3000, to a custom built version in my old ultimate tool stand and another custom built one in the wide table of my saw. In every case there was something missing or just not quite up to par. The Sommerfeld table and fence change all that and meet nearly all my criteria.
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    I first saw the Sommerfeld router table at the Phoenix Woodworking Show in November of 2006 and after the demo / sales pitch, spent some time talking with Marc Sommerfeld. I left the show that year empty handed except for his ďMade EasyĒ series of DVDs which are 50/50 how to and sales promo. In the spring of 2007 we were just starting the first phase of remodeling our house and needed cabinets for a couple of bathrooms as well as some other built-ins, so I took the plunge and bought the complete cabinet making system for a little more than the cabinets themselves would have cost me. Fast forward nearly a decade and this router table has been a tool that has performed consistently and with the exception of portability, hasnít left me wanting. I paired the table with a Triton 2.25HP router for which was the table was pre drilled including a hole in the right place for the lift crank for that router. There is also the option of getting an undrilled table for use with other routers.

    My criteria for a router table in order of importance are as follows:
    1. Flat Ė if it isnít flat, youíre never going to get consistent cuts.
    2. Solid fence Ė While a fence isnít necessary for all routing operations, I want it to stay where I put it when I am using it.
    3. Dust collection Ė for health reasons, this should be higher on my list, but isnít. Dust collection ceases to be relevant if the tool canít perform its basic functions.
    4. Adjustability Ė We are all constrained by time, we either have limited time in the shop, or if woodworking professionally, time is literally money.
    5. Portability Ė Most of what I do with a router table is in the shop but with my kids out of the house and buying their own fixer uppers, working outside the shop is sometimes necessary.
    6. Price Ė Fortunately this isnít my deciding factor, but price/performance must always be taken into consideration.
    Based on the criteria above, here are my impressions:

    Flat: Perfect
    The table is made up of three self-aligning extruded aluminum pieces that are bolted together making an absolutely huge 27 x 36 table. Additionally, there are two extruded end pieces that keep everything in place so it stays flat. There is a miter slot in each of the three pieces that make up the table. Iíve yet to find a use for the miter slots other than setting up a feather board. The 27-inch depth allows you to install it as an extension table on most table saws, but not the BT3000.

    Solid Fence: Perfect
    The fence is heavy, solid, square, and four feet long. It has never slipped nor have I ever detected any deflection in the fence during use. There have been some reports of the fences not being perfectly square but this is easily corrected. On the bottom of the fence are Teflon strips that aid in sliding across the table, by adding additional layers, the fence can be shimmed square. Mine was perfect out of the box so it wasnít ever an issue for me. Iíve also found through some other purchases that Sommefeldís customer service is outstanding.

    Dust Collection: Very good
    The fence comes with a stepped dust collection port which can be cut to fit your DC setup. I cut mine all the way down and connected a 2.5 inch hose to it. Coupled with the under table dust collection, it hands down beats any other router table Iíve used. When used with the fence, the vast majority of dust and chips are picked up although some are left in the router cavity in the table. Thatís probably more a function of my cabinet design than the router table itself. When used without the fence using my dovetail jig I probably collect about 80 percent and it is still a bit of a mess to clean up when done.
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    Adjustability: Very good
    The fence has a spring loaded pivot pin on one end and a large knob on both ends to lock it into a t-slot in the table. Adjustment is a one handed operation, loosen the knob and the fence slides easily across the table. When you need to make a multi pass cut, set the fence and stop behind it in the slot where the fence locks down. Pivot the fence forward for your first pass, loosen the non-pivot end and push it back to the stop for your final pass. It comes with two .50-inch-thick HDPE faces that capture a zero clearance insert between them and three zero clearance inserts are included. You pivot the fence through the router bit for a perfect zero clearance fit but I found a couple of issues with this method. If the bit has a bearing, you canít cut the fence this way, and dust collection is better with a little bit of space around the bit for airflow. Of the three inserts I received, I cut one for small bits and one for big bits and still have the third uncut. The two HDPE sides of the fence are attached can be shimmed in or out for outfeed support when making full height cuts. They are mounted to a T-Slot in the face of the fence.

    Portability Ė Failed.
    To be fair, I knew when I bought this that it wasnít going to be portable. You would think an aluminum router table would be fairly lightweight, and this case you would be dead wrong. The table itself weighs 52lbs and the fence is and additional 27 lbs. The cabinet I built for it probably tripled the weight. I do have my router cabinet mounted on a mobile base but when I had to move it from my garage to my new shop, picking it up with forks on the bobcat was the method I used. Other than rolling it around in the shop, it isnít going anywhere without at least two people or heavy equipment.

    Price: Good
    This table is fairly expensive, at $549 it falls in line with a more expensive phenolic tables and below most of the cast iron ones Iíve found. While this is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive router table you can buy, it turned out to be a pretty good deal overall for me. Iíve never had to deal with rust which would have been the case with cast iron, and there hasnít ever been any sag to it.

    The package comes with a few extras as well. There are 7 different sizes of rings for the router table opening with a spanner wrench to remove and install them. There is also a hex screwdriver to adjust the HDPE fence faces, a copy of the router table DVD and plans to build a cabinet. Below are a few pictures of my slightly modified implementation of the cabinet plans.
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    • LCHIEN
      #1
      LCHIEN commented
      Editing a comment
      nice router table. Ten years for a review!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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