I'm sorry for the long preamble with my question, but I figure it's a good way to get a few more tips and pointers …
I'm fairly new to woodworking and I decided that I wanted to build my own router table insert for my table saw. (It's a Ridgid R4512). Without boring you with details, I laminated together a 3/4 in piece of melamine board with a 3/4 in piece of MDF. I edge banded this with 3/4 in Oak. I got all of this sized to fit the opening in my table saw. No sweat.
I ordered a Rockler router table insert plate and their pattern (being new to the game, I decided it was worth the $10 for a ready made pattern). And, I used my Hitachi router with a 3/4 in top-bearing pattern bit from Diablo. I used the fixed base on my router (probably a mistake) and routed the pattern.
The first thing I noticed was that the collet chewed up the top of the pattern. Obviously, I should have used the plunge base for the necessary depth on this rout. But, I also managed to gouge the pattern with the router and hence my recess reflected the same gouge. Not a big deal. It fit in nicely. But, being an idiot, I went to cut out the hole with my jigsaw and forgot to leave a rabbet for the plate! Yes, I could have glued on some rails, but I wanted to try and not to gouge the side this time. (Better is the enemy of good!)
I built another, and this time, in addition to sloppy routing, I cut the corners for the screws too tight, and I couldn't get the leveling and attachment hardware in. Another one for the scrap pile.
(Anyone need two slightly imperfect router table inserts???)
OK, try #3. Built another table insert. (I'm getting good at it now.)
And, I built a new pattern from 1/4 in MDF in 3 in wide strips. I used double stick carpet tape to hold the pattern tight against the plate. Then I used my plunge base this time (major improvement!) and I made a center piece so the base was evenly supported throughout. Not necessary, but I found it a lot easier.
I routed everything, and the corners might have gone a bit more round than the plate, but I was happy enough with that. I sawed everything out (properly this time!), and I went to fit my plate. Now I found that my recess was 1/8 in wider around than the plate.
How is this possible???? Did I have the bearing riding too low on the pattern? The rocker plate locks down, so I don't feel it is critical to redo this. It won't shift around …
But, I'd really like to learn from my mistake.