why don't more router tables use self squaring fence

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Forum topic by TheSerpenteer posted 10-10-2009 09:39 PM 17004 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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22 posts in 4136 days

10-10-2009 09:39 PM

Looking at upgrading my router table from a benchtop that I’ve outgrown quickly to a nice standing table. I’ve narrowed it down to the Kreg table and the Pinnacle/Woodpecker table. The Pinnacle table has a little more work surface, but isn’t reinforced underneath, which leads to bowing concern, and it has a more traditional fence.

The Kreg table is steel reinforced underneath and has what I think is a super feature in the self squaring fence. I’m leaning toward the Kreg, would there be any cons to that self squaring fence that I’m not aware of. It makes me wonder why it isn’t a feature found elsewhere.

32 replies so far

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4127 days

#1 posted 10-10-2009 09:54 PM

You don’t need the fence to be square to anything with a router table. You could have one side fixed on a pivot and it would work just as well.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4607 days

#2 posted 10-10-2009 09:57 PM

Build you a table!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View SEE's profile


119 posts in 3769 days

#3 posted 10-10-2009 10:07 PM

Ditto on building your own table. It’s a fun project and if well planned, you can get all of the features that you want for considerably less money.

Julian is correct, no need to worry about the fence being square to the table with a router table. There’s only one place that matters, the distance from the bit to the fence. Seems that it took me forever to get that to make sense in my head!

-- Build for the joy of it!

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3802 days

#4 posted 10-10-2009 10:27 PM

Try routing with a pin and bearing bit only and see what they mean about the fence.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View lowdrive's profile


3 posts in 3964 days

#5 posted 10-11-2009 02:55 PM

You might want to check the Kreg again. I was pretty high on that one from what I had read and watched on the videos. But, Woodcraft had one on display, and my eyeball said it wasn’t square. I happened to have a tape measure in my pocket to check it with. It was not square. I tried changing it a couple of times and it was not squaring up on it’s own. From that point on, I figured that if I would need to measure each end to make it square, I would look at the fence system with the ruler on both ends.

View sh2005's profile


97 posts in 3838 days

#6 posted 10-12-2009 03:44 PM

By squareness, I am guessing you are talking about the fence being squared to the table top, miter slot or the edge of the router plate. In table saw, the fence squaring matters because the fence has to be parallel to blade and that’s quite a bit of distance. Typically, it’s about 7 inches when the bladed raised to its maximum height. So, essentially, there are two reference points when checking the distance of the fence from the blade : the front end and back end of the saw blade.

In the case of a router table, there is really one reference point: the router bit. To be more precise: the axis of rotation of the bit. As long as the fence is straight, the only critical dimension you need to take into consideration is the distance between the bit and the fence.

Kreg tables are nice, but they are not cheap either. As others have mentioned, you can build your own table for less, without really sacrificing anything. If you like Kreg’s fence system, you can add it to the table. But, if cost is not an issue and you want a ready-made table, the Kreg table will be a good choice.

View TheDane's profile


5725 posts in 4264 days

#7 posted 10-12-2009 04:38 PM

There is at least one scenario where the router table fence needs to be 90-degrees square to the table top.

That would be when you are using a vertical panel-raiser.

Seems it would also be a good idea if you are routing a groove in the edge of a board.

If I had space in my shop, I would have a Kreg. Their stuff is top drawer.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 4060 days

#8 posted 10-12-2009 04:59 PM

I think a lot of people here are getting two different thoughts twisted here at once and I am getting confused, so I am sure there are others as well.

one thought being square to the table as in perpendicular to the table edge. And the other as square to the table face, or the L shape between the table top and the router fence.

The L shape between the top and fence is the only one in any situation that matters. The table edge in relation to the fence or bit is relative. All router bits can be approached from any side and they will still cut the same profile regardless. The fence on a router table is used as a guide and as some people have mentioned isn’t always necessary considering pins are used with bearing bits by lots of folks.

-- San Diego, CA

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4066 days

#9 posted 10-12-2009 05:26 PM

Self squaring fence sounds like a sales gimmick to me. Don’t know what one is but sounds like I don’t need it. I do however, really like Kreg products in general. As stated above, they are top drawer. Just my .02, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View JSOvens's profile


78 posts in 2258 days

#10 posted 12-11-2013 07:02 PM

Taking a look at this Kreg router table, I believe there is actually one plus to having the self-squaring fence. Without this feature, the positioning guide, or ruler on the side would be useless.

Thus, this feature only has a use if you want to make use of the ruler on the side, otherwise as many have said, there is no need to have a fence square to the table edge.

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

View Bobmedic's profile


383 posts in 3403 days

#11 posted 12-11-2013 08:42 PM

Self squaring to the miter slot comes in handy when routing end grain like in cope and stick . If you don’t have it you can use a sled or a known square backer board to push the material through safely.

View bondogaposis's profile


5604 posts in 2953 days

#12 posted 12-11-2013 10:31 PM

why don’t more router tables use self squaring fence

Because it is pretty meaningless on a router table.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TheSerpenteer's profile


22 posts in 4136 days

#13 posted 12-12-2013 01:03 AM

Lol. Alot of activity on a 4 year old post. For the record, I ended up with the Pinnacle top and steel base and I love it. I have since boxed it in, added drawers, and dust collection, with a lift.
One of the buys that I got right the first time. I will add, I actually feel like there is use for a self squaring fence. It’s just not necessary.

View ThumbHammer's profile


54 posts in 1941 days

#14 posted 09-25-2014 09:05 PM

I was considering a Kreg router table just this past week. I saw it priced at $499 and I could get 20% off if I acted before Saturday. The video on the Kreg router table goes into great detail about their self squaring fence. After thinking about the product I decided to wait and look around a little more before taking the plunge. On Ebay I saw many router tables with and without stands for reasonable prices. Rockler also has a similar table at the same price as Kreg except it does not have the fancy fence. But what what it does have that Kreg does not is a router lift mechanism that lets you easily raise and lower the router for bit changes and cutter settings. I don’t like to part with my money so quickly so I’m still exploring (my wife calls it shopping) other possibilities.

-- Are we all Square?

View DrTebi's profile


361 posts in 3868 days

#15 posted 09-25-2014 09:58 PM

I have the Kreg router table, and also thought the self squaring fence was a nice feature.

Well, it isn’t. Because it does not self-square. It does in theory, but not in practice. Only if you very carefully move the fence holding it by it’s center, it may somewhat stay square. This also means that the scale is absolutely meaningless, because if it doesn’t move parallel, the scale will be off.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I later also realized that the fence (the aluminum extrusion) was not 100% square. Last but not least, I had a lot of trouble to keep the insert plate flat.

About a year ago or so, I decided to replace it, and bought a Jessem Mast-R-Lift Excel. No more insert plate, and a great router lift. I kept the Kreg base, which is really strong and stable. I had to tap some holes into the Jessem table top to fit the two together, but it worked out really well.

I then built my own fence. I also thought that a perfectly parallel moving fence would be great… and build this feature into my fence. It’s a huge linear stage that is mounted on it’s own platform; the actual fence is connected to the linear stage. So once the platform is locked down, I can move the fence pefectly parallel by one inch.

But now after hearing all the comments about whether you need a parallel moving fence, you may wonder why one would want that feature at all, and if this was all worth it. Well, it was: Let’s say you need to route e.g. a slot with some exact dimensions, e.g. 7/8”, but don’t have a 7/8” bit. I simply use my 1/2” bit, set the platform to the starting point, make my first cut, then move the fence (using the linear positioner) by 3/8” and make the second cut (1/2 + 3/8 = 7/8). With the linear positioner it couldn’t be easier to get that exact width.

But wait, why did I need the parallel movement? I didn’t really. All I did need was to have the fence move in the center, by an exact amount. And that’s what my setup beautifully does.

This setup is not 100% perfect, since I have limited spacing between fence and router bit, and the linear positioner only moves by 1”. But for all situations when it does fit, it’s works like a dream :)

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