The Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table – A Good Place To Start
You can fight with an insert, or you can get a router table. Of course, router tables are much more useful and convenient, but they can also be fairly costly, especially for someone who doesn’t need all the durability and functionality of a pro. If you just do some light work for the house on the weekends, how can you justify dropping several hundred dollars on a table that you probably won’t use more than a couple hundred times?
The Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table is a great solution for the part-time carpenter. It’s lightweight for portability, but it’s sturdy enough for years of use. It’s a little less precise than a more expensive table, but the trade-off is its simplicity of use and its low cost. It’s a really great table for any non-professional shop, or even a semi-pro shop that needs a back-up for big jobs.
Main Features of the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table
Since this table is targeted at casual users, the things you’re looking for are probably different than what a pro shop needs. The great thing is that this table doesn’t have a lot of extra frills that you won’t use or extra weight that you don’t need. What it does have is a big, stable surface for you to grow your shop.
This table is:
- Easy to assemble and versatile
- Great safety features
- Simple to use
- Portable and durable
There are many features that make this table great for the small home shop.
Easy to Assemble and Versatile
The Bosch RA1181 Router Table is designed to mount onto any workbench, and it’ll fit a variety of routers, even a handful that aren’t listed (but you should call Bosch just to make sure). It’s a little time-consuming to assemble, but not difficult, and the manual is easy to understand with detailed pictures. Best of all, since this is such a lightweight table, you can install it by yourself without having to rig up a contraption to support a really heavy weight. There’s a 2 1/2″ dust collection port, which may be too big for your shop vac, so consider getting an adapter at the same time as you order this table.
CLICK HERE to see consumer reviews of the Bosch RA1181 at Amazon
Great Safety Features
Shop safety is of the utmost importance, especially for infrequent users who don’t have their safety routine set in stone. The Bosch RA1181 Router Table has a handful of safety features to minimize injury and maintain productivity. The on/off switch is encased in a plastic cover, and a simple tap to the cover will turn the power off. This is really convenient when something goes wrong – no fumbling for a switch, just a tap. It also prevents you from accidentally turning the table on when you don’t mean to. The bad thing is that the switch is so sensitive that heavy vibrations can make it switch off by itself, but better safe than sorry.
There are two outlets here, so you can turn on your router and shop vac at the same time. Any pro will tell you that even for small, quick jobs, dust collection is a must. Sawdust can be extremely dangerous if inhaled, but the 2 1/2″ dust collection port gets almost all of it. There’s also a child-proof power key that can be removed to protect curious kids.
Simple to Use
The mounting plate on the Bosch RA1181 Router Table removes easily so you can access the router without having to get under the table. With many routers, this will allow you to change the bit from the top, which makes complicated work a lot easier. A tall fence gives you a lot of versatility, and the two included adjustable featherboards are a breeze to set up.
The downside to the ease of use is the loss of precision. The fence markings aren’t terribly precise, and it’s difficult to secure it without it budging a tiny bit. With so many plastic pieces, you have to be careful about tightening things too tight, and erring on the side of caution introduces a little play in the pieces. Still, with some care and patience, everything on the table can be adjusted exactly as you need it for precision work while remaining quick and easy to adjust for more basic projects.
Portable and Durable
Yeah, those legs are plastic, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do the job. They’ll keep holding everything up for as long as you use this table, they do a good job of absorbing vibrations, and at a measly 30 pounds they make this table a cinch to move around as needed. The table itself is made of cast aluminum for a smooth, easy-sliding surface, and the aluminum fence stays true for life. The Bosch RA1181 is a really great balance of usability and versatility, making it perfect for the home woodworker that may not have the luxury of installing anything permanently.
What Other Woodworkers Say
This table has earned 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon and other online retailers. While customers are pleased overall with the simplicity of the table and the fact that it meets their needs without having a lot of extra unnecessary stuff, some significant problems have crept up. More than a few customers have reported receiving tables that are slightly warped. It seems that there have been some bad production batches, so you ought to check your table and fence as soon as you get it. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be widespread, and Bosch is aware of the problem so you won’t have any trouble getting a replacement. Here are some other things that customers have said:
- “This product exceeded my expectations. The manual is clear, the unit assembles with precision, the table is flat, and the mounting plate is sturdy and easily leveled.”
- “I have found this to be the best in quality and versatility for the cost.”
- “I’d highly recommend this table, especially for someone new to using router tables.”
- “I never routed before, and after a bit of trial and error… I completed routing the trim work I was using with ease.”
- “This Bosch router table was, for my money, the best value I could find.”
So there you go – if you’re looking for something not too expensive, not too heavy, not too fancy, and a really great deal, the Bosch RA1181 benchtop router table is the table for you.
Where to Get It
Do not pay over $250 for this table like some online retailers are charging! In fact, don’t pay anything more than $200. It’s designed for small shops, and the price should reflect that. Amazon has this table for a great price with FREE SHIPPING.