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I plan on installing a router plate in a custom cabinet top for my shop. I can either route the edges to the depth of the plate to create a recess for a flush table top/plate surface or use plate leveling screws.

Kreg router plate leveling screws

I am a bit concerned about the leveling plate screws staying firmly attached to the underside of MDF board with the stress from the router operating and only having support at the corners, whereas the recess ledge design will provide uniform support. The leveling screws will offer finer tuned height adjustment to match the cabinet top surface but I wonder just how much finesse is needed. I have read of people adjusting the top late alignment to several thousandths of an inch and wonder if that is necessary or merely obsessive? It seems that gluing some thin cardboard or other material to the underside of the plate would also serve as adequate shims. IF you have a router cabinet, what has been your experience been?

BTW do you screw down the plate or simply let it rest in the top cutout?

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    Just for future reference I would recommend adjusting how you word your titles and not use best way, which will tend to garner opinion-based answers which are discouraged on SE. As with nearly anything there is almost never a single best way in reality, but numerous good ways which ideally will be covered in comprehensive answers and from which you and others in a similar position can then pick from. – Graphus Feb 20 '16 at 10:45
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Permanent mount? Route it in, get as obsessive as you want on the depth adjustment and epoxy it in place.

You can use leveling screws as well, again if permanent , I would apply thread lock on the final stage of alignment to keep secure.

I do not recommend "cardboard" shims, it will continue to compress over time. Use sheet metal, foil, etc.

  • Usnem, it looks like this is your first day at the Woodworking site. Welcome! – Ashlar Feb 20 '16 at 18:59
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This doesn't have to be complicated.

Rockler's basic table just uses an opening routed into the top a bit deeper than the plate's thickness, with four set screws to lift the corners back up to level with the top. Obviously there's a cutout in the center of this for the router body to drop through. This does require that the table top be thick enough to support the set screws, but that's a reasonable idea for rigidity anyway.

[ Clarification: The plate is actually supported at the corners by screws. Back them out slightly to raise it, turn them forward to lower it. Once the level is set, you can optionally secure it down too, if your router permits above-the-plate bit replacement or if you have an adapter which permits that.]

Of course one can go even simpler and just mount the router directly to the bottom of a well supported piece of sheet goods and skip the plate, depending on what you're doing and how much precision you need and how frustrated you get reaching under the table to make adjustments.

  • I assume that by set screws you mean that the plate is screwed into the top. This means unscrewing it to pull it out and change bits. If the recess perimeter is snug couldn't the plate just sit in the opening so that it is easier to pull the router for changes? – Ashlar Feb 20 '16 at 18:57
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I am a bit concerned about the leveling plate screws staying firmly attached to the underside of MDF board with the stress from the router operating and only having support at the corners

I too was concerned with this. I sandwiched a piece of plywood between the MDF

enter image description here

Almost five years later it's still going strong. You can see some other pictures of my table here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjwapfqK

  • Went to Flicker. Very nice. Is that a homemade aluminum plate? – Ashlar Feb 22 '16 at 22:14
  • @Ashlar Yes, kinda. I found it at a discount store being sold as a "meat defroster" (put a piece of frozen meat on it and the conductivity of the aluminum helps it defrost quicker) So far it has worked well. My one regret is I didn't make it the same size as the standard store bought inserts so it'll be a little tricky to switch to one of those if I ever decide to. – popdan Feb 23 '16 at 2:06
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    The extra hassle is worth it to have a meat defroster on the table top!!! – Ashlar Feb 23 '16 at 2:24
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I use a kreg router table insert plate with no adjustment screws for height and didn't screw it down. Its working fine so far.

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