As any expert would note, router tables come in two major variants – tabletop ones like the Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop Contractor Benchtop Router Table or the benchtop variant that sits on a workbench and is hence ideal for those with small workshops. However, free-standing units are often recommended because of the sturdiness of their legs and the cutting space available. The Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table seeks to overturn such perceptions by claiming to provide the elusive combination of portability, good cutting area, sufficient accessory support and durability. Given the general trend of benchtop variants in the market, it is fair to be sceptical about these claims even if we count Bosch’s reputation. Since it is never wise to consider a product without being 100% sure about it, we’ve carried out a detailed review to see if Bosch’s claims are indeed justified.
- Product Type: Benchtop Router Table
- Tabletop Dimensions: 27”x14-1/2”
- Tabletop Material: Aluminum
- Fence Type: Split Fence with Aluminum Frame, MDF front pieces
- Product Weight: 30 pounds
- Warranty: 1 year limited warranty and 1 year service protection plan
Ease of Assembly
Since the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table is a benchtop unit, user assembly is limited to the tabletop itself, the fence and some accessories. Most users found the assembly process to be simple enough. However, a few noted that the user manual did not specify the names and nature of different bolts clearly and this forced them to figure out the different bolt types by themselves. At the same time, they conceded that the specialized nature of the bolts made such differentiation a simple process and once this hurdle had been crossed, the manual’s large images and sufficient instructions made assembly a comfortable and quick task.
Tabletop Build Quality and Design
Many folks think that enjoyments of the benefits of using a router table are contingent on the availability of a large wooden tabletop. The argument about large tabletops is certainly true, and the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table pays adequate respect to this aspect by offering 27”x14-1/2” of uncluttered cutting space. The result is that tall pieces of wood which ordinary benchtop variants would not be able to handle, are easily cut on this Bosch product.
However, the company would like us to believe that a lightweight aluminum alternative works just as well. As customers note, this claim is well justified by the fact that the aluminum is of high quality and does not sag under the pressure of heavy pieces of wood. Such characteristics, in fact, outlast the average router’s lifespan, making this unit one of the best router tables in terms of durability.
Returning to measurements, we find that the throat opening of the unit measures 2-5/8” at the maximum, allowing router bits of 3-1/2” diameter to be fitted into the unit with ease. Coupled with an equally versatile and durable aluminum baseplate and an aluminum mounting plate predrilled to accept a number of router designs, these metrics ensure that a number of router models can be fitted onto the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table with ease.
Fence Quality and Features
Professional woodworkers require split fences with single frames and edge joiner facilities, and Bosch understands their needs. In addition to providing the single-piece frame and two sub-fences, the company has added 1/16” plastic pieces – called outfeed shims – that sit behind the MDF boards. These make the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table one of the few tables that can be used as edge joiners without additional modifications.
Like the tabletop, the fence frame of this router table is also made of extruded aluminum and comes with dimensions of 4-7/8” (height) by 25-1/8” (length). In a further similarity with the tabletop, the fence avoids the ordinary wood front pieces in favor of MDF boards. As our study of key features of the best router tables shows, MDF is extremely durable and when combined with the easy-to-use featherboard attachments, makes the fence capable of handling even heavy and extremely hard pieces of wood.
Accessory Slot, Dust Port and Additional Features
Despite its compact size, the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table comes with a 3/4”x3/8” accessory slot that accepts a wide range of accessories ranging from additional featherboards to miter gauges and thus adds versatility to operations. Speaking of accessories, the product package includes a starter pin and a guard to allow curved and irregularly shaped pieces to be cut without forcing the user to make additional purchases.
Coming to the mandatory dust port, we find that Bosch has included a port capable of accepting most 2-1/2” shop-vac hoses, thus making maintenance of the unit easier. The company has also included a 15 amp power switch with two outlets that on the side of the unit to allows for hassle-free operation. Some users opined that the switch comes with a plastic lever that they felt was not very durable. However, they noted that the switch could be operated without the lever as well.
Other highlights of the package include three mounting plate rings that enhance the ability of the high-grade aluminum mounting plate to hold routers in position. Finally, a built-in cord wrap allows users to quickly wrap up the 6’ power cord for easy storage once the work is complete.
Like many of Bosch’s top range of offerings, the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table comes with a 30-day money back guarantee in case you aren’t satisfied with the product quality. For those wishing to continue with the unit, Bosch offers a 1 year limited warranty and a 1 year service protection plan as well.
- Excellent aluminum top that is durable yet light.
- Large throat opening size and durable baseplate accommodate wide range of routers
- Sufficiently long aluminum fence allows tall wood pieces to be cut
- Outfeed shims allow the unit to be used as an edge joiner
- MDF fence front pieces allow hard and heavy pieces to be cut with ease
- Accessory port allows various accessories or featherboards to be attached.
- Starter pin and guard included for cutting irregular/circular wood pieces.
- 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year service protection plan enhance warranty.
- Instruction manual doesn’t differentiate between different bolt variants.
- Switch lever lacks durability of other product pieces.
This Bosch product’s features and quality force the reviewer to reconsider many of the assumptions that go into writing benchtop router table reviews. Indeed, not only does the product lack all of the shortcomings associated with ordinary benchtop units, it also offers full-size router table features like accessory slots, a large fence, high quality tabletop material and accessories (like outfeed shims and power switch) that are second to none. Placed alongside the unbeatable terms of the a Bosch money back guarantee/warranty, these features of the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table easily make the product one of the best router tables across all categories.