Power Feeders for Router Tables

Power feeders offer better control and safety, but they can overmatch the router so consider a shaper instead.October 15, 2012

Is anyone out there using a power feeder with a router? I have a custom made router table, with an Incra Wonder fence, and a PC 3 hp router. I mainly use it to cut tongues and grooves for my face frame. I currently push them through by hand, but I think a power feeder setup will make it safer and more consistent. Sometimes I push wrong and mess up a piece, or if there is a bend in the wood, the cutter ends up cutting wrong. Any comments? I'm a small two man shop.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
You are correct, it's safer and more consistent. There aren't any downsides as far as I'm concerned.

From contributor S:
Is your router table cast iron or wood? I need a solid router table to fit a power feeder on, but am not sure what to use. Right now I have one shaper dedicated to router bits but feed is super slow. If the top is wood, it will flex. I would want a larger feeder like a Steff 2038 or similar instead on the mini power feeders. Something like an old shaper modified for a router? Any advice?

From contributor G:
1 1/2 MDF, laminate top, on 3/4 maple ply stand, weighs about 100lbs. Very solid.

From contributor E:
First off, a feeder will certainly make your work feed cleaner and safer. That's the easy part.

The catch is you'll probably need to run the feeder at its slowest speed. Even at that, you'll have to be careful you're not feeding faster than the router can handle. A feeder has a lot of power and can easily overpower a router's tiny bearings. Also remember that your cutter support is only 1/2", and with enough pressure can flex and cause problems. So if you try it, just take it nice and easy and see how it goes.

In the long run, however, it's more a band-aid than an actual fix. My advice would be to look for a used shaper with feeder included. The smaller Deltas and Powermatics are selling for very reasonable prices these days, to the point where you're basically buying the shaper and getting the feeder for free. You'll improve the quality of your cut, the speed you can run stock, as well as open up a lot more flexibility in what you're capable of doing.

From contributor L:
Feeds are great - improved quality and safer. You may find your table and stand will flex under the pressure of a feeder and the mounting of its base. Even with 1 1/2" MDF. Keep the table waxed. As said, a shaper is much better. If you get a shaper only for very light use, the Delta/PM type will work. If you want to do more with a shaper, get an industrial level machine with 1 1/4" spindle.

From contributor D:
I run a feeder on a 3.5hp Milwaukee router and am so glad I installed it. Climb cutting is so much safer now. Woods like hickory split out when conventional cutting. Consistent feed rates have been really helpful in getting much higher quality edges with much less sanding required.

I'd say go for it. My table is 2 layers of 3/4 MDF with p-lam top and bottom. Really flat and strong.

From contributor S:
Are you guys using full size 1hp feeders on your MDF tops, or are you using small baby feeders? I can't imagine a wood top would not flex, but maybe I am just paranoid? Any ideas for a cast iron top router table?

From contributor L:
I've got a PM CI shaper top with a big router mounted. Problem is the top is too thick for some bits to go in the collet deep enough. A friend of mine had a machine shop flatten a piece of 1/2" plate steel and machine it to take a router and feed.

From contributor S:
What about the Benchdog cast iron top? Looks like the fence mounting slots might make it hard to mount the feeder? Or maybe Weaver has something? I ordered a Steff 2038 for the router table today. My router table top is currently 1 1/8" thick particleboard laminated both sides. Maybe reinforce the back corner with steel?