We moved into a new home about a year ago and I am finally nearing the category of minuscule home repair/renovation items on my project list. These are the items that seem to linger forever, that tiny trim piece needed above the microwave, the missing shoe moulding that needs to be installed beside the fireplace, a new threshold for the home office, you know what I mean…finishing touches. My list of finishing touches seems to never end! I have a bad habit of getting projects to 98% and leaving the remaining 2% for another day.
The gents over at PTR we’re kind enough to let me use (and review) one of the bestselling Bosch router tables to assist in the completion of some of these projects. Bosch’s RA1181 is one of two widely available router tables from the German based company. As you know, a router table doesn’t have to be sexy in and of itself. It’s designed to hold your router, giving you a stable platform to work from. In addition to stability, you also need it to allow for easy router mounting, particularly for those of us using two or more routers to complete a project. If you’ve got those two features designed well, the rest is just icing on the cake. Overall, I was pleased with the design and feature set of the RA1181, so let’s explore some details.
Bosch Router Table (RA1181) Manufacturer Features
- Tall Aluminum Fence with Adjustable MDF Face Plates — 4 7/8″ x 25 1/8″ supports taller work pieces
- Rigid Aluminum Router Mounting Plate — Stays flat and precise for accuracy and pre-drilled for a wide variety of routers
- Large 27″ x 18″ Die-Cast Aluminum Top — For job-site durability
- Easy-to-use featherboards — 2 adjustable featherboards to attach to fence and table, providing additional guidance and kickback protection
- Accessory slot accepts featherboard and 3/4″ optional accessories such as miter gauge
- Dust collection port for standard 2-1/2″ vacuum hoses
- Storage pocket for holding router accessories
- Cord wrap storage
Bosch Router Table (RA1181) Specifications
- Depth: 18”
- Max. Fence Opening: 3 ⅝”
- Max Throat Opening: 3 ⅝”
- Working Length: 27”
- Price: $229
- Set of three Mounting Plate Insert Rings to adjust opening to bit size
- Hardware for mounting Bosch and many competitive routers
- Adjustable Featherboards (2)
- Adjustable Clear Guard (1)
- Starter Pin and Guard (1)
- Outfeed Fence Shims – 1/16” Thick (2)
Bosch RA1181 First Impressions
The model RA1181 Bosch Router Table requires a fair amount of assembly and you will need to be sure you take time for proper setup. I spent about an hour on assembly and setup to ensure I acquainted myself with the various features and functions. The manual was easy to understand with simple instructions and figures explaining various elements of the assembly.
The table base is constructed of stiff molded plastic. The bench top and mounting plate are made of smooth cast aluminum. The fence is built from laminated MDF and adjustment knobs are molded plastic. The table includes a built-in circuit breaker and on/off switch to supply power and protect your router’s electronics. The table is lightweight and easily portable, making it an excellent option for finish carpenters and remodelers to move between jobsites.
Router Mounting and Operation
Once assembly was complete, I found the table sturdy and well equipped for all around shop use. I easily mounted my 2 horsepower router onto the mounting plate and secured the Bosch router table to my workbench using lag bolts. Fence and guide adjustments are easy to make using the round plastic adjustment knobs and the two included featherboards are most helpful in ensuring safe operation. I’m a big fan of featherboards and use them whenever possible.
I put the table through a variety of tasks: adding a finished edge to some trim moulding for the kitchen, shaping a custom threshold for my home office, and adding a straight edge to some irregular reclaimed lumber. The table is very flexible and adjustments are easy to make. The cutouts for router access both underneath and above the bench are large, enabling simple cutting depth adjustments and easy bit changes.
I hooked up my dust extractor to the table’s vacuum port and was pleasantly surprised that Bosch’s design was extremely effective at collecting the bulk of the sawdust produced by the router. Routers make a big mess and this feature is most welcome in ensuring tidy use.
Once I was ready to wrap up for the day, dismounting the router was quick and simple. All that was needed was to loosen three screws from the mounting plate and I was ready to pack things up. The table includes on board storage for accessories and a convenient cord wrap to keep cords tucked away. The lightweight design makes it easy for me to tuck this tool away until it’s next use.
Bosch’s RA1181 is a very good all around router table for common shop applications. A 1 year manufacturer’s warranty and one year service agreement come standard on the Bosch Router Table. Overall, I was pleased with the performance and feature set of the Bosch RA1181. Bosch maintains high standards for build quality and it’s evident in this design. I quickly finished my list of random finishing touches and can rest easy until the next project kicks off.