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MLCS All-in-one Router Plate Review

by Lorenz Prem on May 13 2009 7:40 pm
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The instructions that come with the plate state that the plate comes from the factory with a slight crown to resist the down force created by the router. I was surprised to find out about this in the manual, and not on the site when I bought the plate. Since I have only simple operations in mind for my setup I decided not to send the plate back. For a dedicated table I would move on and pick a metal router plate.

I knew installation would be tricky, and opted for the installation template. The packaging states that the template will create a slightly larger cutout to allow for seasonal table movement and re-sharpened router bits of slightly smaller diameter than the required diameter. This proved to be a problem.

The template comes with a router collar with two diameters. The larger one will allow you to router the opening in your table. The smaller one creates the lip around the hole the plate sits on. This system worked perfectly. The hole and the lip are perfectly smooth and rectangular. Everything looks like it was there from the start.

The problem with the template is that the plate will only fit loosely. I has 1/32" play that will ruin any cut you attempt. I drilled holes into one corner of the plate and installed a wood block at the bottom of the plate. This block presses against the side of the table opening creating a tight fit between the plate and the opening. While this works perfectly, is this really necessary on a product like this?

The plate comes with four magnets. One is installed in every corner of the table lip. There are 4 screws in every corner of the plate right above where the magnets sit in the table. When the plate is installed the magnets are supposed to hold the plate in place. I found that these magnets exert so little force, you might as well not bother with them. A snug fitting plate is a must. Magnets can't help. The screws in the plate also cannot be depended on for leveling the plate. One of mine fell out on it's own and was lost in all the sawdust in my shop. There is too little friction to keep the screws in the plate, much less set at the correct depth.

Installing the router required me to drill my own mounting holes. It's almost impossible to get the center of the router perfectly aligned with the center of the plate's throat. When a cutter is installed, it will not be in the center of the opening in the plate. For larger cutters this will lead to the bit cutting the plate on the side it is closest to. At minimum it means that plate does not support the work piece evenly around the bit.

Overall this is a very poor product. I recommend you spend more money and purchase a metal model. It should come predrilled with mounting holes for your router. Skip the install kits and route your own opening. Plate levelers should be installed in the table and not in the plate. This plate is good enough for simple operations. Precision work requires a more precise product. I will undoubtedly replace it eventually. It bothers me every time I look at it.

About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."