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SKIL RAS900 Smart Design Router Table Review

SKIL RAS900 Smart Design Router Table Review

by Fred Fauth (email Fred) | | July 22, 2009 | 14 Comments »

On the heels of their recent lithium ion drill driver combo release, SKIL is back at it with two brand new offerings in the woodworking / capentry department: the RAS800 and RAS900 Smart Design Router Tables (official site).

SKIL let us test drive the nicer of the two tables, the RAS900.  After using the tool for one Sunday afternoon, we think their design is, indeed, smart. It’s so smart, in fact, that it made us feel a little more like professional carpenters even though we don’t do woodworking jobs on a regular basis.

Both of SKIL’s router tables were designed for the junior and mid-level woodworker–someone who wants the capabilities of a router table without the usual $300-500+ price tag.  As a bonus, for those of us without much tool storage space, both tables fold to less than 10 inches high and store neatly on a workbench or garage shelf.  Keep reading below for our full review.

SKIL RAS900 Router Table Review

ras900

Getting started with SKIL’s RAS900 table was a pretty simple task.  Total setup time was about 30 minutes, and most of that time was spent understanding all of the components that ship with the table and how they work together to perform various routing tasks.  The first major step after unpacking: mount the router.

Mounting a router: To mount a router, the table features a quick clamp mount and mounting plate designed to be compatible with all major routers (we used a 1-3/4 HP fixed-base SKIL Router).  The picture sequence below shows the mounting plate on the router and the quick clamp bracket on the underside of the table.  Once you get the hang of router installation and removal, the task can be accomplished in under 10 seconds.  Installing and removing bits requires the router to be removed from the table due to the plastic and metal skirting, so the quick-change mechanism is much appreciated.

router-quick-clamp

Adjusting Router Height – Once the router is in place, the height of the router bit is adjusted using the router itself (rather than the tabl).  The SKIL fixed-base router includes both a rough and fine adjustment mechanism to get the bit to the correct height.  Some more expensive tables include an automatic lift mechanism, which is a nice feature but costs hundreds more.

Performing a Channel Route – From opening the box to performing our first route took about 45 minutes.  We set up the table to cut a channel using a 1/4 inch straight flute routing bit.  The RAS900 includes vertical and horizontal guides that ensure the wood is held tightly in place.

router-blade

For our first route, we held the board only vertically and had acceptable results. The 1/4″ channel was uniform throughout most of the board. That said, we saw sway of about 1/32″ in some places, and the edges were not smooth.  To gain better results, we could install the horizontal guides.  Had we been working a real project instead of a test, we certainly would have done this.  Here’s an up-close look at the results:

router-channel-cut

Trying Various Edge and Channel Routes Together – We swapped bits in and out and turned a 5 ft. piece of maple several times to see how complicated of a look we could create with a few simple edge and channel routes.  We were pleased with the results, which were very uniform.  Smoothness was not perfect; however, that has much to do with the bits we employed.

complicated-route-1

Making Simple Edge Molding: Finally, we decided to try our hand at putting a simple Ogee edge on a piece of 5 ft. stock.  The results were very good for the pretty simple route, resulting in a smooth, uniform cut.  Note that we had the bit lowered too far down into the table, so while the results were uniform, we effectively highlight the need to try a test board to confirm the router settings before routing your boards!

ogee-edge

Performing More Complicated Routes: We’re planning to use the router table to make more complicated channels and routes, including building a coffee table and designing some custom molding using larger, fancier bits.  After test driving the RAS900, we’re confident it will be up to the task.

Storing the Router Table

Perhaps the smartest part of SKIL’s RAS900 Smart Design Router Table is how the system folds up for storage.  The router guides and accessories store in the leg-based compartments, and the guide rail stores underneath the folded legs.  This keeps everything in one neatly-organized place for your next job, while the entire folding frame fits on a cabinet shelf.  Take a look:

skil_router_foldup

Overall Evaluation

We think the SKIL RAS900 makes a great addition to an amateur or occasional woodworker’s shop.  It offers a great combination of affordability and capability that is tough to beat in the router table market.

Other Features of the RAS900 We Didn’t Review:

  • Dust Collection / Vacuum Hookup
  • Integrated Power Strip (to control router and dust collection power from the table).
  • Manufacturer’s Warranty
  • Easy Setup Instructions

What do you think? Do you own the RAS800 or 900?  Leave a comment below and let us know your experience!

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14 Responses to SKIL RAS900 Smart Design Router Table Review

  • Greg B. responds...
    September 12th, 2010 11:12 am

    I read your review on the Skil RAS900. Sounds like a nice table.
    The review mentions that it accepts most major brand routers. I have a Bocsh model 1617. Is my router compatible with the RAS900? I checked the Skil website and saw no mention of which routers are compatible.

    [Reply]

  • Fred responds...
    September 12th, 2010 11:41 pm

    Greg, unfortunately, I am not sure if it is compatible. The plate is designed to accept most fixed-base routers, so it probably will work. Suggest giving SKIL a call. Bosch actually OWNS Skil now, so it wouldn’t surprise me if (1) it was designed to work with a Bosch Router and (2) if the customer service might not be able to tell you the answer. Good luck!

    [Reply]

  • Jeff S responds...
    January 12th, 2011 10:41 am

    Hi Greg,

    I have both the table and I use a Bosch 1617 and it works fine

    [Reply]

  • TCJ responds...
    November 12th, 2011 3:05 pm

    Haven’t been able to find out if this RAS900 will work with the newer Skil 1830 router. Lowe’s told me somebody returned one saying the router wouldn’t fit the table. This would be a shame. I bought a higher-priced Bosch 1617 and table, but there were features of the Skil table and router that were very attractive – lower price, swiveling tool guard on the table, clear baseplate, and the LEDs on the router. Also the Skil table is bigger and folds for storage. Very nice, Skil – but the RAS900 doesn’t list the 1830 as being compatible – and no other table is offered. What gives?

    [Reply]

    Darrel Reply:

    Greg, first of all thank you for the help in getting me familiar with my new Skil RAS900 table and 1830 router. You were very helpful.

    TCJ, yes the 1830 router does fit very well. The person that had a problem probably tried to make it work with the plunge unit attached and that will not work. Just use the base and follow the instructions. I’m a novice and while I had to read the instructions a couple of times because I didn’t know a base clamp lever from a base release button, I was able to get everything running in about an hour.

    [Reply]

  • Nick Hawkins responds...
    January 31st, 2012 9:53 am

    Fits these routers: (according to manual)

    Bosch 1617, Fixed base only

    Craftsman 17508, 17541, 17542, 26620, 17533, 17528, 17511, 26834, 28190

    DeWalt 616, 618 Fixed Base Only

    Hitachi M12VC

    Makita RF1100, RF1101

    Porter Cable 690, 7529 Plunge, 892-895 Series of fixed base only.

    Skil 1810, 1815, 1820, 1825

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Nick – Thanks so much for adding this. Really appreciate it!

    [Reply]

    Nick Hawkins Reply:

    You’re most certainly welcome. I’m glad I could share some helpful info. :)

    I had a Rockwell Router that was not compatible with the table so I sent Rockwell an email asking for a list of tables that were compatible. They could not give me any so I decided to purchase a router that was compatible with my table instead of replacing my table. I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. I am just beginning to dabble at wood working. The only thing I’ve ever built was cornhole boards (tailgate toss). My wife bought the router for my birthday (I have never used one before) and my mom got me the table this past Christmas. As I was assembling the table, I got to the point where my router would not fit, THEN read in the manual the list of compatible routers for the table. I sold my router on ebay and purchased a Skil 1810 router to replace it. I’m looking forward to learn new projects in the workshop. I’m going to start simple and practice, practice, practice. lol

    [Reply]

  • [...] with that router or router table, but I Googled it and came across this site that may help. SKIL RAS900 Smart Design Router Table Review – One Project Closer __________________ Darrin Sealy, [...]

  • Dorival Calefi responds...
    April 4th, 2012 8:26 pm

    Hello!
    My name is Dorival Calefi, I am from in Sao Paulo “Brazil”
    My daughter will go for the USA and I will ask her to bring me a SKIL RAS900
    I would like to know the weight of the table
    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    This is pretty small, about 10-15 lbs. or so max.

    [Reply]

  • Robert Holt responds...
    June 3rd, 2013 9:26 pm

    Does anyone know if I can order just a “Quick-Clamp Router Mounting Plate” for the RAS900 router table?

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    You’re going to want to contact Skil customer service for that.

    [Reply]

  • Debian responds...
    June 21st, 2013 7:53 pm

    I am trying to use a Skil 1825 with this table and while the router fits fine the bit moves in towards the fences the more the router is adjusted upwards. For multiple passes this means that one edge is stair step inwards and the other edge, while smooth is not centered with the previous passes on the other edge.

    I feel certain this is actually an issue with the router but it sure seems odd that a Skil router in a Skil router table has such a major flaw. It makes the table unusable and has been a serious disappointment for someone who is just getting started with routing (the target audience for this equipment).

    [Reply]





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