Since we’re on the subject of router tables today, this seems like a good time to talk about “safety power tool switches,” which are somewhat pricey but convenient additions to certain benchtop tools and machines.
A lot of power tools come with such switches built in, usually with a push button to turn power on and a large and easily-actuated paddle connected to the disconnect button.
Most router tables are equipped with handheld router motors, and the controls – such as their power switches – are often very difficult to reach, regardless as to how the routers are mounted.
A safety power tool switch is basically a remote power switch, usually with female and male AC plugs. You connect the router motor – or similar type of handheld tool – to the female plug, instead of directly to an AC outlet, and then connect the male plug to an AC power source.
If you have ever seen a lamp with an inline switch, that’s basically what this is.
With a switch like this installed, you can activate or power down your router table motor from the front, side, or other convenient location, rather than having to use the router motor’s built-in switch.
The one shown above is from Rockler, and is regularly priced at $30 on sale.
I ordered my first one for a router table, and recently ordered another one for a benchtop CNC router that uses a Dewalt trim router.
This isn’t only useful for routers and router tables – it can also be used for all kinds of other equipment where you want a remotely accessible power switch.
No need to panic with our hands-free panic button.
I suppose that’s what makes this a safety power tool switch, that you can easily bump the stop/off part of the switch due to its large target area.
I’m not inclined to consider this a safety switch, I consider it more of a convenience accessory. True safety switches, in my experience, feature latching e-stops and sometimes also removable keys to prevent unauthorized access.
But, it can make things safer. What do you think is safer, turning off power to a router table via a switch like this mounted to a convenient place, or taking your eye off things to bend underneath the worksurface or inside a cabinet trying to get to the built-in power switch?
Other brands offer similar accessories, usually for around the same price.
You can also buy individual components – the switches themselves, for integrating in your own DIY switch setup. I considered this, but I don’t think there’s a lot of savings in building something similar from independently sourced parts.
I like that the Rockler accessory is ready to go right out of the box, and that it’s rated for a 15A load.
This is NOT a magnetic switch. Rockler says it’s compatible with soft-start routers.
- 2-foot female power cord (for connecting to the tool)
- 7-foot grounded male cord (for connecting to AC power)
I felt reluctant in buying this the first time, convinced that surely with more research I could put together something as good or better for less money, but I gave it a shot and things have worked out well.
Rockler says that the switch’s “sturdy construction takes the hits and keeps on ticking.” While I had some hesitations about this, especially the plastic paddle, the switch has held up well so far and their user reviews seem to be as positive as mine have been.
Note: Northern Tool looks to have this for less ($22) and with free shipping – thank you to Chris for the heads-up!