The router was a revolutionary invention in its day, and still does the job that most other tools cannot do even today. When we start adding an assortment of jigs and router tables to routers we make them even more versatile, and that's what this build and this jig is about, using a router to a greater potential.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/yZielQL1ed8

A short time ago I made an experimental box based on a design I had rolling around in my head for a long time and finally got around to testing it and I was thrilled with the results ... 

Here are pictures of my experimental box and below that, another picture of a finished box I made using spalted wood and veneered Asian Mahogany top and green flocking for the inside ... it looks great and the lid fits perfectly, just snug enough that there is no appreciable slop and it even feels "solid" ... I love it.

Spalted wood router box

This article is not about the boxes but a follow-up on how the build the jig, which is really just a base plate for a handheld router that will accommodate a bit larger rabbeting bit.
As I mentioned in the video, many will be asking why they can't use a Trim or Palam router, and the truth is it may be possible with some trim routers, but that doesn't mean it's recommended, and here's why. Trim or Palm routers are designed for small work, i.e. trimming, round-overs and shallow rabbeting, or dados for things like small things like inlays. Once you start taxing these small routers with big jobs, you start heating up the motor, and every time the motor gets hot, it degrades it to a small (or large) degree and after a time, the motor fails because the heating upcycles degrade the internal motor windings, an electrical short occurs, and now your Trim Router is a paperweight.   

The first step in making any router base is to secure some plastic to use, and I recommend that it is at least as thick as the plastic base you currently have, and even a tiny bit thicker will not hurt. I use Plexiglas for this and cut it on my table saw with a 60 tooth wood cutting blade that is set very low, about an inch above the plastic sheet.  ALWAYS wear eye protection and particularly with cutting plastics.

The size of the base is whatever you want it to be. In my case, it is about an inch overhang on the sides of the router base and about 20 inches long on the longest stretch. 

Wood Router Base Plate

Next, you will want to remove the existing plastic base from your router and take a moment to mark where the screws will need to be re-attached with the new base. I used a red felt pen on mine and that works well.  
Next, you will need to find 3 or 4 small bolts that will easily screw into the same threaded holes that you took the base plate bolts from. These new bolts will be used to create pointed studs that will then be used to mark where new holes need to be drilled into the Plexiglas to secure it to the metal router base.  Grind a point to these bolts as shown in the video, then insert them into the router base. They should be inserted about as far as they can go and still leave about an 1/8th of an inch sticking out of the base because you are going to lightly hammer the plastic onto these pointed studs to make a small mark in the Plexiglas. Make only ONE impact on each bolt otherwise you risk making multiple indentations and not know which one is which. If this does happen, you will need to either flip the Plexi over and re-do or flip it end to end, or you could use masking tape or some other thin coating to re-make your indentations in, but they must be clear enough for you to see. 

Mounting Screws

Next, you will need to drill some tiny thru-holes in the Plexi that will be used to center a Forstner bit OR a countersink bit depending on the kind of bolts or screws you will need to re-fasten the new Plexi base plate to your router. 
Once all the countersink holes and thru-holes are drilled, it will be time to test your skills by mounting the new base to your router. Expect that there may be a tiny bit of adjustment needed. If all 3 or 4 screws or bolts do not align, try to see if any 2 or 3 work then work on the ones that did not. That will save you time and give you a better fit in the end. 
REMEMBER when you are attaching the new Plexi base plate the screws or bolts only need to be "snug" ...you are not mounting wheels on your car, if you try to tighten too much your risk cracking or even breaking off a part of the Plexi. 

Once the new base plate is secured on the router, now is the time to make a hole big enough for your bits to protrude through, OR if you are making a base to use router Guide or Template Bushings, they will need to be that size. 

Router Base Plate

If you are making a plate for router bits to protrude through, just get the larges router bit you will want to use with this base and find a hole saw slightly larger. For this, it is NOT imperative that the hole in the Plexi be "exactly" in the center if it is off to one side or the other, as long as it doesn't rub on the router bit ... it's fine. Use the same method I used in the video by taking a small straight router bit to make an impression on the Plexi, the enlarge hole as need and finally use a hole saw to cut the Plexi and make the hole.

IF you will want to be using the base for Guide Bushings, you can purchase special "centering" pins, or you can simply invest in "V" router bit and use that to make a tiny indentation into your new Plexi router base and work from that. Note: you can often make the indentation mark in the new Plexi router base without even turning the router on, make sure the router is unplugged, lower the "V" bit to touching the Plexi base and rotate the bit by hand enough to make a small mark that you can then use to drill out with a tiny drill bit ... then use progressively larger bits until you get the same size bit that is in your hole saw. Then install the cutting size in our hole-saw that is the same size as the threaded portion of your Guide Bushings. Check this sizing ahead of time as this needs to be a tight another snug fit of the hole you make in the Plexi with the Guide Bushing thread. If you do this, you will have centered the hole in the new Plexi base that should work fine for using your guide bushings.

The completes the new Plexiglas base sufficient for use with the Adjustable Rabbeting Bit Set. This will allow you to make Rabbet cuts, inside or outside cuts for small and medium-size projects. If you need a slightly larger version for installing backs on larger cabinets you could either install with nuts and bolts, and wooden extension, or use clamps to achieve the same result. Either way, you will be able to cut rabbets on the inside back of cabinets and easily be able to install the backs without the fuss of having to make "Stop Rabbets" in the back of your cabinets. A much quicker and easier way of attaching cabinetry back.

Wooden Box

The new Plexi base could also be used as a solution for cutting circles in plywoods or other sheet good by simply installing a "pin" a specific distance from the cutting bit, OR you could use the base as a center finding slot cutter in the event you want to make "Floating Tenons", easily cut slots in both sides of your work, with something like a 1/4" Up Spiral bit, then create your own Floating Tenons by planing wood to a 1/4" thickness and cutting to length to fit in the slot, glue both sides and you instantly have a mortise and tenon joint. You could use the jig for making dados but there are better and easier ways to accomplish that. 

Spalted Wood Box

Copyright Colin Knecht
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