There was a time when every woodworker made all their own tools, or maybe you had a blacksmith help you with some of the metal parts ... roll forward about 5,000 years and woodworkers are still making their own tools, and this video is part of that.
I have talked about routers in the past, and that most woodworkers find that move than 805 of the wood router work they do involves a router table ... yet there are still tons of people with routers and no table. So, in this article and videos we will be building a very good quality wood router table that will serve most woodworkers well for decades of use ... and it's inexpensive to build.
*** UPDATE *** .... Popular Woodworking has asked Colin to be their Coach for their latest On-Line Course "Router Fundamentals" .... for more info ... this course is has now ended.
Part one - The Stand
Yes, we need something to put our router top on so why no build our own sturdy stand. Our stand will have 4 legs (obviously) and all four legs will have a five degree - 2 angle. The reason I like this stand is it is very sturdy and stable. Unlike some square type stands, the ones with angled legs are very hard to push over making them ideal for router bases. If you want, you could make the deluxe stand like the one Norm Abrams designed, or which plans are available on the Internet, but we want to make a stand that could be weekend project in having your router table build and working in a weekend.
Part 1 Making the Stand
Part 2 Making the Top
Part 3 Adding some Accessories
Part 4 - Using our Shop Made Router Table
To start off .... Our stand is constructed of construction grade lumber (hand picked) from the local lumber store. We picked up a quantity of 2 - 2" x 3" x 8ft boards, and 3 - 4" x 3/4" x 8ft boards.
The 2x3s would be for the legs, the 1x4s for the bracing and skirting ...
We started off by cutting our 2x3s at 36 " long to make them easier to handle. We then set up out table saw with a cross cut blade set to 5 degrees and our mitre gauge set also to 85 degrees. With this setting we trimmed the ends of 2 legs, then re-set the mitre gauge for 95 degrees to trim the other 2 legs.
We then clearly marked the legs front, back and sides so they would be easy to identify when it comes to assembly. The only other parts we needed to make were the braces. The fronts were 25" while the sides were 20".
Assembly was pretty easy, but we made sure that we glued all of the joints which made an extremely solid stand for the base of our router table.
Making the Top
Where the wood meets the bit ... the top of the router table. There are no industry standards for tops of router tables, but 24 x 32 inches has become very popular and so that is what we are going to work with. The top is MDF material and 1 inch thick to give us as much stability as we can get.
I decided to add a sheet of counter top laminate also referred to as aborite, to give the top a more professional look, but also make it much more resistant to wear than the raw MDF.
The laminate was glued to the top with contact cement - be sure to read the manufacturers recommendations for applying this, it does make a difference.
Once the laminate is on, the next job is to cut the hole for the router base. I used an existing base I had on hand, but you will probably need to purchase a blank router plate and drill the holes in it yourself according to what you router is. Sadly, there are no industry standards for router base hole placements so drilling your own holes is often the only answer. There are a few blank bases available on the market and I can only speak to what I have used in the past which is the Kreg base. It worked well and was fairly easy to figure out and drill the holes. While we are on the topic of Kreg, another product they make that I liked was their router base adjustment accessory. If you have a bit of spare money in making this table, the base adjusters also worked well, but as you can see in our video there are alternatives.
There are a few different ways of cutting the base plate shape from the router table. The method I chose was one that I felt was an easy one to follow and included tools that most woodworkers would already have, or at the least, might need to invest in a router bit, that would be very useful later on in the future.
When fitting the wood around the blank, I used some thin veneer to give the router plate a very small amount of play so that when it drops into the table hole, it will not be so tight as to not fit. If you don't do this, it can be very difficult to make the hole slightly larger in the future, you would be better off slightly sanding down the base plate to fit the hole.
One very important point, be sure when you are cutting the dado for the blank that it is slightly deeper than the thickness of your router base. The reason for this is that the base will need to sit on height adjusting screws to work properly so that it is at the correct height. A router base that is proud of the top will be frustrating, un-safe and difficult to use.
After the dado is cut the inside needs to be cut out and for this I just drilled holes in all four corners and used my jigsaw to slowly and accurately cut that center away.
After checking to make sure the base plate fits, AND that it is lower on all sides than the table, you will need to install some sort of height adjustment mechanism. As mentioned earlier, the Kreg system for this is one option, in our case we simply drilled 4 countersunk holes and installed 4 #6 screws.
The final chore is to drill the holes for your router in the base plate. Most routers have a removable plastic base plate which is one way of securing a template for hole placement. Do not worry if your router is slightly off center when all the holes are drilled and the router is in place, it will work just fine because everything on the router table is centered to the router bit.
Part 3 - Adding Accessories to our Router Table.
Many years ago their was little by way of accessories for router tables, but that has change recently and there is now a great selection of accessories for router tables, but in more recent years, there is now a good selection of useable gear for router tables.
One of the easiest and arguably one of the most important is adding a switch to you router table, and preferably one that you can easily unplug your router with. The reason for this lies in the design of many, many routers, which is ... they often have a hair-trigger, which means they can be turned on very easily. This is NOT a situation you want to happen when you are trying to change router bits. Many times I have seen people changing router bits on cluttered work benches or even on router tables with their fences etc. all of which could easily bump a switch on and create hazardous situation. I always recommend that a router be *un-plugged* before changing router bits and the best way to make sure this happens is to make it easy to plug-in and un-plug the power cord. To this end we installed a simple and inexpensive power bar, with a switch to the side of our router table. It can be used as an off/on switch or to easily unplug the router.
The second accessory we installed was something to make working with a router table more convenient, and that is a flip up, router lift. There are 2 kinds of router table lifts, the mechanical versions that raise and lower the router for changing bits and fine adjustments ... or, the kind the flips the whole table up, so you can change bits, adjust router motor speed and make fine adjustments. The router lift version we selected was from www.dowelmax.com . What we particularly liked about this unit, aside from the fact that it's easy to install and works on probably every router, you don't have to be an engineer to figure out how to fit it to the particular router you own..