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A Shop-Made Router Table: Part I
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rockler router table package

Not very long ago a woodworker really only had two choices when acquiring a router table. They could buy a small shaper (motor permanently mounted) or build one from scratch. In fact, the first “router table” review I was able to find in a magazine was printed in 2000!

Today, you have many more choices. You can build completely from scratch; buy a router table package ready to work, or anything in between! You can make those parts you wish to and buy others. Pretty much every part is now available for sale.

This huge pool of options can be a bit daunting to wade into, so for the next several blog posts, you can follow along as I build a complete router table from fence to legs. I will be making most of the major parts from stock materials, but also showing you “off-the-shelf” parts you can buy if you choose to.

spreading glue for table top glue up

The work surface is the soul of the router table, so the router table top is where we will start this project. The router table I am building is designed to be large enough to do most router table tasks, but small enough to fold up for storage or transport. I decided on 28” wide and 18” deep.

The top must remain perfectly flat for precise milling. Many commercial router table tops are made from MDF an inch or thicker and faced with high pressure laminate. You can buy solid phenolic or even cast iron tops if you wish. These tops stay flat, but since this table will be folding and traveling, I wanted a durable top that was lighter weight. I laminated two layers of 1/2" Finnish plywood and topped it with high pressure laminate. I used polyurethane glue since it hardens completely and will resist movement. The parts were cut slightly oversized and I used a vacuum press to insure uniform clamping pressure as the glue cured.

vacuum press glue up of table top gluing table edge banding

The blank was then trimmed to size, and a quarter inch thick edge band was added. Next I laid out the positions for the router and miter slot. I will be using a mechanical lift for the router, but the process is the same for a standard plate as well. I attached the plate template where needed and used a small pattern bit to cut the channel for the lift to sit in according to the instructions on the template, and the waste in the center of the opening was cut away with a jigsaw.

posted on May 8, 2012 by Ralph Bagnall
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2 thoughts on “A Shop-Made Router Table: Part I”

  • mohammad


  • Alvin Wallace

    Hey Ralph,
    You are exactly right about all the options and materials available to build your own ultimate router table. I tried the saw table extension route but found I was having to rotate stile and rail cutters with raised panel bits, dado blades, crosscut and ripping blades, not to mention sharing the end of the extension with my dovetail jig. It was time to move the router elsewhere.
    I wanted a dual spindle table so that I could set up door frame stiles and rails side by side without changing my settings. I came up with something that's unique, isn't worth mass producing but works great. I started with two old Delta 34-600 9" (Homecraft) table saw stands, bases , and tops. I machined the undersides of the tops flat so that, after removing the router sub-bases, they could be secured together with countersunk screws through the tops, centering the shaft with the front semi-circle of the existing saw insert cutout. The P-C 890 has mounting holes far enough apart to span the insert opening, clamp locking and height adjustment capabilities from above the table, and plenty of power. If anyone else made all this plus remote variable speed, they would have got the sale.
    After making screw-down phenolic inserts to fit the table top openings with holes ranging from 1" to 3-1/2" (that's right, it handles the panel raising bits too!), I joined the tops together side by side using the factory extension holes. I then sealed the tops to the bases with urethane, covered all the unused holes with plastic cardboard, cut holes in the plywood between the stands and the bases to accept vacuum blast gates, hoses and the like, and modified the stands into four legs instead of eight. This required some metal fabrication, but even Phillip Lowe has a Bridgeport and probably a Lincoln welder!
    After hooking up the air for the cylinder operated blast gates, electricity to the selector switch, solenoids, and routers for safety and convenience, I proceeded to install an original rail mounted fence, unifeeder and incra fence to top it off. Now, I finally have the ultimate router table, and I build it myself from scratch, with a little help from my friends in Pittsburgh.

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