When my wife and I bought our first house, I finally had a place to set up a “real” shop. It was a one-car garage, stuffed with our car, trash cans, a mower and bicycles. Floor space was so cramped that there was hardly room for a bench, the table saw and me, let alone other stationary tools. So, my router table had to adapt to the space. It amounted to a piece of countertop hinged to the wall, and it rested on a 2×4 brace. Not much for looks, but it worked, and equally important, it flipped up to stay off that tiny floor.
I’ve got a lot more floor space now, but I still hate to waste it. So, the project you see here is my high-tech evolution of that first router table … and this one is WAY better! It features a full-size 24″ x 32″ laminated tabletop that rests on a pair of removable support arms during use. When not needed, it tips up and tucks into a cabinet that’s just 12″ deep. Even your router and plate have a dedicated storage spot: they slide into a pair of dadoes between the shelf dividers. I souped mine up with Freud’s SH-5 Fence so I’d have dust collection and micro-adjust features. You could easily adapt any router fence you have, or build one instead. My fence mounts on T-tracks, but bolts run through long slots in the table or a series of holes would work, too. You don’t even have to remove the fence to close the table up; just slide it back, lock it in place, and it tips right into a cabinet cubby. I bored a hole through the cabinet wall for my shop vac hose and added an on/off switch with a plug for my router cord. If you like what you see, here’s how to add this space saver to your shop.
Starting with the Table
The table’s center area is a sandwich of 1/2″- and 3/4″-thick MDF covered with plastic laminate. To make the core, cut the bottom (piece 1) to size, according to the Material List dimensions. Cut the top core (piece 2) about 1/4″ larger in both dimensions, and glue the two pieces together. Using a flush-trim bit with the bearing riding on the bottom core, trim the top core to match it. Now, cover both faces with oversized pieces of plastic laminate (pieces 3) and rout them flush.
There are a number of ways to make the router plate cutout in the tabletop. Here’s how I did it: I fixed Rockler’s plate installation template to my tabletop with double-faced tape. Then, with a 1″ O.D. rub collar and a 1/2″ upcut spiral bit installed in my plunge router, I routed down through the cutout area to remove the center waste piece. The offset between the rub collar and bit will also create a 1/4″ lip for supporting the router plate. Switch to Rockler’s piloted pattern bit to create the shallow plate recess. Carefully set the bit depth to match the thickness of the router plate, and test the cut on a piece of scrap. Once the correct depth is dialed in, rout around the inside of the plate template to finish up the cutout.
The front, back and side edging (pieces 4 through 6) give the table a sturdy finished edge, but they also help stiffen the MDF core and provide a sturdier substrate for securing the pivot bolts. Mill your edging pieces from hardwood stock, and attach them to the core with pairs of #20 biscuits (pieces 7), spaced evenly around the core.
Insert a pair in the joint between the back and side edging to help reinforce these joints. Radius the corners of the front edging on your band saw, sand these curves to refine them, and glue and clamp all the edging in place. When the glue dries, plane or sand the edging joints flush and ease the sharp edges with a 1/8″ roundover bit.
At this stage, your table is nearly done, but you still have a few tasks left to do. Cut a 1/2″-deep, 1″-wide dado slot across the table for the aluminum miter track (piece 8), and screw it in place. Then, figure out how you’ll mount your router fence. I routed dado slots for 10″ lengths of T-tracks, squared up the ends and mounted the tracks with screws.
Finish up table construction by boring 3″-deep pilot holes for the 5/16″ x 4″ lag screws (pieces 19) that will serve as pivot “hinges.” I used a doweling jig to ensure that these holes would be perfectly square and centered on the table’s thickness. Using a 1/4″-diameter bit, drill them 1″ in from the back edge of the table.