Shop Built Router Table

I have been a fan of Norm Abrams and The New Yankee Workshop for many years. However, I also was overwhelmed at the size of Norm's shop and the number of large powers tools he used. I felt that that type of woodworking was beyond my reach. When I came across Bob and Rick on The Router Workshop on PBS TV, here were a father and son and a couple of simple wooden router tables and the simplest of jigs and fixtures making what I previously viewed as being very complicated joinery. Bob and Rick truly unlocked the mystery and mastery of woodworking for me.

At woodworking forums one of the most frequently asked question concerning router tables is: "Do I build or buy my first router table?"

Well, I bought my first, built my second and I am on my third router table and I expect this is my final and best design. My first router table was purchased from Sears for less than $100.00 including the router. The table is of cast aluminum with stamped sheet metal wings. For a beginner or as a second table it has done a good job. I still use it from time to time as a second machine when multiple router set ups will facilitate production.

router table photo

The first router table I built was patterned after the router table used by Bob and Rick on the PBS TV program The Router Workshop.

My previous woodworking was limited to shelving in construction trailers or in the garage. Building this router table was new territory. It came out okay. It was serviceable. It was a start. It gave me the opportunity to route some stopped dados, and route a rabbet for the recess plate. The Formica top was also a first. I used MDF for the top and decided I hated MDF for all of the dust it produces.

Having used only construction grade BC plywood, I thought I was stepping up by using sandply presanded plywood, but it tends to splinter real bad on the cross cuts. I now only purchase Birch plywood with a veneer core for everything.

I used that router table for about a year as I made plans for a better design. During that year of woodworking I was able to see the limitations of the table I had and to observe thru on-line forums what others were either purchasing or making for themselves.

router table photo

Here is my ultimate router table.

The drawer section is a Craftsman roller cabinet without the wheels, mounted on a 1 ½ inch base. The wheels are locking casters from Hartville Tool and both the wheel and the swivel lock to securely immobilize the table during use.

router table photo

The case work the drawer section fits into is ¾ Birch plywood. Spaced off of the plywood sides and back is ¼ inch pegboard which provides hanging storage.

The top of the roller section is also 1 ½ inches thick. The router table and rear hi-rise vertical fence both separate from the roller base.

router table photo

This permits the router table section to be easily transported for use at an out of shop location. Or for the roller section to be used in the shop for another purpose other than as a base for the router table. The table connects to the base by simply dropping in two ¼ inch thumb-bolts, one at each end.

The router table insert plate is from Woodpecker and allows for above the table bit changes.

router table photo

In the front of the table is a miter track, and next is a t-track. The two tracks placed front to rear are for the vertical fence adjustment. The two white sliding pieces of Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) plastic were purchased from Peachtree. As shown in the closed position these slide left and right and serve as zero clearance fences.

router table photo

When fully opened you can see the dust collection port.

router table photo

The rear view shows the shop vacuum hose connected to the dust port. The two bottom knobs are for adjusting the fence. The two pairs of knobs on the back of the fence are for adjusting the zero clearance fences.

In conclusion: I am really happy with how this project turned out. This router table has exceeded all of my expectations.

I could have also built the drawers; however the cost of the drawer slides, plywood and other materials was much greater than the cost of the Craftsman roller chest.

I did have some difficulty with the contact cement for the Formica. I first used the left over water-based contact cement from the first table I built. It was a year old. I could not get it to stick and ended up scraping some parts. I then bought some fresh solvent based contact cement and did not have much better results. Even after talking with my brother who does a lot of Formica work, we were both at a loss as to the problem. Maybe it was the 74º air conditioned shop. Who knows? I ended up using 3M Hi-Strength Spray Adhesive 90. This stuff works. It’s not cheap but works like a champ and is available at Home Depot. I will never go back to the brush/roll on contact cement.