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Thread: Router Table Advice

  1. #1

    Router Table Advice

    Id like help evaluating two options for a router table top. Purpose will be general; nothing specific in mind, for random projects ranging from furniture size to jewelry box size.

    Im planning on building a router table top to go on top of an existing rolling cabinet. This cabinet slides under my workbench when not in use. See picture. Its 22 wide, 26 deep. The open area uses 13 of space (front to back) in the back part of the cabinet; drawers occupy the front part of the cabinet. Open area height is 15. Im planning on using a Dewalt 618 router, which will be mounted in the open area. My new router table top will replace the existing plywood top.

    For the top, I have a piece of formica salvaged from a laundry room remodel. Its inch thick that could be reinforced on under side; total size of my formica slab is 24 x 38.

    My options are shown in the diagram, a bird-eye view.

    Option 1: Set it up for a fence that runs cross ways (so max length of fence is the 22 width of the cabinet). This is easiest, but less infeed & outfeed table top range. I have some roller stands that could be set up for long boards infeed and outfeed..

    Option 2: Set up fence so that stock runs front-to-back with a hinged table on the back end of the cabinet. In the down position, my cabinet still rolls under the work bench. When the hinged portion is in the up position, I could add 12 of outfeed using the formica leftover, or up to 30 by making a new table top. That would give me lots of outfeed, but perfectly aligning the hinged portion with the fixed table top might be a bit of a challenge (at my current skill level).

    Ive only done a few router projects, using a small piece of plywood clamped onto sawhorses for a router table. So Id appreciate advice from more experienced router users about which option is better. And Id also appreciate other random comments that might help on this project.

    Thanks.

    Router rolling bin 3.jpegRouter Table Diagram.jpg

  2. #2
    Option 1 is fine but for wider projects you may want to consider the hinged panel like you drew or slide out support of some kind.
    In my table, the bit center is 12" from the front edge and sometimes I wish it were just a little bit more. It all depends of course on what you plan on routing the most

  3. #3
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    In my experience, you want as much distance between the front edge of the table and the router without exceeding comfortable reach. I rarely if ever run the workpiece between the fence and the router (risks kickback), the workpiece is usually between the front of the table and the router so having space behind the fence is a waste. Unlike a table saw where you need rip capacity.
    Do you have a router lift? I'd recommend the JessEm RoutR Lift II.

  4. #4
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    Are you sure that you want your working height that low? I understand your nesting requirements, but if you ever have a lot of profiling to do you may want to incorporate some way to jack up the table.

    Disclaimer: I am 66 tall. Everything is too low. Your actual elevation may vary.

  5. #5
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    Disclaimer: I am 5'10" (down from 6' in my younger days ). A router table, like a router, is fairly personal so recommendations can be all over the map. I use a router table quite often so although no expert, the last 20 years have taught me what is important to me.

    I would move your router back from the front edge regardless which other orientation choice you make. There is little need for surface area behind the fence and more support "in front" of the bit is better. I have wished that my fence would extend farther back several times. You do not show your fence rails in the pics so maybe that is your reason for the motor position. Again, just stating what works for me.

    My table is about 32" wide and has proven wide enough to do most anything without external supports. It happens but is a very rare thing. My point is that I would build to handle the occasional 72" routing requirement when most needs are for shorter fare.

    The table is only about 24" deep. I did a trade off for more table in front of the bit versus being able to move the fence farther back. This has been the right choice for me 99.99% of the time. Just don't try to convince me of that on the rare occasion that I am wishing for 1/2" more fence adjustment .

    A miter slot is a must and should be about the same distance from your cutter as your tablesaw blade is from the left miter slot. This not only creates a familiarity of slot to cutter relationship but allows some jigs to be used on both machines.

    Table overhang on both sides and at the front allow me to clamp stops, guide, oversized fences, etc. to the machine. I've had a table with flush sides and would never go back. For the sake of transparency, my RT is colocated with my tablesaw so I get the advantage of increased surface for both machines although not with the standard fence in use.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  6. #6
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    My top is roughly like your version 2 without the extension, maybe a few inches larger. It has worked well for me. I find that when work pieces get larger than can be comfortably worked on a top that size, it's usually easier to use a hand held router and take it to the work. In general I agree with Doug that extra space behind the fence isn't used a lot; the exception being routing grooves or dados in things like small cabinet sides, etc. Those can be done on the table saw unless they are stopped or have a dovetail profile, in which case the router table is my go to.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  7. #7
    Thank you all for your comments. You've given me some ideas for improvement of my first thoughts. Photo will come when I'm finished.

  8. #8
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    Realize I forgot to mention support. I had a 1-3/8" thick top that sagged. I realized this when my joinery wasn't fitting correctly. The table must be flat and the bit must be perpendicular. The point being, 3/4" is fine but have adequate support framing underneath.

    jIM-TOP.jpg

    I used this pattern on the next router table. They are 3/4" x 2" struts mounted with the 3/4" profile supporting the top. Multiple 2" struts of 3/4" ply have never sagged yet and its been over a decade.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  9. #9
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    I missed this thread previously. One thing I want to mention is that right now in my temporary shop, I have my BenchDog Cast iron router table top attached to a cabinet saw top which provides one large, continuous surface. I have to say...I really like that after using it for an edge treatment on a table top and some longer components. Necessary? No. But all that space does bring some flexibility. So if I make it independent of a saw again when the new shop building is up, I may very well find a way to continued to provide for a much larger surface area to work with, at least laterally.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Garson View Post
    In my experience, you want as much distance between the front edge of the table and the router without exceeding comfortable reach. I rarely if ever run the workpiece between the fence and the router (risks kickback), the workpiece is usually between the front of the table and the router so having space behind the fence is a waste. Unlike a table saw where you need rip capacity.
    Do you have a router lift? I'd recommend the JessEm RoutR Lift II.
    +1000. I have a MLCS cast iron router table top, and although it's extremely solid, I really, really wish that it provided more room in front of the fence.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  11. #11
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    I built my router table to match the exact height of my table saw. This has significantly helped me with some projects because I can use the tablesaw as an extended out-feed. I had to rout an edge on a 5 foot long speaker fully built from about 60 lbs of wood. Doing that on a smallish router table would be a lot more difficult.

    I do understand that you want to slide the router cabinet under your workbench. If you still want to do this, I would build the router cabinet as tall as possible but still be able to slide under the workbench. Then I would build additional spacers under the actual router table top so that when you place it down on the router cabinet, the top will match the height of the workbench. That way, you can use the workbench as an extended out-feed or an extended front support depending on how you position the router table when doing your work.

  12. #12
    You want sufficient table in front of the router as well as behind it. An ideal setup has the router able to use the table saw's fence. You never run material between the fence and the router. I often use an accessory wood fence (with a notch for the router bit) clamped to the table saw fence. Haaving a large taable surface is imperative for routing large glue-ups, like frames, etc.


    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  13. #13
    Aaron, a clever idea.

    Thanks for all the insights.

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