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Thread: Router table design

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Diego County
    Posts
    420

    Router table design

    Well I need a new router table. I've been saving differant magazines for some time and I would like to incorporate some of the ideas. Here are some of the Ideas I want to go with at this point.

    Base: I like the design that Norm has on his old yankee show. it's basicly (?) a cabinet across the bottom with two rows (columns) of small drawers on each side of the router area. It has a back on the cabinet with a dust port for sucking up chips and a plexiglass door on the front. I would like to put this on wheels (locking) so that I can roll it around as I need it.

    Top: I want to make the top similar to Rocklers but a bit bigger. Approx. 36" wide and 24" deep. I also would like to have the top tip up (hinged on the back) to make it easier to get to the motor etc. I would like the top to have a miter gauge track going across from one side to another and T-track going from front to back for fence and featherboards etc.
    I hope to draw this up in the next couple of weeks. should this be on the "design forum"?

    I bring this all up with the following questions. What are your thoughts concerning this design? what would you like to see in a router table? What does yours have that you like most?

    We have a Craftsman router table at work and it's so light that we have to be careful about tipping it with large pieces. The thing that I like about it is that the switch on the front controls a small power strip where you plug your router and shopvac into and control them both with one switch (yeah, I'm going to put that in mine too).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Southlake, TX
    Posts
    75
    I made one based on Norm's old design, which I really like. I put mine on locking wheels, and it is very steady. Rather then making a fence, I bought the bench dog fence, which has also worked well. Rather then making the top open, I think that I would invest in a router lift, or maybe get one of the newer routers which allows you to adjust the height from above the table.

    If you have a dust collector, I think that you are better off putting a 4" port on the back instead of using the shop-vac. My setup collects almost all of the dust. It has the 4" port along with a shopvac hose which goes from the fence to the back of the unit.

    I didn't bother making the door out of plexiglass, just used MDF. Other then watching the dust swirl around inside, I'm not sure what advantages you get from the plexiglass. I actually made the whole thing out of MDF, including the top which is 2 layers then laminated.

    Bob

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Southern MD
    Posts
    1,931
    When you build your table, you may want to think about possible future upgrades. If you ever want to use one of the jointmaking systems like Incra or Jointech, you may want to design a slightly larger table (27"x36" or so). Jointech sells a plan for a pretty nice cabinet. You can view it at their site. But, if you have any plan, you could modify the size/configuration to suit your needs. If you think you might want to add a router lift down the road, pick a mfr that sells inserts the same size as their lifts (woodpeck is one, but others probably do also). Mostly, have fun.

    Jay
    Jay St. Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Gainesville, Florida
    Posts
    743
    Pat,

    My concept of a router table was very similar to yours. I designed the base to follow Norm's first table concept. I mounted it on four independent, locking 3" casters (Hartville Tools) and it works great. I made the whole table a little taller to suit my preference for higher working surfaces due to a bad back. It is 40" tall at the top of the table including the casters. I made the banks of drawers tall enough to accept my tallest router bit and my tallest Forstner bit which I also store in these drawers. I used regular drawer slides rather than the wooden guide approach Norm used. It takes 1" out of the drawer width but they operate very smoothly. I used a full extension guide on the lower drawer so it opens all the way. I have been very happy with this approach. I did use plexiglass for the door but anything would really do.

    I too wanted a 24" x 36" top and am glad I opted for the larger size. This allowed me to make the table wider than Norm's. I've left about 2" of overhang on the sides and 1" front and back. I added the estra top width the the two rows of drawers which made up for the minor loss in width due to the guides and then some. I figured up the materials cost based on Norm's design and it was only a few dollars less than one purchased prefabricated from Woodhaven. It has the miter gauge track you want but no T-track. The top I purchased came with one of Woodhaven's pre-drilled inserts and I have been very happy with it. I just pop the whole thing out by reaching underneath and grabbing the router motor and then push it up. This is probably much easier than a hinged top which was a concept that I considered but then discarded as unnecessary. I originally had a Bosch 1617EVS motor in a dedicated router base mounted to it. This router worked great but was slightly underpowered for raising panels. I've since bought a Hitachi M12V on sale that I now have permanently mounted to the insert. It is a more powerful (3 hp) unit and works well in a fixed installation. I use the Bosch (fixed base and plunge base) for all my hand held needs so it worked out well in the end.

    I built my own fence out of MDF. I cut tee tracks into the face of both the short and tall sacrifical fences using the appropriate router bit (Amana). I also cut tee tracks into the back of the sacrificial fences and use these to mount it to the primary fence with some tee nuts and Rockler knobs. The primary fence is mounted to an MDF base that is clamped at the ends with an L-shaped block and bolt/knob arrangment. I believe I have about $30 of materials in the fence and it works quite well. I made a couple of extra sacrificial fences when I built it so I should be set for years.

    I hope this helps. Please feel free to PM me if you have specific questions. BTW, I have no affiliation with any of the above vendors and manufacturers.

    You'll not only enjoy building your router table but will get an added kick every time you use it.
    Kent Cori

    Half a bubble off plumb

  5. #5
    Hello Pat,

    This is my go at a router table. It has 2 drawers to store router accesseries, 4 drawers for router bit storage each of these drawers have rubber grommets to hold the router bits nice and tight. It also has two large drawers on the bottom for what ever don't fit anywhere else The top measures in at 44" wide and 30" deep. I mounted a woodpecker aluminum insert in the top to hold my hitachi M12 V. I still need to design a fence and complete the dust collector hook up.

    Jeff Hamilton
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Olathe, Kansas
    Posts
    245
    Pat,

    I have just moved from the design phase into the "commitment" phase of my router table. Commitment means I have already put wood through the saw, and I'm in the joint fitting process.

    Mine is also loosely based on Norm's. I'm keeping my top to 24" x 32", and incorporating a combination T-track/miter gauge I got from Peachtree at the woodworking show. That hardware is 32" long. I am also using the Woodpecker Plungelift for the M12V.

    I'm using a mobility system I found in a Wood Magazine Idea Shop issue - only two straight casters on the back side that rest slightly higher than the floor when the unit is in place. I'm incorporating two retractable "handles" so it can be moved as necessary, much like a wheelbarrel.

    I read many posts about how many and where to put holes in doors to get the cabinets to clean out. I don't know yet if my design will work, but I've put sloping sides at the bottom corners of the router's "house" that feed chips to a center "channel", which has an opening designed in the front of the cabinet. That opening is 3/4" tall and 6 1/2" wide. The combined area of that opening, the hole under/behind the fence (a la Dizzy's design), and the opening in the plate for the router bit will approximate the area of the 4" diameter flex hose I'm attaching to the dust collector. Hope it works to keep all the dust out of the cabinet, but if it doesn't I know I've had several evenings of entertainment designing a failure.

    Hope this helps more than confuses. As stated by others, no affiliation with any of these manufacturers.

    Andy Haney
    Ottawa, Kansas

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    264
    Pat, another book to find and get ideas from is John McPherson's "Build Your Own Router Tables". I modified his Contractor's Router Table a bit and came up with this. It is 24" x 36" x 40" high. It didn't have dust collection when I first completed it except for the fence. When I got my DC I added a front and back door and a 4" collector at the lower rear area. It doesn't leave anything in the box. It had a Woodhaven insert and Hitachi M12V or TR-12 in it at first and I have added a PRL and big PC a couple of years ago. I put turn on/off capability on all four corners which was overkill. I use a foot switch and unplug the router on the side when not in use. One switch would have been enough. The drawer for bits is big enough for quite a few bits. That drawer and the others on the right side open from either side. The small ones in the middle open from the front side only. I used 3/4" and 1/2" Baltic Birch for all of the constuction so it is quite heavy. Hope you have fun building yours.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    I just finished my router table up earlier this month. I got a lot of good ideas from previous posts both here and another un-named WW forum. In the end, mine ended up looking a lot like Norms, but I did not use his plans.

    You can check out my table Here.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bracebridge Ontario
    Posts
    41
    Hi Pat.

    Here is a picture of the router table I made. It is based on Norm Abram's plan and also Bill Hylton and freed Matlack's design.

    The carcass is made of 3/4" Baltic birch plywood with locking casters.

    The top and fence system I purchased separate. It works very well. It has a 2.5" dust port on the back of the fence and a 4" port for the router cabinet, both work great.

    I hope this gives you some ideas. if you have any questions let me know.

    John
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Cave Creek, AZ - near Phoenix
    Posts
    1,261

    Cabinet design

    One thing I found to be a major change as my router table evolved was the location of the router in the cabinet. Many tables, including Norm's and just about all of those pictured in this thread, have the router in the center of the cabinet. When I went to an Incra fence, the center-of-the-cabinet design no longer worked well. The router needed to be offset toward the front of the table top, with the Incra fence, and the long dimension of the top became the depth, rather than the width. I now have a cabinet with the router at one end, similar to the Jointec plan. I found the Jointec plan to be the best around for this style - the router-at-one-end - if you want to build your own cabinet. This orientation also changes the cabinet opening to the side of the table rather than the front. Try to make your decision on the fence system you will use, and make your cabinet to fit the top, which is usually dictated by the fence system, especially for fences like Incra and Jointec. Dimensions for tops with Incra fences are available by downloading the users manuals from the Woodpeckers site.

    As my table evolved, I sold my previous table top, insert, fence, cabinet and mobile base. I got $200 for that package, which had cost me about $350 plus the labor to build the cabinet. My thought here is that it is OK to start out with one design and switch later, since you can recover at least some of the cost by selling your "mistake".
    Last edited by Dave Falkenstein; 04-13-2004 at 9:35 PM. Reason: Clarification

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Benbrook, TX
    Posts
    1,245
    Well, I'll go ahead and show my ignorance here:

    I'm working on first router table that will be nothing more than a leftover 3'x2' 3/4" birch ply w phenolic insert. This will replace the top for a folding workhorse device I found at a garage sale. My router will mount to the Workhorse and runs, has a safety bar & whatnot, but the thin steel plate sags terribly.

    Now, to show my ignorance: I tape "Router Workshop" daily and the seeming simplicity of their tables looks great. In particular, above-table bit changes and adjustments are made by lifting the plate and router from the table. This makes me wonder why anyone needs expensive lift systems and other gizmos for making above-table adjustments (of course it helps if, like the Rosendahl's, you have a different router and plate for every bit/height used).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    264
    James, Bob Rosendahl was my router hero long before there were neat lift mechanisms. I still have the table I bought from him in 1984 in Houston. It is pretty beat up, but it produced a lot of things for me. Once you use something for awhile and it has limitations, you start thinking of ways to make it better. There is nothing wrong with lifting the plate and router out to change bits. I personally needed a bigger table for things I made and I had minor problems with plate height adjustment or leveling that Bob's design didn't have. I also wanted to try a better fence system. When I built my own table I went with the Woodhaven plate mounting system which also has worked fine with my PRL.

    I saw Bob again at the 2002 IWF show and chatted with him for awhile. I had not seen him since he quit doing the woodworking show circuit. His son was doing a lot of the demos.

    Another feature I would like to incorporate in my next design would be a horizontal router setup. A recent Fine Woodworking article had a real simple desgn for this type of setup. I have been thinking how to mate those ideas with my present top........

  13. #13
    Glenn Wood Guest

    No shortage

    Well, obviously everyone agrees on the importance of a router table but the agreement stops there.

    I am in the process of building a cabinet under my router table for two reasons. First, the previous table sagged after a while and I could not pull it back level even bolting angle to the bottom. Second, I needed additional storage.

    I did a lot of drawings before I started and came up with the following design.

    1. Table (in a griz table saw) is 30" X 30"
    2. I am using a formica laminated top (a drop from a cabinet shop) glued to a piece of 3/4" MDF.
    3. I had a Jessem router lift and am using it. it is offset to the end of the table.
    4. I built a shroud the same size as the router lift insert to stiffen that area up and contain dust. It has an outlet in the bottom with a "store bought" blast gate.
    5. I built a manifold that connects the dust collection port of the table saw to the dust collection port of the router table. Each has it's own blast gate operated by nobs on the end or front. (Dust collector is operated with a remote.
    6. Switch is on outside front (set back far enough I don't hit it with my knee) with receptacle in the shroud area.
    7. On the northeast corner I built 2 drawers each large enough to hold a router with the connection from the manifold to the dust collector under them.
    8. On the east side at the dust shroud height there are 2 drawers small enough not to catch to much junk. Under them there is room for 4 trays to hold router bits. (thats a lot of router bits!)
    9. The entire west side (infeed side of table saw) is adjustable shelving 11' deep X 36" wide. This will be for table saw accessories such as tenoning jig, Dado set, finger boards, etc. I elected to live with the dust that would collect there.
    10. With the exceptoion of the top, it is all 3/4" maple plywood Purch from HD @ $26.00 a sheet.

    Hope the pic's help.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    3,789
    WOW, there is a lot of good advice and there are some nice tables shown in this thread.

    I will probably be making a routertable myself in about a year and have written a note to myself to return to this thread at that time.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    146
    Jeff:

    Where did you get the grommets?

    Doug

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