How to Build your Own Router Table, a Step by Step Guide
Building Router Tables
How to Build your Own Router Table, a Step by Step Guide
The router table is one of the most versatile and popular tools in the workshop. But sometimes they can have very big price tags. If you are thinking about making your own to cut some of the costs, this article can be a big help. I would like to help you walk through the decision process and the building process for this very fun project.
There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself before you let one ounce of sawdust fly.
- What kind of features do you want on the table?
- Where do you get the parts for this project.
Those two questions are the two you need to start with since they will drive all the other decisions you need to make along the way.
There are some real nice features to have on your table and some you might not need. There is no sense in adding features you do not need if you are trying to keep the cost down.
This allows you to use aftermarket jigs such as featherboards and coping sleds. This will come in handy if you plan on making some raised panel cabinet doors
Router table Insert.
Unless you have either the Triton routers or the Freud above the table router, you will need an insert. The insert is what the router is attached to and allows you to take the router in and out of the table. The Triton routers and the Freud routers would allow you to bolt them directly to a table top provided you had some sort of Ring set that you could pop in and out of the table. Most router tables use inserts.
Fences with dust collection
Fences come in two basic flavors, split and fixed. Split fences allow you to to move the fence extension wings in and out towards the router bit. Fixed fences are usually one piece of solid wood or mdf with a dust port opening. You can really go prehistoric and just use a straight piece of wood clamped to your table top. It really depends on the projects you are going to make. Most fences ride on some T-track that is flush mounted into the table.
Either your table will sit on its own stand or be a bench top model. This always depends on how much room you have.
Now that you have picked your features, and have an idea of what you want, its time to determine the size of the table. Size is usually predicated on how much room you have in your shop. A full size table is usually approximately 24" x 32" Bench top tables can be anything smaller than that. Most of the time bench top tables don't have all the features of the larger full size tables, but this is changing. The Super Benchby Router Table Depot is a good example of this. They also carry a kit in which you can buy all the components for building your router table. This makes things much simpler.
Building the top is the hardest part of the whole process. You basically are building a table top. If you are wise, build it as thick as possible. I whole heartedly recommend 1 ½ inches thick. You can do this by glueing two sheets of ¾ mdf together. Use contact cement to make the job go faster.
- Cut two pieces of MDF to your desired size.
- When they are dry, inspect them to make sure they are absolutely flush.
- Draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner to find the absolute center of the project.
- Line your insert up so that it is centered over this hole perfectly, do not be in a hurry here.
- Trace a line around the insert with a very sharp pencil.
- Now make a box inside that tracing that measures 3/8" from the outside.
Cut it Out
7. Next you want to cut out the middle or inner box. You can use a jig saw if you are careful not to bend the blade. Try to use a high quality jig saw. I have seen some woodworkers cut it out with the router as well.
Cut the ledge
8. This leaves you with the original insert tracing, now for the tricky part. You want to make a ledge for the router insert to sit on. Take a straight bit and rout out the 3/8" line so it looks like the diagram below. Try to make the depth the same as the insert or slightly deeper (1/100th or so)
This is how it will look when you place the insert in
That is the hardest part of the whole assembly.
There is another way to go about that is worth mentioning. Instead of routing out the 3/8 lip you would skip the step of drawing in the box inside of the insert tracing. This would leave you with just the insert tracing which you would cut out with a jig saw or any other method.
Then you would take some hardwood and make a small square that would fit inside the hole you just cut out. It would be like the ledge you routed out in the previous example but a little easier to make. You could just cut out one piece at a time and glue them in.
If you can cut out this piece in one piece it could look like this
Applying Laminate to the router table
Alright moving down the highway of learning ( and more of the fun stuff)
Next you will apply the laminate. You can get plain old white laminate at Lowes or Home Depot. If you do not want to buy a sheet, you can maybe swing into a cabinet shop and ask them for some scraps.
Take some contact cement and coat the entire top with it as well as the bottom side of the laminate. Follow the directions on the can. When dry apply the laminate to the mdf and roll out the bubbles. When this is dry take a flush trim bit and trim the laminate around the mdf. The flush trim bit makes the laminate perfectly flush.
Now your top is covered, you can elect to make it even more attractive by putting some hardwood trim around the edges. Use standard ¾" wood and glue on one edge at a time. Be careful to make sure the hardwood is flush with the laminate.
Applying hardwood trim, Diagram 11
Lastly if you choose to have a miter track you will need to either rout out a groove to accept the miter track or use a dado blade on the saw. The depth of the groove should be the same or slightly deeper than the miter track.
Miter Track Groove (dado)
T-tracks for the fence can be flush mounted.
T-tracks for the router table
Finally, the finished router table
Last but not least you can construct the stand of your choice and install the fence. Whether you buy a fixed fence or a split fence, they both are easy to ride in the t-tracks. Again a good kit will give you everything you need to make the top with the features you want.