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Revamping my Delta Contractor Saw #15: Where should I mount the router on my table saw?

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Blog entry by Mark Colan posted 11-26-2010 04:39 AM 8889 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: RHS Table Extension Complete! Part 15 of Revamping my Delta Contractor Saw series Part 16: Router Table (as part of saw) finished! »

This has been a problem I have been thinking about for months. I would have a better idea of how to build the best router table if I had used a router table before.

My original thought was to put it on the far right side of the extension table. It would be very accessible there. The downside: the whole fence system needs to be removed, rotated 180 degrees, and set into place… every time I want to switch from router to table saw. I decided this is not convenient enough, and abandoned the idea.

The next idea was to borrow from router tables designed for table saws – such as one from Incra – on the right side of the blade:

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Feeding from the front is an efficient way to work, especially for long, narrow pieces. But what about small pieces? And I would have to lean way over the table to change router bits, creating stress in my lower back. Also, working under the table for adjustments below, I would have to reach pretty far back. So this configuration doesn’t work all that well.

Taking a nod from Bill Hylton’s router book, in which he suggested an “offset” configuration with the router towards the front, I considered doing something similar here:

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This seemed like a good compromise, but before I started cutting the new extension table, I decided to ask Mark at Incra what he thought. His reply was spot on: I was trading off ergonomics for stability. In particular, having the router up front like this reduces the infeed support. I decided this was a serious flaw with this design, and discarded it too. Mark also said that the reason people liked the router tables on the LEFT side of the blade was that it gave better ergonomics without sacrificing stability.

That sold me on this approach. I started studying LHS tables from various manufacturers – Incra and Bench Dog mainly. I love the idea of a cast iron extension, such as Bench Dog offers. And its size is perfect. However, it’s a big investment, and I already invested in a router plate and template to mount it into tables… and I really wanted to build this myself.

So I built a second extension table for left of the blade – designed to replace the 8” cast iron wing that came with my saw. The dimensions were taken from Bull Dog’s table: 16” wide, 27” deep. I used the same laminate and trim design as the right side. To keep the table as flat as possible from front to back, I bought some perforated angle iron stock at the hardware store and used lag bolts to attach it at intervals of 3”. I cut it to length, then rounded all corners to avoid injury. These angle brackets will also be used to attach to various cabinets and a dust box on the underside later on. Here’s a look at the underside:

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The table is again 1-5/8” thick (two layers of 3/4” MDF, and laminate on top and bottom). I wanted to use lag bolts, but I needed to keep the top surface totally flat. I was worried about having the pointed end of the lag bolt push against the table top, creating dimples, so I used my primitive grinder to get rid of the pointed ends. This allowed me to use 1-1/2” lag bolts and take advantage of the maximum grab without any risk of dimpling the table surface:

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I removed the cast iron wing. Then I used the same approach of bolting oak strips to the t-slots in the Incra fence rails (see picture in previous blog entry) for the LHS table. The table fit nicely, and I really like the look of the saw better with the new router extension on the left:

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Now the router placement. I plan to center it front-to-back. Full access is possible by standing on the left side of the router/saw table. I want to place the center of the bit at least 9” from the left edge of the table, to provide enough support for wider boards. I could reasonably edge 10” or 12” boards this way, though some would hang over the edge of the table. If I need wider than that, I can route on the right side of the bit, feeding from the back of the saw instead, and still use the fence.

I decided to install a miter channel for edge work and to support feather boards. I had to figure out how far the miter channel should be from the near edge of the channel to the center of the bit. Checking out some commercial tables, I found most were between 6” and 6-3/4”. I decided on 6-1/4” to allow the feather board I have to nearly reach the center of the bit, so it will work even with small bits and narrow stock..

The picture below does not have the plate centered front-to-back, but it will be. Otherwise, this is how I think I will arrange the miter channel and router plate:

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I would REALLY like any comments from anyone out there – preferably BEFORE I commit to this design by cutting the grooves – from those of you with lots of router table experience – and anyone else who wants to, of course.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA



7 comments so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2202 posts in 2619 days


#1 posted 11-26-2010 06:23 AM

Mark:

Love it. Just so you know, I have a Bench Dog router extension (with Bosch 1617 router and Rocker FX lift) on the left side of my right-tilting Unisaw. It is in the perfect place and never makes me feel like I’m missing something by having a separate router table. It’s easy to work on the left side…don’t know why people would want it on the right side, personally.

BTW, I have the 32” TS-LS Super System on the way as we speak. I’m excited as punch to get that think running. It just take forever to make a single cut with my vintage Delta fence.

Regards,

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2202 posts in 2619 days


#2 posted 11-26-2010 06:24 AM

BTW, I enjoyed your blog postings on the Incra set-up. Thanks for sharing it!

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 2306 days


#3 posted 11-26-2010 12:37 PM

Hey cosmo,

Thanks for your comments. I originally planned to have the router on the right of the blade. This was left over from when I thought it would be all the way on the right side of the extension table, which would be great except for having to turn the Incra fence to switch from saw to router use.

Also, I did not want to extend the left side, and the left side is generally near obstacles in my shop, so not an ideal place to stand while working there. But hey, I can turn the saw.

I am reasonably convinced that left of blade is ideal despite the obstacles in my shop.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View nobuckle's profile

nobuckle

1120 posts in 2222 days


#4 posted 11-26-2010 03:40 PM

That looks really good Mark. Let me just say that you have one serious fence system, impressive. I recently finished the first phase of a router table extension for my TS. It looks like we have the same saw, Delta model 36-979. Here is what I did with mine:

As you can see the only side I could put it on was the left side. I used this new set up for the first time yesterday while working on a project for a project for a project. It looks as though the set up you are considering is going to work out well. I also looked for advice from fellow LJs. They helped me out tremendously. I hope this goes well for you and look forward to seeing the end results. Take care.

Doug, Ohio

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 2306 days


#5 posted 11-26-2010 05:20 PM

Doug, I like your extension table setup. I could really use some extension like that. Having it integrated with the left wing must make it more solid, too.

I think the model number of my saw is 36-444… but it could be that that is the number for the package version I got (with extension table, left cast-iron wing, Unifence, etc). I got a special edition version that is ivory rather than blue-gray. I like the ivory color, but it wasn’t the reason for getting the saw.

Charlie!, you’re right that I may have to lower the router to use the saw. I have the Triton MOF001 which makes this fairly quick, but it’s still one more thing. The key reason for putting the router in the wing is to share the fence with the saw: it makes an ideal router fence, and I only wanted to buy one! I also save space at the cost of flexibility of a separate table.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 3134 days


#6 posted 11-26-2010 05:36 PM

Mark, that looks good.

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2202 posts in 2619 days


#7 posted 11-26-2010 05:44 PM

I see what you mean about the accessibility issue. For me, I am designing my shop to where the left side of the table is most accessible. I guess you could put it on the far right and flip the LS when you need it (doesn’t look all that hard to do when “Incra-Mark” does it).

My fear would be less stability that far on the right, which I guess you can easily accommodate with additional supports.

Because of the right side space required by the positioner arm, it does kinda limit your options a bit concerning shop design (especially in smaller shops), but I think we can be a little inventive, like putting other tools to the right side that can be safely invaded by the positioner without touching, yet still function when the Incra is contracted. For me, I’m thinking about something like the bandsaw, positioned so that the arm goes straight through the “loop.” Or in the least, I could store my large sawhorses on that side. In these ways, no shop space is wasted by the extra movement of the Incra, all because you might need to rip boards at the full capacity of the fence.

Oh, well, I’m rambling. You’ve thought it out pretty well…I think I’d just go with the gut feel…how will it work for you?

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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