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Life as an Amateur Woodworker #70: Trying to find a good Router Table design

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Blog entry by PhilBello posted 03-01-2016 01:35 AM 1191 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 69: Towel Rack Part 70 of Life as an Amateur Woodworker series Part 71: Yet Another Router Table »

Last July I blogged about building a new router table as an extension wing of my Table Saw, it worked well, but recently the router started to flex, and no amount of adjustment solved the problem, so it had to go, I don’t think it was the design, so much as the quality of the hardware I was able to get down here.

After searching the internet for a while, I came across another design, that bolts to your workbench. I used my old Bauker plunger router for this, it wont be long before the brushes need replacing, but for now it is working, since buying my trim router I have found that it has been used less and less. First I had to decide on the size of the router table top, I was sure that 30” long by 20” from front to back will be more than adequate, it will be bigger than the old one, and that gave me more than enough working room. The design called for 1” thick material, but the thickest sheets I have are 3/4”, I also want to keep the weight down, so I cut the 3/4” sheet to size, and then cut a strip of 1/2” ply 30” x 8”, to be laminated along the edge, for bolting to the bench, and another piece to be laminated across the middle of the sheet, to let in the router.

After ensuring they were the right size I glued and brad nailed the laminated boards in place. Once dry I marked out where the router would go.

The idea is that the bars supplied with the router will be used to hold it in place, a groove is cut for them to sit in and a piece of wood is clamped over them on either side to stop the router moving, this way the router can be removed from the board in seconds and used freehand if desired. This was my first moment of panic, because I couldn’t find the bars, I never use them, fortunately they turned up in my box of ‘Oddments’.

Firstly I cut out the recess for the router itself, I had to cut just shy of 3/4”, so I did it in several passes, freehand.

Using scrap ply of the same width to act as supports once much of the waste had been removed, after which I used a bull nose bit to cut the grooves for the bars, firstly in the table top.

Then in the pine that will be used to clamp the router in place.

Next came the router lift, this will allow me to adjust the cutting height, by winding a threaded rod from below.

I clamped the router table to the bench, I had intended to use three bolts, but in the end two, with wing nuts were sufficient. I tried out the old fence, it would have worked, albeit a bit on the short side, but whilst I was building a new table, for the time it takes, I might as well build a new purpose fitting fence.

I had just enough plywood left over for the main part of the fence. I also had to get around another problem, my router does not have a permanent ‘on’ switch, so I used electrical tape to keep the trigger in the on position, and looked out my foot pedal, which I placed between the router and the mains, the router now only works if my foot is in the pedal, a good safety measure.

I cut the opening for the bit, using the band saw, and the slots for adjustment, I drilled a hole at either end, and cut the slot with the jigsaw, ready for 1/4” bolts. I glued, and clamped the fence together, when dry I brad nailed it, and added the rear supports using pocket holes.

I cut a 30° reveal along the bottom to stop sawdust / shavings blocking the work-piece. Then, I cut the sliding face fence, putting a 30° angle both at the opening to the bit, and again also along the bottom.

I used scrap 1/2” ply for this, hence the extra holes, but they don’t have any detrimental effect on it’s use.

That done, I made a hinged flap for the vacuum hook-up, disassembled the whole table,and gave all the working area a coat of varnish.

I finished assembly of the Router Table and lift, this morning, and I have to admit that I am disappointed, not in the table but in the lift, there is too much flex when adjusting it, as a result I have had to drive some screws into the frame, for the time being to stop this. I think the only way to remedy it, is to make the lift out of thicker materials, which in turn will add to the weight…not good. However having said that, it looks good!

The table will function for now, but I know I won’t be happy with it, I will have to get it sorted at some stage, however I have some other house maintenance jobs that need to take priority, so it will have to wait. During that time I will decide whether to redesign the lift, or to start again with another design.

Although I hate to admit it, at this moment in time, in my book this classes as a ‘Fail’.

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright



13 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7700 posts in 2304 days


#1 posted 03-01-2016 01:47 AM

Phil,

Looks good to me. It’s a first step in using your tool (nice router) efficiently. Compared to the upper portion it’s a little under built, but I known to build everything like a bridge. LOL!

it looks like you need more frame bracing and possibly a strap clamp to hold the router securely.

If it were me, I’d want the adjustment from the top for the side versus the bottom. As it stands may be a handle of sorts to aid in the adjustment?

Keep up the good work!

I posted a spline jig project without a blog, which is being used in my box building… To be continued

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PhilBello's profile

PhilBello

389 posts in 1429 days


#2 posted 03-01-2016 03:22 AM

You are right Tom, normally I overdo it, but this is supposed to be portable, and weight is an issue, to answer a couple of your points, the router itself is solid, it can’t move because the cross bars are secured to the underside of the table, because it is ‘portable’, the top adjustment idea, won’t work, unless I cover the top in bolt/screw holes, because it is just that, only a top, bolted along it’s edge to the Bench. It is the frame of the adjusting threaded rod that is flexing, I’ll have another look at that, and change it, or start the whole thing from square one, I have another found another, which is simpler in every respect, I just have to decide if it is too simple for my needs… lol

I’ll catch up with your post in the morning, time to turn in now!....zzzzzzzzz

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 549 days


#3 posted 03-01-2016 03:33 AM

Phil, I wouldn’t classify it as a fail – you have a working router table. The lift being a bit less solid than you like doesn’t really detract from the overall functionality.

I wonder if a couple of simple triangilar gussets would help stiffen that part for you, if you still have some scrap ply to throw at it.

In any case, I like it, not least because that’s very nearly the router table I built years ago when I had a little 8’ x 14’ shop to work in. Only difference was I had a couple of turned legs from a discarded kitchen table that I attached with hinges so the whole arrangement folded when I took it off the bench, but gave great support when it was in place.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View Timberwolf323's profile

Timberwolf323

65 posts in 304 days


#4 posted 03-01-2016 05:03 AM

My functional router table consists of a 1/2” thick plywood square with a fixed base router screwed into it from the bottom. This sits in a melamine side wing in my table saw. Underneath has a plywood box with a 4”port for DC.

I relocated the trigger switch from the router to the side of the table saw. It’s not pretty. But it’s functional.

Having to pull the router to change the depth is annoying. But better than not having the router there at all.

View Mikesawdust's profile

Mikesawdust

274 posts in 2501 days


#5 posted 03-01-2016 11:28 AM

Have you considered a lever mechanism? I’m thinking a handle crossing under the router and through a vertical slot on the right side with a piece of all thread to adjust the height. I would think this would give you micro precision, depending on the length of the lever and a knurled knob would make an easy adjuster.

View PhilBello's profile

PhilBello

389 posts in 1429 days


#6 posted 03-01-2016 12:28 PM

Thanks for your suggestions Guys, the router table itself works fine, it is the lift that is the problem, and that might be down to me, because the original design called for 5/8” rod, I had 1/2” so used that, the extra 1/8” may well have made the difference, additionally the size of my router might have a bearing on the frame, because there are two whacking great handles sticking out, the frame had to be placed further away, consequently it is not as rigid.

I had a lever lift on my old setup, it worked great, but as the idea of this is to be able to lift it on and off the bench at will, the lever system, doesn’t work. I have a few options. 1: remove the lift and adjust manually 2: rebuild the lift using thicker material, and the correct sized rod 3: look for a smaller second hand router, but that would mean redoing the cut out. 4: bin this and build one that takes up less space, and is simpler in design.

My problem is space, I regularly using my router, and if I had the space I would make a dedicated router table, but I don’t, the whole shop is only 6m x 3.5m, so it is a case of compromise. I’ll get there, it’s just a case of…when!!!

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7700 posts in 2304 days


#7 posted 03-01-2016 07:20 PM

Phil,

I have a space problem in my shop area. I’m thinking of an outfeed table/routertable/work table. Attaching it to your saw table might be a solution re space?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PhilBello's profile

PhilBello

389 posts in 1429 days


#8 posted 03-01-2016 10:57 PM

I built my old router table in that way Tom

For some reason I haven’t got a photo of it in the tablesaw!!! It worked fine until recently, again the lift was the problem, the router started to move in the clips, and couldn’t be relied on for accurate cuts, I think it was the quality of the clips holding the router, they seemed very thin. at least there was no problem with threaded rods, it used Mikesawdust’s idea of a lever to lower and raise it, worked great, but no good for a portable system.

I bought some bits whilst out today, so I can either try to adjust the router in a different way, or go for the other system, which seems very basic, but effective, and takes up even less room… I think I am convincing myself to start again!!

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7700 posts in 2304 days


#9 posted 03-02-2016 12:01 AM

LOL!

As long as there is no customer deadline.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PhilBello's profile

PhilBello

389 posts in 1429 days


#10 posted 03-02-2016 01:12 AM

Customers…what are they? There’s only me :D

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7700 posts in 2304 days


#11 posted 03-02-2016 01:40 AM

Phil, Remember my saw forum?

Went out today to look at the blades I have replaced. I don’t throw anything away. I found in the pile of 10 inch blades a Freud 10” thin kerf 80 tooth ultra finish crosscut blade.

It’s a non red blade which I have had for awhile. I apparently bought it when I had money. Ran it in my grizzly go555 cabinet saw and it ran quiet with the blade as high up as allowable.

Put some brand new Harbor Freight ( Had these for awhile too) and both of the sang like a screeching soprano when the saw reached max rpms.

I think these blades worked ok on my old belt driven craftsman( lower high end rpm) but not now.

I also found a 40 tooth titanium coated from HF that ran true.

Soooo I’m feeling pretty fortunate right now. Found a place in Mankato where my office is that sharpens saw blades. This Freud blade (Red version) is around 60 bucks so it might be worth a sharpening?

Your wife is your best customer? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PhilBello's profile

PhilBello

389 posts in 1429 days


#12 posted 03-02-2016 01:55 AM

Sounds like you will be OK for blades for a while…lol I don’t throw any of mine either, other than the ones that came with the machines (Table-saw; circular saw; mitre saw) mine are all DeWalt, there is nothing else of quality down here, they sell Bosch, but I’m not a fan of their blades.

You’re right, my wife still has a list of jobs, just a shame she isn’t a paying customer ha! ha!

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View RJ2's profile

RJ2

151 posts in 3247 days


#13 posted 03-02-2016 02:07 PM

Nice work ,

-- RJ, Tampa Fl, RJMETALWOODS.COM

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