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Router Table #1: Design ideas, need some feedback

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 1981 days ago 14709 reads 12 times favorited 43 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Router Table series Part 2: The Motor's In - Triton 3.25hp TRC001 1/2" Precision Router »

OK, so yeah – another blog about a router table, but since I’m going to make one , might as well document it while I go, maybe someone can benefit from this.

I’ve had a Rockler router table top + plate + fence which I got when I bought my router (Bosch 2 1/4hp). It had the misfurtune of being on the floor when my basement was flooded a couple of years ago, so that top was ruined. I since have been planning to replace it with a shop-built version, and make a full enclosed cabinet for it at the same time… it’s been a while… I have finally started putting the thought into ink (so to speak).

for the longest time (seriously) I have been keeping my eye open for material for the top that will be:
1. Flat
2. Weather resistant (mostly to water/moisture)
3. Smooth
4. Thick
5. Inexpensive

5 things, that when combined together don’t really go together hand in hand with what’s on the market. so I waited for a long time till last week I had my hands on a 1 3/8” Canvas Phenolic board 35”x36” – perfect size, perfect width, smooth, flat, and workable. AND, can handle the weather better than wood/MDF/Fiberboard would.

This thing though is crazy heavy, I can hardly lift it myself.

So I started designing how I’d cut the top and make use of it for an Incra Fence. I will eventually like to get an LS positioner (17”) but at the moment I just dont have any more funds to contribute to any of that, so I have to settle for a garage-sale found Original Incra Jig that I found for $20.

THOUGHT #1 (Feedback most welcome):
As much as I’d like to incorporate a router lift into this table, I just cannot spend any more money right now, and getting a $300 lift and plate is out of the question. I thought about getting a similar size plate for ~$40 and use that as a ‘temporary’ place holder until I can afford a lift, but I could also just mount my fixed base of the router (that would otherwise be mounted to the plate) directly to the table top, and route a small 4”x4” hole for a shop-made insert that I can close in around the bits:

Router Table Simple Top (Shop Made)

I’ve seen other’s have similar setup. my only concern is how easy access to the router would be. any takes on this? would you prefer to have a removeable plate? would you rather have the router mounted directly to the table top?

THOUGHT #2 (Feedback most welcome):
The other things I’m contemplating is how extreme I should go with supporting that top. my initial design is a torsion-box structure under the plate that will support the top throughout the plane, and will help avoid low/high spots in the long run (also will hide the electrical switch and cables in it):

Torsion box support for Table Top

Am I going overboard here? is this too much? I guess in this respect, I’d rather go overboard today, then wish I had added that extra support further down the line. should I enclose the torsion structure from underneath, or just leave it ‘open’ as it?

Thanks in Advance for all responses, and comments. I’m really excited about finally getting this project going, and can’t wait to actually have a router table again to use.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.



43 comments so far

View TraumaJacques's profile

TraumaJacques

433 posts in 2097 days


#1 posted 1981 days ago

Hi my name is Jacques and I have a woodworking problem well so she says anyway….
Now on to the topic of you router table, to answer the question rhetorical or not here goes,” no you are not going overboard” torsion table designs are here to stay and you will enjoy the benefits of a “flat” surface for many years to come, well worth spending the time to build it correctly.
Nice one by the way.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2361 days


#2 posted 1981 days ago

I would think that if it’s going to be a torsion box, the bottom would have to be covered as well. I have a Woodpeckers Aluminum plate plus the additional 8 pc ringset, 2 come with the plate. I highly recommend the plate. For a router I bought a Porter-Cable 890, it has a quick release to drop the motor out to change bits, and it also has above table hieght adjustment, but you gotta buy the overpriced $30 hieght adjustment tool to do it, so I just adjust the hieght from under the table, it’s not hard to do at all and is probably just as fast. The top is 1 1/4” MDF, laminated on both sides and edged with a rubber bumper, it was office cubicle desktop material.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2245 days


#3 posted 1981 days ago

Thanks guys, Torsion box it is then. it makes sense to enclose the bottom, as that will give it more rigidity.

Woodchuck – eventually I’d like to get the woodpeckers router lift, I think it’s the best out there, but for now I need to watch my expenses for a while, so I need to find a temporary solution since if I’m spending $100 on the woodpeckers plate alone, I might as well shell out the difference and get the lift with it . I also cannot afford getting another router right now, so the porter cable is our of the questions although its a nice one to have permanently installed in a table. my bosch does have above the table height adjustment that I can incorporate to any setup I make (drill an extra hole for the height screw).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

885 posts in 2210 days


#4 posted 1981 days ago

I have the woodpecker quicklift in my router table. You simply cannot beat it. Above the table height dial-in and quick lift above the table for changing bits – I just never, ever have to go below the table for anything.

But yeah, it was expensive – I spent more on the Quicklift than on the router table and router together (see the story in my projects, I really lucked out on the router table).

So, if you don’t get a lift, get a plate the same size and make it removable. The router is not accessable enough under the table, particularly given the design you present here. With a removable plate, you can always lift the router out of the table for access and eventually replace it with a quicklift, which is what I consider ideal. They make simple router plates exactly the same cutout as the lift. In fact, they have several different dimensions on the lifts to support different manufacturers standard cutouts.

For several years I put up with a simple router table that had the router permanently fastened below the table and a small hole for bits with different size throats for different bits – usable, but what a pain!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8715 posts in 2696 days


#5 posted 1981 days ago

It is not a true torsion box but the grid still works similar to a torsion box if it is connected at several points. It looks like overkill to me but that is not going to hurt anything. The project is not very big and you are not really costing yourself any extra in materials. You are cutting a few more pieces but that is not really a big issue because to make a grid is production style workflow.

I have a philosophy on building projects for the shop. This is the perfect place to hone your skills and the shop makes a good proving ground to see how certain styles of construction hold up over time.

The torsion box is not really as necessary to create a flat table as most people think. None of my shop tables have torsion box tops and they are all very flat and they are old enough that they would have sagged by now. You can check them out in my shop photos or go to my website and look at my shop (same photos.)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2361 days


#6 posted 1981 days ago

If that top wieghs as much as you describe, maybe you will need to timber frame the cabinet, lol. Could be a cool design if done right.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2245 days


#7 posted 1981 days ago

Thanks Todd, I do believe this Grid is an overkill, but like you said – it’s a small scale, and will not hurt anyone, and I’m not really losing much material here.

I have the philosophy like yours that the shop is the best place to train yourself on techniques and designs – see my Hand Tool Cabinet Blog

EEngineer, I have my eye on the Woodpecker PRL2 lift, but it’ll be a while since I can get that, and their “simple” plates are ~$100 which is not cheap either – definitely if you consider it “temporary”. I think I’ll try to make a similar size plate our of phenolic board (I have another phenolic board that is 5/8” thick) that I can use as a temporary solution while still being able to lift it up for bit changes. could you do me a favor and verify that the lift plate size is what they advertise it to be (I think it’s 9 1/4” x 11 3/4”)? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks again

Woodchuck – haha, dont make me change my entire design! lol… I can lift a 45lbs weight in each hand, but this top was difficult. maybe it’s because of it’s large size that it felt harder to lift…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2361 days


#8 posted 1981 days ago

Yeah, well the top will lose some wieght after you chop a big hole in it for the plate. lol.

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

885 posts in 2210 days


#9 posted 1981 days ago

They make two different sizes – 8 1/4” X 11 3/4” and 9 1/4” X 11 3/4”. I don’t remember which mine is. I do remember measuring the cutout and finding it was exactly the quoted size. I’ll check this for you when the weather gets nicer.

You aren’t necessarily stuck with a woodpecker plate. My router table was originally cut for a Jessem plate (I think theirs start at $50) and one of those sizes is the same as the Jessem plates.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2245 days


#10 posted 1981 days ago

That is true Woodchuck, I will also trim it from the 35” current width, to a 28” wide top, which will reduce another large amount of weight. (I might use the extra cutoff piece as fences material)

Great EEngineer, that would be most helpful, just to be on the safe size before I’m cutting the wrong size hole (I can always transform this table top to a counter top with a builtin trash hole. I just checked and it does seem like the JessEm plates are similar in size (9.1/4×11.1/4) maybe I’ll go that route, or … just make my own… I guess I have options

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 2367 days


#11 posted 1981 days ago

Hey PurpLev,
Remember, if you box the router inside a cabinet and don’t have enough ventilation, it will burn out. I lost one router to this situation. I modified the cabinet with a dedicated dust collector, and while it kept the router cool, it did not do a good job of evacuating the dust, since most of the dust was generated above the router opening.
While it is nothing to write home about, my new table (see workshop pictures) is just a double layup of MDF with laminate on a rockler base. It throws the sawdust around, but that’s what the shopvac is for.

Sincerely,

Tom

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2245 days


#12 posted 1981 days ago

Thanks Tom, I will have dust collection setup for this, and this will show in the next few sketchup models, right now I’m still focused on the top = plate and support. once that’s dialed in, everything else will follow. I do plan to incorporate dust ports for under/inside AND over the table that will both go to my dust collector.

If anyone can help me get the exact dimensions of a Woodpecker/pinnacle lift plate I would really appreciate it. width, length, depth, and the radius of the corners (radius can be matched with drill bit size/hole) this way I can make a template, and create a temporary plate that could be swapped later with an identical size lift plate – I’ll also make a Sketchup model, and post it here for others to use does anyone happen to have any such templates scanned for 1-1 scale?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sIKE's profile

sIKE

1271 posts in 2351 days


#13 posted 1981 days ago

Take a look at my blog on the build out of my router table. I cover my modifications to the classic Norm Table and the reasoning behind why I did what I did, it might help you out with yours.

I love mine btw! If you look at my project you will see that I am using mine with a Incra Orginal Jig.
Click for details

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View lew's profile

lew

9938 posts in 2352 days


#14 posted 1981 days ago

Just an observation, but why do you have so much table space on the “back” side of the top? Most cutting takes place on the side towards the miter slot and on the right side as you face the table. To me, it would make more sense to have the majority of table surface space in the “front”. If I missed something, I apologize for the comment.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 2367 days


#15 posted 1981 days ago

PurpLev,
I have the Woodpecker Quicklift, will that do? If so, I could get you some measurements tomorrow when I’m back in the shop.

Tom

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

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