New Router Table #2: Making Progress and Making Mistakes

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Blog entry by jeffbranch posted 08-22-2013 02:20 AM 1438 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Getting Started Part 2 of New Router Table series Part 3: Drawer Construction »

The goal with this entry– create the case face frame (shown in blue) and…

…build the back, then put the case together.

I find woodworking to be a humbling hobby. I have been working with wood for about 30 years and while I don’t consider myself an expert, I think by now I should know enough to keep from making silly mistakes. But, as I have made progress on my new router table several mistakes have surfaced; two of them being significant ones.

I thought about listing them in this blog post, but remembered a MWA podcast with Jim Heavey of Wood magazine. In the podcast, Jim says this about discussing mistakes with others: just shut up. When viewing a completed project in front of others…

”…what most woodworkers do is they say, yea it’s OK, now its the first time I’ve used laquer before and you know – shut up. I think that 99% of the people I talk to, they are so concerned about a flaw they have on their work, they point it out before you have a chance to find it.”

Jim tells the story about seeing some beautiful marquetry work and the woodworker who made it starts talking about all the mistakes he made. Jim didn’t see the mistakes, so why point them out?

I am one of the 99% that Jim mentions. I see all the mistakes in my projects and I talk about them. At this point in construction, I have made a few mistakes on the router table, but I’ll do as Jim says; I am not going to tell anyone about them. :) By the way, the podcast is quite good, so give it a listen.

Forming the Case
With the raised panel sides completed, It is time to form the face frame. So far, the joinery has been stub tenons fitted into slots. This worked well while creating the sides, so I decided to continue using this joinery for the face frame and back. First, take a look at the face frame parts below…

The face frame components

Note the parts highlighted in blue

Since the face frame stiles are somewhat short, I decided to pass on making actual mortises. I don’t have a hollow chisel mortiser and cutting the needed mortises would have been time consuming, especially since the middle rail is so narrow. I decided to create mortises in an unusual way…

I create slots and form filler strips to fill them…

…which create the needed mortises.

This was a fun step in the project because I used my little Lie-Nielsen rabbet block plane to adjust the fit of the filler strips. Paper thin strips of wood peeled off with each pass of the block plane.

An exploded view of the back.

With the face frame components glued together, the back is next and it is created in a similar way as the sides, except I went with one large panel for the back. The back comes together without a hitch.

I temporarily bring the front, back and sides together using sheet rock screws (no glue). When I attach a face frame to a case, I always make the face frame a little wider than it should be. This enables me to trim the face frame flush to the case sides.

The front and back are trimmed flush with the sides.

To do this, I use a router with a flush trim bit. This process ensures that both the face frame and the back match any irregularity or bow in the case sides.

The Shelf
If you look closely in the photo above, you can see that the shelf has been added. The upper part of the cabinet is the router area and the lower part will have a drawer. I want to keep dust out of the drawer area, so this shelf acts as both a separator as well as a way to stiffen the cabinet.

This illustration better shows the self.

A close-up showing the slots needed to position the shelf.

I took care in setting up the cut for these slots – their location turned out perfect. The shelf is dead on flush with the top of the face frame rail.

So this is where I am currently on my router table build. I still need to add a dust collection port to the back. Right now the case components are still only screwed together, and they will stay that way until I get the drawer completed. I want to be able to take the back off should I need better access while installing the drawer runners and other parts. The goal for my next post is to have the dust port installed, the drawer completed and the case glued up.


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