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Router Table Construction #1: Has anyone ever used a kitchen 'sink base cabinet' as a router table?

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Blog entry by mrfixitri posted 10-12-2009 04:05 PM 2790 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’m looking to build my first router table and was wondering if any of you out there have ever used a kitchen sink-base cabinet to do so. When I’ve looked at these particular cabinets, I found there was more than adequate room to hang a router. And the doors below offered some storage space. They come in various widths: 30”, 36”, 42, and 48” (the depth is fixed at around 24”). The height I would adjust as needed. I would likely [permanently] mount a router to this table so I see no reason for a drop-in plate (the precise-ness of measuring the cut-out intimidates me). The top would have a full-length hinge on the back of the table so as to be able to lift the top whenever I needed access. I’d also weigh down the box to prevent tip-over.

Anyone have any thoughts on this idea? Suggestions, cautions, previous experience???

Your opinions are most appreciated.

Larry

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com



23 comments so far

View interpim's profile

interpim

1133 posts in 2182 days


#1 posted 10-12-2009 04:27 PM

It sounds like the cabinet will work well.

One item for concern is I would recommend still using a plate… although you may think you will never pull it out of the table, you will eventually come to need to remove it, and lifting the entire top to do that is going to be a pain. When I did the cutout for my router I drew it out onto the top, then clamped temporary fences that I could ride my router across to ensure my cutout was perfect. I probably have 1/64” or smaller play in my homemade plate made from a piece of UHMW plastic with little hex set screws as levelers.

I thought myself that I would be satisfied with a simple no hassle router table build, but almost as soon as I finished it, I wanted to build one of the fantastic looking ones I see here on Lumberjocks all the time. I guess we all aren’t ever completely satisfied.

-- San Diego, CA

View mrfixitri's profile

mrfixitri

53 posts in 2021 days


#2 posted 10-12-2009 04:34 PM

The reason making the plate is intimidating is because I have very little experience using a router. But I like your suggestion as to how-to. I’ll give it a go. Melamine tops aren’t all that costly if I screw up a couple.

Agreed, I don’t think any of us are ever satisfied with what we build. I hope to put off router table envy for as long as I can. After seeing a design for something called the “Po-Boy” router table, (and I was ready to build THAT), anything more would be a step up. I’m curious as to why I’ve never seen a sink-base cabinet used as a router table. It seemed so simple to me when I first started thinking about saving time constructing the table/box.

Thanks for your input.
Larry

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com

View SteveMI's profile

SteveMI

869 posts in 2018 days


#3 posted 10-12-2009 04:47 PM

My concern with the big box store low end cabinets is that they were made to get a lot of their structure from the wall behind them or the cabinets fastened to each side. Vibration from the router could have an affect on the joints. Consider if you need to beef up the structure.

I have a 70s era wall cabinet in my garage on wheels that is really stout. You might want to consider someplace that sells “recycle / reuse” material for an older cabinet.

Steve.

View Ampeater's profile

Ampeater

396 posts in 2471 days


#4 posted 10-12-2009 05:13 PM

There will be a lot of sawdust inside. You should consider sealing off the top part to keep the dust out of the storage area.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2609 days


#5 posted 10-12-2009 05:21 PM

SteveMI is right about a STURDY cabinet and you do want a lift out plate trust me. If you get a plate get a metal/aluminum plate NOT a PLASTIC one.
Several companies sell the plates and the templates to cut out the opening for the plate. I have and recommend the discontinued one from Rockler.
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=21299&tagem=rv
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=21429&filter=router%20template
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=1385&filter=router%20plate
http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/smarthtml/pages/routacc1.html
And as Ampeter says above dust collection is a must IMHO.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View jlsmith5963's profile

jlsmith5963

297 posts in 2072 days


#6 posted 10-12-2009 06:26 PM

A couple of things to consider:
I am not sure what type of “Melamine top” your thinking about ( since melamine tops can have several different substrates ) but when choosing the material be sure to consider the ability of the substrate to support the hanging weight of the router. For example, even with a short span an un-reinforced chipboard substrate will eventually begin to sag due to the weight of the router. Regarding the cabinet, I would agree with SteveMI that low end cabinets are structural weak until they are attached to the wall. Additionally, most of the forces when using a router table are applied laterally and by their very nature cabinets are weak in resisting lateral forces ( typically they don’t have to ). Without some lateral reinforcement I am not sure how well a low end cabinet would stand up to being used as a router table.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View FunnelStudio's profile

FunnelStudio

30 posts in 2041 days


#7 posted 10-12-2009 06:37 PM

I’d say the cabinet would work, but be sure to add some stretchers to support the table top that will run near the router. I built a router table with a cabinet that I made, and didn’t put any support in the middle, and the laminated chip board top i used has started to sag under the weight of my router, which can cause problems. My top is 24×36. So if you go bigger or similar, put in stretchers.

And honestly, Rockler has some plates that are “discontinued” for $40. In terms of switching out bits and whatnot, I would say a plate is invaluable. You can directly attach it and try that for a while, but in my opinion, it is completely worth every penny. Also, and this is sort of important, depending on the speed of your router and the stock you are using, the router can rip out from the top, especially if it is screwed into a chip board top. This happened to a friend of mine, and his leg came with in inches of having a roman ogee in it. A plate gives a much more solid connection to the router and table.

I also know that it might be cheaper and more of a time saver to buy a premade cabinet, but it’s also totally worth it to gain some design & woodworking experience to make your own. If you want drawers, take a look at thrift stores and dumpsters for some card catalogs or small drawers, then build you cabinet to fit them. It takes some time, but is worth it. I found some old card catalog drawers and lined the bottoms with pieces of 3/4” MDF with 1/4” holes drilled to hold bits, and i think it looks rad and functions well.

Having a solid router table will be a solid go-to machine in your shop, so while cutting corners works in the short run, just be careful that you don’t end up with something you will cuss out in 6 months.

-- -Shaun M. Baer, http://www.craftedphiladelphia.com

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112538 posts in 2301 days


#8 posted 10-12-2009 06:37 PM

I think it’s a neat idea .but you will have to reinforce the cabinet from racking,not that hard to do. I’ve had a melamine top for years but it’s doubled up two layers. I think a store bought router plate is best because of the two to three center rings that can be popped out according to the size of router bit your using. Look forward to photos.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1398 posts in 2188 days


#9 posted 10-12-2009 06:46 PM

i guess i’ll chime in here and say: you dont necessarily need a plate :-) and i am using what appears to be a solid pine kitchen cabinet i got for next to nothing at a yard sale.

i have a fixed base permanently attached to the table with countersunk machine screws through the top. Havent had to remove it yet and even if i do, it’ll just be a matter of removing 3 screws. it was WAY easier than having to deal with a plate (not only installing, but leveling, etc). The motor is removable for use in a plunge base too. easy enough to access through the front of the cabinet.

Definitely Do seal off the top portion from the rest/storage space to keep the dust down. it’ll get dusty enough as it is.

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7151 posts in 2027 days


#10 posted 10-12-2009 07:37 PM

give ear to what a1jim says now…hes the router king here at lumber jocks…ask him how many routers he has and he will also tell you that he’s had the best luck with porter cable routers….as have i…good luck with your table…good advice has been given…..this is a super web site for wood workers…any help you might need is always just a few computer clicks away…welcome to lumber jocks…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

906 posts in 2337 days


#11 posted 10-12-2009 07:41 PM

I second the notions here of reinforcing any Kitchen style cabinet. This will also add mass which is not a minor issue. The last thing you want is for the table to start creeping on you when trying to route larger pieces.

I wouldn’t be so quick to discount a plate. And I have two additional words for you: router lift. I bought my router table, a NYW design that was 1/2 finished, at a moving sale. I bought a new router to put in it. I spent more money on a Woodpecker Quicklift than I did on the table and router. Do I regret it? Not one little bit!

Adding a router lift brings a lot of precision to the table, at least in cutting height above the table. I find that’s where I usually need it. The Quicklift makes bit changes easy above the table. I don’t think I’ve had the router out of the table since I mounted it, but I have a second router for manual routing.

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

View Rustic's profile

Rustic

3152 posts in 2320 days


#12 posted 10-12-2009 07:53 PM

My Router table is anold bathroom cabinet that I picked up at a Habitat Restore for $25.00 I had a cast iron top that I won from Handyman club of America. I just cut a hole in the top of it to fit the router. It has served me well for 3 or 4 years.

-- www.carvingandturningsbyrick.com, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1398 posts in 2188 days


#13 posted 10-12-2009 07:55 PM

EE does bring up a good point about have above-the-table depth adjustment. My router – a Frued model – has built in above the table adjustment capabilities without having to purchase a separate lift. That DOES make things a lot easier.

View Jimi_C's profile

Jimi_C

507 posts in 1958 days


#14 posted 10-12-2009 08:01 PM

Funny this thread came up. I was just considering last night using a couple of sheets of MDF laminated together to create an insert for my table saw that I could use as a router table. Since the MDF I have is 1/2”, I was going to laminate 2 sheets together, and at each edge use a 1” strip of MDF glued vertically to reinforce the surface. I was planning on not using a plate either, since I figured I’d have good access to it from underneath. I was also going to use some more MDF attached to my table saw fence in order to have a divide there for the cutter head.

I’ll probably do a blog on it if/when I actually do it :D

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1398 posts in 2188 days


#15 posted 10-12-2009 08:06 PM

OH BOY i hope you werent planning on putting a finish on that MDF! ;-)

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