Upgrade to the Workbench/Router

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Project by DannyBoy posted 01-03-2009 12:51 AM 9331 views 9 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Upgrade to the Workbench/Router
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I’m thinking up “upgrading” to a better router table setup. Currently, I have a Craftsman router table that I got as a gift. It does an alright job for smaller projects. However, I really want to go up a notch on my abilities with the table.

I looked at several options including a rolling fold away table. That idea spawned a thought of adding the fold down top to my workbench. After pondering that for a while, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort of constructing legs that would fold under it. I just figured it would be more in the way than not.

Then, I thought that I may try and do it as a part of the table itself. There are tons of advantages to this for me, space and storage being the biggest. So, I dusted off the ol’ Sketch-Up and drafted this basic design.

The bench I have and is made of white wood from HD. Mostly laminated 2×4s and 2×6s. Don’t be fooled, it is heavy as hell. To make sure that the top of the router table is absolutely flat and smooth, I would cut down that part of the table and put in either hardboard or splurge for some oak ply. Then, cut the whole out in the center and rabbit out an edge for the insert (to which I could either put the router or a blank for a smooth surface).

For fences and hold downs, I’d run two pieces of T-Track about 6 inches beyond the insert. Then build a dust box underneath with a whole cut int he bottom to put some piping to connect to my dust collection system (a bagged shop-vac with a clogged filter).

I’m curious if anyone else has this or a similar set up for their shop.

-- He said wood...

6 comments so far

View 4hisglory's profile


73 posts in 3447 days

#1 posted 01-03-2009 01:20 AM

I would recommend you use mdf for your router top as that is the flatest surface you can get. My router table is 3/4” cherry mdf lacquered and buffed with paraffin wax for a glassy smooth working surface. as for the in the bench idea. I personally don’t like it. I’ve used it before when I was working in tighter confines and it is tedious and annoying to have to work around a router you have all set up and vise versa. As for the dust collection I recommend you house the bit on top of the router table with a small home made box and a 4” dust port on the back of it. Its optimal that you keep the dust on top of the table and not pull it through the machine’s compartment. Just my 2 cents :)

I’m sure whatever you do will please you.

-- 3rd generation craftsman ~

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3959 days

#2 posted 01-03-2009 02:07 AM

I built my router table(cabinet) to the same height as my bench. I use it as an extension all the time. It also gets buried in tools and other things occasionally. I used MDO for my top. Mostly because I had a piece big enough to do what I wanted. I think I made my top 48×24. I wanted it big enough that I could run big boards. I used T- track for the fence and used the shaper fence from my Shopsmith with a piece of hickory for a fence. I really don’t like the T-track because the nuts hang up and bind . I think I will redo the top with laminate in the near future. I put a miter gauge track in it that I never use. I built a slider for the top of the fence that works really well.
Anyway, If you like the idea, and don’t mind taking your fence off and removing the router and plate all the time, go for it. Personally, I think it would drive me nuts. I routinely leave the last setup on the router until I know I didn’t screw up and will need it again. It may be your space limitations dictate this as a good way to go. Good Luck!!

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View LesB's profile


1726 posts in 3440 days

#3 posted 01-03-2009 02:48 AM

Interesting idea if you are cramped for space. I agree with Thos. about set up and take down.

Mine is in a rolling cabinet which is the same height of my saw and work table so it can double as an extended work surface for them and visa versa. The inside of the cabinet has two compartments. The upper one contains the some of the noise and shavings from the router but does need some ventilation for heat build up on long runs. I always intended to put a connection to my dust collector on there which would handle the cuttings and create air movement. The lower compartment is for storage. The top extends beyond the base 6” so clamps can be used if needed, it is covered with laminate and has two T tracks w/clamps for the fence. The fence has a dust collector fitting attached to it. It works well and the ability to roll it around is real handy. I have a 3 hp Porter Cable router more or less permanently mounted on the removable plate. I use a commercial plate with removable/replaceable center pieces.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Topapilot's profile


172 posts in 3837 days

#4 posted 01-03-2009 08:08 AM

My first thought when I looked at your design was about the hardboard. I have a mdf bench with a layer of hardboard on top captured by the apron, and whenever the humidity changes the hardboard pops up for a day or two. That would rule out hardboard for a router table for me.

I’m with Thos on the “save the set up” idea; how about a unit that stores on the bottom shelf and can clamp to the workbench when needed?

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3793 days

#5 posted 01-03-2009 01:39 PM

It actually reminds me of this bench on FWW’s website. While it shows primarily a downdraft table, it does go on to show adding a compound miter saw to the table. I wouldn’t think it a stretch to add a router table as well.

However, I have to ask, is there a reason you don’t want a full-time router table? Looking at the pics of your workshop, it seems to me like you’d have enough room for one, especially since your table saw is portable. Personally, I’d just put it on casters and stick it in a corner when not in use.

Just a thought.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View LesB's profile


1726 posts in 3440 days

#6 posted 01-04-2009 12:05 AM

The idea about hard board will work if you use tempered hardboard which absorbs almost no moisture. I use all the time on my work benches and radial arm saw and I live in western Oregon with lots of humidity. It is inexpensive and when it gets damaged, worn, or just too dirty to look at any more I replace it. Usually I just fasten it down with some 1” finishing nails.

-- Les B, Oregon

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