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Steve Ramsey-Inspired Router Table

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Project by harriw posted 12-10-2012 05:07 AM 4870 views 10 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From the start, I appologize for making this one a bit (correction: extremely) long-winded. I certainly won’t be offended if you just want to see the pretty pictures and move on :) For those of you that are a bit bored though, there is a bit of a story behind this project. Thanks for looking!

So my old router table (a miserable old craftsman bench-top affair) just wasn’t cutting it – I was making every effort to avoid router operations, and that just doesn’t make sense. I’ll be the first to agree that shop furniture only needs to be functional, but I saw this project as a good opportunity to practice building nicer things. As such, I figured I’d make it as nice as my skills and non-existent budget were capable of) I love the full cabinet tables that folks make around here, but I already had a small bench dedicated to my existing bench-top router table, and it just wouldn’t make sense to replace the bench too. Especially considering that that particular bench is a “family heirloom” of sorts… More on that later.

I’d decided, then, on an enclosed, cabinet-style router table that was only bench-top height. I had every intention of doing something similar to the “Norm” model, but didn’t have enough decent plywood on hand, and kept putting it off until the money became available.

Then one day, I stumbled across Steve Ramsey’s Router Table build here: http://lumberjocks.com/Stevinmarin/blog/28758 (that was my introduction to WWMM, and I’ve been a HUGE fan ever since!) I had a bunch of 1x material reclaimed from some shelving the previous owners left in the garage, and some 1/4 plywood reclaimed from a built-in entertainment center. And since my new Oshlun Dado blade had just arrived, i was itching to practice some frame-and-panel work anyway :)

So I got to work, and here are the results. The best part – almost this entire project was built using reclaimed materials. Even the drawers and fence were reclaimed plywood – mostly from that same entertainment center. You can still see a hint of the yellow primer that didn’t strip off completely, and you can see the red paint I didn’t bother stripping on the inside of the drawer cases (I just figured the drawers will hide it anyway). The drawer fronts were made from old 2×4’s, re-sawed down to 1/2” strips, mitered, and dressed up on the nearly-finished table, slotted for 1/4” ply inserts.

Even the router plate insert was made from piece of phenolic I rescued from the dumpster at work. Same goes for all the plexiglass you see on the front door, the zero-clearance inserts, etc.

The only things I broke down and bought were the outlet boxes, switch, and outlet, and the melamine and mdf for the table top. I also splurged at the end and bought the t-track, knobs, and bolts/washers for the sliding fence faces. Finally, towards the end, I wound up splurging on a new router to go into the table. I’d been planning save my pennies and wait for a sale on the Bosch model, but I stumbled across the Craftsman Professional model on sale for a crazy-good price, and found it actually had some improvements over the Bosch. I’ve had some bad experiences with craftsman power tools in recent years and was quite suspicous, but have been extremely pleased with this router so far.

I intended for the two top drawers to be bit storage, so they’re bottom-only style drawer. So far, they’ve really only been used to hold the router tools, and some other odds-and-ends. The lower left drawer I actually use to hold push blocks, ZCI’s, etc. for both the table saw and router table. The lower right drawer holds more router table items.

The fence is quite tall – about 7.5”. Probably over-kill, but I wanted to be able to run panels through it upright if necessary. Besides, i wanted the top track mounted above the sliding fence faces below so that I could mount a blade guard there. The base is 7.5” deep as well – also probably overkill, but I didn’t want a fence that tall to be tipsy. Fence bolts to the table via 2 sections of t-track on the table, and the sliding fence faces slide in slots cut into the fence base, with 4 knobs (2 per side) locking them down. Dust collection works quite nicely with 2.5” line to the fence, and 4” below (I just brought the DC 4” hose straight through the back wall down below, and ended the hose right behind the router itself). I do get some piles down below, but they’re easy to clean up. Up top stays pretty darn clean considering how much material a router removes.

There’s currently no finish on the table. I think I’ll eventually put some Danish oil on it. But that would require that I stop using it for a while… :) Also, it’s a bit cold out there this time of year. Maybe when it warms up in the spring. Anyway, the table’s been finished and in use for almost a month now, so I figure I might as well post it as a project with or without finish :)

Now, about the table this thing is sitting on…....

My grandfather, you see, was a jeweler by trade, but had a real knack for making anything out of anything. He was particularly good at wood working. Like most children of the depression, he excelled at re-purposing, re-using, and otherwise making due with what he had. This particular bench started its life as a plain, but nice oak desk. At some point it found its way into his basement, where he used it as one of many workbenches in his workshop. he added a drawer and the lower shelf (supported by old iron pipe fitting he had laying around), and had his vice bolted to it. When my parents were cleaning out his things when my grandparents were selling the house, they kept that particular bench for one reason or another. Then when my wife and I bought our first house, they gave me the bench to use in the garage shop I was just beginning to set up.

I’ve used it for many things over the last 10 years or so – it held my tool box top for years before I got around to buying the bottom-half roll-away for it. Shortly after that it became the dedicated router bench. Originally though, this desk/bench had a “fence” built around the table top, made of the same dark-stained oak. I decided to take the fence apart when i built this router table, since it was hiding my frame-and-panels on the end, and was blocking the hold for the DC hose in the back.

Rather than toss those pieces in the scrap bin though, I thought it would be neat to incorporate those pieces somehow into the finished router table. So I cleaned them up best I could, and realized I had enough material from the back piece to use it for the edging on the table-top. I also used one of the side pieces to make the 4 drawer pulls, and also the bit guard.

So while you wouldn’t really notice those accents unless you knew the story, it felt good to know that not only had I found yet another good use for my Grandpa’s old “bench,” but that I’d found a way to incorporate a small part of it into a major project of my own. Not to mention a project that I’d managed to pull off almost entirely through re-use – something I think my child-of-the-depression Grandfather would have been particularly proud of.

-- Bill - Western NY





7 comments so far

View ccopes75's profile

ccopes75

14 posts in 739 days


#1 posted 12-10-2012 06:18 AM

Nice job! I saw Steve’s video and am looking to make one of my own as well. Did you see his router lift video? Also, I dig the story about your grandpa’s bench. Gotta keep those traditions alive.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112537 posts in 2300 days


#2 posted 12-10-2012 06:42 AM

Nice work Bill

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1714 posts in 1151 days


#3 posted 12-10-2012 08:40 AM

You are going to love this – Great job.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View woodshaver's profile

woodshaver

2817 posts in 2076 days


#4 posted 12-10-2012 01:14 PM

Looks great Bill!

-- Tony C St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

View harriw's profile

harriw

92 posts in 931 days


#5 posted 12-10-2012 01:35 PM

Thanks guys!

Ccopes75 – yup, I saw his video on the lift and was originally thinking of doing something similar (I like the one Mathias Wandel over at woodgears.com came up with too). But the fixed base for the router I picked up (Craftsman Professional model# 27680) is already setup for above table height adjustment, and came with the hex key needed. I just drilled another hole through my router plate for the key, and I now have above-table height adjustment… Sort of… I do still need to lock the adjuster from below the table – a step i believe Steve’s system would eliminate.

Honestly though, I find myself using the below-the-table method more times than not. I like to get down on my knees to sight across the table top to set the height anyway, which puts me in the right position to just reach in and twist the adjustment knob from there.

Thanks for looking!

-- Bill - Western NY

View dnick's profile

dnick

937 posts in 1106 days


#6 posted 12-11-2012 04:32 AM

Wow. What more could you want on a router table. Great job.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View rednorthshore's profile

rednorthshore

8 posts in 494 days


#7 posted 07-21-2013 07:28 AM

love wwmm just feels like your in the shop with a neighbor.

-- red

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