|Project by toddbeaulieu||posted 12-31-2013 09:17 PM||6591 views||33 times favorited||12 comments|
After talking about building a good router table for a year now, I finally got around to it. I looked at countless base designs. Almost going with the Abrams design I changed my mind at the last minute and ordered the Incra base. I really wanted to get up and running in a reasonable time and figured it would be good enough.
I went nuts with Incra on this project and I can’t speak highly enough about their products! I decided to just go all out on this project. And boy did it add up! I did get $100 for my old table. ;)
o Milwaukee/Jessem 5626 3.5 HP router with the detached speed controller
o Jessem/Incra Mast-R-Lift II
o Incra CleanSweep dust box surrounding the router
o Incra CleanSweep rings WOW DO THEY WORK WELL
o Incra Base
o Incra 43” top
o Incra LS 25 Positioner
o Foot control
o Foam router bit storage trays
So the cabinet is just birch with locking joints. The drawers are oak with maple and walnut fronts. The handles are walnut. Believe it or not, I made all the over extension slides from maple! I got the plan from FWW. I really like them, but I’d tweak a couple of things the next time. The drawers actually lift off them when pulled all the way out. Believe it or not this was my first attempt at being creative on a project. I sandwiched the walnut on the drawer fronts, thinking it would be different. The handles were obviously a custom pattern, as well. I think they’re OK. Nothing great, but it was a learning process, for sure.
The frosting on this project was the Incra template drawer. I stole the primary idea, but added own touches. It’s PVC (Azek) milled with the LS (heaven!) sandwiched and encased in oak with dados. I really wanted this assembly mounted at the top of the drawer so I’d have room under it for the Incra books. But that left me stumped as to how to lift it (no clearance for a handle) and how to lock into place. Being a tech guy I always try to over engineer things. I bought some springs and was thinking of somehow having it spring loaded. In the end I came up with this walnut knob/handle on the side. It was a PITA to make, but assuming it holds up to use should work great. By simply lifting the template tray up the leg swings down and you can just set the tray down. Perfect!
I really like the separate speed controller! I added a two stage foot switch (on/off) and LOVE that in my process. I feel safer. It makes me think about firing it up, almost like a checklist. Power switch? On. Everything ready? Yup. Step on the switch. And it’s so much easier to turn off, as well. So for repeating work I just use the foot switch but as soon as I’m done a batch I throw the main switch. The only problem I have is now is that when I go to the table saw I keep trying to turn it on with a non existent foot switch! Too funny.
The little tool caddie on the end is for the most common tools that I need all the time at the router. A tool to lift the magnetic plates, a pocket to hold the set of plates, a pocket for the wrenches and holes for the fence tool and the lift handle.
I ordered high density foam trays for bit storage, but don’t have them yet. I’m not entirely enthusiastic about separating my bits from their individual boxes and sets, which have information about them. I’d like some way to label them. Some of my nicer bits are in wooden boxes, which I don’t really want to discard, either.
I’ve used the table quite a bit this vacation, including to build itself (I love that!). Let me tell you … it’s a dream! The LS is so cool and the dust collection through the CleanSweep rings is amazing! To me, the LS is what I always thought routing should be like. I never felt like a standard fence made any sense. Making small adjustments manually is a PITA, but with the LS I can tweak it 1/32” in 10 seconds. The over-sized micro adjust wheel has positive, strong clicks for 1/1000” adjustments. And that is super helpful! The router itself … wow. What can I say? Plenty of power and the speed control is beautiful – perfectly linear. When the router’s cranked up in the lift it looks like a jet engine in the table, which is a nice “feature”. ;)
Finally the Incra is not just a tool, but a system. I’m just beginning my learning, but I made my drawers (half blind) and they are PERFECT. The book comes with 50 templates for box joints and dovetails. I bought their project book, as well. I sold my buddy my old table and Jessem lift. While he was up we made some dovetails and I showed him around the LS.
So I asked him how he liked the lift yesterday and he cracked me up. Said it’s good, but to be honest after seeing the LS it’s hard to be excited about anything else. Too late, the deal is done. ;)
This last photo is my drawer fronts and hinges before they met their final fate …