I’ve been helping an Australian woodworker to construct a box. She is very competent with a scroll saw, but a little shaky on the box construction side, so I offered to help her out. During this period I have been helping my 12 year old grandson to make a box, so it was easy to just take photos and add a work description for my Aussie friend. Everything went well until we came to a point where we needed grooves to be cut in the sides to hold the top and bottoms of the box. She said she had a router and asked me if she needed a jig to do the grooves. I suggested that it would be better to do this work on a router table and since she is not an experienced woodworker, I would come up with something small, simple, portable, and easy to make from inexpensive materials. I’ve just sent her an email detailing the build along with photos. I thought there might be some less experienced members with a small budget who might benefit from the idea and so posted it here.
I’m not showing detailed work process here, but if your interested and need more info, please comment on the blog or send me a PM and I will try to help you as best I can.
The first thing I did was to find and old platter that came with in the packing with my new scroll saw to use for a top.Then I removed the plastic bottom on the router to be used as a pattern to mark the router attachment holes on the top.
I marked the the outline of the router bottom and the holes as shown and then drill the holes and cut out the opening. Counter sink screw heads would be better, but I only had pan head and drilled out with a Forstner bit instead. You will see it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Here it is with the router mounted. The table will later be cut to size to fit router table base. Don’t forget that you will need longer screws that reach through the thickness of the top in order to mount the router onto the top
Two identical square frames form the basis of the construction. The size of the frames depends on the size of your router and also the size of platter materials you want to use. I used pine timber cut to about 1-1/2” square. The lengths of pine were cut to the width of some recycled eurocabinet sides I had laying around. I made sure the frame were large enough to get my router in and out of the base. Here is a picture of the 4 pieces that will make up 1 frame. The pieces will be cut for a box joint. You can see the shoulder lines are marked to the thickness of the stock.Beware that the thickness of the top frame does not impede the mounting and removal of the router from the base. You should be able to mount/remove with the router fully depressed against it’s base plate
Here 2 sides of the stock is divided by three and will have 2 fingers each after cutting.
All the pieces cut. The first 2 pieces were used as a pattern for the other 2 sides of the frame. You can also use the pencil marks on the first frame to mark out the second frame. I cut all the box joints on the scroll saw, but they can be also done with a lot of other tools.
The two frames are dry fitted in the first photo. The next photo shows the frames glued up and clamped. If you don’t have enough clamps you could drill holes through the joint from the top and screw it together, but make sure you temporarily clamp each one before drilling and screwing it together. So you still need 1 or 2 clamps for this.
Here is the finished base. As you can see, the sides are attached to the frames at the top and the bottom on 2 sides. Each side is fastened with 4 screws that go into the frames. The bottom frame is topped with the same material and fastened with 4 screws also into the frame. On the bottom of the base is fastened another panel which protrudes from the sides about 1-1/2” to act as clamping pads. The front and back are flush with the frames. The cutouts in the two corners are to clear the router handles when mounting or removing the router from the base.
Here I am showing the router table top after sizing it to fit between the sides. The top will hang over on the front and back to facilitate clamping the fence in place. Please note that the sides are higher than the top frame enough so that the table will be flush with the top of the sides after final fitting.
I needed an easy way to tailor the bit hole in the top to the various bit sizes for safety and accuracy purposes. My simple solution was to make 3 thin platter tops about 1/8” thick with 3 different sized holes. This will help prevent work pieces from dipping into the whole while routing. Here you can see one of the topping platters fitted. You will see in the final pictures that I screwed it into place. It could also just be clamped or double taped. You must remember to include the thickness of this platter with the main top when calculating how much higher the sides must be than the top frame, as you want the table to be flush when in place.
This is the maneuver needed to mount the table.
This is the finished product with a test piece cut.
Use and safety issues.*
1. Always use a push stick for flatter pieces. I don’t want your fingers on my conscience.
2. Never do edge routing on the outer edge of your workpiece (that is the edge farthest away from the fence) To do edge routing you will have to have the router bit partly into the fence. For this purpose you can make 3 fences with small to large opening to accommodate different sized bits. An opening as small as practical prevents the workpiece from dipping into the hole. The same problem as around the bit on the table top,
3. The feed direction is right to left as seen facing the fence with the router bit between you and the fence.
4. To change bits and make height adjustments you will have to remove the router from the base. You can leave the table mounted when you do this. Just make sure the router is unplugged when you do this. The little router I’m using in this table doesn’t have micro adjustment, so I have to remove the the router from the base and hold the top of the router to my chest while I adjust the height. Not the most convenient, but it works ok. Remember, this is supposed to be a bare bones router table.
5. Always have the router table base clamped to a subsurface. A workbench, table, a counter, etc. Also be aware that I have made no provision to clamp down the table top when it is mounted. I don’t see this as a safety issue, but if you want to clamp it or fasten it in some way that is ok.
This router table is certainly not fine woodworking or anywhere close. However it is very sturdy, easy to store and easy to move around, and in spite of it’s drawbacks easy to use. I hope the idea will be of use to somebody. Thanks for looking at it. Any and all comments on the build or safety issues good or bad are welcome, Thanks for reading.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.