Building a router table, hit me with advise

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Forum topic by patcollins posted 01-16-2014 02:19 PM 2678 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1685 posts in 2859 days

01-16-2014 02:19 PM

I am getting ready to build a router table and am looking for some advice or lessons learned from others. I have bought the materials already; I have a Triton 2HP router (yay built in lift), a mounting plate, 32” T-Track/Miter slot combo, and plenty of Baltic birch to make the top from. I plan on making it a “bench top” unit because unfortunately I just don’t have room for a free standing table and I have some plans for a modular cabinet that can accept the router table.
I am planning on making it 32” wide and 18” deep (too small?) and am wondering if centering the router plate in this would be an unwise move, would I want more space in front of the router bit than behind?
Would I want to go the extra mile and make the legs height adjustable?
Would T-Track on the table itself be better for the fence to ride in or just put a couple bolt holes in the table top and slot the fence out?
Would poplar be good enough for framing and legs or do I want to go with maple, remember it’s a bench top and I plan on storing it on a shelf about 6ft high and poplar would save me some weight.
Really just looking for people that have made theirs and ended up really liking a feature they put in or wishing that they had done something a different way.

19 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3641 days

#1 posted 01-16-2014 03:43 PM

I think 32” is larger than most work requires. 24” x 18” works
fine. An overhang helps because then the legs don’t interfere
with clamps. I put the router in the center but that’s rather
arbitrary. In router table work, longer pieces are generally
fed using featherboards so there needs to be enough table
and fence to clamp 4 featherboards to. Watch out for
dipping in that ply. If there’s a bump in the ply, put the
bump up. Better a bump than a sag.

View JayT's profile


5619 posts in 2205 days

#2 posted 01-16-2014 03:53 PM

32×18 seems large for a benchtop table—it will be hard to lift and handle when moving around. I can’t imagine having to lift something that size and weight to a 6ft high shelf.

My benchtop table is about 24×16, with the router offset to the rear by about 2” and I have been happy with that arrangement. It leaves plenty of space in front for stability when doing edges and if I need to do a groove or dado in the center of a panel, I just turn the table around and flip the fence to the other side so that there is plenty of support. For that reason, I would use T track—it allows a lot more flexibility than fixed holes and slotted fence.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View bonesbr549's profile


1544 posts in 3061 days

#3 posted 01-16-2014 09:32 PM

I don’t think there is such a thing as too big a table as long as you can reach the bit easily. I built My table about 10 years ago from Norms plans modified a bit. I added casters extended the table to accommodate my Incra LS fence. I also changed the top a bit. The plans called for 3/4” + 1/2” MDF sandwiched for the top. I went with two 3/4” pieces wrapped in oak topped with formica with T-track. I have a woodpecker lift and a PC 7518 in the top and it’s heavy. It’s been running without sag since then. I consider it one of the three best tools in the shop behind the bandsaw and tablesaw. The wife did the glass front.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View bondogaposis's profile


4717 posts in 2345 days

#4 posted 01-16-2014 09:44 PM

That would be a very large bench top router table. I’ve built several router tables and one thing that really like about the last one I built is the laminate top. It just adds a lot of durability. Poplar will be just fine for the legs. One thing you are going to need to plan for is storage for all of the accessories and bits. Routers just accumulate accessories and jigs like crazy, I think they breed in my shop and don’t even mention bits, but before you know you’ll have lots and lots of them. Storage for all of this stuff is a major concern.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2684 days

#5 posted 01-17-2014 02:16 AM

Mine is 48”x22” and I have never regretted making it this large. I can lift it off the bench fairly easily when it’s in the way.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2570 days

#6 posted 01-17-2014 03:29 AM

Here’s what I’ve learned:
- A thicker top is not necessarily flatter, nor will it stay flatter.
An ideal top is a single sheet of 3/4” quality plywood or MDF with jointed hardwood bracing underneath. This is my current setup and it’s flat to within .005”.
- Sealing the top on all sides and edges will assist in keeping it flat. I like plastic laminate on the top and bottom and shellac for the edges.
- 24”x32” is a nice size for a stand alone table, but maybe too big for a benchtop. That’s a preference thing. My current table is about 22” x25” and works for everything I’ve thrown at it.
- A plate is nice, but hardly a necessity. Especially if you won’t be spinning panel raisers.
- T-track isn’t necessary for the fence. I use a clamping mechanism like this:

Nor is it necessary for a miter gauge. There is nothing that can be done on the router table that requires a miter gauge.
- Leave the router cavity open. Routers like to breathe and not a whole lot of dust ends up underneath anyway.
- Offset the router to the front of the table. Mine has the center point of the router bit 10” back from the front.
- Poplar will work fine for the legs.

All in all, I much prefer the simple approach to router tables. The simple it is, the less chance there is for something to go wrong.


-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2280 days

#7 posted 01-17-2014 04:01 AM

T-track and/or miter track isn’t a necessity, but it comes in handy for featherboards.

A cast iron top stays pretty flat and then you can use magnetic featherboards.

-- John, BC, Canada

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


6832 posts in 3361 days

#8 posted 01-17-2014 06:42 AM

My Benchdog cast iron RT is 27” wide (the depth of my table saw top) and 16” deep (which could be a little deeper but because of weight I think the limited it to 16”). Their other cast iron stand alone table is 36” x 24”.
Apparently they have made a change to the slots as mine are an aluminum insert with the same profile.

Why Baltic Birch as opposed to MDF?
My first RT was 12” x 24” x 1” thick MDF and lasted over 15 years but did not have any T slot channels as I covered top, bottom, and edges with Formica, high pressure laminate to be correct!
To make sure the laminate was flat I drove my ‘64 Chevy Nova station wagon on it, one side at a time, and after that I trimmed the edges.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2859 days

#9 posted 01-17-2014 04:33 PM

Nitewalker, I was thinking of doing my fence like that too.

I was thinking miter gage for doing drawer lock joints and dados in the short dimension of a board. And of course the T-Track for featherboards.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2844 days

#10 posted 01-17-2014 05:02 PM

Quoting nitewalker:

T-track isn’t necessary for the fence…
Nor is it necessary for a miter gauge. There is nothing that can be done on the router table that requires a miter gauge.

True. Spend the gizmo budget on wood and make something beautiful.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2570 days

#11 posted 01-17-2014 07:53 PM

Featherboards can be clamped; in fact, if you dedicate a couple of small quick-grip style clamps to your router table, the setup is quicker than using t-track.

You don’t need a mite track for drawer lock joints. A piece of scrap with a square edge used as a backer will accomplish the same thing. You can make a nicer one with a handle if you prefer; like this one (not mine):
Click for details
I use carpet tape to stick a strip of mdf to the front of mine so the base doesn’t get chewed up.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


6832 posts in 3361 days

#12 posted 01-17-2014 08:25 PM

I rarely use the T tracks on the RT top but I do use the ones in my fence for hold downs, stops, and cutter guard. The best thing about my fence is the vacuum connection because it really works well!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2787 days

#13 posted 01-17-2014 08:27 PM

My fence has 2 sarificial MDF pieces on the front. Easily replaced when chewed up. You can also shim the piece on the outfeed and use the router as an edge jointer. Good dust collection is important if you hate cleaning up. A seperate switch on mine cuts on the router and vac at the same time. The fence needs to be ridgid and 90 deg to the top.
T slots are not absolutly necessary but they sure are handy. I have a router bit that I use to cut them and don’t use the metal track.
I use featherboards on the fence and also sometimes on the top as well.
My top is 27×20 and seems plenty big.
The fence is about 30”x6”.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Guy Belleman's profile

Guy Belleman

18 posts in 1612 days

#14 posted 01-18-2014 01:03 AM

Benchtop router table. If you will be moving it around, 32×18 will be bulky. I have a Triton in mine, it 24×18 and that is bulky enough. Ensure you leave the front open, so you can reach the Triton covered switch, although I did put a separate router switch on mine, but I still turn off the Triton switch just for added safety.

I love the Triton. It is so smooth and quiet that I have to remember to turn it off. Include dust collection. I connected to both the back of the fence and to the Triton connection. The fence collector works far better. It is probably better to collect as much as possible before dropping onto the router anyway. I just use a ShopVac for the chips and dust.

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3050 days

#15 posted 01-18-2014 01:26 AM

I have the triton and like it. My router table is huge but it doubles as an outfeed table saw outfeed table
There are lots of posted router table projects.

-- Glen

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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