Leonard Street Workshop #4: New Tool- Router Table

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 01-26-2011 06:04 PM 2885 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Planning (pt 1) Part 4 of Leonard Street Workshop series Part 5: Basic Setup »

Yesterday I got a new tool for the workshop. It’s nothing too exciting.

It’s the $99 Ryobi router table from Home Depot. I’ve had extremely good luck in the past with Ryobi tools, and I personally wanted a little router table so this was the first item on the list of things to get.

It’s pretty light duty which is just fine. If we have anything heavy duty it can be done on the CNC sheet router. I’m thinking this will come in handy for boxes, small project finishing, edging, that kind of thing.

I set it up at home and I’m bringing it in, fully assembled, to the shop today. Yay!

So—please tell me some cool things I can do with a router table. I have an extensive collection of router bits already.

Also, a while back somebody posted a small tutorial on box making using a router. It was as such that the final box did not require any hardware- the top slipped onto the bottom pretty gently. Anybody remember this? I tried looking for it last night but came up empty.

I’m excited, though! I’ve wanted this for a while and it’s nice to knock one more item off the “want” list.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

18 comments so far

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2693 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 06:39 PM

I actually have that table.. I got the 1/4” cheapo fixed base router with it too that actually performs well.

Just a couple notes about it tho-

The micro-adjustment doesn’t work so well since the router is clamped into the base. There’s some play if you don’t have it clamped, so adjusting it is not too precise. This might be less of an issue if you don’t have that router.

Second, the back fence on my has a bit of an angle to it that I haven’t quite figured out how to fix yet, so I haven’t been able to straight-edge/join with it.

That being said, it has a nice, small footprint while giving you a nice table to work with. The dust collection is phenomenal and (my table at least) the surface is flatter than flat. I did notice you installed the legs opposite how I did it.. I have the switch on the front right leg.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2985 days

#2 posted 01-26-2011 06:49 PM

Yeah I got the router/table combo too.

I couldn’t quite decide where to put the switch. I prefer my switches on the left as it seems with tooling I’m more of a lefty. I may move it though as I haven’t turned it on yet…

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2997 days

#3 posted 01-26-2011 06:56 PM


You just put a sacrificial ply or MDF fence in front of the plastic one and then shim it to be square.

I was most impressed with the through the table height adjustment. A really nice feature for such an inexpensive rig. I have one also and have been happy with it as a small secondary table.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2693 days

#4 posted 01-26-2011 07:00 PM

Lis Yeah.. I don’t know if its anything more than a matter of preference.. I’m a righty and it would seem awkward/dangerous for me to reach behind something spinning at a million RPM to flip the switch.

I know Ryobi gets a bad rep from the serious folk, but they make some decent stuff and are super affordable.

This will do for me until I get a quality 1/2” router and build one of those NYW tables I’ve seen on here.

David The only problem is then I lose the dust hood/guard that drops down. I suppose thats better than nothing, or maybe just an as-needed fixture. I’d really like to be able to adjust the left one to be about 1/32-1/16 out, but still parallel to joint. Maybe I can get some thin material to shim in between the fence and the piece behind it.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3235 days

#5 posted 01-26-2011 07:17 PM

You can do lots of cool things with a router table. I have a Bosch table, a little bigger but not a lot. Since I purchased the table I do not use the router freehand much. You may be a bit limited on the bits you can use if you only have 1/4” collet but there is still plenty of good uses. I do not have a jointer so i set mine up for jointing and get good results with it. I love the tongue and grove and doors sets. The other good thing is doing edge profiles on narrow pieces that are hard to balance a router on.

Have fun with it

-- Alex

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


706 posts in 3273 days

#6 posted 01-26-2011 07:35 PM


I have a couple of these inexpensive router tables. Mine happen to be Craftsman and are rather old, but still very useful. Both have older model Craftsman routers. In one I have a 45-degree chamfer bit and the other I have a 1/2” roundover bit. And I never change them!

I just like the convenience of these two very common profiles quickly available without having to change bits and/or set-up. About the only set-up change I routinely do is move the fence on the chamfer bit station, depending on how much of a chamfer I want.

I have seven routers in my shop, purchased over the years. Some new, some not. I still have another, heavier, home-built router table and two shapers that I do most of my heavier work. But these two save me lots of time & aggravation. These types of tables can often be found for a lark on Craigslist. The routers are just old reliables.

Good luck! Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2985 days

#7 posted 01-26-2011 07:44 PM

I have a rather ridiculous router bit collection – ranging in the several hundred – that I use often on the CNC sheet router. Lots of them are 1/4”—in fact, I’m pretty sure that any of the ones that aren’t that small, I wouldn’t want to attempt to use on this table, anyway.

Dave- that’s basically my end-goal. Have several little tables set up with standard bits and then not have to change between them. It takes up space, but not really, because it means several different projects can happen at the same time.

I’ve tried using a regular, hand-held router before and I don’t like it. I’m hoping that this will be much more comfortable. Because man, I really want some rounded corners! :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3427 days

#8 posted 01-26-2011 07:59 PM

Maybe I don’t understand what you are trying to do. I don’t think the fence has to be square to the table.
I have never been concerned about the fence being square to the table. I’ve been using router tables for 20+ years.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2693 days

#9 posted 01-26-2011 08:09 PM

Emmett Hm? I’m not talking about being square to the table, I’m talking about the fence sides being parallel to each other. The fence sides are toed in a little bit, so if I ran a long board through, I’d get a very gradual radiused arc. I need to shim the inside of the outfeed table out so that I can joint boards like so

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3427 days

#10 posted 01-26-2011 08:31 PM

ok, superstretch I didn’t understand
I’ve used a router table to joint boards before. I have not done that in years, since I now have a jointer.
It sounds like you need to make another fence for that table. I’ve always used homemade stuff so I’m not familar with the router table you have.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2693 days

#11 posted 01-26-2011 08:33 PM

Yeah, sounds like that’ll be the case. I’m running out of room in my shop and $$ in my budget, so a jointer is off the table for right now..

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Julian's profile


1328 posts in 2690 days

#12 posted 01-26-2011 08:38 PM

If your looking to router projects, look up “The Router Workshop” on the internet. It’s a PBS show (from Canada) and they do numerous things. I also found that the local library often has some great books on various woodworking topics/projects. Best part is that it is all FREE.
For large projects I suspect you will find the router table a bit small. But you can make a larger router table fairly easy. Work safe.

-- Julian

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2880 days

#13 posted 01-26-2011 10:33 PM

I just read your blog series and wanted to let you know that I grew up in Grand Rapids and I used to go to that YMCA all the time on Leonard st. I can still remember the layout of the building. They had a room on the upper floor with a glass window that over looked the gym. We used to throw basketballs up at the window to scare people.

Is that whole building being used for the shop? I still live in the Grand Rapids area but I am not on that side of town much. I am interested in seeing the place sometime. Would be interesting to see what has all been done there.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#14 posted 01-26-2011 11:14 PM

Maybe I’m easily amused, but I think template routing on a router table is fun – flush trim bit, some hardboard for making templates, and double-sided tape. It’s so easy making templates out of hardboard (if you’ve got a scroll saw, anyway) and then cut the pattern into thick stock. I made a set of templates with different radii for rounding corners of boards. For the obsessive MLCS (for example) has wood-gear clock kits, and of course a bunch of other template sets as well.

BTW, it is good to use push blocks whenever practical.

-- Greg D.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2985 days

#15 posted 01-27-2011 01:21 AM

For larger projects I intend to just use the CNC sheet router. But it’s nice to have a smaller machine available for zipping along without the hassle of the major setup.

Dan – wonderful! :) We are there M-Sat 12-6pm and often outside of those hours. You are most welcome to stop by whenever, or you can send me a PM and arrange a particular time. I’m in and out all the time….

The woodshop is going to be the former men’s locker rooms. We’ve got the entire building, and different parts are for different arenas. The old pool room (the pool has been filled in) is the physics lab; the gym is where the CNC gear is going as well as vehicle work; the racketball courts are where we’re building studios (audio, video, photography).... it’s pretty great!!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

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