The Deluxe Router Table...Improved

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Blog entry by woodworkerscott posted 01-12-2011 04:54 AM 13218 reads 5 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made a video awhile back on improvements I feel I have made to the Deluxe Router Table featured on the New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram. In the video I do not have a router fence on the table, for good reason…..I am still designing one that will do everything I like. I attach a temporary one when needed.

There are several changes I think that needed to be made to be more practical in both design and cost. Example of topics covered:

Enclosed router compartment- not necessary and waste of materials and time.

Dust collection set-up- a real waste of time and money. Not efficient. A dust collection set up on the fence is what is needed, not down below in the router compartment.

Router table height- too low. I am a short man I would hate working on a router table at the their designed height. Bring it up taller for efficiency and most of all safety.

Drawer utilization- too many drawers equal too small. Lessen the number of small drawers to three and have room for tall bits!

Additionally learn how to save time and money on the table top, switch, and other tips.

The purpose of the video was to show a more practical approach to the fabrication. Most of us just don’t need the bells and whistles that are in the original design. Save money and make it affordable.

I hope the information is helpful. Thanks for viewing.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

19 comments so far

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 01-12-2011 05:36 AM

Scott; That was an outstanding presentation. One of the best I have seen. The subject material was well laid out and the plan followed. You spoke very clearly and at a pace that was easy to follow. Your hand and body gestures combined with your great speaking made it easy to follow and understand all of the information. I look forward to seeing more of your good work.. Thank you very much.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View thiel's profile


387 posts in 3288 days

#2 posted 01-12-2011 07:22 AM

Love the height change and the extended top on the infeed side. I do worry though that a magnetic switch would be a lot safer than a standard wall switch…

Great presentation… keep em coming.

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3290 days

#3 posted 01-12-2011 07:59 AM

I don’t agree with everything.

I think the dust control under the router would be great if you had a slight inclined surface leading down to the suction hole and it was enclosed, as well as a second port on top like you stated. You would get much more of the dust that way. With vacuum applied there will be tons of air coming down into the suction and passing right by the motor possibly cooling it down? In cases where the work is covered over the bit, which is a lot of the time, the dust and chips will go down. knobs, handles half dozen one or the other. I do like the height change made on the drawers under the top. That will provide more room for taller bits. The only reason that a metal drawer guide would be stronger than one made out of nice, hard wood is that you would need it to be full extension. Put together correctly a wood guide can hold a lot of weight. With a taller table you end up picking your shoulders up in the air in order to get good downward pressure on the work. This wears out your shoulders pretty quickly, and would be worse for shorter people. Having a lower height will mean a little bending down when setting it up, but if you’re running a bunch of wood through I would rather save my shoulders. Of course if you’re only running one or two boards per project then it won’t matter much. Contact cement is available almost everywhere including walmart kmart and all hobby stores for a pretty cheap price. It’s the laminate that may be hard to come by. But still, pretty cheap and pretty easy to do .The edge hanging off the end looks pretty useful, But unless you’re using double or more layers of ply or mdf it will probably sag given a little bit of humidity or keeping things on that end when not in use. Why not recess the electrical boxes inside the case? That would have looked a lot better. The reason you spend a lot on the switches with the big buttons and colors is safety. A larger button or paddle will allow you to quickly get to and push the switch in case of an emergency. and It would probably be better on the front of the case so it can be bumped and generally reached easier in a moment of panic. If you slide out the drawers you can easily reach the back bottom of the case and you don’t have to pull out a screw driver or drill to disassemble.

Just my thoughts in truth and kindness.

-- LAS,

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2810 days

#4 posted 01-12-2011 02:50 PM

Luke, thanks for the input. After years of supervising and running shops and studying ergonomics I will disagree with you on your issues. I additionally used to be a salesman for all major brands of woodworking equipment and I am going by feedback from tons of woodworkers. I didn’t pull this stuff out of the air.

We will agree to disagree. Thanks for viewing.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3610 days

#5 posted 01-12-2011 02:51 PM

I have one of Norm’s tables, also. I bought mine half-completed, it was done exactly to Norm’s design so I didn’t have the option of changing things on the fly. But I’ve used it a few years now and find that some of the things that bugged you bothered me also.

So, just a few comments…

You are right about the drawers. Fewer, taller might be better. I don’t think I can ever dream of filling up all the space in the original design with bits; they are just too damned expensive! I’ve been thinking about repurposing some of the bit storage drawers; for instance, the one drawer for wrenches, etc is just getting too crowded now – it could be bigger or I might dedicate one of the bit storage drawers. I currently don’t have any bits tall enough to be a problem but I can see how that might happen.

And table height – something that has been discussed here at LJ’s before. I asked an old woodworker about it once and, being a man of few words, he immediately said “asshole height”! The reasons he cited were much like Luke’s comments above: he wanted it low enough to be able to bear down on work from above without being so low that he had to stoop to apply any pressure.

The switch – one thing that always bothered about this design is the switch location. My plans this summer (I just don’t do much during the winter in an unheated garage) include relocating the switch to the front of the table. I find myself always feeling for the switch to turn it ON/OFF on the side and I think it would be better on the front. I don’t mind wall-switches – I have them on a lot of my tools – but I would try to locate the heavier-duty switches rated for 20 Amps. And you don’t have to spend $45 for the fancy switches; I got mine at Grizzly for about $13, even with a paddle.

Countertops are not a bad idea as long as you find a way to seal the bottoms. Most countertops are laminated on ugly chip board that will swell and warp with moisture. I seal the bottoms even when I install them in kitchens or bathrooms. A few coats of polyurethane (oil-based!) work just fine.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2853 days

#6 posted 01-12-2011 03:07 PM


It is dangerous.

No Voltage release switches are there for SAFETY.

Nice unit otherwise.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View JimDaddyO's profile


545 posts in 3075 days

#7 posted 01-12-2011 04:31 PM

I get used countertops at the Habitat Re-Store, recycling, re-using and the little money you spend goes to a worthwhile cause.
Good video though, I too would front mount the switch. I did this for my little jointer, using a common light switch, much better than using the plug-in method for turning it on.

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3610 days

#8 posted 01-12-2011 05:52 PM

No Voltage release switches are there for SAFETY.

Well, yeah they are, but not many tools are sold with them installed. In fact, not one unit in my shop has them and I know how to build my own.

Be aware that those switches have safety problems, too.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2810 days

#9 posted 01-13-2011 12:32 AM

About the switch
I cleared this with a master electrician, I did not on my own just decide it was okay.

Look, this is for a ROUTER, not a tablesaw, not a bandsaw, not a planer or jointer. This switch is NOT dangerous. The switch is more than adequate for a ROUTER.
If this was an issue, the switch configuration on the router itself would be different.
Back when I was a lad, a lot of the machinery I learned on had a light switch for the power switch, appropriately rated for the machine. They didn’t have any fancy buttons and such like we do today and we were all safe.

Front mount switches get bumped, no matter what kind. The idea is to make it the way it works for you. There is no law about where to put it. For me, I instinctively reach to the side of the cab. Do what works for you. Some of you are lefties, put it where you can get it with your dominate hand, it doesn’t matter.

Build you a router cabinet that is custom made for you that is safe and fun to use. I wish I would have done so a long time ago. Saves a lot of money and is really fun.

Thanks for viewing and commenting everyone. I appreciated you taking the time to do so. Make some sawdust!

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 3923 days

#10 posted 01-13-2011 01:30 AM

Hi Scott,

EXCELLENT job on both the router table and the video. You are a natural in front of the camera as has already been stated. I do hope you will do more videos and I for one would look forward to seeing them.

Thanks for taking the time to share your improvements with us, you have me wanting to build a new table now :)

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2842 days

#11 posted 01-13-2011 02:04 AM

Thanks very much for your video; it was well done and very interesting!

As far as enclosing the router, and the heating issue, if you DO use a dust collection system below the table, that should greatly improve airflow and keep the router cooler than even the open plan that you have.

For dust collection, you’re probably right for edge work. But what about making grooves that don’t go through, from the middle of a board? It seems like having a place for them to go – down – would be helpful.

The main reason I wanted a “real” switch for mine was to be able to turn it off with my hip if my hands are busy. Rockler had theirs on sale for $20, and has a hip-able OFF attachment.

I built my table as the left wing to my saw, mainly because I put an Incra fence on my saw and wanted to be able to use it with the router table as well. This means that my table height must be the height of my saw – about 34 inches. I actually find that a good height, though as you point out, I do bend over when adjusting the bit height. While it is convenient to have power tools higher, there is also the concern about bringing a power tool that can throw bits around closer to your head, especially your eyes.

I’d appreciate hearing a response to these thoughts if you’re into it.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2810 days

#12 posted 01-13-2011 05:25 AM

If you can get a switch at that price I say go for it. I will look into it as well. Hip-able options are great, foot switched as well.
As far as height, it is about what is comfortable for you. We’re talking about a 2-4 inch difference here, which is not critical and should not bring chips into the face.
As mentioned in the video, when the wood surrounds the bit it is going to first fill the void it just made, then work itself loose as space is available. Sure some chips will go down, but is it worth the cost and time to put the collection system on? I think not. Additionally, it is just so much easier to just clean them out of an open router area. Even better: dust collection on the fence.
The dust collection in the router compartment actually is not an efficient method of cooling the router. With a door on there is limited clean, cooler air to circulate. The air getting brought in from above is warmer from the routering. The compartment door would have to be open in order for the air to be cooler.
Circulating a cleaner air is a key issue.
Thanks for the kind words and logical view points.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2810 days

#13 posted 01-13-2011 05:33 AM

Thanks Bob N for the kind words.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View DaveTPilot's profile


276 posts in 3294 days

#14 posted 01-13-2011 06:30 AM


Great video! Some of us may not agree with everything you said but if we all agreed on everything…there would only be one way of doing things and for that matter only one brand of router, table saw…etc. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

The attribute I love most about this community is the woodworkers on LJ support each other and their creativity. I hope that doesn’t change. Support, encouragement and advice is found in abundance here but remember what that say about opinions. :)

Ok…stepping down from my shop made soap box….About the switch. I have an electrical background and I have a few electricians in my family. It is absolutely NOT dangerous to use a light switch in this application so long as it is rated for the router you are using, as Scott stated in the video. If you did not use an external switch at all, as in some commercially available tables, you’d have to reach under the table to turn the router off! How safe is that?

I use a light switch on my table and have for years. My switch is rated for 20 amps because that’s what I had in my inventory. Regarding turning it off with your hip…I can’t even imagine a scenario where you would need to “hip” switch your router off but that is totally a personal preference issue and I would certainly not fault you for buying whatever, electrically adequate, switch you want to feel safe and comfortable.

Dust collection? I can honestly say that the dust collection on my router table captures more dust and chips than any other tool in my shop and my router is open as well…with a little variation. Most of the dust is collected at the top and anything that goes down gets sucked up as well. You can see how I did mine here: Shop Made Router Table and Lift

Once again, well done video Scott.

-- How valuable is time to a person who spends his disparaging the beliefs of others? --David Berthelette

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3157 days

#15 posted 01-13-2011 02:58 PM

While I don’t agree with all your changes, I do appreciate you sharing. I like the suggested additional height and use of the light switch. And with a little inginuity, even a switch such as you have can be fitted with a paddle. I’ll have to second the DC on Dave’s router table though.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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