Monday, February 22, 2016

DIY Bench Top Router Table

About a year ago I made my first router table, and it turned out quite well.

I used it so often and was becoming an essential part of my workshop.  However, the holes that I made that mounted the router to the table were wearing out and the whole table top needed replacement.  The holidays came along and with it came many gift cards so I decided I wanted to get a bench top router table and free up some space in my over crowded workshop.  So I disassembled the router table and used the wood for other projects.  Then I bought a Harbor Freight router table seen below.

Well, that was a mistake.  This router table sucks!  So I returned it and bought other stuff.  But I need a new router table, so I decided to design a new one. 

This is a bench top version, so it's much smaller than my original router table.  I also designed my table with a removable face plate so it will be much easier removing and installing the router I have.

I also have a utility cart that I made several months ago, which is great, but does not get used much.  I think I'll mount this new router onto the cart and give it more use.

And with some recent projects, I have an abundance of leftover material to use.

So I started by measuring and marking some plywood.  These will make up the base, sides and some supports.

For the table top and face plate I'll use some leftover MDF.  The boards below may look rough, but after a good sanding they'll be as good as new.

I then cut out the plywood pieces to size at the table saw.

Then I drilled some pocket holes into the base, and the sides...

...followed by assembly with pocket screws.

Next I used glue and nails to begin attaching the supports.

Before adding anymore I wanted to make sure the whole thing fit on the cart...

...and that the router fit inside with plenty of room.

Then I continued adding the supports to the top and bottom.

When that was done I drilled some holes on the bottom.  These will be used for mounting to the cart (or any other surface).

Next it was time to start working on the table top.  I removed the base plate from my router to make sure the router will fit inside the areas I marked off for removal.

Then I used a large bit in my drill to make holes inside the markings.

These holes allowed my jigsaw blade to cut out the inside areas.

I did this for both the bottom and top layers of the table top.

When stacked together there is a rim for the removable router face plate to fit on.

Then I glued and screwed the 2 pieces of the table top together.

I made sure to create sinkholes for the screws so that they are just slightly below the surface of the table top.

Then I sanded the top smooth.

Next I aligned the top and base and attached them with pocket screws.

Looking good so far!

Next I cut another piece of MDF to make the removable face plate.

This piece fits nicely inside the table top.

Then I removed the face plate, turned it over and traced the shape of the router base.

I drilled the holes for the screws that will mount to the router.

Then I flipped over the face plate and screwed in the screws I'll be using along with some washers.  My first router table didn't have washers to help protect the holes I drilled - which is why that table needed to be replaced.  I then traced the shape of the washers so I know what size drill bit to use when counter sinking.

I also measures the size of the screw head and washer... that I knew the depth I had to drill.

Using my drill press I drilled the holes into the face plate.

Now the screws and washers fit below the surface.

Lastly I cut out the shape for the router bit.

Then I mounted the router to the face plate...

...and placed it in the table!

I tested it out by routing a piece of wood...

...and it works wonderfully!

The last step was to make the fence, which was easy since I still had the fence from my original router table.

All I had to do was trim it and insert the bolt with wing nut.

The bolt allows me to swing the fence.

And I'm all done!  Underneath the table top I am able to fit the box with my router bits and some clamps I use to keep the fence in place while routing.

This thing is awesome and I'm thrilled to have a router table once more!

A few days after finishing I made some last minute additions.  The first was mounting the clamps onto the sides.

The other addition was a fitting for my shop vac, which attaches to the fence.  This will help keep my router table, and workshop cleaner.

When not in use I simply put in in the corner, on the cart.

I can't wait to use this thing for my upcoming projects!

Thanks for reading!

Update:  A couple months later and this little thing is doing good.

But I found that the table top was a little too small for many of my projects.  So I think I can easily make a bigger table top for this thing.

I think I also want to add a shelf to the cart to better hold my router bits and accessories.

So I bought a few things from the hardware store and emptied the router table and cart.

I then removed the bench top router portion...

...and then the casters.  The utility cart only had 2 rotating casters (the other 2 were stationary).  I also want to move the casters closer to the edge so I can better lock the casters when needed.

So I removed them all and replaced the stationary casters with another pair of locking swivel casters.  I also put each caster to the edge.

Now it will be easy to lock with my foot.

Next I decided to tackle the shelf for the cart.  I drew guides for cutting a sheet of plywood...

...which was then cut with the wood grain on the table saw...

...and against the grain with my circular saw.

When I originally built the cart I had a piece of 1x2 wood in the corners to support the top.

So using a 1x2 piece of wood, I drew guides on each corner of the shelf.

I then cut out those areas with my jigsaw.

Next I cut a piece of wood as a guide to help me align the height of the shelf.

...and I also cut little pieces of wood to be the shelf supports.

I put the cart upside-down on the work table and placed the shelf inside.

Then I used my guide stick to help me glue and nail each of the shelf supports in place.

Each corner of the cart received 2 supports.

Then I flipped the cart over again and pushed the shelf against the supports.

Next I cut some wood on the miter saw... cover all 4 edges of the shelf and also create a rim.

The rim will keep anything on the shelf from falling off.

Next I cut 2 sheets of MDF for the new router table top.  You can see the difference in size - the old table top is lying on the new table top.

Making the new table top was pretty much the same as making the old one.

I marked, cut and sanded a square hole for the router face plate.

This is a lot tighter than the first table top - which is good.  Less wood dust will get inside.

Then I cut the hole for the bottom of the table top.

The bottom hole is smaller than the top one.  This gives a ledge for the router face plate to sit on.

Next glue...

...then screws.

Then I flipped the table top upside-down and attached the bench top router.

Then I reattached it to the cart.

Now it's time to work on a new fence.  For the new fence I'll be using some nice, straight Red Oak boards.

I first started by cutting a few 45-degree cuts.

These will support the front and bottom of the fence.

Next I cut the other boards to make up the front and bottoms.

I glued and nailed the fronts to the bottoms and then did the same for the 45-degree pieces.  Then I took the back off the old fence (the piece that holds the vacuum hose) and attached it to the backs of the fence.  Then I added a top, also made out of of Red Oak.

The new fence sits nice and flat against the new top.

The fence is also long enough to be clamped at both ends.

After taking a break, I returned and used a round over bit on the router to curve all the edges of the new top.

Then I placed the router in the face plate, and then placed it into the table top.

I then drilled a hole at one side...

...for the pivoting carriage bolt.

And now I am truly done!

I tested it out on a scrap piece of wood and it works well.

And even though the new top is a lot bigger than the old one, it still fits nicely in the corner.

Now this bad boy can handle some larger pieces of wood!

Thanks for reading!

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