Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Router Table Cart

Over the years I've made a few router tables using my fixed router attached upside-down to surface.  My first one was simply a small proof of concept that worked.


Then I made something larger that was perched onto my saw horses.


That eventually turned into a small cart.


As well as that worked, I eventually thought I could make the table smaller, so I disassembled the cart and instead made a small table top jig - which fit on top of my utility cart.


But as time went on I then felt the table top was too small, so I cut a hole in one of my work tables...


...and fit the router inside.


That worked well for a while, but I ultimately turned that table into my 4x4 folding work table.


I also have lately been making a lot of carts for my workshop - which I love.  Carts enable me to easily move the tools on them around to a less-crowded area of my workshop.  So now I felt it was time to make a new cart specifically for my router table.  I drew up some designs in Sketchup.


The cart consists of a large area for the router, plus 6 small drawers.  For the top of the cart I'll be using my more recent router table top which was made from MDF.  I trimmed it to be a smaller size, along with the fence.


Next I bought the wood I needed.


I also wanted to try out some star-head self tapping deck screws that I've seen otherpeople use on wood working video channels.  Supposedly you don't need to pre-drill holes, which would be a time saver.


So with my wood and new screws bought, I began by cutting the wood boards to size using my miter saw.


Using the stop block with the miter saw makes cutting all the wood evenly a very quick process.


Next I marked all the pieces of plywood...


...and cross-cut the pieces using my circular saw.


With the pieces of plywood smaller and easy to handle, I ripped the boards to size on the table saw.


Next I began assembly of the carcass.  For this I used only the self tapping deck screws.  I did have one or two small splits in the plywood, but they did work for the most part.  


Once the sides and back were together, I began attaching the shelves.  For this I also used those screws.  I also used some pieces of wood as spacers so all the shelves were the correct height.


Then I screwed on some locking casters to the bottom.


And now my cart is mobile.


I next attached the top, again using the deck screws.


With the top in place, I attached the router.


I then drilled a hole in the back...


...so the router wire can come out and be connected to a power source.


Even though my router plate is square, I originally made it so the sides are at a slight angle.  This makes sure the plate fits into the table perfectly each time without any movement.  I also purposely put the back of the router facing outwards since this is where the height adjustment is.  Having the height adjustment in front will make things easier for me.


However, the power switch will be farther away.  This is important since I should easily be able to turn it off in the event of an emergency, so I may incorporate a power switch of some kind to make things easier.  But I'll deal with that later.


Next I measured and cut wood for the face frame.


This was nailed and glued to the front of the cart.


While the glue and nail gun were out, I began making all the drawers.


All 6 fit nicely inside the cart.


I still have much to do, but I decided to call it a night at this point.  I wheeled the router cart between several other carts for the night.


The next morning I trimmed the edges of the drawer fronts on the table saw.


I then used my trim router to give the fronts rounded edges.


Then I drew diagonals from each corner so I can locate the center.


This is where I'll be inserting some spare handles I have.  They're not pretty, but they'll work.


Then I drilled a hole in the center.


Next I removed the drawers and numbered them so I know where to put them back.  I was going to begin attaching each drawer bottom when I realized I forgot to buy the wood for the bottoms.  


So I put the drawers aside until I get the wood needed and decided to work a little on the fence for the router table.  I want to make the fence better than what it was, so I found a piece of wood that I could use to improve the fence. 


The wood will slide left to right, which will help when using larger or smaller router bits.  So I trimmed the wood to size.


  In order to make it slide, I drew some guides that I will cut out...


...using a thin flute bit.


I set up a fence with a clamping straight edge...


...and cut out a track.


The wood pieces will attach themselves to the fence - through the track - using some bolts and wingnuts.


I drilled holes in the wood pieces...


...and used a countersink bit to make sure the screw heads were below the surface of the wood.


Then I attached the wood to the fence.


Now I can move the pieces together for smaller router bits...


...or father apart for larger router bits.


As for the whole fence itself, I'll do what I've done in the past and simply clamp the edges to the sides to hold it in place.  In the future I'll do something better, but for now this works well.


When not in use, the clamps attach to the sides of the cart.


On this particular day I was having my house sprayed for bugs - something I do every month.  


This is always my opportunity to move things away from the walls and give my workshop a good cleaning.


While cleaning, I found some plexiglass - which I thought would be good for the front opening, where the actual router is.  I originally was thinking about putting a solid door in that area, but a windowed door might be nicer.


While I waited for the exterminators I cut a thick leftover piece of wood into smaller strips on the table saw.


Then I cut them to size on the miter saw.


I drilled some pocket holes...


...and assembled the door with pocket screws.


Then I cut the plexiglass to size and screwed it to the door.


Next I added hinges...


...and a knob.


Then I attached it to the cart.


To make sure the door stays closed, I added an angled piece of wood to the door and a magnetic clasp.


Now the door opens easily and stays closed when I want.


When the exterminators showed up, did their thing and left I went about cleaning the garage and putting everything back in place.  Then I went on with my day.  While I was out I did manage to pick up the wood I needed for the drawers.


I cut the pieces down to size on the table saw.  In actuality, I cut each piece a little larger than I needed.  It will be easy to trim it later.


Then I glued and nailed the bottoms to each drawer.


When I was done, it was a little too late to continue working.


...but before I went to bed I set up a flush trim bit on my trim router.


The next day I used the trim router to trim the bottoms of each drawer to be flush with the sides.


Then I put them all into the cart to make sure they fit right - which they did.


Next I laid the cart's back on the ground and placed the drawer fronts on each drawer.


After aligning them the way I wanted I nailed the fronts to the drawers.


Then I removed each drawer and used the pre-drilled holes to better attach the fronts.


Then I drilled the hole for the handles through the drawers using the pre-drilled holes I made earlier on the fronts.


Then I attached the knobs...


...and put the drawers in place.


Each drawer easily opens and closes.


I began filling each drawer with stuff - the top drawers held the router bits, wrenches and accessories.


The middle drawers hold all my various planes and my trim router.


In the bottom drawers I placed some stuff that were in other crowded drawers in my workshop - riveter, wood burning kit, and old jigsaw and a corner clamp. 


The cart fits nicely in place against the wall with all my other workshop carts.


But I'm not done yet.  I decided to test it out on some red oak boards I bought.  I also set up some feather boards on the fence and the front of the table top - something I haven't really been able to do on the last router table.


And everything worked like a charm...


...except for the power button.  To turn it on and off I had to keep the door open and reach behind the router each time.  This blew out saw dust.


So I ordered a router speed control dial.  Not only should this thing let me turn the whole unit on and off from the outside of the cart, it should also help me adjust the speed of the router itself.  Unfortunately none of the stores close to me carried this thing, so I ordered one online.


While waiting for it to arrive, I decided to stain the cart to match the other stained carts in my workshop.  


After a few days the router speed controller showed up...


But there was nothing in which I could mount it to my cart except for a clip on the back.


So I screwed on a thin metal bracket,..


...and clipped it on.


Then I plugged in the router.


The controller works in the sense that I can easily turn the router on and off from the side.  However my router apparently does not like adjusting its speed.  


So I swapped it out with a small power strip...


...and extension cord.


I also drilled holes with countersinks in each corner of the router face plate so it could be screwed to the table.  This will help eliminate any extra vibrations.


Now I can call this new Router Table/Cart done!  The drawers work well, as does the door.  The door keeps most of the saw dust contained, which makes my workshop a little cleaner.


At some point I'll probably revise the top, probably with melamine, or sheet metal or some other smooth surface, but the MDF works well for now.  I'll probably also invest in a proper router plate at some point.


But for now this router table is ready for action!


Thanks for reading!

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