Building My Router Table
In starting a workshop from ground zero (an empty 1.5 car garage), one of my first projects was constructing a router table. I wanted something large and sturdy with a nice mobile base. Commercial units were either too expensive or too flimsy, so I decided to follow the path of so many others and just build it from scratch. It’s also a nice project to start with! Step one was getting a router. The key here is to get a good router, 3+hp designed for table mounting – this means that the bit can be raised, lowered, and changed while upside down. I managed to find a Freud plunge router on craigslist in perfect condition for $60. The next step was creating a cabinet box. I picked some dimensions I liked and made it a tad taller than standard. The box shown here is just 3/4 MDF glued and screwed. If I was doing it over, I would use plywood. I’ve learned the hard way that working with MDF is horrible, especially when routing it.
Once the box was together, I glued and screwed another 3/4″ piece of MDF on the top to double the thickness. Then the hole for a router plate insert need to be made. I got a Rousseau insert from Amazon which comes with instructions on making the proper hole using a straight bit and a couple of guides for the router. This is shown below. I made my guides from some scrap 1×6 and just screwed them to the top since it is going to be laminated in the long run anyway.
Once the hole was made, the insert plate needed modification to match my router. The router comes with a template for its specific mounting holes. I discovered that I could place the template to the top of the plate, and then put a shop light in the router cabinet to illuminate the holes. This let me line up the template perfectly with the plate, at which point i taped it in place and took it over to the drill press to make the additional holes needed for top adjustment.
Next, laminate and edge band the top. The laminating is much easier than I thought. I picked up some formica on craigslist and cut it to rough size. Glue it in place with rubber cement, and then use a flush trim bit to zip around the edges and within the insert hole. Came out perfect. Using some 1×2 oak, I edge banded the entire perimeter with countersunk screws and then applied some tung oil. The completed top is shown below with the router in place.
The last step is a fence. I purchased a Freud fence and decided to just put some Incra T-Track into the table top for attachment. I routed the t-track slots into the laminated top and screwed the track into place. The fence is easily adjustable, but I failed to consider the need for a Miter track running horizontally. I eventually fixed this and will show it in a later post. The table with fence and mobile base are shown here, and for now, this is how I’m using it. In the future, some drawers and side veneers may be added.