Building a Router Table 101

Ultimate Router Table Myth - Router Table Plates - Table Tops - Fences - Switches - Adjustments - Links - Accessories

 

The true joy of having a router is only experienced when it is used in a table, a whole new world of possibilities is opened up. Building a router table is a great first project, a little bit of everything is involved and it will stay in the shop so it doesn't have to perfect. Much can be done with only the simplest type, a sink cut-out on two sawhorses, however it seems to be every woodworker's dream to build the "Ultimate Router Table". There are links to plans for building router tables and accessories for them at the bottom of the page, the rest of the page is meant to give you something to think about as you plan your own.

Exposing the "Ultimate Router Table" myth

You can buy numerous plans on how to build the "Ultimate Router Table" and even more posts to forums and discussion groups asking how to build the "Ultimate Router Table". Having built many router tables, ranging from a sheet of plywood sitting on two sawhorses with a router screwed on the bottom to a stand alone table designed to do everything, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such animal.

A router is just too much of a versatile tool to build one table to do all things, I now have an insert built into a wing on my table saw, I have several plates for this with routers attached and usually switch them several times when doing a project. This does 90% of my router work, the other 10% is done on tops I have made that clamp to my Workmate, each built to perform a unique function.

Router Table Plates

Router table plates are used to hold the router in the table, they should be thin enough to allow the maximum range of height adjustment yet rigid enough to prevent sagging from the weight of the router. Many materials are suitable, I prefer aluminum, plastics may be used but are not as stable. On one of the first tables I made I used a white plastic cutting board, this project was done in the winter when it was rather cool in the shop. On one of the first warm spring days when I went to lift the insert out to change a bit I could not budge it, the change in temperature had caused the plate to expand.
1/4'' Machined Aluminum Router Table Plates
Pre-Drilled for instant setup.

1/4'' Machined Aluminum Router Table Plates

1/4

Table Tops

The larger area you have the better, this is generally determined by the size of your shop. The top should be flat and rigid, a couple sheets of 3/4" thick MDF laminated together makes a solid top. I prefer to center the cut-out for the plate in relation to the front and back but like to move it over closer to the right edge of the top to provide a larger area for support on the left side. I find that it is also easier to reach under the top to make adjustments when it is closer to the edge. You will soon discover that there is really no front, back, right or left side to a router table, stock can be fed in any direction as long as it is on the left side of the bit.

Aluminum T-track inserted into the top is an ideal method to attach jigs and fixtures. The slot for the track may be cut with a router and straight bit into the top, if the top is only 3/4" thick there is another method I use, but has to be done before the insert for the plate is cut out.

Lay the track on the table and fasten it in position with flat head screws, countersink the holes if they are not done at the factory. Laminate a sheet of MDF the thickness of the height track to the top on each side of it.

This method may also be used to make a slot to use your table saw miter gauge in the top if you use 3/8" MDF.

Aluminum T-Track
Get maximum strength when you use this T-Track with our T-bolt system. Works with router table, drill press tables, band saw tables, and workbenches. Ideal for use with custom jigs and fixtures!Available in 1/2'' depth or 3/8'' depth for thinner stock. 3/4'' Wide.

Aluminum T-Track

Aluminum T-Track

Making a Fence

Since there is no real direction to a router table, it is a big plus in making a fence. Unlike a table saw where the fence has to be parallel to the blade, your router fence can be sitting at any angle and work. The simplest is a pivot fence, a strip of material bolted at one end and clamped at the other, to adjust it just loosen the clamp and tap that end.

A split fence is used to true up the edge of a board in place of a jointer, one half of the fence is moved back to compensate for the material removed by the bit.

If you don't have a split fence this can also be done by sticking a strip of cardboard or countertop laminate to one half of the fence with removable adhesive.

The cut-out for the bit is often used to hook up a dust collector to take the chips away.

Switch

An easily accessible switch should be mounted on the table, besides being convenient it is also a safety feature. I have used power bars equipped with a switch for smaller routers but would recommend a heavy duty switch be used.

Router Table Switch
This heavy-duty 15 amp switch is for use with router tables or any workbench where you use a stationary power tool. Includes 7' grounded cord to outlet and 2' female cord to power tool for quick plug-in and use. Easily mounts to any surface.

Router Table Switch

Router Table Switch

Adjustments

Having a router plate in the table allows you to lift the router out of the insert and change bits or adjust the height of the bit, much handier than reaching under the table of the sink cut-out variety. Really deluxe tables have a Router Raizer to adjust the height of the bit.

Router Raizer
There s never been an easier or safer way to get quick depth-of-cut adjustments with your plunge router. The Router Raizer lets you work from both the topside and underside of your router table. Router plate shown not included.

Router Raizer

Router Raizer

Useful Links

I have included some links to free plans for router tables, perhaps one of them will be the basis for your "Ultimate" creation.

Home Built Router Power Feed

Router Table - Amateur Woodworker

Router Table - Janes

Router Table - Simple

Ultimate Router Table - WoodCentral


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