Opinion on cheap router table build - Router Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Default Opinion on cheap router table build

Hi, all. New to the forum and to workworking in general. I'm trying to clear out the garage and get some of the basic power tools, but have to keep an eye on the budget. So far, I have a planer and a jointer - hoping to set those up and try them out tomorrow. I do have a router (Craftsman 50429), but need a router table. Hoping to get a decent table saw mid-year, so, again, trying to mind what I'm spending. I've noticed that the router tables for purchase are very expensive - even the decent table-top ones, those not made of plastic, are a good bit of money. I've looked at some videos of tables that folks online have built, but 1) My skills aren't there yet, and 2) I don't have the time to invest in an end-all-be-all table right now. Plus, the lack of a table saw at the moment is an issue.

My question is, can't I build just a basic shop cart to the right dimensions and put a purchased router table top on it? I don't need anything fancy right now, just something to get me up and running. Once I get some skills under my belt, I can always build something nicer with more features.

Below is a simple shop cart that I built recently out of 3/4" plywood to put my planer on. I think the total cost was about $75 including the casters. I can easily build another one to the correct dimensions of a ready-made router table top and attach it to the top of the cart. The plywood top could be removed if necessary and the top box would be moved lower to make a second shelf and to maintain rigidity. Again, I don't need anything fancy right now so this seems like a decent option.

Opinions? If this is an acceptable path, does anyone have any suggestions for a decent, cost-conscious router table top?

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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 12:49 AM
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Hey, Coleman; welcome!
My only thought is think about the ergonomics of the tabletop height. You'll get lots of opinions here on that.
Many members have gone the route of installing a router in the side wing table of their tablesaw, so that's the ht. they're sort of stuck with.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 03:38 AM
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Hi and welcome. I like two different heights. For larger work I like a floor standing table and for small work I like my benchtop model that puts the work up higher and saves my back. For a floor standing table I would say around belt buckle height. That cart you built could serve double duty if you wanted. Varnish up the top, or add a layer of high density particle board, or put some countertop laminate on it with a simple fence clamped to the table edges.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 09:12 AM
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all you need to do is buy a router plate and cut on hole in your stand to fit. For a fence you can make a simple one out of a scrap of plywood. I would add a miter slot for feather boards and a slot on the fence too for feather boards. I'm not saying that mine is the best design but take a look at it. It's simple, adjustable and cheap to make. Here is a link to it.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 09:46 AM
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This is the truth, so don't laugh. My first router was a piece of plywood with a hole in it for the router and a 55-gallon drum to set it on. For the fence, I used a piece of straight 2x4 that I ran through the table saw and a couple of clamps on each end. You are far better off than I was, and I am happy for you. Al Gore is from Tennessee and he was pretty young so we didn't have internet yet. I heard he invented the internet.

Don in Murfreesboro,Tn.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 10:11 AM
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It doesn't have to be fancy to work. My first router table was a sink cut out that I got from my cousins cabinet shop. I cut a hole in it and mounted an oak park router plate in it. I made the stand from fold up work bench like this https://www.harborfreight.com/foldin...egs-47844.html I permanently mounted the top to the folding work bench. I still use it today some times. The nice part is it is stable and it folds up and I can take it any where. I just use boards that I clamp to the top for fences like Rick did on Router work shop ( I miss that show). Good luck and welcome to the forum!
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 10:16 AM
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Make sure your top is flat and your fence is straight. If they're not it will affect your work.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 11:08 AM
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I used a store bought router table first time I ever used a router. Did it's job, but I've made 4 or 5 since, making changes and improving, each time. And figure I have around $2. 50 in it definitely less than $5. That's for the bolts, nuts, and washers that hold it in place. The rest is all left over 1/2" plywood, and 2X4 chunks. The top is 3 pieces of 1/2" plywood, very well supported by a spider web of 2X4 pieces under neath, no sagging on the last one in something over 10 years. Router fastens on a 1/2" plywood router plate. Have multiple plates, so can swap out routers and bits in less than a minute. Quite possibly the most least good looking router table here, but it does exactly what I want it to do. With what I do, have never needed a fence, but if it comes to that, I figure a chunk of 2X4 fastened in place will work for me. Oh yes, except for 3 or 4 bolts, the rest of it is held together with Titebond II.

There's a thread, long thread, very long, of homebuilt router tables here. Check that for ideas before you do anything else. Got some great ideas there, and you can even see mine somewhere in there.

And possibly the best thing about making your own router table is, you are making just what 'you' need, and not buying what someone else thinks you need.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 11:40 AM
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You don't need a stand unless you just want to build one. My first table waas simply two pieces of 3/4 mdf glued together and covered with Formica. I cut out the opening for a plate and mounted it in the table.

I used it in several ways. One was to straddle a Black and Decker Workbench. The second was to clamp it to my work bench and support the outer edge with a roller stand.

Good luck and welcome aboard.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-01-2019, 11:46 AM
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Welcome to the Forum Coleman,

There are so many possibilities that you can have a hard time choosing. Check out a Craigslist or other for sale website and I'm sure you will find what you need. As you stated your skills may not be refined enough to build your own. A cheap plastic table top model is affordable and will do many tasks. I still have the one I bought many years ago and use it often. It is light weight and portable and easy to set up. As you said, you can upgrade when you and your budget are ready.


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