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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 05:11 AM Thread Starter
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Default My first router table : a few questions

The time has come for me to make my first simple router table, and I'd like a little advice. I've done a lot of research on the forum and other websites, but still have a few questions. I've read the other very recent post (by losttree) and marvelled at the ultimate router table linked to in that post. I've also read Ralph Barker and Chagy's posts about possible sag, hinge vibration etc - and will address these issues by not having the router mounted in the table when it's hanging vertically - and hope there will be no vibration if I use a very stable piano hinge.

Given my space limitations (my 'workshop' is in a shed, 4.0m x 2.4m) I'm going to start small and simple. My plan is to borrow an idea from another member (Chris Roeder) and construct a table top, with no legs/support. I'll attach this to the end of my very sturdy workbench, via hinges - so that it can hang vertically when not in use, and can be folded up (and supported via two struts that hinge off the legs) when needed. I managed to get a discontinued Benchdog 40-075 ProPlate (8.25" x 11.75", 210mm x 298mm), which is pre-drilled for my Makita 3612C. It's 3/8" (9.5mm) aluminum so should be rigid enough for my tank.

My questions are :

1. Size of table top:
The OP table is 16" x 30". A few of Ron's (allthumbs) posts mentioned a router table 19" x 42" (480 x 1060mm). I can accommodate these dimensions on the end of my workbench, which is 920mm deep, and about 1100mm off the floor. So I could theoretically have a 920mm x 1000mm router table - however surely that's too big for a first RT? Would a 900mm x 600mm table be a good size?

2. Material of table top:
Lots of people indicate that laminating two 18mm (3/4") sheets of MDF is the way to go - and then laminate formica top and bottom. This is what I intend to do - unless advised otherwise.

3. Accessories
I'm not going to route a channel for a mitre gauge, however I very much like the idea of the fence sliding in some T-channel or similar. However, in an effort to start simple, I think I'll just go with a fence that is clamped onto the surface. I assume that one can, at a later date, route channels for T-track or similar, even with the formica laminated on?

Thanks for reading this, and hope to get some feedback soon.

Matthew

Last edited by matt1710; 11-29-2010 at 05:22 AM.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 05:43 AM
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Hi Matthew:

1. Is there really a "too big" table top size for a first router table? My first table has a top that is 24x48" (600x1200 mm). I had the room for such a size. If you have the room for a 920x1000 mm top, then why not? For most people, a 3x2' (900x600mm) is adequate.

2. Two sheets of 18mm MDF with laminate top and bottom is an excellent way to go. Some swear by good quality plywood. For MDF, remember to seal all exposed surfaces of the MDF>

3. Add a t-track later should not be a problem. I would suggest a down-spiral bit to cut the channel, to reduce chipping and lifting of the laminate.

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt1710 View Post
The time has come for me to make my first simple router table, and I'd like a little advice. I've done a lot of research on the forum and other websites, but still have a few questions. I've read the other very recent post (by losttree) and marvelled at the ultimate router table linked to in that post. I've also read Ralph Barker and Chagy's posts about possible sag, hinge vibration etc - and will address these issues by not having the router mounted in the table when it's hanging vertically - and hope there will be no vibration if I use a very stable piano hinge.

Given my space limitations (my 'workshop' is in a shed, 4.0m x 2.4m) I'm going to start small and simple. My plan is to borrow an idea from another member (Chris Roeder) and construct a table top, with no legs/support. I'll attach this to the end of my very sturdy workbench, via hinges - so that it can hang vertically when not in use, and can be folded up (and supported via two struts that hinge off the legs) when needed. I managed to get a discontinued Benchdog 40-075 ProPlate (8.25" x 11.75", 210mm x 298mm), which is pre-drilled for my Makita 3612C. It's 3/8" (9.5mm) aluminum so should be rigid enough for my tank.

My questions are :

1. Size of table top:
The OP table is 16" x 30". A few of Ron's (allthumbs) posts mentioned a router table 19" x 42" (480 x 1060mm). I can accommodate these dimensions on the end of my workbench, which is 920mm deep, and about 1100mm off the floor. So I could theoretically have a 920mm x 1000mm router table - however surely that's too big for a first RT? Would a 900mm x 600mm table be a good size?

2. Material of table top:
Lots of people indicate that laminating two 18mm (3/4") sheets of MDF is the way to go - and then laminate formica top and bottom. This is what I intend to do - unless advised otherwise.

3. Accessories
I'm not going to route a channel for a mitre gauge, however I very much like the idea of the fence sliding in some T-channel or similar. However, in an effort to start simple, I think I'll just go with a fence that is clamped onto the surface. I assume that one can, at a later date, route channels for T-track or similar, even with the formica laminated on?

Thanks for reading this, and hope to get some feedback soon.

Matthew
Hi Matt - I think you need to balance the table size with the space available and the projects planned. I probably have one of the smaller tables in the group, 16" x 22" (~550mm x~400mm) so I am limited to just what will fit. On the other hand, as the table gets smaller, thickness requirements also decrease. Thickness on my table is only about 30 mm. Another consideration is how "permanent" is the router installation. As mine is a portable table, the router plate assembly is rarely installed for more than a week at a time, usually only long enough to finish what I need to do as I need the benchspace for something else. I believe a contributor to sagging is when the thing is installed 24/7/365... The constant pressure exerted takes it's toll. I honestly believe that a top built with 3/4 ply (or even OSB) and topped with 1/2" MDF and then laminated would be more than sufficient for all but the largest tables.
Shoot, my workbench is 3/4" + 7/16" OSB + 1/4" hardboard.

For the mitre track, I like Bj's suggestion for mounting it along the front edge of the table. That will also act as a stiffener as a side benefit. Just as long as it is close enough to the bit location that you can use it for feather board mounting.

Fence t-tracks, IMO, should be equidistant from the fence and no closer to the bit center than the midpoint from the bit to the edge of the table, the further from the bit the better. This allows much finer depth adjustments when only swinging one end of the fence.

JMHO - keep us posted

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.

Last edited by jschaben; 11-29-2010 at 09:41 AM.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 10:17 AM
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Default Router Tables and their history

Various people have written that the advantage of studying history is to avoid repeating it. This may apply to router tables, as well. In a perfect, history-based world, we each would only have to build one router table, and it would satisfy our needs for all time.

Size - I agree with the others - make it large enough to accommodate the work that you do, but not so large that it consumes more space than necessary. Note, however, that with a protective Masonite/hardboard cover, the RT can double as a convenient work surface.

Materials - Formica-covered (both sides) MDF is probably the most common approach, and it usually works great. The downside to MDF is that it's messy when being routed, so a respirator may be appropriate. That's one of the reasons I opted for Phenolic-surfaced Baltic birch ply. Plus, I think it's structurally more stable. But, consideration for local availability of materials is also a factor to consider.

Accessories - A clamped fence will certainly work, and can be replaced with something else later. I chose to do a trapped T-bolt design (a channel routed between the two layers of the table top) initially, just so the T-bolt is held in place, rather than dropping onto the floor. (Once those little suckers get on the floor, they tend to run and hide under something really heavy or impossible to move.)

Depending on how you'll be using your RT, though, I'd suggest avoiding the simple one-piece fence. A split fence with replaceable face panels offers a lot more flexibility. An attached face design also allows you to shim the face, if necessary, to adjust both squareness and infeed/outfeed positions (e.g. for using the RT as a horizontal jointer).

- Ralph
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Default Thanks!

Thanks for your feedback thus far - have taken all into consideration. I've made a basic drawing of the shed (attached), the workbench and the proposed RT. Please pass comment on whether you think it will be workable. In particular:

1. Any suggestions as to what distance 'y' should be? I recall someone mentioning that installing the mounting plate too far from the edge of the table, is a recipe for back pain. I'm 6' so have a reasonable reach.

2. Ralph: I hope I've correctly interpreted your recommendation re that location of the fence track. I understand that a wider stance (ie greater than 150mm from bit) will be better - so I might go for 200mm either side of bit centre. Is that correct?

3. If I upgrade to a split fence at a later date - I assume I'll need to have two fence tracks per fence? This will mean 4 parallel fence tracks, so I'll need to allow for this when placing the two original fence tracks - correct?

As I've only got one router at present, it will be attached to the mounting plate and installed in the table when needed, then removed. I don't intend to leave the router hanging in the RT.

Thanks again for all your input.

Matthew
Attached Files
File Type: pdf shed layout with RT.pdf (15.4 KB, 83 views)

Last edited by matt1710; 11-29-2010 at 03:31 PM.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Have just read the post entitled 'Plate placement' (http://www.routerforums.com/table-mo...placement.html) - very informative too. Probably even answers my "what distance should 'y' be?" question above. Sounds like about 8-10" is right - although Ralph suggests a little more. In particular, thanks BJ, Ralph and Cassandra.

Last edited by matt1710; 11-29-2010 at 03:32 PM. Reason: Forgot link.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-29-2010, 05:05 PM
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Default Outfeed table

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Barker View Post
Various people have written that the advantage of studying history is to avoid repeating it. This may apply to router tables, as well. In a perfect, history-based world, we each would only have to build one router table, and it would satisfy our needs for all time.

Size - I agree with the others - make it large enough to accommodate the work that you do, but not so large that it consumes more space than necessary. Note, however, that with a protective Masonite/hardboard cover, the RT can double as a convenient work surface.

Materials - Formica-covered (both sides) MDF is probably the most common approach, and it usually works great. The downside to MDF is that it's messy when being routed, so a respirator may be appropriate. That's one of the reasons I opted for Phenolic-surfaced Baltic birch ply. Plus, I think it's structurally more stable. But, consideration for local availability of materials is also a factor to consider.

Accessories - A clamped fence will certainly work, and can be replaced with something else later. I chose to do a trapped T-bolt design (a channel routed between the two layers of the table top) initially, just so the T-bolt is held in place, rather than dropping onto the floor. (Once those little suckers get on the floor, they tend to run and hide under something really heavy or impossible to move.)

Depending on how you'll be using your RT, though, I'd suggest avoiding the simple one-piece fence. A split fence with replaceable face panels offers a lot more flexibility. An attached face design also allows you to shim the face, if necessary, to adjust both squareness and infeed/outfeed positions (e.g. for using the RT as a horizontal jointer).
Also with a protective cover I use my router table as a outfeed table for my tablesaw.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't been able to find any suitable surface material - maybe I'm looking for something that doesn't exist?? I was looking for some thin formica (is that the same as melamime?) - everything with a melamime top was bonded to 12mm MDF, or thicker.

I've got two 19mm (600 x 900mm) sheets of MDF which I intend to laminate - and was then going to laminate a thin (maybe 3mm?) sheet of melamime top and bottom. Is that the kind of thickness melamime I should be after - perhaps it doesn't exist?

In the meantime, I'll put a coat of sanding sealer on the laminated MDF top, edges included. This won't stop the glue that I use (probably just PVA woodglue) bonding the melamime top surface (if I find it) to the MDF will it?
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 09:37 PM
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Hi Matthew:

You're welcome.

For my table, I used Formica Econo laminate. It has worked well so far. The sheet is about 1.2 mm (0.047 inch) thick.

Attaching the MDF to table top, I used spray contact cement. Specifically, it was #m Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive. I do not know whether it would bond to MDF that has been sealed with sanding sealer.

I used PVA to glue the two layers of MDF together and to attach the red oak edging. Again, I did not pre-seal the MDF.

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Last edited by Cassandra; 12-01-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2010, 09:57 PM
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Hi

The Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive will hold just about anything in place, seal MDF,Plastic,laminate need to think about it just a little bit, most things you put down are not porous ..

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