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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Default Your wisdom is sought

I have been spending a great deal of time reading the comments on this forum. Along with the great enjoyment they provided, the obviously informed members have been a rich resource of knowledge that I truly appreciate. I have entered what is affectionately known as the “golden years” (in other words I am now an old retired guy better named the gray years) and am looking to fill my days with those pleasures I worked so hard to receive. I have always enjoyed working with wood and made many things the old school way with hand and circular saws, jig saws, hand planes, sharp chisels, hand drills, and such. They were not works of art, but have stood the test of time with their durability. Now I am gradually putting together a little shop, so I can motorize my unskillful endeavors. My most recent addition to some older items I have collected through the years was a Jet Pro Shop (hybrid table saw). That purchase proved to me one can buy quality without selling the farm and in my case that would be literal. I enjoy well made items, but at the same time, I also enjoy not spending all of my money. In the mix of some of those old items is an ancient Craftsman 1 HP router. It is strong (for its size), but not very easy to use. I now wish to add a router table with a more updated router. I have come full circle through my research from top end stuff to build your own and back to a simple already build setup. The purpose of this post is to request from those of you who have a world of experience to help me prevent making a mistake. Let me share with you my thought process and then perhaps you can help guide me.
First out of the box, I thought I would select my router and build my own design router table. Reason one, I live in an area with high humidity and my shop though enclosed is nothing more than a non-insulated building with large doors to allow the breeze to blow through. I live in Southeast Texas so I have have hot and humid weather more than all other kinds. It is the humidity that has me concerned. I have been reading about the MDF approach as well as the solid Phenolic approach. I am unable to find much opinion on the Phenolic tables though it would appear to me they would be unaffected by the humidity and cast Iron is not an option as the maintenance of my table saw and drill press has shown me how this would be a problem. On the flip side of that coin surely the large number of owners of HPL MDF tables lurking in environments much like the one I live in would surely have cried out about the failure of their MDF tables. I have found that HPL MDF laminates are not that easy to come by unless I buy a ready-made table. The only thing available is what the big boxes offer. In addition, by the time I add the accessories, the package deals seem to be no more expensive. I plan to build my own cabinet to support the table as I want most of my work areas to be the same height allowing me to use them for other things like support for large material while working on my table saw or doing lay ups. It is my intention to have several on mobile carts so they can be moved about my small multi-purpose shop.
It appears to me that the Rockler package #1 of the MDF 24 x 32 table, aluminum pre-drilled insert, and 32” fence might work out and is not expensive. I am thinking I would like to hang the fixed base of a Bosch 1617 combo pack on the table and it doesn’t work to my satisfaction to add the FX lift later. In your opinion will this likely offer me what I seek and will to hold up to the high humidity in my area. It appears to me Rockler has more accessories that would work with this combination that I can pay for. I have looked at several other MDF tables including Bench Dog, MLCS, Jessem, Keg, Woodpeckers and the likes, but they seem to offer nothing more than Rockler but a higher price. Am I taking the wrong path? Is there a better way to go? Where is the weakness in my plan? I truly would appreciate your opinions. Nothing has been bought yet, so feel free to lay it on me.

Thanks in advance---
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 05:05 PM
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Hi Gary:

Quote:
Originally Posted by gcodom View Post
...

First out of the box, I thought I would select my router and build my own design router table.
This is the most reasonable approach. However, this simple statement opens a whole can of worms. More below...

Quote:
... In addition, by the time I add the accessories, the package deals seem to be no more expensive.
You'll have to start with philosophy. You don't just buy a router table. You don't just build a router table without subscribing to someone's method of working. i.e. go to this url:

The Woodworking Channel

select "videos" and at the top of the video window, slide the titles across until you hit "the Router Workshop." Watch a few of their videos. Don't watch the jigs and other stuff they use, just watch how they handle the router and table and fence and generally, just work with the router. Notice, they clamp a fence anywhere on the table and "adjust" it to the "correct" location. To change a bit, they pull the fence, lift out the baseplate (and the router) and proceed to change the bit, using two wrenches. That's the philosophy part of the story.

Now, compare that to another philosophy where the router is fixed below the table and you raise the router and bit through the table and change the bit using a single wrench and a spindle lock.

Spindle locks are required for below the table bit changes but two wrenches are best when changing the bit with the router out of the table. Which ever philosophy you chose, that will dictate how you will use and equip your router from that time forward.

Quote:
I plan to build my own cabinet to support the table as I want most of my work areas to be the same height allowing me to use them for other things like support for large material while working on my table saw or doing lay ups. It is my intention to have several on mobile carts so they can be moved about my small multi-purpose shop.
Ok, the carts idea is excellent, depending on your shop floor. My "modules" are all 2'x4' and 36" tall. That's fine except I poured my own shop floor and it's "off" by as much as 1/4" in various spots, which, in turn, means that my tables don't quite match any more. So much for planning ahead.

However, the concept is sound. I would be sure to add wheel locks of some form on the modules so they will remain stationary when required. I use my modules to replace the standard bench installation.

In total I have nine modules: tool box, router table, mechanics table (greasy stuff), radial arm saw (radio alarm saw), clamp rack (48" high), table sander, drill press, planer and scraps of wood bin. My band saw, table saw, jointer and mitre saw are all on their own bases and casters/wheels/?.

However, I currently have two router tables, the "standard" table that you saw on "the router workshop" although mine has room for two routers and a 4'x8' torsion table for larger projects. I'm working on the designs for three other tables, a ski table, a vertical/template table and a pivot frame table.

All of my modules are assembled from scraps. The only major expense being the casters. They are all heavy duty softer rubber casters so they "give" with movement and won't mark the floor.

Quote:
It appears to me that the Rockler package #1 of the MDF 24 x 32 table, aluminum pre-drilled insert, and 32” fence might work out and is not expensive. I am thinking I would like to hang the fixed base of a Bosch 1617 combo pack on the table and it doesn’t work to my satisfaction to add the FX lift later. In your opinion will this likely offer me what I seek and will to hold up to the high humidity in my area. It appears to me Rockler has more accessories that would work with this combination that I can pay for. I have looked at several other MDF tables including Bench Dog, MLCS, Jessem, Keg, Woodpeckers and the likes, but they seem to offer nothing more than Rockler but a higher price. Am I taking the wrong path? Is there a better way to go? Where is the weakness in my plan? I truly would appreciate your opinions. Nothing has been bought yet, so feel free to lay it on me.

Thanks in advance---
Ok, the MDF stuff. If you're going to make your own table, size and square your MDF top. Put plastic laminate top, bottom and edges then cut in for the router baseplate and when that is done, seal the opening with some sort of sealer. YOur MDF shouldn't be affected by humidity. My problem is the exact opposite. I've got 2' of snow on the ground and the humidity is barely 50% in a warmed house.

It's going down to -18C tonight so by morning I expect that it could drop to 30-40% humidity tonight and rise a bit during the daytime. Things get too dry in those conditions so I have to keep a pot of warm water on the stove.

Speaking of which, I"ve got to go load the stove and get some more firewood. I burn what you guys die for, sugar maple.

Later -- Hope this helps.

Allthunbs
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 06:55 PM
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I'm even further toward the opposite extreme, humidity-wise. Here in NM, the RH is often in the teens. When it hits 30-40%, we whine, "Send this weather to Houston!" ;-)

But, I agree - MDF should be fine for you - if it is well-sealed. On the routed center for the router and plate, shellac does nicely. A couple of quick-drying coats, and you should be golden, as they say. (Obviously, whoever coined the phrase wasn't this old.)

As to the router, my suggestion is to size the router based on the work you want it to do. If you're going to be using large-diameter bits for raised panels and such, get a 3+ HP model. If not, a 2 1/4hp or even a 1 3/4hp model should do OK. You might also consider buying used (but, well-treated), taking advantage of someone upgrading to a larger model.

Consider, too, the Harbor Freight router plate. While I'm not a big fan of many of their products, their plate is about the only reasonably-priced one on the market. I'm convinced the other plate prices are kept in the stratosphere to nudge people into buying the package deals. I've not used an HF plate, but Bobj3 here swears by them.

- Ralph
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 10:47 PM
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Default Phenolic Top

Hello Gary and welcome to the forum. I am pretty new here myself, and it sounds like we are not to far from each other. I live west of Houston about 40 miles or so. You mentioned Rita, so I guess you are somewhere around Beaumont.

There is guy that has a phenolic top listed on eBay. I believe he had more than one for before, but seems to be down to only one left. Anyway, it seems to have a few chips in it, but the price it right at $35.00. The shipping may seem a little high, but I am sure that thing ain't light.

I built my top out of two pieces of MDF laminated together and put Formica on top and bottom. I sealed the bare part were the plate goes with some type of moisture barrier stuff that I do not recall the name of. I am going to trim around the edge with oak once I have time.

Check out the pictures of the members router tables at the link below for some ideas on building your own. These guys here are full of surprises and ideas.

http://www.routerforums.com/table-mo...our-table.html

Anyway, here's the link to the one on eBay.

Router Top Phenolic - eBay (item 220682660083 end time Dec-12-10 10:47:01 PST)

Darrin
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Ron,

I enjoyed your post and the video reference. I sorta got lost on that link and was watching videos all over the place for hours on end. There is still more to see and I know I will return to them often.

About philosophy, yes I can see what you mean. The father son team works differently than others that I have seen. I can see where when one determines how they wish to work, they then can determine the kind of setup that would be most advantageous.

As far as building my own, well those scraps you referred to you used, do not exist in my shop. All of my efforts thus far have been is the physical construction of the building itself. I will likely buy a basic set up that I can build on to it from there as I determine my needs. It is more a matter of time at this stage. I still have work to do on the building and it is getting mighty chilly out even here. The floor as you mentioned is not perfect, but it is only off by a 1/4 of inch in a 12 foot run and I can live with that. I will have one table about 5 foot long for lay up and the balance for specific purposes if and when I get the time to put it together. I have to be very careful I do not use all my space up with furniture and leave no room to work.

I do appreciate your input and I have much to more yet to gain for your suggested link. Thanks again.

Gary

And yes indeed you were helpful.

By the way, I like the pooch, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso? I find it difficult to tell from a photo. I have two rescue dogs. I used to buy the high dollar stuff until I discovered the joy of giving a needy animal shelter and care. Frankly, I think they are smarter, at least they are easier to train.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Ralph,

Just two days ago I discovered the HF had router plates. I will have to check it out the next time I venture into town. All this Christmas panic in my household is disturbing my "me time". I am rather a Grinch myself.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Darrin,

Yeah you just about hit it on the head, just north of Beaumont actually, in Silsbee. Since my original post I have been able to gather some additional info on Phenolic tops and also on JoinTech products. I think I am going to pass on that one. It appears it requires a well supported perfectly flat cabinet top else it will conform to the differences. I read a review of this and JoinTech told the customer it was his problem and he had to find a way to brace it up. I am going to go the MDF route as it appears, with care, moisture will not be a problem as long as I don't get another Rita. The last one left me with $130,000 in damage and was out of the house for a year. I seem to remember some kind of sealer, I think it was called Watco or something like that. In any case, it should not be difficult to find a good way to seal the exposed areas.

West of Houston, Katy area?

Thanks for your input

Thank you for your input.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2010, 07:09 AM
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Hi Gary:

Quote:
Originally Posted by gcodom View Post
Hi Ron,

I enjoyed your post and the video reference. I sorta got lost on that link and was watching videos all over the place for hours on end. There is still more to see and I know I will return to them often.
Thank you. I'm glad it was of some help. Welcome to the world of routing. The minute you think there's nothing left to learn, a whole new avenue opens up and you start all over again.

Quote:
About philosophy, yes I can see what you mean. The father son team works differently than others that I have seen. I can see where when one determines how they wish to work, they then can determine the kind of setup that would be most advantageous.
I come out of the "smart system technologies" where the simplest and most comprehensive was considered "elegant." Rob's method is the most elegant router solution I've seen to date. What's better, it is so simple you can make the components yourself, or buy them without breaking the bank. The only other organization is Trend and they don't even come close.

Quote:
As far as building my own, well those scraps you referred to you used, do not exist in my shop. All of my efforts thus far have been is the physical construction of the building itself.
That's exactly what I used. I saved the scraps from my workshop construction, 2x4s that my father gleaned out of a business demolition and parts of skids that I "disassembled."

Quote:
I will likely buy a basic set up that I can build on to it from there as I determine my needs. It is more a matter of time at this stage. I still have work to do on the building and it is getting mighty chilly out even here. The floor as you mentioned is not perfect, but it is only off by a 1/4 of inch in a 12 foot run and I can live with that. I will have one table about 5 foot long for lay up and the balance for specific purposes if and when I get the time to put it together. I have to be very careful I do not use all my space up with furniture and leave no room to work.
I'd love to hear your thinking as you put it together. Keep us posted pls.

Quote:
I do appreciate your input and I have much to more yet to gain for your suggested link. Thanks again.

Like everyone here, glad to help.

Quote:
By the way, I like the pooch, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso? I find it difficult to tell from a photo. I have two rescue dogs. I used to buy the high dollar stuff until I discovered the joy of giving a needy animal shelter and care. Frankly, I think they are smarter, at least they are easier to train.
That's Max. He was a Shih Tsu and poodle mix. He died of old age last year at age 16. He became the mascot and the subject of many of my 'web experiments. His pictures showed contrast perfectly and showed change beautifully when colour balances were adjusted.

Max was given up by a young family who didn't care to know how a dog fits into a family. Max became aggressive Alpha in puberty so, rather than deal with the problem, they gave him up. When he came to us, I had to use construction gloves to approach him. It took a little over two months and we had him calmed down and we had many marvellous years with him. He taught me many things about life. I miss him greatly.

Ron

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2010, 08:03 AM
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I didn't read all your post. but you can build a router table. Or like me i have had 5 wood shop's so i didn't need the experence . So i bought mine from bob and rick router work shop . They are the router guy's here is the link. Like you said you can put the fence any where on the table any angle as long as it is on the correct side of the bit. Into the rotation of the bit . Here is the link Of course lot's of other item's their also Oak Park Enterprises Ltd.: Catalogue

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