Designing a new Router Table - Router Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Default Designing a new Router Table - Part 1

I am one of the original members here at the Router Forums but I must admit I have been absent for quite a while and cheating on all of you. I started blogging on my own blog site and also visited other woodworking forums. Now I'm feeling guilty for not coming here much in the last 2 years.

So... I am going to post my new router table design (and build) in hopes that you will forgive me. So here we go:

I need a new router table. I had made my first one but realized it was not the strongest design and needed a lot of improvements and additions.

It was a basic four legged table with aprons and a small crosspiece between the legs near the bottom. I don’t have a photo because I’ve already taken it apart.

The old table had aprons that fit with tenons into the four legs’ mortises. Because of the amount of stress the table received from being dragged around the shop (no casters on the legs), it really started to pull on the joints, so the tenons started to pull away from the legs.

I have an Oak-Park purchased top that I like, which a large router baseplate sits in. I want a larger top with a place to put things down, like small pieces of wood waiting to be routered, or clamps that are being moved around to hold the fence, etc. I want some overhang so that I can clamp fences and featherboards to it.

Also, I want my new router table to match the cupboards in my shop:

They were designed using a magazine article which also has a router table plan that looks like this:

The main thing I like about that table plan is that it uses a large plywood box to keep it strong plus I like the framed sides and doors. BUT… I won’t have two routers in my table, and I will have it filled in all around to capture dust and shavings.

I will have good quality locking and swiveling casters so that I can move it around easily. Plus I will have a good on/off switch on the outside. I will make my own fences for my needs.

I’ll have a place underneath to store my smaller trim router plus a few drawers for router bits.

So, I will design the new table to meet these needs and hope you will follow along. be continued...

Last edited by Julie; 02-25-2011 at 08:44 AM. Reason: I decided to number the posts
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 11:02 AM
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Hi Julie - welcome back
Looking forward to your progress on the new table

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 05:38 PM
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welcome back, Julie

Sydney, Australia

I don't mind if other members disagree with my comments.
I don't profess to know everything, and I may learn something new.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 08:55 PM
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Welcome back Julie. Have missed you on the forums. I was going to ask how the shop was working out, but I see you have posted updates of the build. By now you should have it pretty well set up. Has Eric had to move his car yet? Good luck with your table build.

the "Doctor"

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-24-2011, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Part 2

As I said earlier I have the yellow Oak-Park router top. Here’s a photo of it:

(Since the opening for the router is offset (not in the middle) I am going to have my router sit on the right and have doors and drawers on the left. I think a problem with the “Norm” type router table is that putting the router in the middle leaves a narrow space on each side for holding router accessories. We’ll get to that in a future post.)

I need a solid frame around my yellow router top because I want it larger than the 29 1/2” x 15 3/4” that it is. I am also trying to use materials I already have, to keep costs down so I’m using a piece of 5/8” thick laminated plywood which once was a side panel in my kitchen. I’m cutting out the exact size of the yellow top and leaving about 4 to 4 1/8” around as a frame. The finished outer size is 23 3/4” x 37 3/4”.

Underneath that, I’m adding 3/4” plywood, which I am cutting out in the middle, leaving a 1” inner ledge for the top to sit on. Also, since the yellow top is thicker than the laminated plywood top piece, I need to router out a little of the ledge so that the top sits perfectly flat inside the outer framed piece.

Here is what they look like put together:

This just shows the yellow top in the top piece of the new top, and the routered out part of the bottom piece that will accept the top:

I suppose I will have to add a solid wood edging all around the top which is now 1 3/8” thick.

Next I will design the base, given the finished top sizes.

... to be continued …

Last edited by Julie; 02-25-2011 at 08:49 AM. Reason: I decided to number the posts
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Default Designing a new Router Table - Part 3

I’m designing my router table so that it fits with my router and accessories. My Hitachi router will hang upside down on the right hand side. It will need clearance around it for my access to raise and lower it and also for bit changes which I usually do by popping out the whole base and sitting the router on the top of the table.

I also have a small laminate trimmer type router that I usually have attached to a large 12” x 18” plexi base. I use it mostly for routering out designs, so to be able to keep it inside the router table, ready to go, will be helpful. So, the left side will need an opening wide enough to allow that base to sit inside.

The top is 37 3/4” x 23 3/4” and the base needs to sit inside that so that there is an overhang for me to clamp fences to. Also consideration has to be to allow the top frame I made to sit firmly on the base at the correct spot without interfering with the router hanging there.

So, the right hand side will be larger than the left, with the right opening about 15 1/2” wide to hold the Hitachi and the left side only needing to be about 14” wide. The inside depth will be about 18 1/2” to allow that small router to sit inside. A “center” divider will not really be in the center. I like my table high, so I’m not bent over it. I have to take into account the height of the casters I bought from Lee Valley, plus the height of the top, it will be about 38” high.

As I said in my first post, I want my table to match my shop cabinets. I will make an interior box from plywood and then surround it with flat panel framed sides and back. The box will just be on the bottom half, with the center divider going up to the top. (When I read this it sounds confusing, for which I apologize, I do think the photos will explain better than my words)

I’m using 3/4” plywood for the bottom and 1/2” for the sides and the center shelf and dividers. A dado is made for the side to sit into the top and bottom piece.

The lower “center” will be two 1/2” ply pieces glued together for strength as well as for a place for the doors and drawers to rest against. It will sit in a dado. The upper center is first screwed through from the dado underneath before the bottom piece is glued in.

The base is then glued and clamped together.

Here it is ready to be covered by the outer prettier pieces! be continued…

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-27-2011, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Default Designing a new Router Table - Part 4

The sides and back of my router table will be pine, 2” wide stiles and rails with plywood panel inserts. I had quite a bit of left over 3/4” thick, 2”- 2 1/2” wide pine strips of varying lengths from other projects and used that.
The rails and stiles look like this:

with the center rails having grooves on both the top and bottom to hold the panels:

and go together like the side of the shop cabinets (I forgot to take a photo of the router table sides and back going together, so this shows the same idea):

The sides would extend past the plywood box at the front by about 1/2” which would enable me to frame the plywood edges of the inner box to sit flush with the edges of the stiles on the side pieces. (You’ll see that below later) The back fits between the two sides. Of course, this has all to be pre-planned so that everything works out properly. For some reason my mathematical mind enjoys challenges like this.

So, here’s one of the router table sides completed, it’s 19 1/4” wide:

The back is 29 1/2” wide and doesn’t have a centered “center stile” because the side where the router sits is wider than the other side: (The router hangs on the right side when looking from the front, so on the back piece, the left side is wider)

I decided to use a maple frame around the whole inside of the top of the table. I notched out the middle plywood support to hold the frame more securely. Here you can see the back and left side attached and where the frame is:

In the last photo you can also see the covering of the plywood edges is attached but not yet trimmed neatly. Also I shellacked the inside of the whole cupboard.

Here’s a closeup of the maple frame, which the router top will sit on:

And here is a closeup of the 1” wide edge covering which is even with the bottom of the top shelf and extends past the 1/2” thick plywood on the horizontal part. Vertically it is centered on the top divider (1/2” wide) and completely covers the bottom divider (which is 1” wide):

... to be continued…
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-01-2011, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Default Designing a new Router Table - Part 5

It's time to add the doors to my router table.

They are made with pine, with 1/4" thick plywood panels, the same as the sides. I run a groove down the middle of the stiles and rails for the panels to fit into, which also allow the tenons of the rails to fit into the stiles:

The door in front of the router will have a plexiglass panel, so the groove needs to be thinner for the plexi than for the tenons. So, I put a narrower groove using the table saw, to hold the plexi and then put wider grooves at the ends of the stiles using a router.

The drawers are fronted with pine, here's the basic layout:

Every part was given about 5 coats of wipe-on polyurethane. I attached the three doors with piano hinges and put on the casters. The top, which still needs to be framed, is screwed on from underneath with L brackets:

Now... a few questions for you all (I might repeat these in the forum):

How do you store your router bits? I'm not sure if I want to keep them in a drawer in their respective little clear holders that most of them came in, or if I want them inserted into a board with holes drilled into it. If I take them out of their holders then I don't have their sizes or names on them, plus they aren't protected from knocks. If I put them into a board with holes they are easier to grab, plus I can hold more that way. Any thoughts?

Do I need air flow in the router compartment? I will be connecting dust collection, so will I need to drill holes for air?

What type of ON/OFF switch do you recommend? (I want one for easy on/off near the router) be continued...

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-01-2011, 05:32 PM
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Default Thoughts on design, electrical and airflow

You've certainly spent quite the effort on the table design with very good rationale for the decisions made. Your shop will have that "interior decorator" touch lacking in most. There's nothing I could add to those aspects of the design so far; it very well done and executed.
On the electrical side I suggest the MLCS surface mounted, lock off, paddle switch. You'll have to mount it on the right side. Think about the height from the floor so, in an emergency, you can shut off the router with your right knee without removing your right hand from the workpiece. If your table height is 38" you probably don't want the switch just under the top. Then think about both an internal and an external receptacle. The internal can be a single to power the router while the external should be a separated duplex with one side live, for say a clamp-on light and the other side energized when the router is powered to power the shop vac. (If you plan on using a a 1 1/2hp or larger DC it should be on it's own circuit because of the high starting amperage). Use the wiring from Norm's table. (Bj just posted this a few days ago) I use a vacuum cleaner, surface mounted male plug on the outside of the case to receive power from an extension cord. You could also consider the iVac but only for a shop vac, not a big DC.
For internal dust collection ignore everything in the "Norm design" as it is useless (PDAHIKT). Since your router cavity and door are already complete, consider a shortened "false floor below the router with a generous opening in the back of the router compartment between the floor and the false floor and tightly connected to the vacuum system. Leave the door as is and generate air flow in the compartment that will allow the chips to fall and be swept out between the false floor and compartment bottom. I'd start with a false floor that's just a little more than half the depth of the compartment and maybe an inch or two above the floor. Don't make this permanent until you've played with height and depth of the false floor to optimize capture. Consider angled baffles between the false floor and bottom to keep the velocity increasing heading toward the back of the cavity. The exit hole in the back has to be flush with the compartment bottom. You might also need a slanted baffle above the false floor to encourage the chips and dust to slide down to the high velocity opening under the false floor.There are plumbing fixtures with rubber connections so you can split the vacuum between the bottom of the cabinet and the fence. Depending on the opening around the bit and the tightness of the fence it will probably be necessary to put some openings in the back just above the slanted shelf above the false floor for make up air. Even with this set-up you may need to cut a horizontal slit in the front window to avoid a dead spot just behind the door.
Here is a link to a modified Norm table with slanted and baffled fixtures in the router compartment: I'd forgotten about this when I made my sketch.
Hope this helps.

Last edited by 48394; 03-02-2011 at 01:27 PM. Reason: More thought
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-01-2011, 06:39 PM
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Hi Julie:

I took a look at this picture and noticed that you'd added width and length to the OakPark top.

Ok, observation. My table is 2'x4' and 3' tall. I divided the table top into two 2' square "zones." One zone per router. This meant that either bit was 12" from one of three edges. 12" doesn't seem like much but trying to keep track of where the bit is and what it is doing and I've got one sore back from doing a few operations.

My new standard top is under design review and I'll be moving the bit as close to the edge as I can make it. 6" from an edge is reasonable but difficult to do given the design of the base.

However, as I said above, I have a two holer and mount two routers at a time. On a rare occasion I'll mount one fence for both routers. That configuration is excellent. The two holer allows me to do two operations with one setup and test them both at the same time. Given my penchant for creating errors, I'll take any advantage I can get.

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