Portable Router Table
I put this thread in the Router Table sub forum but it could almost as easily go into the Portable Routing one. My son hasn't owned a router yet although he is familiar with using mine as far as cutting holes out of speaker boxes go. I recently inherited an old Craftsman that had barely been used and that I didn't need from my father-in-law. My son also doesn't have a router table or the room for one but I thought that if he had one he might learn to use it, but that isn't a for sure thing. So if I made him a router table there would be no point in spending much on it or making it sophisticated. And it had to take up very little room as he only has a small shed in his back yard to store things in.
We often see on the forum new members who need a router table but have no room for a cabinet style, more or less stationary type table and are looking for space saver ideas so I did this project with that in mind. The construction method is simple and the finished table only takes up a space about 7-8" thick when folded. This table would also make a good jobsite table too for a contractor.
The basic idea revolved around using folding table legs. As I said, there was no point in spending much on the table as I don't know if or how much he'll use it. Here is a list of the materials. The top is from a dining table that was headed for the dump. The frame under it is built from old 5/8" T&G fir plywood that was under my hot tub for about 7-8 years. The legs also belonged to the in-laws. I have no idea what they had planned for them. The cleats are from pieces of 2x4 laying around and taking up room. The plexiglass also came from the in-laws. Once again, no idea why. Lots of screws. No nails, no biscuits, no dowels, no mortise and tenon. Just cleats and screws.
The section of table top was still nice and flat so I laid it down on a flat work surface and assembled the support frame on top of it. The frames is 4" wide strips of the fir T&G. The joints are held together with cross-drilled cleats and screws into each member as the photo below shows. 2 screws one way, 2 the other with some glue on each side of the cleat for good measure. This is a very strong joint and has a number of different applications. The cleats are drilled with 3/16" holes so that the screws don't bridge across the gap between the cleats and the frame members but it's a good idea to clamp them in place before you start driving screws. If you have a brad nailer then gluing, clamping, and nailing is faster and cheaper but this project was done on the assumption that you don't have one. By the way, a ratcheting screw driver is a good investment for this as it is the easiest way to drive screws in tight places. They are only about $10-12.
There is a longer cleat on the outside of each end of the frame, under the table edges. This helps attach the frame to the top and provides an edge to clamp the fence to. There are cross members on the frame very close to the insert plate opening to support that part of the table. The rest of the frame is also cleated and cross screwed from frame to top. I was going to glue the frame to the top but I changed my mind at the last minute. There are more than enough screws holding one to the other and the frame could be used under another top if needed. Since all the force on a router table is down and sideways it won't make a difference structurally.
The fence is very basic. It gets clamped to the table top. The area behind where the bit will be is boxed in and a hole drilled in the back for a small shop vac. It is also a 4" strip of the fir plywood.
When making the insert plate I thought that it would be good if it could be made more versatile. So I decided to mount the router offset to one end so that it could also be used as an offset base when hand held routing. The handle in the photo is off an old drill. The hole was threaded with a standard plug tap. The insert fits both directions in the table recess. That gives 4 possible routing orientations because you can stand on either side of the table to use it.
Folding table legs can fold up while you are using them so I drilled a small hole through the overlap on both set of legs so that the hooks on a bungee cord could pin them into the open position and prevent that from happening. The legs mounted to 2x4s added to the bottom of the frame. This is primarily because I forgot to plan properly but it also raised the table to about 34 1/2" high which is about the minimum comfortable working height for my son as he is close to 6'. Like Pat Warner says, "Even monkeys fall from trees sometimes".
I had planned to fill the opening with a panel when the router isn't need, then it could double for a work table but I ran out of time so that will have to wait. The photos show some of the details of the build and the finished table in the back of my son's truck headed for it's new home.
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.