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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I am new to the forum and looking for advice. I have a background in carpentry and remodeling, so I'm not new to working with wood and tools, but I am fairly inexperienced when it comes to fine woodworking. I recently completed a built in closet for my inlaws and I really enjoyed it. Particularly the routing. I built it all out of finish grade 3/4" plywood and cut dados with my new Bosch 1617 to support the shelves and hold the upright panels in place. Im trying to get more into fine wood working and especially milling my own parts as I find it to be very relaxing for me, and I currently have a supply of free hardwood pallets. Anyway I'd like some advice on building a router table. I want to make it a fairly high end table and plan to keep it for a long time. For now I'll be making a bench top base as I have limited space, but I may eventually build a cabinet for it. I'm looking for recommendations on how to make the top i.e. What material for the top, what glue to use, etc, also what insert plate to go with, best place to buy t track, how to build the fence so that it stays perfectly square, how big to make the top, and any other ideas you may have. I would like to keep the cost down where possible, so I'm looking at trying to get some countertop scraps for the top, maybe glue two pieces together with the Formica facing out and band the edge with hardwood to seal out moisture? Not sure if that would be flat enough?

Thanks in advance!

Some pics of my closet project for your enjoyment!



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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I guess I'm not really sure at this point. I'll have to see what everyone's suggestions are, then add up the cost and see where I'm at and where I could maybe cut down. I don't want this to be a bare bones build, but I'm not a professional cabinet maker either. At this point I'm expecting about $60 for the plate, $50 for t track and other minor hardware like that, and then whatever the lumber costs me. I'd really like to keep the total cost around $150, definitely no more than $200.


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If you can find them, the now-defunct Shop Notes published a very good article on building a router table in 2007 and an article on building a fence in 2009. I found both online but that was a couple years ago. I used both as guides to building my router table...which became a Cadillac. It probably cost me $600...more than I'd have had to pay for a new factory built table because I included a lot of high end stuff like UHMW plastic for the fence faces. But the experience and satisfaction were priceless. By the way, Shop Notes now belongs to Woodsmith and is no longer published. Woodsmith sells a DVD or a thumb drive containing all the Shop Notes articles.

Here's a pic of my router table:
 

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Welcome to the forum.
 

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I guess I'm not really sure at this point. I'll have to see what everyone's suggestions are, then add up the cost and see where I'm at and where I could maybe cut down. I don't want this to be a bare bones build, but I'm not a professional cabinet maker either. At this point I'm expecting about $60 for the plate, $50 for t track and other minor hardware like that, and then whatever the lumber costs me. I'd really like to keep the total cost around $150, definitely no more than $200.
First thing, look at that thread Bill recommended. My table is in their somewhere. I think it's about version 5, been using it for somewhere in the 10-15 year range, and doubt I have more than about $10 in it max. Not fancy, but it does exactly what I want it to. That cost includes my router plates - all homemade. Never felt the need for a fence, but will use one in a future project, probably the last time too, it will be a chunk of wood or 2X4 clamped down.
 

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Regardless of which inset plate you choose, make sure it has a hole predrilled so you can use the hex key that came with your router to adjust the height from above the table. You will, however, still have to lock/unlock the router from under the table when making adjustments. That locking mechanism prevents the router motor from creeping while it is in operation.

Good luck. The 1617 is a good one.
Do you have both bases (fixed and plunge)? Use the fixed base under the table and the plunge for hand held use.
 

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A couple of things. find a source of Baltic Birch plywood and pick the flattest piece you can find in 3/4 (18mm). Some wood supply stores carry it. Keeping the table flat over time requires a little work. Either add a second layer of MDF, or put some straight 1x2 or 3 trusses underneath. Or do both.

Cutting the opening for the router plate requires a template and trim bit. I used the router plate itself as a guide, then snugged four pieces of straight 1x up against the plate, with maybe a playing card between plate and board so you have a nice fit, but not too tight. Clamp the boards in place and you have a template. Drawing attached. Using a trim style bit with a bottom bearing to follow the template. Set the depth a couple of millimeters/ 16th to 1/8 th deeper than the thickness of the plate. Use your plunge base, or the fixed base to create the rabbit or ridge on which the plate rests. Pictured are some plate levelers you put in the corners to line the plate up with the top.

I prefer an aluminum plate, stronger and flat, don't sag. There are all kinds of fence designs, but they can be pretty simple. Rockler makes a little dust hood that boes behind the opening in the fence. So far we're up to about $60-$70 bucks. You already know how to build boxes, so make one into a stand for your top if you want.

Keep it simple, but precise.

The leverers are Woodhaven. The bit is like what you're looking fo.
 

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Hi leathermaneod, I may have missed it but one thing our learned contributors always tell new people to the forum is "always buy quality bits with 1/2 inch shanks & the best quality with carbide cutters".Welcome to Router Forum.Jamesjj777746
 

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What will keep your table flat is a level frame for it to sit on, similar to a floor joist system. I've made router tables from left over materials for as cheap as $5-10. I agree with Bill that you should have a look at that thread he linked to. There is no such thing as a perfect router table. What you want is one that has features that appeal to you personally.
 
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There is no such thing as a perfect router table. What you want is one that has features that appeal to you personally.
Exactly. My table would probably not appeal to 99.99% of the people here. But it does exactly what I want it for, so I am happy with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So I scored an old desk from work that I think I'm going to use for the router table. It's a particle board core with a laminate top. It has some cord holes which will limit it to about 20" wide by up to 4' long, but I think that will be good enough. It has a deep grove cut in the bottom that goes almost all the way through, but I'm planning to laminate it with some 3/4" plywood so I'm thinking it should be ok. Only problem is, it not perfectly flat. It seemed good when I got it, but after laying my straight edge across it, I found it has at least 1/8" of a dip. I currently have it in my garage, which is extremely hot and humid btw, trying to straighten it out. Right now I have it setting up on some blocks with 5 gallon water jugs on top trying to bend it back the other way. Do you guys think this will work, or will it always have a dip? Any better ideas on the best way to flatten this top? I'm hoping once I get it straight and laminate it with the 3/4" plywood it will stay straight....


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If you put a frame under it with enough cross members then there is a good chance that you can pull it flat. I like having cross members as close as possible to the router opening and that pretty much ensures that it won't sag there. Lee Valley used tio sell a steel table top that purposely had a very slight convex curve in the top at the router opening. That is fine if it does but the sag is bad because your work will bridge across the dip until you get to the end of the work piece at which time it will drop and cause a change in the profile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So incase anyone is interested I figured I'd post the outcome of my endeavor. I built an economy table lol. At one point I actually bought one of the Bosch tables from the blue store, and while it is very nice and comes with a really great compliment of accessories, I felt that in some of the components were lacking somewhat in quality and precision, at least for the $160 that I paid for it. I decided that if I was going to have something that wasn't 100% percent, I might as well have the fun and experience of building it myself. Here are some pics


The top and fence material is from an old desk that was being thrown away at work. The frame and edges of the top are from some solid oak pallets that I got for free and planed down. The plate was 20% off at my local Woodcraft, and I got the aluminum L for the fence and the track online. It's definitely not perfect, but it's not bad.


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