Today I finished building extensions to my router table.
As you can see in the photos, the router table is a benchtop Bosch table. It is sturdy and convenient, but has a very small top (about 25” x 16”). I mounted it on an old nightstand, to which I added casters so it can move around my workshop (when it’s in the mood…). Although the table has a good fence, the maximum distance between the bit and the fence is only about 3”. I already modified the table by adding T-tracks for the fence bolts instead of the slots in the top it came with.
Usually, I route small pieces. I mostly make toys and models, sometime boxes. However, I have plans for some “large scale” work: building a special cabinet for my wife’s glass raw materials. She’s an artist, and is focusing now on glass mosaics. Her raw materials are glass plates, ranging in size from 8” x 8” to 14” x 14”. In order for them to be stored safely so that each plate can be visible and easily pulled out, and organized by colors, and (most important!) kept away from my 1-year old granddaughter who is able to get everywhere and climb anywhere, I designed a special cabinet. But I digress…
To build this cabinet I need to cut quite a few dados and rabbets, and I don’t have a dado blade for my table saw. Also, my table saw is a benchtop one (DeWalt DWE7490X) and its top is relatively small. Some dados and rabbets I can cut using a hand-held router and a jig, but my router is too heavy for me to handle without the risk of straying (It’s a Bosch MRC23EVSK). One may ask: considering the amount of work you put into the extensions (yes, I’ll get to them shortly…), why wouldn’t you just buy a dado blade? A fair question, to which I don’t have a good answer, except that I like challenges and I also expected the project to be simpler… (is anyone surprised?...)
Since in the past I had to struggle with routing long pieces (mostly for frames for my wife’s mosaics), I decided to also “widen” the table.
So I built one back extension, adding 16” to the back of the table and allowing a distance of 18” between the bit and the fence (which may be unsafe!), and two side extensions adding 20” on each side. The back extension has T-Tracks to match those I added to the table. All extensions are removable (fastened to the table with brackets and knobbed bolts), so I can remove them when not in use. It takes about 8 minutes to install all extensions, but I’m sure I’ll get better at it with practice…
Here is another good question one may ask: why not just build a new table, or alternatively get a sheet of plywood, cut a hole for the router lift and bolt the plywood to the top of the table? I do have an answer to that: I wanted the extensions to be removable (particularly the back one) because I don’t have enough space in my shop for a large permanent table, and I only need the extensions occasionally. I can also choose to install only the side extensions or only the back one as needed.
The design focused on strength and durability. As you can see, the back extension can carry a small dog (11lbs). Don’t worry – the router was unplugged for this demonstration… My little Maggie was not particularly happy, but she was easily appeased with a treat after the photo shoot… The tops of the extensions are old leftover countertops (laminated particle board) which I chose in order to get a smoother surface. The supports are 3/4” plywood from offcuts in the shop. Even the hardware (screws, brackets, knobs) where laying around in the shop. No expense spared…
I also added the Sketchup design. I’ll gladly share the file with anyone who might be interested (although I expect measurements will need to be adjusted for specific router tables).