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Discussion Starter #1
(Short version... looking for an aluminum (or other material) insert plate for my 1617evspk. Insert measures 14½ inches long, 11½ inches wide, and room for plate is ⅜ inches tall.)

Longer version:
I have a GMC Router Table (it was also made for many other companies... most known in the US is the Harbor Freight Central Machinery router table... the one that caught fire all the time. Lol) that I got for $25. However, I scrapped the router (for future, unknown project... disc/belt sander maybe??) And I am just using the tabletop, and base.

I spent dozens of hours cleaning, sanding, stripping old paint, cutting out weird lip on insert plate, etc and I've now decided to give up on the insert plate after several attempts to paint it and make it functional.

So now, I am hit with the reality that an insert plate might need to be built since I cannot find one. I considered aluminum but weary since I have ZERO machining skills. Plexiglass, and other plastics, are questionable in terms of durability to prevent sag. And wood... the easiest way, but I'm just not feeling it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I love the cast aluminum tabletop, and do not care for the router tables I see out there today (that I can afford lol). 20210108_191454.jpg 20210108_191201.jpg 20210108_191027.jpg Screenshot_20210108-193440_OfferUp.jpg
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Discussion Starter #4
I'm not sure why one couldn't buy an aluminum piece from Ebay and mill it out..
As a noob here, I'm not yet sure of the social dynamic, but the "just mill it out" felt a bit braggy, or entitled.... sort of "Let them eat cake". However, it could've just been sarcasm, I am unable to tell. But it was akin to being on a Model Rocket Forum where someone asked for an ignition liquid idea, and someone replied "While dont you just use an infusion reactor core?" Lol.


There are people, like myself, who are unable, or incapable of metalworking (milling). You get my point?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I would suggest Phenolic sheet here is some on woodcraft that is close to the size you need Leecraft - 3/8" Thick Phenolic Stock, Nominal 11" x 15", # BK-6
Phenolic is stable and very strong it shouldn't sag in that size
Here is a larger sheet you could make several inserts 3/8" x 24" x 48" Grade X Phenolic Sheet | U.S. Plastic Corp. 3/8 aluminum is a little pricey MetalsDepot® - 6061 Aluminum Sheet | 6061 Aluminum Plate
You know, I almost got the leecraft and trimmed it to fit... however, there were a lot of complaints to its rigidity, as well as its flatness.

I'm actually now considering making a block of remolded HDPE (from plastic jugs I've collected and shredded over the years) and then heating it up until it's "soggy", and pressing it into the aluminum tabletop.

I was thinking about just filling the cutout with the plastic block, then heating it up together, but I'm not sure how the aluminum will react.

I really just need to find someone with a cnc to cut me a block of aluminum to fit.

Thank you... I appreciate the advice, and I might get frustrated and just try the phenolic leecraft eventually lol. I only have 1 arm and leg, so working with metal isnt an easy task.
 

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I admire your perseverance. Finding somebody to make you a plate sounds like Plan A. Molding your own: how would you get the top to be smoother/flatter than the old plate?
BTW, I assume the old plate was too scratched/dinged to just polish up? Paint not required.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I admire your perseverance. Finding somebody to make you a plate sounds like Plan A. Molding your own: how would you get the top to be smoother/flatter than the old plate?
BTW, I assume the old plate was too scratched/dinged to just polish up? Paint not required.
Thank you. Perseverance, or obsessed? Lol, my wife thinks the later lol. But the Zen-like patience it's given me has been a blessing.

Yeah, plan A would be the right way. It's likely going that way.

The original plate was designed with a lip on it to house the HORRIBLE router that came with it. I got the lip off, and removed the paint. It was rusted quite a bit under the paint. And the Iron (or at least, high iron content steel) was heavily pitted. I spent nearly 20 hours alone on that plate before giving up. It wouldnt take a coat of paint. The paints I used never seemed to cure... and I did everything perfect on it. I even tried powder coating it. I eventually just stripped it back down, heated it to 800f and quenched it into an oil bath to seal it. And now, it just is too thin to do anything with.

As far as the HDPE mold goes, I was going to cut a ½ thick block from my remolded, heat into 220f, then pres it into the plate opening with my 12t press and a steel plate on both sides to sandwich it in. Then I can pull the plate out once it sets up, and trim/plane/sand it down to be even, flat and smooth. Then put inserts into the plastic so I can use the height adjusters. Aldo, I could then put in mini stainless steel rulers and use them for measuring my fence location in the future.

I've done this with HDPE before, but not to this large of a scale.

Actually, just now I came up with the idea to make 2 thinner HDPE plates at ¼" each. Then I can sandwich them around some flat steel plate to give it rigidity. HDPE is great, and easy to work with, but it gas a serious sag issue. Plus it would be hideous with the jumbled colors of all the detergent bottles I've shredded up to make the mold. I realllly wish I never mixed the colors on them lol... it looks like a Pollack painting currently. I could start over (I actually have some "Bosch blue" colored plastic jugs I need to shred. But jm about 30 jugs short still, so it would be 2 years away hahahaaa.)

Thank you btw... I still dont know what I will do. I just wish there was an aftermarket plate I could just drop in... but it is what it is. But you've got my gears in my head running at least.

(Oh yeah, another idea was to take one of the old craftsman sears mini router tables, and cut it down to fit into the insert area... but I'm not sure how well that would work.)
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I don't know how feasible it is for you to work on the edge of boards with a router. If it is possible, you could consider using a laminated board of whatever thickness you think necessary support your router, and rabbet the underside of the corners to approximately 3/8. Use shims or screws to level.
you may need to rout out an area on the under-surface (a pocket for your router) if you lose too much bit height due to the thickness of the board.
Not Plan A, but would get you going until Plan A materialises.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't know how feasible it is for you to work on the edge of boards with a router. If it is possible, you could consider using a laminated board of whatever thickness you think necessary support your router, and rabbet the underside of the corners to approximately 3/8. Use shims or screws to level.
you may need to rout out an area on the under-surface (a pocket for your router) if you lose too much bit height due to the thickness of the board.
Not Plan A, but would get you going until Plan A materialises.
That's sort of my plan. I'm decent hand routing (I only have 1 functioning arm, but I'm 6'8" 330lbs... so my main router is the bosch 1617, and it looks like a palm router in my hand lol).

I have a pantorouter I use for more delicate work. However, my shop is in disarray while we are in our current rental, and shopping for a home to buy.

Also... I have more clamps than jussst about anyone. Lol. Once I find a way I like things clamped, I actually dedicate those clamps to that task. (I just have yet to find a really good way to do glue ups without dowels, biscuits, or steel rods going through. Having one hand and using pipe clamps ... that's simply beyond my abilities lol.

I have several router setups... I have other router tables and devices (a lot if older stuff, or homemade jig systems... I have a soft spot in my heart for old tools/jigs... like the TrimTramp lol.)

Really, I use routers to make up for nearly every tool I am incapable of safely using (especially since I put my panel saw away). I used a mini router table with an older giant dewaltish (it looks like a dewalt but its black and from Italy or Germany or something. I only use it when I need overpowered, dangerous routing done. Like... ) , to rip 3 sheets of plywood and 2 mdf boards. For my chair ramp. Ooof... never worked with mdf before... it was unkind to my "ripping bit". Lol.

So I'm sure I can figure out a way to mimic it, but I'm laser focused on it, and it's hard to think about future projects because I'm obsessed. In 2 days I'll try HDPE, and take notes/pics. And if it doesnt work, illcopy it with pantorouter onto a piece of mdf, then use the mdf as a template to cut the insert plate from plywood. The pantorouter, to me, is the greatest tool made since the rock lol.
 

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Any form of plastic over that distance will sag. Even the Kreg phenolic 3/8" plate sags (I had mine replaced once FOC but gave up with them when the second one did the same)
You have shown you the patience to make your own from a sheet of aluminium. A hole drilled in each corner of the cutout and a jig saw to rough out the hole followed by careful hand filing will give you a solid perfect plate.
 

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If the old plate is a snug fit in the table top, you could use it for the template.
Sunnybob has a point - there is no absolute requirement for milling.
Usually the trickier part is routing the drop-in for the plate (see posts by DesertRatTom and others on this forum), but you already have that .
Not sure what the point of that locating lug in the table-top is - you might want to grind that off.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If the old plate is a snug fit in the table top, you could use it for the template.
Sunnybob has a point - there is no absolute requirement for milling.
Usually the trickier part is routing the drop-in for the plate (see posts by DesertRatTom and others on this forum), but you already have that .
Not sure what the point of that locating lug in the table-top is - you might want to grind that off.
I considered that... I might do that now that you mentioned it... I assume it's there just do the operator doesnt put the plate in upside down??

I can try to mill aluminum... but it's not very forgiving if I make an error... and at the cost of a ⅜in aluminum plate it can be a pricey error indeed.
 

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If the old plate is a snug fit in the table top, you could use it for the template.
Sunnybob has a point - there is no absolute requirement for milling.
Usually the trickier part is routing the drop-in for the plate (see posts by DesertRatTom and others on this forum), but you already have that .
Not sure what the point of that locating lug in the table-top is - you might want to grind that off.
Yes, the plate fits fairly snug, and I did try it out as a template to just fit a piece of ⅜" plexiglass, and another time I tried a piece of ½" plywood in it, but both just didnt want to rest properly on the lip of the tabletop support.

It has an excellent system for leveling the plate that is built into the table using m6 grubs, so at least that will be one concern I will not have to deal with.

But as you, and others, said... aluminum might be my best "route" at this point... it's just tough to work with and is not at all forgiving in terms of errors I might make. Also, I'm not very experienced with aluminum, and only 1 arm to manipulate it. I've tried in the past, but it gave me a lot of trouble and I made some rather costly mistakes.

Hopefully today, I can attempt my HDPE insert (with ¼" flat steel supports sandwiched into it. But I just feel like it might not bring the results I'm looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you all for help and advice... I have a lot to consider.

I do also have a few gallons of a strobe epoxy, as well as fiberglass, carbon fiber, kevlar, and steel mesh sheets. But I figured that would be items better suited for future projects, and "overkill" for this particular table.

Either way, I now have a mountain of ideas thanks to you all. (And once my frustration hits it's peak, I might just run it to a machine shop to see if they can make an insert plate for me. But that would be a punch to my pride lol.)
 

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Interesting problem. That is a huge plate. If you make it of plywood, you can cut a rabbit so you have just shy of a 3/8ths lip. Then you can use some Kreg levelers to align the top.

A much easier solution would be to lay a double sheet of Baltic Birch ply (flat as you can get) Half inch on top, 3/4 underneath. Order any aluminum or phenolic plate, everyone makes one for the 1617. Before gluing the two pieces together, cut the opening for the plate in the half inch piece. You want it just a hair larger than the plate for easy removal. To minimize tearout with the jig saw, drill four corner holes (same size bit as the curved corners of the plate). Put tape on the top so your cut won't be so ragged.

Line up the two pieces and draw a second cut line in the thicker piece so it leaves a half inch lip all round. Carefully glue the two pieces together so the openings line up properly. Add the Kreg levellers, then using holes in the table, screw the ply top to the table.

I would wax the heck on the top using pure past wax (Johnson's). Polish it thoroughly. This will make things slide even better. I wouldn't screw then insert down, the weight of the router will hold it down, and it will be far easier to lift out that way.

Given you are single handing this rig, I think I'd drill a large diameter hole an inch or so from a corner large enough so you can use a finger to lift it out. If you use an aluminum plate, use a rat tail file to smooth out the edge of that finger hole. And I strongly suggest you buy a plate with a twist lock (bayonet style) insert setup. The type with screws is a PITA and the screws always fall somewhere out of reach.

PIx 1 is of the Kreg Levelers, Pix 2 is of my favorite plate by Woodpecker. Expensive, but 3/8ths thick and twist lock inserts, but I have a heavier router in my table.

Hope this helps. I tried to keep tools required to a minimum.

BTW, if you are in a wheel chair, consider making a U shaped stand for the top. It can even fold in, kind of like those project displays kids use, but of ply and some 2x to stiffen the edge. HD ply will do, and have them pre cut it. That way you can pull your chair close. There will be a LOT of sawdust under the table, so you might want to make the stand so you can put a narrow trash can under the router.

Geeze, one more thing. You can get a base that will let you set the bit height from above of the table. I just searched for that key, and it found for $57 on Amazon. See third picture.
Bosch Under-Table Router Base with Above-Table Hex Key RA1165

I also suggest for anyone, that you buy the smaller model of the Grripper, to feed your work through all the sharp spinning things. It is the number one safety item in my book, but I think in your case, it would be on my must list.

If you have drill bits and a jig saw, this top won't cost anything like a chunk of aluminum plate. Try Kreg, or any of the other woodworking outlets and makers for an aluminum plate. Should get this done for around $50 to $60 bucks, less if you make a plywood mounting plate.

Some folks around here just drill a hole in the top layer big enough for a good size bit (1.5 inches or so) and are happy with it. But that means bolting the router in place, which I think would be a genuine pain.

Hope you find this helpful and practical.
 

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Holy cow, not sure how I did it, but wanted to add something. Thinking about it, I think the lift I mentioned is a two handed affair. You have to loosen a clamp on the base, push the router up to near the height you want, then close the clamp, then adjust the fine height. If you use the existing fixed base, you could just lift the router and plate out, to the rough height, reclamp and then use the fine height adjustment knob either in or out of the table. Sorry to have split it up like this, but I'm trying.
 
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