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Hi, all. New to the forum and to workworking in general. I'm trying to clear out the garage and get some of the basic power tools, but have to keep an eye on the budget. So far, I have a planer and a jointer - hoping to set those up and try them out tomorrow. I do have a router (Craftsman 50429), but need a router table. Hoping to get a decent table saw mid-year, so, again, trying to mind what I'm spending. I've noticed that the router tables for purchase are very expensive - even the decent table-top ones, those not made of plastic, are a good bit of money. I've looked at some videos of tables that folks online have built, but 1) My skills aren't there yet, and 2) I don't have the time to invest in an end-all-be-all table right now. Plus, the lack of a table saw at the moment is an issue.

My question is, can't I build just a basic shop cart to the right dimensions and put a purchased router table top on it? I don't need anything fancy right now, just something to get me up and running. Once I get some skills under my belt, I can always build something nicer with more features.

Below is a simple shop cart that I built recently out of 3/4" plywood to put my planer on. I think the total cost was about $75 including the casters. I can easily build another one to the correct dimensions of a ready-made router table top and attach it to the top of the cart. The plywood top could be removed if necessary and the top box would be moved lower to make a second shelf and to maintain rigidity. Again, I don't need anything fancy right now so this seems like a decent option.

Opinions? If this is an acceptable path, does anyone have any suggestions for a decent, cost-conscious router table top?

Thanks!
 

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Hey, Coleman; welcome!
My only thought is think about the ergonomics of the tabletop height. You'll get lots of opinions here on that.
Many members have gone the route of installing a router in the side wing table of their tablesaw, so that's the ht. they're sort of stuck with.
 

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Hi and welcome. I like two different heights. For larger work I like a floor standing table and for small work I like my benchtop model that puts the work up higher and saves my back. For a floor standing table I would say around belt buckle height. That cart you built could serve double duty if you wanted. Varnish up the top, or add a layer of high density particle board, or put some countertop laminate on it with a simple fence clamped to the table edges.
 

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all you need to do is buy a router plate and cut on hole in your stand to fit. For a fence you can make a simple one out of a scrap of plywood. I would add a miter slot for feather boards and a slot on the fence too for feather boards. I'm not saying that mine is the best design but take a look at it. It's simple, adjustable and cheap to make. Here is a link to it.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...603B1AACB0553C198A96603B1AACB055&&FORM=VRDGAR
 

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This is the truth, so don't laugh. My first router was a piece of plywood with a hole in it for the router and a 55-gallon drum to set it on. For the fence, I used a piece of straight 2x4 that I ran through the table saw and a couple of clamps on each end. You are far better off than I was, and I am happy for you. Al Gore is from Tennessee and he was pretty young so we didn't have internet yet. I heard he invented the internet. :surprise: :nerd: :laugh2:
 

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It doesn't have to be fancy to work. My first router table was a sink cut out that I got from my cousins cabinet shop. I cut a hole in it and mounted an oak park router plate in it. I made the stand from fold up work bench like this https://www.harborfreight.com/folding-clamping-workbench-with-movable-pegs-47844.html I permanently mounted the top to the folding work bench. I still use it today some times. The nice part is it is stable and it folds up and I can take it any where. I just use boards that I clamp to the top for fences like Rick did on Router work shop ( I miss that show). Good luck and welcome to the forum!
 

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Make sure your top is flat and your fence is straight. If they're not it will affect your work.
 

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I used a store bought router table first time I ever used a router. Did it's job, but I've made 4 or 5 since, making changes and improving, each time. And figure I have around $2. 50 in it definitely less than $5. That's for the bolts, nuts, and washers that hold it in place. The rest is all left over 1/2" plywood, and 2X4 chunks. The top is 3 pieces of 1/2" plywood, very well supported by a spider web of 2X4 pieces under neath, no sagging on the last one in something over 10 years. Router fastens on a 1/2" plywood router plate. Have multiple plates, so can swap out routers and bits in less than a minute. Quite possibly the most least good looking router table here, but it does exactly what I want it to do. With what I do, have never needed a fence, but if it comes to that, I figure a chunk of 2X4 fastened in place will work for me. Oh yes, except for 3 or 4 bolts, the rest of it is held together with Titebond II.

There's a thread, long thread, very long, of homebuilt router tables here. Check that for ideas before you do anything else. Got some great ideas there, and you can even see mine somewhere in there.

And possibly the best thing about making your own router table is, you are making just what 'you' need, and not buying what someone else thinks you need.
 
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You don't need a stand unless you just want to build one. My first table waas simply two pieces of 3/4 mdf glued together and covered with Formica. I cut out the opening for a plate and mounted it in the table.

I used it in several ways. One was to straddle a Black and Decker Workbench. The second was to clamp it to my work bench and support the outer edge with a roller stand.

Good luck and welcome aboard.
 

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Welcome to the Forum Coleman,

There are so many possibilities that you can have a hard time choosing. Check out a Craigslist or other for sale website and I'm sure you will find what you need. As you stated your skills may not be refined enough to build your own. A cheap plastic table top model is affordable and will do many tasks. I still have the one I bought many years ago and use it often. It is light weight and portable and easy to set up. As you said, you can upgrade when you and your budget are ready.

Dan
 

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Recipe for your table

You have a jointer, so you can flatten the face of a knot free 2x4 for the fence. You can use the cart you made for the table pretty easily. You could do without a router mounting plate, but you'll appreciate having it. Lay the plate on your table and mark its outline with a fine marker. Drill a hole and use a jig saw to cut out the hole an 8th inch inside the outline. Lay out four boards along the marked line and clamp them in place. These will allow you to use a trim bit to cut a smooth edged opening that just fits the plate.

Get a piece of ply and clamp it UNDER your cart's top. Mark a line half an inch inside the top's opening, remove the piece and jig saw out the smaller opening and attach the second layer to the top using screws that won't go through the top. This will give you a lip to support your plate and router. Add a set of Kreg levelers (pix) so you can level the top and plate so there is no lip to catch your work piece.

Get a know-free piece of kiln dried 2x4 and flatten the face with your jointer. Use your jig saw to cut an opening where the bit will go. Use clamps to hold it to your table.

Voila, for about $70, you have your router table. It will serve you for many years.

If you want a larger table, just make the existing top the second layer with the smaller opening in the cart top. I'd use some extra, jointed flat 2x4 to add trusses under the new top layer and attach them underneath and about 1.5 inches from the edge of the larger top layer. This will keep the table flat and leave you a lip to which you can easily attach clamps for the fence. Get some iron-on edging to finish off the edge, and consider using the jig saw to round the corners.

Later, you can make a better fence (pix) with sawdust collection, or purchase one. You can add T-Track to the table and fence so you can add accessories. Mark where you placed the screws so you don't hit them with the bit when cutting grooves for the T-Track. It's all pretty easy to do using your router and a straight edge. You can ask about that when you're ready.

The most important thing is to learn safe router technique. Stick usually posts this information. I learned a lot by watching online videos of Marc Sommerfeld making things on the router table.

Second to that would be adding sawdust collection above and below the table. Many suppliers have 2.5 inch hose connectors that fit behind the fence at the bit opening. Sawdust collection is an involved process and can get expensive. But sawdust is really bad for your lungs. Note how many carpenters and woodworkers have COPD. So at least get a good dust mask or even a powered mask like the Rockler model in the picture.

I've spend as much on fiddling with sawdust collection as my band saw cost, and finally wound up with a setup using the Harbor Freight 2hp unit, which you can get with a 25% discount coupon right now. With the bag filter, you should roll it outside your shop for use.

The pictures are not really in order, so here is a guide.
1. Side view of how the plate fits in the table on a lip
2. Four pieces of wood used to guide the router trim bit
3. A very simple shop built router fence with dust collection
4. A fancy fence for a table saw that shows T-Track installed
5. A mortising bit used to cut a flat bottom groove for T-Track
6. The back side of a Rockler table/fence showing Dust Collection hoses (Similar to my setup)
7. The corner mounted Kreg height adjuster (set of 4)
8. A premium router mounting plate (woodpecker brand) that has twist lock inserts.
9. A drawing of how the plate sits in the table opening
10. The positive pressure dust mask I use that filters out small sawdust particles. Runs on 4 batteries. Rockler sells it.
 

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Here is a pdf on the 17 things that helped me accelerate my woodworking learning curve. Since you're in the acumulating stage, you might find it useful, and perhaps it wal save you a few of the mistakes and poor tool choices I made. Good idea on getting a table saw, nothing will do more for your woodworking than that particular tool. Ask when you're ready and you can get opinions and reviews from the folks here. We're not just about routers.
 

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As everybody has said all you need is a flat router table top. People have made their entire table out of MDF. MDF is not fun to work with but it is flat. You can make a fence out of mdf too. Insert plate is convenient but not 100% necessary. My table has an mdf top with several coats of oil based polyurethane. Base is a sheet of cheap (HD) 3/4" plywood....cut dadoes and grooves with my router and to square it up. I'm not pushing mdf but it is as inexpensive as it gets material-wise.
 

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MDF makes a nice second layer glued to the first. It helps keep the table flat over time. I also use chunks of MDF as push blocks on my router. Backs up the cut and reduces the risk of chip out. But the sawdust from it is horrible and will fill your lungs with fine sawdust unless you take precautions with a mask, good at the tool dust collection, a motorized filter unit to pull airborne dust out of the air. I generally cut MDF outdoors if I use it at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, guys! All great info. Certainly bolstered my confidence to build my own top and save some bucks. Already been warned about the dust and getting a mask.

As far as the insert, what are the benefits of having one? Is it just the ability to quickly change routers?
 

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"As far as the insert, what are the benefits of having one? Is it just the ability to quickly change routers?"
-Coleman

No. The plate's relative thinness means that more of a bit's length is available to expose above the table's surface. It also means you can quickly and easily pop the router and bit out of the table for a bit change, or to avoid having to go beneath the table to fiddle with ht. adjustment locks etc.
 

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Sorry, I forgot to mention that the relatively large size of the plate recess means that you can easily pass the handles of the router down through the top...you may have to tip it a bit to get one handle through before the other.
 

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Thanks, guys! All great info. Certainly bolstered my confidence to build my own top and save some bucks. Already been warned about the dust and getting a mask.

As far as the insert, what are the benefits of having one? Is it just the ability to quickly change routers?
Besides what Dan listed speed changes too. Plus most insert plates come with one or more insert rings that go in around the bit. They have different inside diameters and that allows you to keep the gap between the bit and ring close together for safety reasons. Here's an example of a plate with 4 insert rings: https://www.amazon.ca/Aluminum-Rout...=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B07C4NW38Z
 

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G'dday from the NW Corner of the South Island on "The Coast" of NZ.
At present I am fiddling around doing those silly little things that need doing but get put off. Ive made myself a very basic Router table, two cupboards either side for those items that need a home, a trough in the centre for the Router to sit in. The whole sits on 4 castors so it can move around to suit. Ive just made a new top using a wonderfull length of Native wood that has sat around too long and needs to be on view, cut exactly in half so as not to waste a single bit it made the new top the right length. Previous top did not have enough edge around it to clamp to this one has worked out very well. Its damned heavy of course but, as I prefer the "hinged top" which allows easy acess to adjust the bit height that was solved by a visit to the car wreckers and purchasing 2 boot lid gas stays for $5 ... only needed one in the event and the Table top lifts up and lets down with one hand. The Router Plate I got on Trademe .... its a Veritas unit with the best method of mounting the router I have ever seen, hope I can get the photos up for you. Just a finger screw either side and out slips the Router, the frame aligns it perfectly when you put the router back. The router is a Hitachi M12V again found on Trademe in near new condition complete with a boxed set of Triton bits ... nz$250. This I bought after a terrible and expensive experience with the big Triton ... never again will I buy Triton. In all it had about 3 hours easy work in Macrocarpa and Rimu during which it stopped never to go again until it was repaired another hours work total and it stopped again. No way was I going to spend further money on it especially finding out that Triton reliability is 50/50. The Hitachi is streets ahead in every which way. I have been thinking of ways to more easily lift the router in the table. Looked at the Router Raizer, expensive in my opinion for a lot of nuts and bolts half of wwhich may not be used. Today I have solved the problem after really applying thought (Ooh the pain) simply a box spanner that fits the nut on the adjusting nut and a Hex T wrench that slots into the box spanner, a dab of electric glue and its made. As the router is exposed when the top is up its all very easy and accurate.

So, no need for great expense ... the Triton Router was the biggest expense and total waste of money but in the end I have a simple table that serves my needs and mounts the best Router I have come across barring the real Creme de la Creme ones which would be a waste on me.
David
 

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I like the way you mounted that Veritas table. I turned mine into a bench top unit and it's not hinged which makes bit changes a little more challenging.
 
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