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poor retired plumbers take on a router table

4268 Views 36 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  DaddyDave
Hi There Fraternity

Well it’s been a long journey. When I decided to retire I made up my mind that longevity is born through purpose. That is to say, in order to sustain your place on earth after you retire you must strive to maintain a belief that you belong here as long as possible.

That is my belief, born out of experience.

When I was inducted as a plumbing apprentice in 1967 my journeyman who was in his 60’s told me that as a first-year apprentice his weekly wage was six pence in old money. (two and a half pence) By the time he finished his apprenticeship i.e. 5 years plus 2 years improvers, he was married with a daughter his wage has risen to the giddy heights of two and sixpence (twelve and a half pence) as he travelled through life his priority was his family and little else, mainly due to the opportunities that never existed in these days and of course lack of money, poor diet and little technology.

When he retired he unfortunately faded away purely by way of not having the purpose, money and vitality needed to pursue after a working life. And in these days little opportunity.

That man who I admired gave me the impetus to strive for that very vitality he himself could not capture but led me to recognise that very need, and I am forever grateful to him to this day.

About 5 years before I retired I started to build my workshop, based purely on the belief that after 46 years at the proverbial coal face I needed to keep busy i.e. purpose.

And here I am. I retired at 59 and am now 67. Would I still be around as a coach potato, who knows? I only know that I feel I need impetus to keep me going and that as far as I am concerned is made up mainly of two elements, firstly my wife, who if you read my posts keeps me active and my workshop that invigorates me every time I step into it. It gets my inventive juices going and in return I try as much as i can to keep it as innovative as I can. So here goes.

Now for you guys that do read my postings I do not have to remind you as to how poor I am. I still get pocket money, thus almost everything I built was from what I had lying around and a wee bit of imagination to bring them together. So here goes.

Now I have a fairly decent table saw. It’s a Wadkin 3 phase machine with a 4 hp motor built about 50 years ago and is all solid cast iron. The fence was not so good so on a trip to my son in Houston I brought back a new fence system from Very Super Cool Tools, which I installed (previous post). I then built an out-feed table (another previous post). Finally, I decided to incorporate a router table, which is the final segment and I hope complete installation.

I will not go over step by step the installation process as the photos are fairly self-explanatory.

As you can see from the initial photos my original router table which I knocked together from an old shop butchers block about 10 or so years ago, and to be honest it was never very good. It suffered from multiple inaccuracies in every direction and it took up a fair floor space to boot.

Now my new invigorated table-saw had a side extension that I didn’t really use and its dimensions were close to the butchers block so off I went. Stripped off the old top and had a kitchen island top left over from a job, so cut to size and edge banded it. As for the fence system that is made up of what’s left of my own kitchen worktops. Did the same and edged them on all sides. Didn’t want open chipboard faces showing.

As for the ironmongery, I purchased the Dakota pack from Rutland’s. Only down side was I couldn’t alter any of the threads as I didn’t have dies with the old imperial threads. At the time of purchase, I didn’t realise they were from America and not metric.

Using the build process I figured that the control I would use the most was the fence placement, and originally the controls were to be at the rear and not very easily accessible, so spent a day coming up with an extended version that would make them more user friendly, by raising them above the fence by welding extensions on to the slide bolts and forming extension sleeves to bring me above the fence all secured by 15mm pipe clips.

During this process I also did not like the hose extractor floating about in mid-air so routed it along the back of the fence in 40mm (1 1/2) waste pipe, just to give it a cleaner look.

As far as access was concerned I have found no matter what you do in attempting to remove sawdust, you do I end up with some build up and as such I decided to include Perspex removable inspection. I checked online for Perspex and it was around £20. So up into the loft and asked Marlon Brando and Robert Duval if I could have the Perspex from the front of their photos. I made it a lift off as I wanted the door completely removed when adjusting the router.

I used the same insert plate, and it’s larger than the standard one, which I considered purchasing in case I wanted to install a lift system, but in the end, I do not use this enough to warrant £300. So manual it is. Gave it a coat of matching paint.

The router itself is a Dewalt which I purchased from a Cash Generators shop for £40.

I installed a large dust collection Shute under the router with a 63mm branch to take the fence hose and linked it to my dedicated table saw vacuum via a tee piece and two blast gates as I didn’t want them open at the same time. Fitting the blast gates was a nightmare as I could not get access to them to open and shut. The photos show how I overcame the issues, and they work a treat. One problem was the balance on the router between the overhead 63mm duct and the in house 100mm one. Hardly any suction to the smaller one. In the end I inserted a small adjustable restrictor plate which allowed me to balance the suction between the two ducts.

I also purchased a small sealed led spotlight from B&Q for £8 and fitted it within the router housing to activate when router switched on.

For the wiring I wanted the same set up I have for the table saw, that is a have a live feed to the extractor direct from the saw switch bringing them on simultaneously. To achieve this for the router I just set the router switch to permanent on position, and ran a second live to the extractor from the router on/off isolator, again works a treat.

Lastly, I decided I needed somewhere to store it and made a shelf for it under the table saw with the waste coupling that disconnects firstly.

As you see the finished project is not perfect or streamlined, like a bought one as they say, but it works effortlessly.

Cost was approx. £100 mainly for the extract parts.

Would I do it again. No and no, what annoyed me most about the build was the improvements I couldn’t see in my head when designing and building, only after the fact as it sat in front of me with my mind whizzing around stating I could have done that instead or should have done this.

My builds have to test me. There are no challenges in the second only corrections, and that gives no value to your creation.

So, there it is lads, what’s next? Quick before the couch beckons.



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What a nice, practical setup. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think you are right about vitality being connected to a sense of purpose. I too started building up my shop starting about 10-12 years ago. I'm 75 now and finally more or less retired. I try to keep busy and still work with my daughter who has taken on my consulting business. Hard to completely let go, so I do a lot of writing for marketing purposes. I keep a little extra income coming in that way as well.

My very first commitment was having a 12 x 24 foot shed installed, wired and insulated it after my wife had an electrician install a 60 amp sub panel next to it. I had some health issues for awhile that slowed me down, but now I'm up and at 'em again. Thanks for sharing your story Colin.
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Colin; great looking project, as usual!
I may have missed something in the pictures, but where does the 'make up air' in the router cabinet come from? There should be a ton of it pouring through, to carry away the debris.
The only obvious inlet was the bit hole in the router plate(?)...
Further to my previous comment, air coming from the fence hose directly into the outlet hose actually lessens the efficiency of the suction coming from the cabinet; basically acting as a major leak in the 4" hose. Probably does a great job on the fence inlet though. :)
Wow that’s an impressive build and super functional. Thanks for sharing Colin
Thanks for your comments. You share the same outlook on life as myself heartening
Colin: My mother (gone 24 years now) began my thinking this way. She adopted it from a book titled "The Magnificent Obsession," a '50s era novel. Contribution to others in my adopted field gave me a good living, but more important, a place to improve the lives of tens of thousands of children and adults over the past 36 years.
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Very nice work and love your shop. What size joiner do I see there in the background, that thing looks huge.
Absolutely amazing.
Nice job Colin but pay attention to what Dan said. If you hold a ping pong ball in your hand and you put a vac hose over it tight to your palm and turn the vac on then off 10 seconds later the ping pong ball will still be in your hand, not in the vac. You need an airflow for the vac to move anything through the pipe. For that 4" pipe you need an equal amount of openings in the box, i.e. 12.5 square inches.

Also keep in mind that the router has a built in cooling fan that moves air from the top of the router past the bit. Your setup is trying to move air the opposite direction against the router's flow direction. This can cause the router to get hot so you want to keep an eye on that.
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Appreciate your background, my first job in the trades was as a plumbers assistant, 60 hours a week for 20$. I didn't make a career of it however. Your shop projects look great and well done. Welcome aboard.
Apparently I need a life, I was thinking about the 'make-up air' thing all morning... ;)
Maybe Charles or some of the other members have some thoughts on where the best location for the air intake should be, relative to the base mounted outlet already there?
Intuitively I'd have thought up high so that the airflow goes past the underside of the table where the bit is, but I may be out to lunch on that(?).
Great read Collin and a super nice build. I am confused tho I didn't think there was such a thing as a poor plumber.
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I have thought about adding to the pickup on my fence with one just under the table at collet nut height, much like some of the optional bases have. Anywhere below the router and you are working against the routers air flow for cooling the router. The only exception would be Herb's setup where he attached an accordion style hose from outside the box directly to the fan end of his router. In that case it doesn't matter where you put the DC pickup, it will help pull air through the router.

You just have to remember that a vacuum works by creating a low pressure zone. Atmospheric air, which is at a higher pressure, will move in to fill the void. It's that air current that transports particles to the vac unit. You don't want a low pressure zone at the router fan intake. You can compound the problem by creating a venturi effect where air is moving rapidly past the fan intake opening from one side of the box to the other. That creates a vacuum right at the intake opening. The venturi effect is what makes a carburetor work. Maybe when I have time I'll try to sketch some illustrations but I'm not much of an artist.
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That makes sense, Charles. Having a substantially deeper cabinet isn't really helpful then? If I understand you correctly, Herb's router draws clean cooling air directly from outside the cabinet, via flex hose, independent of what's happening inside the cabinet.
In that case having a small fan forcing air threw the flex hose would aid in cooling as well as adding air volume to the dust collection pick-up? Something like a bathroom fan would only add about 600CFM to the cabinet, not nearly enough for a 4" hose but definitely an improvement(?)...
The jointer I think you call it in the US is a plainer/thickneser here. It’s a Wakin which is a commercial machine of 3 phase which is 414volts. It has uppper and lower beds. The upper bed is 12 inches wide and the lower bed can take a 12 deep board. It is an extremely well balanced and accurate machine with the one drawback being the length of the upper table at only 4ft. It makes straightening boards a little difficult.

Very nice. I like your overall work area.
That makes sense, Charles. Having a substantially deeper cabinet isn't really helpful then? If I understand you correctly, Herb's router draws clean cooling air directly from outside the cabinet, via flex hose, independent of what's happening inside the cabinet.
In that case having a small fan forcing air threw the flex hose would aid in cooling as well as adding air volume to the dust collection pick-up? Something like a bathroom fan would only add about 600CFM to the cabinet, not nearly enough for a 4" hose but definitely an improvement(?)...
Dan I also incorporated an adjustable make-up air vent in the side of the box.



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I noticed that it's partially closed; is that by trial and error, Herb?

Oh! And nicely executed!
I'd have been happy if I did that myself. Nice Job. N
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