Router Forums banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just bought the jessem rout-r-lift for a new 2.25 hp router and looking to assemble a table. I've got space to build out a nice router station along a wall with a good sized table and cabinets and dust control below.

The only table I can see is the phenolic jessem table god $230 that fits the lift. I've seen a few videos and thinking I can double up 3/4 inch plywood and glue laminate on top. I'm decent with a router but not sure how precise I'll need to be to for the fence, miter, and the lift plate cut out.

Anyone know of alternative tables that fit this lift, should I try to build it myself, or just suck it up and get the jessem tabletop?
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
6,925 Posts
First time I ever used a router was one I borrowed, in a bench top table. Last time I ever used a store bought table. I'm on maybe my fifth homemade table, lost count. I would never have a store bought table, so I would recommend making your own. And, if it's not quite right, salvage what you can from it, and start over. That way you get what 'you' want, and not what someone else thinks you want.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,427 Posts
Dave I'm going to second the build your own router table . As I say that though , I cheated and bought the top from Incra . Thought making the the rest below would be nice , as I can tailor it to my storage needs and dust collection .

Just a heads up , if you get a chance maybe put your first name below your avatar so the rest of the members know you by name
 

·
Retired Moderator
Joined
·
16,385 Posts
I have one purchased table top which I only use occasionally and the one I made which gets used all the time. Like Theo this is version #- I can't remember. You can make a dynamite fence of your own for next to nothing with sliding faces and dust control above and around the bit where it will be the most effective since all of the sawdust gets made above the top of the table. The only exception where above the table doesn't work is dadoing. Click on my uploads to see the one I made last which was basically identical to the version before it. If you want to make it thicker or taller you can add t tracks for accessories. You do not need 2 thicknesses of ply. I've seen more people have trouble with warping who doubled up than those who didn't. What you do need is a framework under the top that includes crossbars as close as possible to the router opening. No panel material is made to span long distances and Jessem's phenolic top has been known to warp according to some uses on here.

There is a ton, and I mean a ton, of posts on this forum about building your own table. If you click on the Routerforums.com logo that will take you to our home page where you can find a sub forum on just this, and our Community Search will provide you with hours of material to read on the subject. And of course you have all of us to ask questions of.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roy Drake

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all - I've been searching around and found lot us of similar advice in older posts. For whatever reason I'm stuck on having a long router table like I built for my miter saw. So whatever top I use or build it will be surrounded on both sides by plywood tops. The manufactured tops all seem to have rounded corners that I'll have to deal with or live with a less than perfect fit to the side tables.

I've never used a miter jig in my current tabletop cheapo table I have so I'm going to leave that out. A good fence is a must but I figure I can start with a straight piece of wood with a cut out for the bit and clamp it down. Eventually I can put in grove and get some hardware to allow it to slide.

So biggest decision is what type of material to use for the top and how to make sure I cut the opening for the lift perfectly. I can live with that setup for a while and then improve upon over time...
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
6,925 Posts
What you do need is a framework under the top that includes crossbars as close as possible to the opening. QUOTE]

Yep. I've got a spiderweb of 2X4 chunks under my top, which is one layer of 1/2" plywood. I think this table is a bit over ten years old, and no sign of warping. Just listen to Chuck, and you'll come out fine.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,427 Posts
Dave if I did it again I'd go with 3/4" Baltic birch plywood . I love that stuff , super straight and no voids inside the laminates . Just have some strips of wood underneath to provide strength like a torsion box .
I'd use contact cement and have arborite on the top , as it's fairly scratch resistant and also slippery , so the wood slides easily over it.

If you go to the router table pictures thread , there's some great builds there that may give you ideas for building your own
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,264 Posts
I'm in w/ the build it yourself crowd...
 
  • Like
Reactions: RainMan 2.0

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks - any reason to go B.B. Over mdf? I've seen lots of examples and they are all using either double mdf or mdf on top of ply. I haven't seen anyone put in supports underneath though. Is that as easy as 2x4s or 2x3 going across both ways?

Trickiest part seems to be cutting for the plate. My plate is three eighths deep so I figure I'll go half inch and use leveling screws. It seems that the rabbet for the plate is the most importantly to get the fit just right. The cutout for the rest of the router hole I can freehand with a jigsaw or template cutter. Sound about the right?
 

·
Retired Moderator
Joined
·
16,385 Posts
Thanks - any reason to go B.B. Over mdf? I've seen lots of examples and they are all using either double mdf or mdf on top of ply. I haven't seen anyone put in supports underneath though. Is that as easy as 2x4s or 2x3 going across both ways?

Trickiest part seems to be cutting for the plate. My plate is three eighths deep so I figure I'll go half inch and use leveling screws. It seems that the rabbet for the plate is the most importantly to get the fit just right. The cutout for the rest of the router hole I can freehand with a jigsaw or template cutter. Sound about the right?
Is it as simple as 2x4s or 2x3s going crossways? The answer is yes. That is exactly how the floor joists in your house work. They are on 16" centers. I recommend crosspieces near or at the outer edges and near the cutout for the plate. Once again, no advantage to doubling up, and there may be disadvantages based on my observations from those who did over 6 years of being on this forum.

There are a couple of ways to get the cutout right. You want to cut the hole out close to full depth to within 1/8 to 1/4 " of the final size and then you can trace out the size of the plate and clamp straight pieces to the line and use a rabbeting bit or pattern bit to get to the final size and depth for the plate. The table before I got it perfect on the first try. This table I wound up a little too deep which is bad because material bridges across the gaps as it goes over the plate. Once it drops down onto the plate the profile changes. Whatever, crap happens, be prepared to deal with it and move on. It is simply a matter for me to drill some holes and thread them for leveling screws in this case and the problem is solved. There are very few problems that can't be solved.
 
  • Like
Reactions: whimsofchaz

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
Thanks - any reason to go B.B. Over mdf?
I'm finishing making the Paulk workbench out of BB and I'm so glad I used this instead of lower quality plywood. The workbench is a pair of torsion boxes with a router insert cut into one part. My previous table was two pieces of MDF supported by 2x & 1x pine cross pieces. I had two problems with that one, first was where to put it. When not being used it was in the way and when it was being used it wasn't very stable since I had it supported on saw horses. The new workbench is stable and flat! The second problem is the MDF is very soft!. The surface was good, covered with laminate but the exposed cutout always gave me problems

Trickiest part seems to be cutting for the plate.
Make an adjustable router template. I made this one on Friday to cut the hole in my new table.
The biggest problem I had with this one is that the pocket holes don't precisely line up with the angled T-track. You would have trouble making this version since you don't have a router table to start with. So try this version instead
I'll likely make this version next weekend since the one I made last week is not long enough to make a couple of cuts I still need to make.

Once you have your adjustable router template, a strait cut bit and a pattern guide bushing. Measure the outer diameter of the bushing and the bit. Put your router plate on a table, put the template around your router plate. Use a couple of drill bits to add the difference between your bushing and the bit. The tighter you sinch the template around the plate and drill bits the tighter fit you will have in the table.
Sorry I'm in a hurry typing this so its not totally clear, perhaps someone else can fill in the details I've missed.

Oh one more piece of advice if you do this, make sure the template is VERY secure to the table. The first time I clamped it down but the clamp slipped so then I just screwed it to the table.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,552 Posts
I'm stuck on having a long router table like I built for my miter saw. So whatever top I use or build it will be surrounded on both sides by plywood tops.

I've never used a miter jig in my current tabletop cheapo table I have so I'm going to leave that out.
So biggest decision is what type of material to use for the top and how to make sure I cut the opening for the lift perfectly. I can live with that setup for a while and then improve upon over time...
A few things come to mind. First you should put in a miter gauge track. If you don't use it for the gauge you should use it for feather boards. Without feather boards you can't hold things tight to the fence, put a track in the fence too for feather boards. Second build the table long enough (in my case 4 feet) so that you don't have to surround it with plywood. Plywood will just add another problem in trying to get things level. You don't want to be sliding a piece of wood through only to get it hung up on the edge of the extension.
Third look for a used office equipment store and see if you can get a section of a workstation from a cubical. They are about 1 1/4" thick 2 feet wide and come in many lengths. Often times you can get one for free or almost free.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,427 Posts
Thanks - any reason to go B.B. Over mdf? I've seen lots of examples and they are all using either double mdf or mdf on top of ply. I haven't seen anyone put in supports underneath though. Is that as easy as 2x4s or 2x3 going across both ways?

Trickiest part seems to be cutting for the plate. My plate is three eighths deep so I figure I'll go half inch and use leveling screws. It seems that the rabbet for the plate is the most importantly to get the fit just right. The cutout for the rest of the router hole I can freehand with a jigsaw or template cutter. Sound about the right?
I happen to like MDF , but it must be reinforced with a torsion box underneath or it's extremely prone to warping .
Just to let you know , mdf is four letter word around here .Kinda like holy water to a vampire for some of these guys lol .
Some have had great success with it , but once I tried Baltic birch it's all I'll use .
You can also buy another product called phenolic plywood (I think it's called ) . It's already covered by a slippery surface, so you don't need to add arborite etc
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Extremely helpful - the template is An easy way to go.

I guess I'm still a router newbie but I don't get when to use a guide bushing vs just a plain flush cut straight bit. - or a pattern bit I guess in this case. Wouldn't I just follow the template set to the size of the insert and no need to adjust for the bushing size?

I've read numerous router books and nobody seems to explain when u use one vs the other...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
I actually forgot about using a bushing when I did mine and used a strait cut with a bearing. The problem I had is that if you look at the template there is a channel along the side, if you don't have the bearing in the right place then it could fall into that channel. The other problem with a bearing bit here is the size of the bit vs location of the bearing. You need to adjust the depth of your cut very precisely. I used a door hinge mortise bit last week. It has a 1/4" long cutting blade below the bearing. I needed to make sure the blade cut the right amount AND the bearing lined up with a strait surface on my template. It was a pain. Unfortunately it was late and I didn't think of using a bushing, in this case the right way to go.
With a bushing, its fixed to the base plate of the router. Reguardless of which bit you put in the tool, the bushing will always register on the top edge of the template. You can move the bit up and down as much as needed and your bushing stays in place.

I agree with making the cabinet first, keep the counter consistant across the whole length. Don't try to make a router table inside a cabinet. Rather make the cabinet and insert the table plate into the counter top.
Miter guage for the feather boards is a must. Learn to make feather boards rather than buy them. I've needed some oddly shapped ones over the years one could just not find in the store.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Ok I'm getting closer...

- use mdf or B.B. And don't double up
- brace the underside to prevent sag and warp
- use a bushing guide
- make the table top plenty wide instead of building into workbench sides.

One last question - for the top supports why not use angle iron pieces? These are pretty easy to get at HD and I figure would add the right strength and rigidity needed. If I just did 2 bars from side to side across the bottom that should suffice right?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
I built my router table top using two 3/4 inch pieces of MDF. I then put a piece of laminate on the top and bottom plus a 1X2 ( 3/4" X 1 1/2") hardwood edge around the top. I mounted Unistrut channel underneath the edges and several pieces crosswise to the table to keep the table from warping. It's been in use 4 or 5 years and hasn't warped yet. The only things I would change is to use two layers of 5/8" MDF instead of the 3/4" thick sheets. By using the two 3/4" MDF sheets plus the addition of the two sheets of laminate my table top was too thick for the clamps on my existing router fence. I had to buy a new Incra LS fence, dang. I also need to move the Unistrut braces in a couple of inches to make it easier to clamp things around the edge when using the table top as an assembly table.

For the router plate cut out I rough cut the opening using a jig saw and allowed enough relief around the edges for a lip for the plate to set into. I cut the final size by using double faced tape to hold down four 2X4's as a template then I used a 3/4" straight bit with a top mounted bearing to get the final opening I needed. The 3/4 " bit gave me the correct radius for the corners of my router plate.

I also agree that a track for a miter gauge is needed. It is essential for feather boards.
 

·
Retired Moderator
Joined
·
16,385 Posts
Extremely helpful - the template is An easy way to go.

I guess I'm still a router newbie but I don't get when to use a guide bushing vs just a plain flush cut straight bit. - or a pattern bit I guess in this case. Wouldn't I just follow the template set to the size of the insert and no need to adjust for the bushing size?

I've read numerous router books and nobody seems to explain when u use one vs the other...
Building a frame around your plate and then using it with a pattern bit is the simplest way to go about it. The bit needs to be fairly short and several companies sell a mortising bit with a bearing on the shaft that should be about the right length. You can use a longer pattern bit and a slightly smaller frame to cut out the hole if you really want the hole nice and neat but there is no real advantage to that. It doesn't have to be neat to work and you won't see it again once the plate goes in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Went to HD and grabbed 2 3/4" 2'x4' mdf sheets and 2 1/4" hard board. I'm thinking of using 2 long steel angle irons that I plan to run the length. The top of my plywood cabinet would then provide lots of support with all the drawer dividers. I like the idea of a nice and thick and sturdy top 1 3/4" total this way. Some folks have recommended staying away from double mdf layers but I'm struggling to see the downside except for wasted effort and $12 in materials. Am I making a big mistake and Should I stick with 1 sheet instead?

On the opening for the plate I'm thinking I use 4 straight pieces of wood to frame the plate. Then use a 1/8 spacer between the wood guides and the plate. Then use a 3/4 bushing with a 1/2 straight bit which should result in a 1/8th offset that my spacer will account for. Then I'll just use a jigsaw to cut straight through for the opening. Sound about right?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
The math is hurting my head but I think you need a 1/4" spacer. Test cut on scrap first to be sure.
I recommend you don't jigsaw out the middle until after you've cut the rabbit. If you still have the middle in there you can put a spacer there that's the same thickness as your template. This way you can have support on both sides of the router.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top