As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
I received a comment on my last video (Making a Custom Laminated Paddle) asking about the router table that I was using.
Now, this caught me by surprise, because that router table is literally nothing more than a board with a hole in it. But the more I thought about it the more I thought it might be interesting for me to take a moment and talk about my router table solutions, because they are all basic, cheap, and simple.
When you consider a table saw, the key points are a flat top, and a decent fence. A router table is the same thing: You need a flat top, and some times you don’t even use a fence. Everything else is is a bonus.
If I was doing this for a living, then time is money, and I would want a high end table with lots of built in adjustment and features. As a hobbiest, you can put up with something that takes a bit longer and maybe requires a bit of fiddling. Because after all, it cost almost nothing to make!
This is my main router table. It is small and portable. I keep it stored on a lower shelf of my rolling bench/outfeed table. (you can see this in my Shop Tour Youtube Video.) I built it about nine years ago, and I wrote an article at the time for my website -- this was long before I thought about making videos.
I called it “The Disposable Router Table”. That was not because I planned to throw it away. I built it out of a 2x4 sheet of half-inch MDF, some scrap plywood, and a few electrical bits. The total thing cost about twenty bucks. So I figured I could use it to figure out what features I want, and then toss it (or take it apart) when I was done with it, whithout a lot of financial pain.
Almost 10 years later I haven’t gotten around to replacing it. It works fine.
As I said, the top is a sheet of half inch mdf. It is 24 inches wide by 18" deep. There is an (approximate) overhang of 1-1/2 inches all the way around the sides and top, so that I can clamp things to the table just about anywhere.
The router I use is just the basic Porter Cable PC690 router with a fixed base.
The fixed base of the router is fastened to the bottom of the router table's 1/2" MDF top. As is usual for router tables, the plastic (melmac?) base plate is first removed from the base of the router, and then the router base is screwed to the table top.
The remainder of the top is made into a torsion box, to help keep the router table top as flat as possible. There is a U-shaped cutout in the middle of the torsion box to accommodate the router itself.
Here is that view of the top of the router table again -- if you look closely, you can see the three screws in the middle that are use to fasten the router base to the top. You can also see a bunch of other screws that I used when making the torsion box. I know, having a bunch of screws penetrating the top of your router table is NOT at all common. However, they are all counter-sunk so that they sit BELOW the surface of the top. I have never noticed a problem with sliding stock over this table.
The hole in the middle is 1-5/8" in diameter. It's just a hole. There is no allowance for an insert plate or anything like that.
And Yes, there is damage at the corner of the table -- it got bumped once. Still works. Has not affected the overall table flatness.
The top is treated with a few coats of Boiled Linseed Oil.
Here is a view of the "inside" of my router table, showing the router mounted to the bottom off the top, and also the power switch. I bought a short extension cord and cut it in half and wired it through an electrical box. The router is plugged into this. This provides a conventiently located on-off switch for the router.
A view of the back. I made some simple hooks where I can wind up the cord when it is stored away. (This photo is from back when I built the table. I later modified it to be the smaller size it is now.)
There is no micro adjust or above-the-table bit changing on this unit.
To adjust the height I just reach under the table and unclamp the router motor from the base and then twist it to raise or lower the bit. Yes, that can make it challenging to make small/fine adjustments. Other routers might have micro-adjustments built in, but the PC690 does not.
To change the bit, I simply remove the router motor from the base and bring it up on top of the table.
The fence is also quite simple, cheap, and basic. I took two pieces of scrap plywood and joined them at 90-degrees. There are four blocks along the back that make sure it is a true 90-degree joint. Along the front I have a taller piece of 1/4" plywood attached as a face. This is easily replaceable if I need something taller, or if I need something with a larger hole for bit clearance.
There is no micro-adjust here either. The fence is just clamped in place to the table top. Simple. If I need to "micro-adjust" it, I just tap it a bit with a mallet. Yes, it can be fiddly, but it is perfectly serviceable.
I can wedge in a hose for Dust collection on the back, between two of the right-angle blocks, so it gets quite good dust collection.
The next two photos show another view of the table and fence. The first shows the fence clamped in place. (That photo is showing a different -- taller -- face on the fence.) The second photo shows the back of the fence with the Dust Collection hose in place.
So what about this board with a hole then? Why did I make this?
I made this because I wanted to spin a bit that was larger than the hole on my main router table. The hole on my router table is only 1-5/8" in diameter and I picked up 2" round-over bit. This bit is really too big for the PC anyway, as that router does not have variable speed, so there is no easy way to slow down the bit.
Of course I could have just drilled out a bigger hole in the router table, but that seems excessive for a bit that you rarely ever use. So I just found a piece of scrap plywood in my shop and drilled a big hole in it. (This scrap happened to be one of the boards I used for testing out paint colours, hence the coral colour.)
I then drilled mounting holes for my big plunge router -- which does have variable speed -- and countersunk the holes and mounted the router. (actually, to be completely honest, I had to find some longer 10-32 threaded machine screws in my hardware stash, as the stock screws were too short for this 3/4" plywood that I found.)
I then just clamped it to the front of my bench so it hangs off the front.
There is no fence. There is no dust collection. If I were going to be using this every day, then this would not be acceptable. But for a single milling operation that I only do once in a blue moon... it's fine.
Here's I'm checking how flat the top is, and to my surprise I could not see any gaps under my straight edge. It is pretty close to dead flat! If I left this mounted for a long time, I am sure that it would start to sag, as this is quite a heavy router and there is no extra support for the table. But I don't. And it doesn't. So I'm good.
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