Router tables are extremely practical, but they can be quite expensive. A handheld router is truly a great tool, but it can’t compare with the capacities of a router table. If you already use a router to do woodwork, you are definitely a handyman. So when you are on budget but still need a versatile tool, like a router table, the only solution is to build it alone.
You can do it right there at your home workshop. It takes some skills to build your home-made router table, but you already have the expertise even if you are not a professional woodworker. You will need to get some supplies, but the overall cost will be less than if you would buy a router table. Don’t worry about the end result.
You can build a router table alone as long as you follow instructions carefully and pay attention to some details, which will make a whole lot of difference when you’ll use it later.
Preparing the tabletop is the most important thing. Whether or not you have a cabinet underneath, it’s important to cut the holes with precision in order to fit the router perfectly. You need to remove the base plate from your router and use it as a template to make the hole marks with a pencil. It’s always best to place the router right at the center of the tabletop.
You must mark the mounting holes at the perimeter of the router’s base and the big center hole. Once you mark the holes with a pencil, drill the holes and then the big hole at the center where the router bit will fit. This hole must be sized to fit the biggest router bit. Use a jig saw and then countersink the small holes in order to mount the router with flat head screws.
The simplest router table should have a fence. It will act as a guide to help you cut boards straight.The length of the fence must match exactly the length of the table. Use one board to cut the fence base and support plate.
It’s always practical to have a dust collector fitted on your router table. In order to do that, you must create a small wooden box to fit the vacuum hose. You just need 4 small pieces of wood joined together to form a small box with a hole at the back.
You glue the main 3 pieces at the back of the support plate and right at the center where the router bit will fit. You add the last piece of the box (the back part with the round hole) last by using screws. Since the hole you open at the back side of the box is made to fit your vacuum hole, by screwing it to secure it you can easily change it in the even you want to use a different size vacuum hose later.
Although securing the fence on the table is the easiest way to install it, it is more practical if you could slide the fence but also clamp it in place. In order to do that, you should cut small squared pieces of wood which will support the fence. If they are not thick enough, glue a few of them together.
Then you should cut one corner off so that they will fit under the table. To help these clamps get tighten under the table, don’t cut the bottom part entirely squared but allow a small angle. Use some small pieces as knobs and cut holes at the center and put some t-nuts. Then you should open holes at the base plate where you want to put the clamps and knobs, and secure them together on the table.
Use the slots at the support plate to mark with a pencil the exact points on the face plates where you will put bolts. You will find the ideal spots by moving the face plates at each side of the support plate from fully open to fully close. Then you should open the two holes on each face plate and screw them in the support plate slot – use washers too.
To make the fence you will need:
If you dream of a router table with a cabinet, start working on the cabinet first. The most important thing is to pay attention to the height of the router table so your job will be done easily. Choose wood boards accordingly.
You will need boards for the side, back and bottom part of the cabinet. Their size and the overall size of the router table depend on the space at your workshop. If you cut the cabinet parts, make sure you band them together with hardwood edging. It will act as a protective layer if you use MDF and won’t allow the edges to chip.
You might need to use masking tape to hold the parts together till they are glued, but if you have a hard time with some parts, use clamps. The final assembly of the cabinet is done with washer-head screws.
The doors are easily fitted with hinges, but you must pay great attention to the position of the shelf inside the cabinet. You must leave enough room for the router to fit and enough room for you to remove it from the inner part of the cabinet.
Average routers would probably require about 12 in. space from the top, but you have to measure yours to be precise. To make the router table more practical, install furniture glides and put a switch where you can easily turn the router on and off, so that you won’t have to open the cabinet to do so every now and then.
There are certainly many types of router tables. If you don’t need a cabinet underneath, you can only make some legs. You could also use an old house table as long as it is sturdy and can take the power of the router. Alternatively, you could use a door, old kitchen cabinet doors or any other piece of furniture to create a tabletop for your router. Just make sure you make the right size table for your space and shape the table at the right height so that you will feel comfortable when you are working.