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Next-Generation Router Table


Next-Generation Router Table

Make more accurate cuts with a flat, solid-surface top.

By John English

This router table took thirty years to build. No kidding. I don’t mean that it took me thirty years to actually make it, but it took me that long to figure out how to do it right. 

I’ve used a lot of router tables over those years, and all have come up short. I’ve been frustrated with complicated fence locks, panels tipping because the fence wasn’t tall enough, insert plates that were finicky to level, small worktops that don’t support a door or drawer, inadequate dust collection, bad lighting, and on top of all that, having to kneel on the floor to change the depth of cut. 

After all those disappointments, I finally built a router table that solved all these problems.

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1. Begin building the router table by making the base. Construction is quite simple, using just screws, glue, and a nailed-on face frame in front.

Click on any image to view a larger version.

2. Attach a plywood sub-top to the base. The subtop prevents the base from racking. It also supports the working top which is made from 1/2" thick solid-surface material, such as Corian or Avonite.

3. Rout a rectangular hole in the center of the sub-top. Make a series of shallow passes until you’ve cut all the way through. Place the solid surface top on the sub-top.

4. Rout an arc on one end of the solid-surface top using a trammel fastened to the router’s base.

5. Clamp the top to the base and trace all the way around the top’s underside. Turn the top over.

6. Build a frame to fit inside the rectangle you drew. Glue the frame to the top using silicone adhesive. Attach the top assembly to the case with a continuous hinge.

7. Build an arm to prop the top. This makes it much easier to change bits because there will be plenty of elbowroom around the router. Plus, you don’t have to bend over. 

8. Drill a 3/4" dia. hole through the top, then remove the router’s baseplate and mark the locations of its mounting holes onto the top. Drill the holes and lower the top.

9. Enlarge the opening by using a series of rabbeting bits and pattern bits. A rabbeting bit leaves a ledge around the hole making it perfect for fitting an insert.

10. Make a set of wooden zero-clearance inserts to fit the hole. Drill variously sized holes in the inserts to fit your bits.

11. Mark the length of the fence’s bottom board. Cut the board 2" longer than the top.

12. Drill pilot holes in the fence using a drill press. This ensures that all the pieces of the fence are square when they’re assembled.

13. Cut T-slots in the fence’s face pieces. This can’t be done on a tablesaw, but you could borrow a friend’s router table or use a handheld router and an edge guide.

14. Make the fence’s clamping block. It contains a T-bolt that’s trapped between two pieces of wood that are glued together. Attach a felt chair pad as a spacer.

15. Drill a hole through the fence for the clamping block’s T-bolt.

16. Attach the clamping block to the fence with a plastic knob. To adjust the distance from any router bit to the face of the fence, loosen the knob and pivot the fence back and forth.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker February/March 2009, issue #140.

February/March 2009, issue #140

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