Figure 1: The author’s $85 router table (not quite finished in photo).
So, router tables are pretty pricey, if you’re looking for a good one. They’re upwards of $500-600 for a good one that is of the steel frame and legs variety. So, I spent a few spare weekends digging around in places like Habitat for Humanity’s Restore outlets and other such places like that. I found a discarded motor stand for $15. These are often used to hold grinding wheel motors.
I purchased about $70 worth of wood and assorted other things to round up to the $85 mark. Note it’s not for sale. This is not a solicitation LOL.
It wasn’t quite as big as I would have liked, because the top of the near-completed table extends over the edge of the stand, by a bit more than I think is optimal. It likely would be wise for others building similar router tables to avoid my configuration altogether and make the top just exactly the right size to fit the top of the stand without overhang. That way there’d be no way for the whole thing to topple over with a heavy piece of wood on it.
I suppose I could put a couple vertical supports under the long-overhang end of the table in order to fix my particular setup. That’s a thought for rev two.
For the top, I used a sandwich made of a 3/4 inch cut sheet of particle board, with two thin birch plywood cut sheets, one put on each side of the “sandwich”. Sparingly glued to avoid warping, the sandwich has countersunk screws on both sides to help with overall strength. The idea of birch on both sides is that they counteract each others warping tendencies on the middle of the sandwich (or so I am told). The particle board is flat as a (well of course) flat board, and my finished table seems to be pretty flat.
The mounting plate (yet to be installed in photo) – is 1/4 inch thick aluminum with 9×12 inch dimensions. The router itself is a Bosch 1617EVSPK. Love that router! It’s my first, and thus far I have only used it in freehand style. Well – not completely freehand, since I used clamps and a board guide. But – the router does its work beautifully!
I love having the 1617 with the plunge kit. Some say that the plunge is a little safer in some circumstances when used freehand (as opposed to fixed base) – but I think that is only a relatively few number of situations. The real joy of the plunger is the absolute ease with which to make height adjustments.
The fixed base will be dedicated to the table. The motor stand had a preexisting 9×12 opening on top (how convenient!).
Dust OMG Dust!
My not-quite freehand use of the plunge kit and router combination proved that all festivities must halt until the dust collection system is in place. I’ve read about using a couple hardware store plastic buckets (one inverted onto the other, with a hose in the top one and bottom one) – to act as a pre-collection point for the shop vacuum. This seems to be necessary to prevent filter clog on the vac. I’ll dedicate another post to the collector when I finish it.
I’ve burned my first router bit. Do I get a booby prize? So, I was cutting the edge of the table with its particleboard sandwich, and didn’t pay much attention to my speed or the heat on the bit. All of a sudden, the bit stopped in its tracks. The motor was still spinning at about 15,000 RPM, but the bit wouldn’t go forward.
This, I learned, is the result of an overheated bit (burned). It’s toast. I had read that I should eschew the cheap bits, and buy only quality ones. So, I avoided the temptation of the Ebay “specials” for $11. That is great, I guess, except that my burned bit was a not-cheap Freud. Oh well, lesson learned. This is not to disparage Freud bits – I’ve read that they’re top notch tools. But, no bit will put up with more than a certain level of novice nonsense such what I did to the bit on router outing day. Back to the store …
Edit (07-20-2019): Now I have a $180 router table, after the addition of the mounting plate, a couple of T-track rails, and the dust port.
Figure 2: T tracks and mount plate installed with 2×4 fence (poor)
So, in figure 2, I’ve outfitted the router table with two T-tracks, a Freud aluminum mounting plate, and a very poor temporary 2×4 router fence. At least it let me test a couple pieces, and check to see if the dust port and vac hose setup worked Okay!
Figure 3: GFIC fed double outlet for switched router + vac.
In figure 3, I show the outlet box mounted below the table, with dual outlet (switched by heavy duty house switch in the same box). This lets me turn the router and vac on/off at the same time with one switch.
Figure 4: Bosch router has handy key for above-table height adj.
Figure 4 shows the key that comes with the Bosch 1617 router. The needed hole in the Freud mounting plate was predrilled at factory.
To be continued …
Warning: amateur table builder and amateur wood worker. None of the novice builds and experiences on these pages are meant to be used as advice or duplicated by others. This is simply a journal for the mistakes of an entry level woodworking hobbyist.