Big Router Table on a Budget
For years I’d been using a benchtop router table at home. It worked, but it was always a hassle to pull out and then store. Plus it was small, so large workpieces were a challenge.
No more. I finally built a bigger one. But a bigger router table didn’t mean bulky or expensive. I saved money by making it out of leftover construction lumber and a few castoff parts from friends, and put money where it counted most: a router lift.
The base and undercarriage for the tabletop were made from a couple 2x4s left over from a home project, all connected with screws and glue. The front and back aprons are pine scraps, and the shelf is a 1/2 in. thick scrap of CDX plywood, also left over from a home project.
I picked up the locking casters from a colleague who no longer needed them, and the dust shroud was salvaged from an old Freud fence, also from a colleague.
The top and fence were made from 3/4 in. thick MDF, and yes, it too was left over. The top is 35 in. wide and 23 in. deep, plenty big for most of the stuff I’ll be building. I offset the router lift insert a bit toward the infeed side and toward the back, thinking it would be good to have a little extra room to handle large workpieces. I haven’t used the table in real life yet, so I’ll have to let you know whether the idea was successful or whether I just outsmarted myself.
The fence is 4 3/8 in. tall and rides in a couple T-tracks. I designed the fence so there’s a zero-clearance insert over the bit opening. The insert dovetails into the opening from up top. The design, which I picked up from John White’s “Ultimate Router Table” (FWW #153), allows me to replace the insert easily when it gets worn out. But that’s not the only benefit. I can install fresh faces to use with various profiling bits, which helps reduce tearout and prevents the work from diving into a too large opening.
I used the dust port from the Freud fence, and I beveled the edges of the MDF inside the opening to create a ramp that helps direct dust up to the port.
I coated the top and fence with shellac and waxed both surfaces to give a smooth ride for the work.
Overall, I’m very happy with the results, and I can’t wait to put it to work. But first I have to get some push blocks…
It's big, and it moves. My new router table is 35 in. wide by 23 in. deep by 33 1/2 in. tall.
Insert gets the hook. A hole in the replaceable insert makes it easy to remove with the end of an Allen wrench.
Slide it in. The insert dovetails into a slot between fence faces.
Switch in easy reach. A side-mounted paddle switch means I don't have to reach under the table to turn the router on or off.
On track. The fence rides in T-tracks mortised into the top and locks in place securely.
A ready port. The dust port was salvaged from an old Freud fence.
What to do with an old biz card. To get the fence face square to the table, I used business card shims.
Standing up straight. Once the assembly was square, I installed the front face.