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A portable router table with big features
All it takes to put a compact, versatile router table in your shop is a half sheet of plywood, a small supply of solid-wood lumber, a handful of hardware, a router mounting plate, and one of the newly designed routers that feature above-the-table adjustments, such as those featured in my review in Fine Woodworking #189.
This was the criteria that I used to build this stow-and-go router table, which features built-in dust collection, a large tabletop, and the ability to be easily broken down and stored out of sight. The above video details how the table is assembled and put to use, and the attached diagrams and cutlist detail the table's components.
|Easy Breakdown. This full-featured router table is designed to be broken down for easy storate.|
Less than $100
I've used a router table like this in my shop for many years because they are quick to make and don't require much in the way of materials. All of the parts are cut from a half-sheet of plywood. I do recommend purchasing a mounting plate and insert template from JessEm, Woodpecker, or any other router accessory source. Blank plates are the most economical choice, but plates with interchangeable opening rings provide more versatility. I paid about $60 for a Woodpecker plate with three rings and $12 for the insert template. Plus, it came with a template to cut the opening in the tabletop.
|Rout the opening for the mounting plate. The author purchased a commerical mounting plate that sets into the table opening to make sure that the router remains accurate. |
Cut the parts from a sheet of plywood
Start construction with the 24-in. deep by 48-in. wide piece of plywood for the tabletop. Draw centerlines front to back and side to side. The cutout for the mounting plate is centered front-to-back line, but shifted about 4 in. to the right of the side-to-side center line; this provides a long outfeed surface, which I find useful for many router-table tasks.
The Woodpecker mounting plate I purchased came with a template to use when cutting the rabbetted opening for the mounting plate. Use your router for this task: a top-bearing, flush-cut, 3/4-in. router bit to to produce the rabbet that supports the router mounting plate. Take light cuts and progressively work the bit back to the pattern.
With the tabletop complete, cut the solid-wood parts for the bracing on the underside of the table and install with glue and screws. These braces provide support and keep the top flat, so be sure that the edges that mate to the table are square and straight, and use 7/8 in. thick hardwood.
|A sturdy tabletop. One-in. thick hardwood is used for the under-the-table support system to keep the tabletop flat and to mount the adjustable legs.|
Assemble the fence and drill the pivot hole
Next, cut the plywood parts for the fence, dust-collection box, and leg sections. Size and shape the parts with a jigsaw or bandsaw, and Forstner bits or hole saws.
Attach the fence base to the main fence with glue and screws. Be sure the fence face and base make a perfect 90-degree angle. Build the dust-collection box and screw it onto the fence assembly. Complete that assembly by screwing through the main fence to secure the sacrificial fence.
Align the front edge of the fence, including the sacrificial face, with the table center line on the tabletop. Clamp the fence in place and locate a point at the center of the left end of the fence base 1in. from the end. Drill a 5/16-in. hole through the fence base and the table top. A 5/16-in. hex bolt and knob will provide clamping power for the pivoting fence.
|A versatile fence. Built-in dust collection and a removable sacraficial face are two useful features on this simple router table fence.|
Legs only support part of the table
The legs on this router table are only part of the support system. The back edge of the tabletop also needs to be clamped to a heavy, stable surface such as a table saw extension or workbench. Once clamped to a worksurface, the legs are individually adjusted for added support. The benefit to this design is that it will work well on uneven floors, and provides a very sturdy footprint.
To begin using the table, attach your router to the insert (it replaces the router's basic round base), set the fence, make sure the clamps and knobs are tight, and start cutting.
|Sturdy as can be. When the tabletop is clamped to a workbench or stationary power tool, and the legs are set, the table is strong enough to support the weight of the author.|
Roland Johnson is a Fine Woodworking contributing editor and woodworker in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota.