Router Table-Mate

Inside view of the dust chute from the rear including the plastic 4" to 3" dust collection hose adapter. Rout the 3" hole for the adapter with the circle-cutting jig or use a “fly cutter” in your drill press.

Inside view of the dust chute from the rear including the plastic 4" to 3" dust collection hose adapter. Rout the 3" hole for the adapter with the circle-cutting jig or use a “fly cutter” in your drill press.

The three hole sizes I made in the inserts were 1″, 1-3/4″ and 2-3/4″. The smaller holes were drilled using hole saws but the larger size required the circle-cutting jig.

Complete the Top

To fasten the inserts to the table, install three threaded inserts in the rabbet. I used inserts for a 6/32 flush machine screw. Once installed, transfer their locations to the acrylic inserts, then drill and countersink the plastic.

Next make a new piece to replace the rear board on the Workmate’s table. The homemade board is narrower and allows the router to swing up unencumbered. Cut the board to the dimensions given in the materials list and locate holes that match those in your existing Workmate. The new board is slightly shorter than the original. Install the Workmate connecting hardware and place the board in the furthermost connecting hole of the Workmate.

Break in your router table by milling the slots in the fence subfront that will allow the fence faces to adjust into or away from the router bit. Lay out the stop/start lines and plunge cut the slots.

Break in your router table by milling the slots in the fence subfront that will allow the fence faces to adjust into or away from the router bit. Lay out the stop/start lines and plunge cut the slots.

On the underside of the router tabletop you’ll need to install a piece of 1/2″ material where the stick that supports the top in the open position locks in place. I used a 3/4″ dowel for a prop stick and drilled an oversized hole on a 25° angle in the block to nest it.

As mentioned earlier, the length of the prop stick will depend on how tall you are. On the end of the stick opposite the 25° angle, drill two holes that intersect each other to allow the stick to pivot in two directions, side to side so that it can be lowered when not in use and angled to allow you to tip it forward when propping the tabletop. Use a stout wood screw, a #10 or #12, to connect the prop stick to the edge of the new shop-made top board.

Next use a pair of hinges to connect the top to the Workmate’s front board. Locate them about 4″ in from each end.

Now Make the Fence

Keep in mind the most important factor in making the fence is that it is straight and square to the table. It could be shimmed later, but you’ll be fussing with it forever.

Attach the fence faces using 3/8" roundhead machine screws, a star washer, flat washer and wing nut. I tried using hex-head bolts but switched to screws because a screwdriver can be used and makes a more secure attachment with less trouble.

Attach the fence faces using 3/8" roundhead machine screws, a star washer, flat washer and wing nut. I tried using hex-head bolts but switched to screws because a screwdriver can be used and makes a more secure attachment with less trouble.

Start by laying out the full size shape of the bottom piece on the material you will actually use. Be sure you have a true, straight edge for what will be the front.

Go ahead and lay out where the dados will be cut, including where the half-round throat opening for the router will be. It’s best to do the layout by first establishing the center of the length of the fence and working out from there. When done, cut the back shape. It need not be pretty.

Next cut out the two subfronts for the fence. Install your dado blade on the table saw to cut the thickness of the Baltic birch.

Now set the dado blades to make a 1/8″-deep cut. While holding the front edge of the fence bottom against the slot miter gauge, cut the six dadoes, following the layout lines already marked. When done, cut the center dado on the subfronts making sure it locates precisely where the dado in the bottom falls. Next raise the dado set to cut 3/8″ deep and run the rabbets on the ends and bottom of the fence subfronts.

Remove the dado and cut the fence ribs and pieces that make up the dust collection chute. Use the diagram for the shape. Before assembling the fence, cut the half circle in the fence bottom for the throat opening, then use a rasp to slope the back edge for more efficient dust evacuation.

Assemble the Fence

Be careful when you assemble the fence to make sure it goes together square. First dry-fit all the parts to be sure you have a good fit. Then glue the ribs and dust chute sides to the bottom, making sure all the edges are flush to the front edge. If you have a brad nailer, set these in place with a couple short brads. Glue the fence subfronts to the bottom and ribs. Clamp front to back until the glue dries.

Now cut the three remaining dust chute parts: the top, angled top and back. Cut a half circle in the top similar to the one in the fence bottom. After the glue in the fence assembly has dried, glue the dust chute top in place. Afterward, install the angled top and the back piece. The angled top requires a steep angle cut on the lower edge to seat down to the flat top. I cut this angle on my band saw. The back of the chute requires a hole for dust collection. The chute is set up to take a 3″ hose or a fitting that reduces a 4″ hose to a 3″ hose. I used a “fly cutter” in my drill press to make the 3″ hole. To complete the assembly of the dust chute, screw the angled top, then the back in place.

Use Your New Router Table

Now use your router table to mill the slots in the fence’s subfronts that allow the fence fronts to slide left to right.

Set your router in the table with a 3/8″ straight bit. Make a temporary fence from a straight piece of scrap and clamp it to the tabletop. Use the fence diagram for setting the distance. Cut the 2″-long slots in the center of the openings between the ribs.

Make the adjustable fronts from a tight-grained hardwood such as maple. Be sure the material is flat and straight. Cut the two pieces to the lengths given. Make bevel cuts on the ends as shown in the diagram. Carefully locate the hole locations where the 3/8″ machine screws attach the fronts through the slots in the subfronts. Drill and countersink the holes. For attachment, I used the screws along with star washers, flat washers and wing nuts.

The last detail is to cut a small piece of acrylic as a “window” on the top of the dust chute into the router opening area below. PW

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Steve Shanesy is publisher of Popular Woodworking.

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