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$100 Router Table

As easy to use as it is to build.

By Bill Hylton

Sometimes, less really is more. Take router tables for instance. It's not at all difficult to ring up a big tab for a manufactured router table, complete with a new router, loaded with convenience, durability, adjustability and precision. But to me, the compelling thing about a router table is that it converts a portable power tool into a stationary power tool and thus expands its utility and versatility.

A router table can be simple and quite inexpensive to make without sacrificing functionality. A basic table can be just as versatile, accurate and easy to use as one of those grandees but cost far less.

I just finished making a $100 router table (excluding the router). I bought most of the materials and hardware at a local home center. There's no router mounting plate to buy; the router attaches directly to the hinged top.

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Glue and clamp the two side assemblies. Use the offcuts from tapering the aprons as cauls so the clamps have parallel surfaces to address.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Glue and clamp the side assemblies to the back apron and bottom shelf. Use the tapered cauls to keep the clamps from slipping as they're tightened.

Mark the locations of the router mounting screws on the top with a transfer punch—a.k.a. a spotter.

Transfer the mounting-bolt holes in the framework to the MDF top using a transfer punch.

Cut threads in the top with a 1/4"-20 tap. Use a 13/64-in. bit to drill a 5/8-in. deep stopped hole at each mark, first. Make sure you clear all the chips from the holes. Then turn the tap into the hole until it bottoms out.

Reposition the frame on the tabletop and fasten it with 1/4"-20 flathead machine screws. I used seven 3-in.- long screws in the perimeter frame members and two 2-in.- long screws in the stretchers.

Lay out and drill the two 3/8-in. hinge-bolt holes in the frame. Clamp a backup scrap to the inside of the frame  to prevent blowout.

Drill hinge holes through the back legs. Tape 3/4-in. shims to the top edges of the stand and rest the tabletop on them. Use a transfer punch to mark the hinge-bolt hole locations on the back legs, then drill.

Mount the folding stay to the stand first. Measure down 1-in. from the stand's top edge and scribe a line. Hold the folded stay on the line so it clears the front leg and mark the screw location.

Attach the stay to the top. Hold the stay in position with a clamp. You decide the degree of tilt that suits you.

Glue and clamp the base and fixed face together.

Bore a 2-1/4-in. hole through the dust pickup housing block with a Forstner bit or holesaw.

Glue and clamp the dust pickup to the fence. Tape scrap across the openings in the face to provide a bearing surface for the clamps.

Joint the glued-up fence to square the face to the base. Joint the base surface first to flatten it, then joint the fence face with the base against the jointer fence.

Drill a stopped hole in the fence base that will hold the alignment screwhead and keep the clamp block aligned perpendicular to the tabletop. To mark the hole, tighten the clamp block in place so the alignment screw- head dents the base.

Use the fence to cut the countersunk grooves in the adjustable faces.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker March 2008, issue #134.

March 2008, issue #134

Purchase this back issue.


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