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Benchtop Router Table

A dado stack in my table saw makes quick work of the dado for the bottom in each side. The cut is made 4-1/4″ up from the bottom edge.

At first it might seem a bit odd to build a cabinet base that will convert a benchtop router table into a floor model. But it really makes great sense for a couple of reasons.

This setup takes up less space than a commercial floor-model router table, yet it has just as much storage for accessories than the big boys; in fact, it probably has more. On the whole, this setup costs less than buying a floor-model router table, and it lets you easily remove the benchtop unit if you need to take it with you on a job or to the garage.

As you’ll see, I’ve come up with an ingenious way to slip the router table into place without clamping. I also added an inexpensive power strip to the side to make turning on the router (and a shop vacuum) a convenient, single-switch operation.

How it’s Built

Benchtop Router Table

After resetting the dado height and adding a sacrificial fence to my rip fence, I was able to cut the rabbets for the back on each side. While this stand is built using solid poplar, you easily could build this project from 3/4″ plywood. The joinery is pretty simple, but I got a little fancy on the drawers. The case is held together with rabbets and dados. The bottom is held in place between the sides in 1/4″ x 3/4″ through dados. At the back edge of each side is a 1/4″ x 1/4″ rabbet to hold the back. For the drawers, I took advantage of a joint-cutting router bit I’ve been wanting to try for a while: the drawer-lock bit. This bit cuts an interlocking rabbet that adds extra strength against racking and separation to a drawer joint. Because there were going to be a lot of heavy router bits in the drawers, I figured the extra strength was a good idea. Case JoineryTo assemble the bottom and sides, use one side to hold the bottom upright in the dado, put glue in the other side and install it. One of the braces makes a temporary support for the side piece as I nail it to the bottom.

I used solid poplar for my stand, which means I started by jointing and planing the wood into straight and true 3/4″-thick boards. Then I edge-glued some together to make up the panels for the sides, bottom and top. If you’ve opted for plywood, you’ve saved yourself a couple of steps, but you’re still going to have to cut all the pieces to size according to the cutting list.

With everything cut to size, it’s time to make some rabbets and dados. I prefer making these cuts on my table saw, but you can certainly opt for a router.

First, you should cut the through dado that holds the bottom in place between the side pieces. After installing a dado stack in my saw (and shimming it to a perfect 3/4″ thickness) I set the height of the dado to 1/4″ and set my rip fence to 4-1/4″ up from the bottom edge of the side. Mark the bottom and inside surface of each cabinet side so you don’t get confused, then cut each dado with the side’s bottom edge against the fence and the inside surface of the side down on the saw table.

Benchtop Router Table

After flipping the assembly and attaching the other side the same way, I take the brace I’ve been using as a support and shoot it in place at the upper back corner of the cabinet using my nailer.

With that joint complete, it’s time to cut the rabbets on the sides that will hold the back. Increase the height of the dado blades to 1/2″ and add a sacrificial fence to your table saw’s rip fence to allow only 1/4″ of the stack to be exposed by the fence. Then cut the two inside back edges of each side to form the rabbets.

Glue and Nails
Except for the drawers, you’ve completed all the necessary carcase joinery. Sand the inside of the case and decide how you want to assemble it. I chose glue and a pneumatic nailer, but you could use screws, or hammer and nails.

Put one of the sides on your bench and glue the bottom piece into the dado. Add glue in the dado of the second side and then use one of the brace pieces between the two sides to temporarily prop the side piece up. Flush up all your joints and then nail the bottom in place.

Flip the assembled side and bottom over, and repeat the process for the second side. Then slide the brace to the upper back corner of the case, and glue and nail it in place (vertically) between the sides. Keep this brace flush with the rabbets in the sides.

The next step is to shape and attach the two lower braces. One brace goes in the front and the other one goes in the back.

By notching the lower braces and both sides of the stand, I formed sturdy “legs” for my cabinet. This makes it more likely that your stand will sit flat on an uneven floor. Mark the cutouts using the illustrations, then use a jigsaw to cut away the waste. Nail the braces in place.

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To offer four faces with quartersawn white oak on each leg, the leg centers are glued then planed to 1-5/8" x 1-3/8". Then the 1/8" or 1/4" oversize "skins" of quartersawn veneer are glued to the flat-sawn faces. After the glue dries, plane the legs to their finished 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" dimension.