Shop Made Tools: Router Table
Shop Made Tools: Router Table
In the review of the RIDGID R4512 Table Saw I mentioned that I had built a lot of jigs and accessories. The first one I built was an extension table to fit between the fence rails. RIDGID even includes the screws and washers to mount the table. In this article I’ll tell you how to build your own extension table and then add a router lift to it. The same process works for adding just a standard router plate if you don’t want to go the full-blown lift route.
Building the extension table
The saw manual included dimensions for the table top but I did have to double check to make sure I had the spreader bar square to the fence rails. Mine was a little cock-eyed at first. I misplaced the pictures of the assembly and glue up but it consists of 2 layers of 3/4″ chip board, and a top layer of 1/4″ hardboard. I trimmed this up on the table saw 1-1/2″ smaller in length and width than what was specified in the manual so that I could frame it in 1×3 oak. I coated the whole thing with 3 or 4 thin coats of poly, mounted it up, and then waxed it just like the rest of the saw top. In the picture you can see how it is mounted. 3 screws and washers through the spreader bar and 3 through the end of the steel extension wing.
Buying a router lift
The extension table worked great just as it was but with my small shop space I decided that I could also use it as a router table. I have a mid-sized router, the Porter Cable 890 series. It seemed like a good starting point. The 890 series has a lift mechanism built into its base but I wanted my table to be able to use any motor if I decided to upgrade in the future. I looked at a few different lifts but decided to try the Rockler Router Lift FX. Again, it seemed like a good starting point. I went into my local Rockler store and the staff helped me get the lift, leveling kit, and template. Personally I think the leveling kit should be included with the lift. Also, Rockler should loan out the templates. Make them out of plastic and rent them for $20 deposit. Instead I have a MDF template hanging on the wall and $10 less in my pocket. Between a 20% off coupon and a couple gift cards I was out the door for just over $100 bucks. If you are not on Rockler’s mailing list (email and USPS), you should be because that’s where I get all my coupons.
Step 2: Mount a pattern bit into your router and slowly follow the inside of the template until the proper depth is reached. I went 1/8″ + the thickness of the lift. I used the Bosch Colt trim router. Any small router is perfect for this task though.
Step 3: Drill 8 holes around the inside of the groove you just routed using a 1/2″ bit. I used a Bosch Daredevil spade bit, it went really fast in the impact driver. Notice the tab marked in pencil in the bottom of the image these tabs are used to hold down the lift later.
Using the table and lift
The Rockler lift also comes with a crank for raising and lowering the router and a guide pin and bushing for safely starting a route. I routed a quick ogee profile in a piece of pine and it was very fast and very smooth. I hogged out most of the material in the first pass and then cranked the lift up a 64th and finished it off. It took a grand total of about 30 seconds. Having a router table saves me so much time in my shop and I’m glad I built it. After using it for a few routes it became very apparent that a good fence and dust collection were definitely needed though. The next post in this series will be how I handled those needs.
Part 2 of the Shop Made Tools series is now posted. The Router Table Fence is complete and includes step by step directions with large full color pictures. Check it out and build your own!
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