An Ultimate Router Table - Part I: A Short Story

The Executive Summary:
I made a router table.
The Long Drawn Out Blow-By-Blow/Not Getting Out Alive Of It:
It all started when I was on my way to an OSHA certification seminar when the cell phone range. The number on the back lit display wasn't one I knew. It wasn't till later that I found out the 610 area code was to some far eastern exotic place called Guelph Mills. Anyways, back to the call. After my hello the manly voice from Guelph Mills said, "The ultimate router table is a Delta 3/4" Heavy-Duty Shaper". And just like that, as fast as it came in, he (the manly voice) went away.
Well, I went on to the seminar and to say I was distracted for the remainder of the day is/was an understatement. I mean, are hard hats a "good idea" on a job site or are they mandatory? I dunno. A warehouse mezzanine rail, 42" or 24" high? Search me. Multiple riders on a fork truck? Sounds good to me. And if you have a pallet big enough you can ride a few more. Got kids? Bring them along, they love fork trucks.
The distraction grew. Weeks went by where it was all I could think about. In the back of my mind I knew the answer was simple, once it was found. The wandering mind dredged up every router table I'd ever seen. Everything from the Go To Hell Formica Sink Cut-Out to Norm's It Might Be A Sewing Cabinet model. I remembered back seeing one in Wood Magazine that I'd liked. Then there was the time Neener Dean had me pondering an old Walker-Turner base he was parting out and what a great router base it would make. And just like that it hit me. "The ultimate router table is a Delta 3/4" Heavy-Duty Shaper".
The biggest problem with an ultimate router table being a Delta 3/4" Heavy-Duty Shaper was replicating the nice rounded outside corners. It was then that Anne Rockler "Action" Jackson came to my rescue. Seems that The Store Formerly Known As Wooddorkers had some ready made MDF (cast iron's favorite first cousin) pieces that fit the bill. This being something that would eventually be painted machinery gray (grey David) made the MDF a no brainer.
Next up was coming up with a design. I knew the size (stay within/right around 20"ish by 20"ish) so now all that had to be done was working out how to fit it all/interior lay out.
There was also the issue of storage. Now me, I really don't care if I can store each and every bit made by Freud/Whiteside/CMT/etal into one spot but for the sake of convenience I did want to be able to store the more often used bits. One thing I do insist on is that all machines be fitted out with "their" tools and those tools be close at hand. Things like collet wrenches and cranks for the router lift. These I wanted on board.
I had some left over (free) 1 1/8" MDF (remember, cast iron's favorite first cousin) and some (also free) maple solids. There was certainly enough MDF but I was working with scraps so width played into it. Luckily there was enough width.
So, the basis for the "core cabinet" was designed. It became a cabinet about 14" wide (left to right) by 20" deep. It has a solid bottom (all the way from front to back). Down the middle (vertically) of the cabinet are panels to create a chamber in the upper back where the router lives. These panels zig-zag so any chips will slide out the back (The Sawdust Ramp Of Doom (tmMe)). This left me with enough room in the front of the cabinet to store the router base, a box for wrenches and all the accoutrements that go with the router lift. I was all set.
To the outside corners of this cabinet were attached the Rock-a-lers MDF corners. Rails above finished off the sides. The cabinet was now 20"ish by 20"ish square. In essence the cabinet was a narrow deep middle cabinet with some medicine chest sized cabinets flanking the middle cabinet.
Through out all of this there were pieces of maple to fill in here and there to make the rails and interiors to the side cabinets. I used the solids because I needed something to screw hardware into.
Next up were some doors. These became made from 3/4" MDF (again free/stuff from work of course) with solid wood edge banded all the way around. The doors are attached with piano hinges (hence the solid wood). Touch latches (magnetic push latches) are used because I wanted to minimize the exposed hardware.
The last up was making the plinth base. I fretted this for a couple of weeks until I finally happened upon a bright idea. Essentially what I did was take some of the scrap 1 1/8" thick MDF, ripped it to 5"ish/6"ish wide and made a frame 2" bigger than the cabinet. Arcs were struck at each corner and Gumby, the 70's vintage Powermatic 141 band saw, cut the corners (almost to the line) round. The '65 vintage Delta 12" disk finisher finished off the corners (to the line) and I was looking at the first layer/template for my base.
To this piece I face glued (laminated) another frame. This time I made the frame 1/16"ish over size each edge. A trip to the Go To Hell Router Table (my router table I made in order to make my An Ultimate Router Table) and trimmed off the overhang with a straight flush cutting ball bearing bit. I did use my starting pin here onna 'count of it does make for a safer operation of the routering machine. Now I had a piece that was 2 1/4" thick. This process was repeated twice more until I had a plinth base 4 1/2" thick/high (4-layers of 1 1/8" material).
Being on a budget (to date I've got $50ish invested) I ended up borrowing a 1" radius round over bit (from work of course) and routed the top edge of the base.
Paint (machinery gray/grey of course) was applied.
Last up was the top. The truth of the matter is, I wanted to do a 2-layer MDF top banded with maple and faced with some gray/grey plastic laminate but being the frugal (so far $50) type I used an old butcher block top. It got ripped down into 2 1/4" strips and along with some alder got re-glued, planed and sanded into what I will call a 2" thick homage to the vintage machines who's working surfaces were made up of maple and apple. In the end I'll find out if this is folly (warping) but for now I remain satisfied. It is not the same as the top on the late Roger Cliffe's shaper.
The top has been routed for the router lift. I did this in two steps. The first being the "to size" recess that actually fits the insert and the second was an offset opening (to make the lip for the insert) which I also routed using a larger collar. I hate the fact that most people make a nice rout in the top and then hack up the interior cut out with a jigsaw/Sawzall/drilled corners that never align leaving a skanky edge. A minor thing but an attention to detail that separates us from the heathens of the world.
What is left to do isn't much. Fitting up the switch, routing the wire into the interior and terminating it at a Handi Box (a place to plug in the router). The top can stand to use a coat or three more of finish (shellac). The door on the back is solid and I plan to make a cut out there to hook up dust collection. The interior of the router compartment will be lined with Homosote to try and deaden the sound/make it less noisy. A righteous fence is needed but I suspect I'll be using a straight(er) stick for the time being/a very long time.
As it turns out the far eastern manly voice was right. "The ultimate router table is a Delta 3/4" Heavy-Duty Shaper", or at least, one that looks like a Delta 3/4" Heavy-Duty Shaper. In the end though it was fun, is fun to look at and, best of all, it does not come even close to looking like Norm's It Might Be A Sewing Cabinet router table.
Pictures posted on a.b.p.w.
UA100, maker of An Ultimate Router Table...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Waaaayyyy too much time on your hands Keith.
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hey Ross,
Which part, the making of the table or the telling of the story?
UA100
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hey UA, is it true you auditioned for a lead role in the new tv show, CSI Sheboygan?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They wanted a more serious actor, so they got Adam Sandler instead.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John:

Oh yeah, hey dere doncha know! Come by me one time and borrow me a dollar. The bubbler's broke and I want to buy a so-dah.
UA100
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Couldn't you find a real Uni or HD cabinet to hang that routa in...
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Onna 'count of it would have had to be a vintage cabinet and it's semi-sacrilegious to part something like that out for "lesser duty".
UA100
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I understand zen master....
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Finally went and looked at the pictures. I'm impressed.
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tom Watson wrote:

And a doff of the Simplicity (closest I get to outdoor 'chinery) cap back at you.
UA100
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Cool idea about adding a motor to the base. Could move around the shop like that big a$$ rocket tractor NASA has for dragging Werner's (GRHS) toys out to the pad.
But, I'm holding to my suggestion that you slap a disposal underneath the opening for dual duty.
Doffin' my (virtual) cap to the king of multi-function stuff that-woulda-been-made-outa-MDF-had-he-not-been-enticed-by-the-plastic-indust ry: Ron Popeil.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
patrick conroy wrote:

And Ron doffs his "piece" back at you.
UA100
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.