router table questions

I have some questions regarding router table fabrication. I am in need of an upgraded router table, and I have several options before me. I have a tablesaw with an MDF/plastic laminate extension on BOTH sides, so there are two possible locations. Thirdly, I could use some of the leftover laminate (I bought a whole 4'x8' sheet and have about 4'x16" left) and MDF to make a separate table top. That, of course, opens up several possibilities for bases from folding sawhorses to hardwood legs, to a fully enclosed cabinet, with or without storage, etc. What I have decided on is that I will not use a plate. I prefer the smooth uninterrupted surface of a plateless top. The router to be mounted is a P-C 8529 plunger. The questions that most concern me are the details of mounting the router to the top. Is the preferred method to relieve the underside in the shape of the base? To what thickness? What about screws? I have had bad luck with flathead screws pulling right through MDF before. Would a counterbore and panhead screws be any better? As a point of information, I have read Pat Warner's webpage, which is very informative, but leaves out several of these small details. Also, what about provisions for template bushings? I believe the proper opening is 1 9/16? What about depth/thickness? Any information/opinion/reference/etc. will be greatly appreciated.
Charlie
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Charlie Mraz wrote:

You're going to hang a router underneath - one you're going to tug and push on adjusting bit height, installing bits etc., as well as pressing down on firmly - on a 26-32+ inch wide span. I'd skip MDF and maybe even 3/4" melamine.

If you go with "like with like" best to have a cabinet with some drawers for bits, wrenches, collets, fence inserts etc. If their with the router table you'll spend a lot less time hunting for what you need.

I'm guessing that at some point you're going to want/need to use a 2 1/2 - 3 1/2" router bit so the opening in the table top will have to be at least that big. But, without an insert, using a 1/4" diameter bit will get hairy, especially on short part and a guide collar will be impossible. You might want to rethink your idea.

When you start using a router table you'll find more and more uses for it - IF options are built in. My guess is that you don't know what uses will evolve over time. Go with what you know now and you'll keep reinventing the wheel - many times.
At least have a look at the JoinTech site - the Cabinet Maker System, table top, inserts, router mounting plate etc.. http://www.jointech.com / May give you plenty of ideas to think about.
charlie b
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and I would probably do the same on a router table as well. Another possibility would be to double the thickness of the MDF for the section around the router.

me about a plate. The tab-loc system looks pretty slick, though I've never put my hands on one. At any rate, if I decide at a later date to add a plate, it is a trivial procedure, though it would be impossible to change from a plate based setup to a plateless.

be pretty slick, if you could come up with a good way to mount some sort of insert system....
Charlie
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<snippage>
What you start with, and what you MAY end up with can be two very different things.
Warning #1: Watch out for that charlieb fellow. He will start building a simple push stick, and then, next thing you know, there's a work of art there, just to push some stuff past a sawblade. <BSEG> He tries hard, but every project seems to get real fancy, real soon. ;-)
Warning #2: I've got some of the same tendencies.
Warning #3: You can start with a plunge router screwed to the bottom of a rigid table top, with a small opening, clamped to a pair of sawhorses, and can get a lot done. Like building a real router table, in addition to some great cabinets and furniture. But I think you're gonna want a plate with inserts, because, at very least, it makes pulling the router up to change bits, and to make adjustments SO much easier. You have to try very hard to spend more than $75 on a plate, predrilled for your plunge router, with inserts.
Advice: Don't get too carried away, right away. I have a simple table and fence setup which works for me, such that the Jointech fence sits on the shelf, waiting until I have the time/priority to build a better table. (The Jointech is a superb piece of equipment, given me by a friend, who changed his entire system over to Incra.) 18 months it sits.
If you can find The Router Workshop on PBS, you'll see just how simple a router table can be, and still turn out marvelous work.
Patriarch
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On Mon, 28 Jun 2004 20:45:08 -0500, "Charlie Mraz"

when i built mine i had many of the same thoughts as you. however after a short time i changed over to the plate style for 2 very good reasons. 1- easier bit changes and setup. 2- i have several routers set up to use the same table. by putting identical plates on these routers i can setup to do raised panels using 3 bits and 3 routers. this way if i miscount or mess up a piece there is no setup time involved. simply drop in the appropriate router and make another part. BTW i did my top out of corian so cutting out the plate was no small task but the benefits were worth the labor.
skeez
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<snip> The questions that most concern

Charlie,
Be careful about the saw horse thing. I made my table top about 5 years ago with the intention of building a cabinet when I got around to it. Still using those saw horse.
I was just doing some work over the weekend and notice that the top has started to sag. Mine is 2 MDF sheets, laminated on both sides with Formica. I have an aluminum bench dog plate in mine.
In reference to the screws in MDF, my understanding is the coarser the better, but after reading some of Pat Warner's articles, I started tapping holes whenever I went something to stick to MDF (1/4-20 for most of the things I do).
In Pat's books, he mentions that he likes to fasten his routers directly to a single 3/4" MDF top and discards them as they warp. He also uses a Bench Dog lift too.
You can certainly do this, but on a 3/4" top, make sure you support it well. I'd be concerned about warp. Just a little drop near the bit is enough to throw off an otherwise perfect rail and stile joint (DAMHIKT). If you mount is to a top of double 3/4" MDF (1.5" top), you're going to lose some cutting height unless you recess a hole for the router (in which case you have the same problem above).
I hate when people give advice without having the experience and I never hung a router directly to MDF, but in my experience, you have to make sure this stuff is supported right. I would hang a router to a scrap piece for a while and see how you fair.
I personally don't need to allow for template guide bushings on the table top, since I only use bits with guide bearing on the table.
Good luck!
Make sure you post what you do and how it ends up. I'm going on vacation this week and I'm taking a pencil and paper to design a proper cabinet. Maybe if SWMBO gets enough sleep (we have 2 young kids), I might even be able to build this thing when I get home.
Chuck
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On Mon, 28 Jun 2004 20:45:08 -0500, "Charlie Mraz"

use a plate.
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Gooday and how are you. I am writing from the land downunder. I have recently bought a new dovetail jig (made in aussie land of course) that rides on a router table.
The manufacturer also includes a table plan to make which fits into the specs that you suggest (ie DIY). I think the plan is available on line at www.gifkins.com.au. this table is only good for routers with 3 or 4 screws holding on the base plate
Just out of interest i have fiddled with dovetai ljigs for a couple of years and when i picked this one up at the sydney wood show recently my first attempt was nearly perfect, closer than any other jig had come.
Take care. Arthur A.
On Mon, 28 Jun 2004 20:45:08 -0500, "Charlie Mraz"

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