Router table - DIY

Hi,
I feel the need to procure a router - lots of things are coming along this year that will need one or be easier with one.
[Background - skip ahead if bored]
Been watching router vids on Youtube until my eyes fell out - feel more cluseful...
Many of the jobs will be handheld - like door locks and hinges, kitchen worktops - but a few will benefit from a table.
Rather than spend an awful lot on a fancy table just to find it is limited, I'd rather start with a flat bit of wood, some T-channel and build up my own, which looks straightforward enough from the vids.
But, mine must be collapsable - I have no workshop[1] and limited inside space.
So my plan is:
2 x Stanley Fatmax sawhorses - these look solid and have adjustable feet - none of my concrete standings are flat or level and I'll be doing routing outside.
Some sort of heavy bench top sitting over them withe battens underneath to locate on the sawhorse top rests.
Then the router can make its own table - I'll buy ane insert, probably make a fence from ply held down with thumbknobs onto the T-channel. If it seems useful I can add more T channel, to take feather-finger thingies or anything alse that comes along.
[SKIP TO HERE]
So - the worktop - what to use? I reckon it'll be about 600mm x 1.2 or 1.5m (it has to store easily). It'l going to get routed out, have various holes, probably get stuff screwed to it.
It might even get a spot of rain on it so MDF is out.
Wooden kitchen worktop (if I can get a short offcut) might be one option. another would be WBP 18mm ply. Not sure how well strip-worktop would handle abuse.
Not sure if the ply is stable enough (bendy over 1m span?) but as I'm adding battens for the sawhorse to lock into, I could glue some 4x2" underneath to stiffen it - hoping the 4x2 will not warp itself...
Anyone done anything like this before?
As to the router - it seems obvious, based on the previous advice here and the vids that if I can only afford one, it should be a lighter 1/2" - probably a Trend or maybe a DeWalt (they bought Elu didn't they?)
As to all the fancy jigs - I'll probably make my own out of ply for hinges and locks and other simple stuff but I will buy a worktop template - that looks fiddly.
Cheers
Tim
--
Tim Watts

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Tim Watts ( snipped-for-privacy@dionic.net) wibbled on Tuesday 04 January 2011 22:04:

I forgot the [1]
It is: my life would be easier with a decent workshop but my master plan will take some time to build, and I cannot start (justifiably) until the house is mostly done.
Sadly no garage either...

--
Tim Watts

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I made up my own table some years ago, but judging by the sizes you are quoting you are aiming at something much larger than I made, so I judge you are going to be using if for running lengths of mouldings, etc.; my use has been for fairly small items and the table size of 700 x 600mm has been perfectly adequate.
I was lucky enough to 'find' quite a large sheet of 5/8" SRBF which is serving me well for the table top and doesn't take up to much of the plunge range of the tool.
No doubt there are reasons why the metal inserts to carry the router are so large - and consequently thick and heavy. Not knowing any better I just got some 3mm steel (fortunately with a coating) and made the insert hole in the table just large enough to get the router through.
One thing that does make life very much easier I found is a lifting mechanism for the router. There are several references on the web for making one so check that out before you buy the machine.
Rob
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On Tue, 04 Jan 2011 22:04:41 +0000, Tim Watts wrote:

I think the low-end DeWalt ones start at around $200 in the local big-box store (so a little over 100 quid). Ryobi do a 1/2" router at about half that price (with a 1/4" adapter thrown in), but I don't know if it's capable-enough for an "ultra-budget" item (I like buying quality tools when I can, but I do have a cheap-as-chips Ryobi mitre saw and have hurled no end of jobs at it with no signs of it breaking yet :-)
cheers
Jules
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On 04/01/2011 22:04, Tim Watts wrote:

I made a combined saw and router bench very similar to the one you are proposing using 19 mm MDF and two 10 work bench vices. (I throw a piece of weighted polythene sheet over it when I go inside. I think that 4x2 for stiffening the length of it is OTT as I have never experienced and sag in the top and it is 4 foot long.

Some years ago, I bought a book on using a router and it provided lots of idea for accessories. I don't know where it is at the mo, so can't give you its title or number. Ill have a look for it am and post back the details if I find it, or not.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@btopenworld.com says...

The American magazine Shopnotes, issue 66, did a combined router/saw table. Looked rather good, but I ain't got round to building one.
The trouble is the pdf is 28MB.
-- Skipweasel - never knowingly understood.
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Create a (free) account with www.dropbox.com and put this file under the \public folder. Create an internet link to it and post here for anyone to download.
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alz snipped-for-privacy@nospam.co.uk says...
[shopnotes issue 66]

Someone's already done it - though not with dropbox. http://rapidshare.com /#!download|285l35|147057161|ShopNotes_Issue_ 66.pdf|26758
Searching for shopnotes + 66 + pdf finds plenty already out there.
Anyway - it's got quite a nice design to take a table-saw and router, including room for a shopvac, IIRC.
--
Skipweasel - never knowingly understood.

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Hi Tim     I have a similar requirement to you, and have been collecting parts and plans for a little while. Here are some - hopefully one might be suitable.
http://www.finewoodworking.com/skillsandtechniques/skillsandtechniquesarticle.aspx?id(007 http://www.templatesbynumbers.com/?q=workmateroutertable http://www.woodcraft.com/Articles/Articles.aspx?articleid36 http://www.sawdustmaking.com/Router%20Table/simple_router_table.htm http://www.bobsplans.com/BobsPlans/RouterTable / http://sawdustalley.co.uk/How-to/router-table/index.php
    Cheers     Jon N
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On 04/01/2011 22:04, Tim Watts wrote:

Its a right of passage sort of thing ;-) (and usually the first of many as the addiction takes hold!)

some conflicting requirements there...

You could always give it a few coats of polyurethane varnish...

A lump of kitchen worktop is probably a nice start - stuff slides over it easily etc. If you want to get flash, then say two layers of 19mm ply - with the top being phenolic ply.

With some battens it ought to be fine.

plenty of examples in the mags etc. Personally I bought one, but I think with hindsight a home made one would have been at least as good if not better. It does depend on the scale of stuff you want to work on mind you.

That's a bit more tricky... if you want to do a worktop, then yup it really has to be a 1/2". As a more jack of all trades first router however I would go for a decent 1/4" machine in the 800 - 1200W range. Doing things like hinge rebates on a door, with a jig are ok with a big machine, but holding it up to do a frame rebate might be hard work (having said that, if only doing a few at a time, its hard to beat the speed of a chisel when you take into account setup time). Decorative stuff is easier with the smaller machines.

Sounds like a good plan.
I take it you have seen the FAQ:
http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/powertools/router.htm
With regards tables, one thing to keep in mind is working height. Router table work is often something you want close eyes on, and usually does not involve humping great lumps of wood onto it. Hence they benefit from higher working heights than say table saws. Since like me you are on the taller side, you will probably find workmate height way to low for the finished table level. My table is approx 18" tall, and I have a base fitted to it with a batten that runs the width of the underside of the base. That lets me clamp the base into a tall workmate (i.e. the double height B&D one with the "step" at the front). That brings the result up to mid chest level, which is quite a comfortable working height for me.
--
Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm ( snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.null) wibbled on Tuesday 04 January 2011 23:26:

Sadly yes. Really can't justify a 1/4" too (by the time you've added bits, collars, widgets etc it will be more than another 100 quid).

Yes - I suppose that could work. It's not going to sit in rain, but it could get a soaking if a downpour starts (obviously I'll be rescuing the router and metal bits before the table gets brought inside.

Partly why I fancy a 1.2-1.5m long one - extra support for long pieces - and a bit of spare room to mount a vice round the back, or remove the router and use as a general bench.

Yep - read that first :)

Good point...
Cheers
Tim
--
Tim Watts

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Tim Watts wrote:

I had to read this far before it struck me that you meant *that kind* of router. I thought you meant a network router (ethernet hub).
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On 04/01/2011 22:04, Tim Watts wrote:

I've got a fairly crude home-made table which I made out of an 18" square piece of fairly high density chipboard, with some strategically placed wooden blocks on the underside which enable it to be held in a B&D Workmate without getting in the way of the router.
Initially, I just bolted the router to the underside of the 'table' - but soon found that I didn't have enough reach with the bits because of the thickness of the chipboard. So I made an adaptor plate out of sheet steel about 1/8" thick, cut a much bigger hole in the chipboard, and recessed (using the router, of course!) the steel plate into the top surface so that the whole thing was flush.
The router itself is a fairly cheap one - with 1/4" and 8mm collets - which I bought from Focus, and which doesn't have a means of locking the power switch on. So I fitted a mini quick-release clamp to hold the switch on, and bought an NVR switch and wired it into an extension lead to do the actual switching.
I made a wooden fence which can be clamped to the table with quick-release clamps, and also made a removable post for fence-less operations - having got the idea for the latter from one of the You-tube videos.
Another "innovation" is my height adjustment device. This uses the guts from a butchered 'quick vice' (as used with drill presses), supported by a cradle suspended from the underside of the table, to wind the router body up and down against the plunge spring. Once at the right height, I operate the plunge lock lever and back the vice off, so that it's not pressing on the motor while it's running.
All a bit crude - but it serves its purpose for the relatively small amount of routing which I do. It just *might* give you some ideas - even if they're only of how *not* to do it! <g>
--
Cheers,
Roger
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I'd suggest the big old Freud, if you can find one. Failing that, a DW 621 (?) the one with a fat leg.
Tables are easy. 2" deep frame, 1/2" or 3/4" MDF top. Not too thick (kitchen worktop is crazy) as it limits access to the router. Chunk of something stiff and ideally vibration damping for the insert. Mine lives on a single folding vice trestle and that's hefty enough for most purposes. Otherwise build a plywood box rather than two trestles.
Fence is easy - just make it swing on a pivot, rather than trying to slide. Mine is just an MDF L-box, with a dust extract box around the back and two sliding false fences on the front.
Definitely acquire some good push blocks - look at Axminster's, but you can make your own with some Armaflex sticky neoprene tape / wetsuit / mousemat on the bases for grip.
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Andy Dingley ( snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com) wibbled on Wednesday 05 January 2011 03:10:
Hi Andy,

Some woodworking bloke on YT was raving about that one (DW621)- it's 200 quid which is within my expected budget.

3/4" it is then.

I'm goin to cheat and buy a plate. Did notice some other YT bloke made one out of a marble tile. The advantage with a premade one is the slip in collars.

Box would be a problem - I really need it to flat pack. I did find these though that are cheaper than the Stanley trestles:
http://www.tooled-up.com/Product.asp?PID 8832
Might be scope to pop a couple of bolts through the top into the worktop for more stability.

True - doesn't technically need to slide.

Good point - as one of the jobs is working with long mouldings, really don't want my fingers near the cutter.
Cheers
Tim
--
Tim Watts

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If you're doing long mouldings, finger boards are worth it too. Buy these, because they're a swine to make. Wooden ones are brittle, suitable plastics are a sod to saw. One of mine is made from yellow gaspipe. It works fine, but it took half an hour to strip and clean the bandsaw afterwards!
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On 05/01/2011 03:10, Andy Dingley wrote:

IME Charnwood stuff is pretty good for part d-i-y projects. Not easy making a router table from scratch if you don't already have a router table :-)

You can always beef it up with timber, or weigh it down with bricks/sandbags. Maybe you could just get some design ideas if the pdf is detailed enough
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I have one like that except its a bit bigger and takes 1/2" routers, it is also Charnwood. Its quite good but the extractor vent is a bit on the small side. It came with a router and zero volt switch and some bits for about 90 IIRC. I can't see it on the site anymore. The top is ~32mm MDF and its quite rigid.
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Andy Dingley ( snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com) wibbled on Wednesday 05 January 2011 03:10:

I'm also seriously tempted by this one:
http://www.trend - uk.com/en/UK/product/T11EK/3/145/2000w_12_variable_speed_workshop_router_230v.html
(Which is available for 247 inc from Transtools, in theory).
--
Tim Watts

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I've never been a fan of the endlessly recycled Elu96 design. Partly because it was 8mm, mostly because the fine depth adjust was a joke.
Trend have made many copies of the thing, some larger, but usually overpriced them. If this is big enough and that adjuster is workable, then it could be a good choice. They've kept the nice solid diecast fence.
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