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
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
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
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
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
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...