Once a woodworker has mastered the basics of routing, it is time to step it up to the next level with a homemade router table. Unlike commercial bought router tables, a homemade router table allows you to add extras, which you may need in your wood shop. A full-service homemade router table can turn an average router job into a masterpiece.
Router Table Top
Birch plywood ¾-inch thick works best for a homemade router table, and is solid enough to handle large pieces of hardwood. The work surface should be large enough to give the woodworker plenty of room to manoeuvre the wood stock running through the router bit. An ideal size work surface will measure around 22 inches wide by 26 inches long. The centre cutout size will depend on the size of the router faceplate. Cut a router fence groove for the guide fence to set in. Sand the router table smooth, and round the edges of the table to eliminate splinters.
Router Table Base
Use a table saw to cut the legs of the router table. For best results use ¾-inch birch plywood, same as the router top. Cut leg cleats (pieces of wood nailed at 90 degrees to the base of the router legs), where holes can be drilled for bolting to a workbench for additional stability when routing. Glue, clamp and screw the leg cleats to the router table legs. Sand off the rough edges of the legs, and set aside.
Router Table Fence
The router table fence must be straight and have square edges, for ensuring perfect routed edges. Cut the fence and fence base about 1 to 1 ½ inches longer than the table surface. Cut the fence base width just slightly smaller than the fence groove in the router tabletop. Glue, clamp and screw the fence and fence base together.
Router Table Guard
Cut the guard base to size and sand smooth. To create the mounting slots, cut two 9/32-inch slots to size, allowing you to adjust the router fence at will. Cut a small notch in the base of the guard, and attach an exhaust head to the back of the router table guard to remove sawdust and wood chips.
Router Table Finish and Hardware
Finish sanding the homemade router table as needed. Apply three to four coats of penetrating oil finish to all of the wooden parts of the router table. Tung oil will work best. Using tung oil is easier to reapply when needed than a varnish or paint finish. Mount additional electrical sockets and switches as desired.
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