Router Table with Cabinet
by Gordon Sampson
Well, it's been over four years since I first drew up plans for a router table
and cabinet for my shop. Just over three months ago I finally got the chance
to begin building one. I wanted a router table that would be able to handle
long pieces but still fit into my garage shop. I also wanted plenty of cabinet
and drawer space for router bits, accessories, and routers. And I wanted good
dust collection. This unit definitely meets all my needs, and then some.
I took just over three months to complete the router table and cabinet, which
was done in between many other little projects given to me by SWMBO.
It was a great project, although, in my wife's eyes, took three months too
long…if you know what I mean. I'll begin by providing a little information
about the cabinet frame and panels.
Frame & Panels
I began this project by milling, cutting and gluing maple for the frame. The
areas of the frame that receive high loads are 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". All other framing
is 3/4" x 1 1/2". The frame of the cabinet is made of hard maple that I reclaimed
from the gym where my wife and I work out. The panels are 1/4" walnut plywood.
The interiors of the lower cabinet and router access area are lined with 3/4"
birch plywood. I used the Kreg pocket hole system and mortise and loose tenons
to assemble the frame. I really enjoy using the Kreg pocket hole system. Very
easy to use and very strong joints. Wood glue was used on all joinery. The
following pictures show the frame and panels.
The drawer slides are made up of 3/4" x 1/2" UHMW plastic that is compression
fit into 1/2" dadoes that are cut into 3/4" maple. The drawers slide on top
of the UHMW plastic drawer slides, which can be seen in the following picture.
The next picture shows the lower cabinet and router access area after they
were lined with 3/4" birch plywood. The lower cabinet is also trimmed with
1/4" red oak between the floor and walls, which gives the cabinet a finished
I designed my dust collection area with an exhaust vent on the floor of the
router access area, directly beneath the router…where the dust actually falls.
This is shown in the following pictures. The fence dust collection is covered
under the Fence section.
The angled exhaust vent (roofing vent from Home Depot) is connected to a 4"
adjustable elbow that fits snuggly over a 4" plastic splice that protrudes
from the rear of the lower cabinet.
The 4" splice is compression-fit into the 1/4" walnut panel and 3/4" birch
panel in the lower cabinet. Really tight fit!
The next picture shows both upper and lower dust collection of the fence and
The four drawers are made of 3/4" birch plywood and measure 20" long by 9"
wide. The accessory drawers are very basic in their design-no dovetails or
box joints-but they're very functional. The bottoms of the drawers have 3/8"
rabbets on each side that fit over the UHMW plastic drawer slides.
The router bit drawers are two layers of 3/4" birch plywood that are glued
together and trimmed with 3/4" maple on the sides and rear. The bottoms of
these drawers also have 3/8" rabbets that fit over the drawer slides.
A 1/2" x 3/4" x 9" walnut drawer guide is screwed across the bottom rear of
each drawer and runs under the drawer slides to prevent the drawers from tipping
The false drawer fronts are made from 3/4" walnut and figured with the table
saw. The edges of the drawer fronts were sanded smooth and the table saw cuts
were smoothed with #0000 steel wool.
The 43" x 26" x 1 9/16 table top is made up of two pieces of laminated 3/4"
MDF, trimmed with 3/4" maple, and laminated on the top and bottom. Oversized
MDF was laminated together with contact cement and then cut to size. The maple
was glued to the MDF with yellow wood glue and trimmed to the width of the
MDF with a flush trim bit. Laminate was glued to the MDF and maple with contact
cement and trimmed with a flush trim bit. A chamfer bit was used to figure
the edges of the table top.
The router insert hole was cut with a plunge router. I made a jig out of 1/2"
plywood (two "L"-shaped pieces) to guide the router around the cutout area.
I used a Rosseau router plate because it's been sitting in my shop for over
three years when I originally planned to build a router table. We'll see how
well it performs.
The design of the fence was adopted from the October 2000 Woodsmith magazine,
Volume 22, Number 131, with a couple of tweaks. The fence design gave me the
opportunity to work with aluminum, plastic, and wood. The 49" fence is made
up of laminated 3/4" maple. This was quite a gluing experience because the
fence had to be dead straight, as well as strong. The back fence is 5 1/2"high
and consists of 16 pieces of maple that were glued together and trimmed to
width and length. The sliding fences are 3" high and consist of 4 pieces of
maple each. The back fence is shown below.
A 2" x 2" x 49" 1/8" aluminum angle fits into a 1/8" x 2" rabbet in the back
fence and is attached with screws. I'm not sure if the aluminum supports the
maple or the maple supports the aluminum. Either way, I know I have one sturdy
fence. The picture below shows the bit cutout in the aluminum angle. This picture
was taken before I extended the height of the back fence.
The 3" diameter dust collection port is made from 3/8" Lexan. All pieces were
drilled and the triangle-shaped sides were also tapped to accept 6-32 x 3/4"
flathead screws. The clear Lexan allows the user to view the excess material
as it exits the router table and enters the dust control system. A 3" splice
connects the dc port to a 3" flex hose that is connected to a 4" to 3" reducer,
which is connected to a blast gate. This blast gate is connected to a wye that
is also connected to a 4" flex hose that runs to the cabinet dust port. The
air flow for the fence and cabinet dust collection is balanced using this blast
A bit guard is also made of Lexan and is shown in the following picture.
The following pictures show the completed fence system with two feather boards
that are made of red oak. The T-tracks for the back fence and sliding fences
were purchased from Rockler. I'm really pleased with the way the fence came
out…better than I expected.
Pictures of the completed router table and cabinet are shown below. The three
doors are constructed with mortise and loose tenons and consist of 3/4" maple
with 1/4" walnut panels for the lower cabinet doors and a 1/4" plexiglass panel
for the router access door. The three doors use magnetic touch lathes for opening
and closing-just push the doors in and they pop out. I didn't put handles or
knobs on the doors and drawers because I felt it would take away from the look
I want. The router table is also in a walkway that gets a lot of traffic-no
sense giving me something else to catch as I walk by. The lack of handles does
not affect the performance or ease of opening the doors or drawers. The entire
unit-inside and out-was finished with two coats of a Tung oil finish, hand
waxed with an ultra-fine Scotch pad, and then buffed.
The lower cabinet doors open fully to allow easy access to supplies.
The door to the router access area swings down to allow full access to the
The electrical cord is wound on a cord holder made of 1 1/2" walnut.
I wanted something different that would fit in with the design of the cabinet.
The next shot is a bird's eye view of the router table and cabinet.
This project was interesting in that I tried different construction techniques
and the glue-ups were definitely a challenge. I enjoyed every aspect of this
project and it was, to say the least, a labor of love. I know that I may have
overdone it with the complexity and the choice of woods but it was a great
learning experience. The cost of the project was kept very low, due to already
having the reclaimed maple, birch plywood, plastic laminate, Lexan, and other
materials in the shop. I've waited years to build this router table and cabinet
and it's nice to see it completed…and I can't wait to put it to use.
Gordon Sampson 10/16/01