Router Table with Cabinet
by Gordon Sampson


Introduction

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 look.



Dust Collection

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 cabinet.



Drawers

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 when opened.



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.



Table Top

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.



Fence

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 gate.



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 router.



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

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© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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