Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making a Router Table Top

A router table is not a necessary tool for building the CNC router, but I have wanted one for a long time and now is the time to build it. This is a standard size table, 32" by 24" and includes a 4" fence. Here are the steps.

Drawing of Router Top

Step by Step
  1. The surface is made like the drill press table. Start by layering a 1/2" MDF and 3/4" MDF sheets 33" by 24". Using weights and clamps, glue them together with wood glue. Spread the glue evenly with a plastic joint compound knife. Take the time to align the 24" width maybe even using some clamps. Don't worry about the 32" length since that will be trimmed to length. If you are using wider pieces of MDF say 25" by 33" then don't worry about getting the side perfectly aligned.
  2. Using a table saw or hand saw with a  guide, cut the width to 24", if you have used 25". Using a table saw sled or hand saw with a guide, cut the length to 32". Make sure you get it square.
  3. At this point you can bond Formica to the surface with contact cement. Since this material is expensive ($50. 4 by 8 sheet, Lowe's), I opted not to use it, but coated it with oil based urethane instead. To make the surface slick, I use a few drops of  DuPont 4 Oz. Non-Stick Lubricant and polish it in.
  4. Edge the table with poplar or oak and round over with a 1/8" round-over router bit.
  5. Sand the edges and the MDF (lightly), then coat all surfaces with Sealcoat by Zinnser.
  6. Make a template for the router plate. Start by cutting 16" lengths of 3/4" by 2 1/2" (1 by 3) straight fir or poplar.
  7. Place the router plate on a flat surface and the place the 16" pieces as shown in the picture below. Insert some thin cardboard between the plate edge and the wood as shims. I used cardboard from a toothpaste box. Shimming the template like this will ensure that the routed inset will be a little larger that the router plate. If you do not do this, the plate will not fit into the hole cut into the table. Now use (Kreg) pocket screws to assemble template. See finished template.
  8. Clamp the template to the table as shown. Now, set  a 1/2" by 1/2" pattern router bit to a depth equal to the thickness of the template plus the router plate edge. The template bit is 1/2" diameter with 1/2" blades and has a 1/2" bearing above the bit so that it rides along the plate template. Notice that the plate is in the very center of the table.
  9. After routing the groove, drill a 1/4" hole at the corner and cut the center out with a jig saw leaving a 3/8" lip.
  10. Using the jig shown below, cut the rabbits for the T-track and miter track. Make multiple pass increasing the depth 1/16" on each pass. If you don't do this, the bit may wander. Remember to wear a sanding mask. MDF dust ain't friendly stuff. The T-track groove is 1/2" deep by 3/4" wide and the miter channel is 1 1/8" wide by 1/2" deep. See drawing for length demensions.
Completed router plate template clamped in place.

Routed plate lip. Jigsaw used to cut out center.

Center removed leaving 3/8" lip.

Jig for routing miter and T-track slots

Incra miter channel
Incra T-track
Completed router table
  1. Qty 1   3/4" x 2' x 4' MDF   HomeDepot
  2. Qty 1   1/2" x 2' x 4' MDF   HomeDepot
  3. Qty 1   1/4" x 6" Oak           Lowes
  4. Qty 1   Rousseau router plate 3509 with snuggers,   Amazon
  5. Qty 1   24" inch T-track  Incra TTRACKREG24,  Amazon
  6. Qty 1   32" Miter channel Incra,   Amazon
  7. Qty 1   4 oz  DuPont Non-Stick Lubricant
    1. Table saw
    2. Jig saw
    3. Router
    4. Router bit, MCLS #6509, 1/2" pattern bit
    5. Router bit, round over 1/8" MCLS #6350

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