Next to the table saw, the router table is the workhorse of any woodworking shop.
While machines like the planer, jointer and drill press are specifically purposed to perform just a few woodworking applications, the router table is unarguably one of the most versatile woodworking tools you can own.
The Starter-Outer Version
My first router and table was a combo bench-top model like those found in most big box stores. Although it served a purpose, it was too small and lightweight for handling large material or for making large moldings.
The biggest drawback was that it was very time-consuming to set up. The motor mount is permanently attached to the table, so changing bits or making height adjustments requires the user to reach underneath the table blindly and “feel” his way through the knobs, handles and collet assembly.
Additionally, the table and fence are only about 24″ long. This means setting up roller stands when cutting long pieces. Plus, the motor is not very powerful, limiting its use to small bits with a maximum 1/4″ shank, and has to be turned off and on by reaching underneath the table .
However, if you only need something for roundovers and small rabbets or dadoes, an economy table is an efficient use of finances and shop space.
Time to Upgrade!
As my knowledge and experience grew, so did my projects…and my need for a machine with a lot more muscle and versatility. Fine furniture sometimes requires making substantial moldings such as those found in my Grandfather Clock or Baby Crib projects. You need a powerful motor and a large work surface. That’s when I decided to build a dedicated router table, complete with storage, dust collection, and a “hoss” of a motor!
I was glad to find FREE router table plans offered by Dan Phalen and quickly went to work. Dan’s plans are detailed, yet straightforward and easy to follow. As a result, I was able to complete the table in just two weekends. Thanks Dan!
- Rollers make this machine very portable!
- A large work surface with an adjustable fence that has zero-clearance capabilities.
- A dust collection port above and below the cutting bit.
- Seven smaller drawers for storing bits and small accessories (one drawer is for electrical).
- Three large drawers for featherboards, plates, extra routers and router bases.
- An external “On” switch with a large emergency “Off” switch.
Nice table, but why green?
The melamine used to cover the plywood fence, top and drawers came from a local cabinet shop. When shopping for a piece, the owner said he had a sheet of “ugly green” that had been sitting in the back of his shop for over a decade. When he offered it to me for only $5.00, I jumped on the deal. I wasn’t sure I’d like the color, but at that price, I wasn’t going to be picky. But after applying it, I loved the way it matched the stain!
Power to spare!
I didn’t skimp on the router though! After careful research and advice from woodworking mentors, I decided to splurge and purchase the 5-speed, 1/2″ collet Porter Cable 7518 router. It has a monster 3-1/4 HP motor that doesn’t bog down under the largest of bits. It has been one of my wisest woodworking tool purchases to date!
It’s mounted on the Woodpeckers Model 420 V2 Router Lift plate, making bit changes and height adjustments a snap!
Of all the tools in my shop, this is the one I’m most proud of. It has performed flawlessly from day one and I can’t imagine beginning any project without it.
To any woodworker who wants to take his skills to the next level, I heartily recommend taking a close look at upgrading their router table. From making 1/8″ roundovers to raised panels, this router station will be one sweet addition that will offer many years of faithful service!