Friday, December 16, 2011

Starting a Router Table

In the post titled "New Shelves for the IMC Office" in November, I showed the provisional router setup we have used for the past 5 years.

The "temporary" or "provisional" router table arrangement we have been using for about 5 years now.

This setup has served its purpose, but is cumbersome, very limited, and located at an inconvenient height.  I have wanted to make a proper, better router table for some time.

So, after the kids began their long vacation away from the farm at the end of November, I began building the new table.  I used many of the ideas and instructions from the book Woodworking with the Router by Bill Hylton.

The first step I took was to build a frame for the table top intended to keep the top surface perfectly flat.  For building the frame, I used a hardwood called sapan, which is not found outside South America.

The table top frame glued and clamped on the top of our table saw, the most certainly FLAT surface we have available.

Next, I glued up the sheet materials that we had available for building the table top itself.  Although after reading Bill Hylton's book, I would rather have used MDF as the substrate (because it's more reliably flat), I had previously purchased 3/4" plywood and some 1/8" hardboard, so I used those materials instead.  Then I glued and nailed on some 3/4" thick hardwood edge banding around the table top, and after drying, trimmed the edge banding to be flat with the plywood.

Trimming the hardwood edge banding down to be perfectly flat with the plywood surface, using a trimming jig and the router.
Once both the top and bottom surfaces of the table top were flat, I glued a Formica on the bottom surface and trimmed it to the edge of the table top, before attaching the table top frame to the table top.

Bottom surface of the table top, covered with low quality (ie. much cheaper) laminate, which seals well, but isn't as abrasion resistant as the top quality Formica I used for the top surface.

The finished frame, complete with holes and countersinks drilled to attach the frame to the table top.

Sorry I don't have any action shots here, but this was a one-person effort - and you probably wouldn't be too excited to see my puzzled face, anyway....  I say puzzled, because I spent a lot of time reading the instructions from the book!

The table top is secured to the frame using 1/4" machine bolts - but with no nuts!  Rather the bolts are tightened into threads cut in the plywood/hardboard table top.  This was my first experience drilling and tapping threads into wood, but it worked great.  Of course, I had to use care in selecting the length of the bolts - and the depth of the countersink, so as to not have bolts sticking out of the holes in the table top...

After bolting the frame to the top, then I proceeded to glue on the good quality Formica laminate to the top surface of the table top.  I trimmed the laminate flush using the router with a flush trim bit, then made another pass with a bevel bit, leaving about a 1/4" bevel around the top.

The table top with the frame attached underneath, ready to begin making the opening in the top for mounting the router and insert plate.
The process for making an opening in the table top using templates and template guides is interesting, but rather complex, so I won't try to  explain it here.  I ended up having a special template guide made at a machine shop in Bogotá to make the process work properly.  You also need a plunge router for this process, so the Porter Cable 690 that I bought used through Ebay got a nice workout this day.

Using a template to guide the router in opening a hole into the table top.
 Once the opening for the insert plate was excavated down to the thickness of the insert plate, then I used a jig saw to cut out the blue (Formica covered) material still left inside the routed channel, leaving a shelf to support the insert plate.

The completed table top, with the router and inert plate mounted in the top.

This is a side view of the router table top and frame, with the router mounted.

Now, all that's left to this project is building a cabinet to support the table top, and a fence to guide boards across the table.  Simple, right!

I didn't have time this vacation, but I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to finish the job!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, Grant. You are a real blessing for the Ministry and your commitment is unparalleled. The stability and hard work is an invaluable example for the kids and workers.
    God bless you!