Ask any bunch of woodworkers which is their most essential fixed power tool and you'll get many answers. But ask for the top three, and they will always include the router table.

In recent years, router manufacturers have begun offering routers with height adjustments that can be accessed through the base, when the router is hanging upside down in a router table. This eliminates the cost and complexity of incorporating a router lift into the design to control the height of the bit. These new routers have that built-in.

Inspired by these, a number of writers have published designs for router tables using these new routers that aren't really tables, they're router table tops, meant to be attached to an existing workbench.

Bench-Mounted Router Table
Stow-and-Go Router Table
Stow-Away Router Table

When I was building my own Real Woodworker's Workbench, I had to buy a second router. I decided to buy one with an integrated lift, and to use it to build a router-table attachment for my bench, similar to those described above.

It took me longer to get around to it than I had planned, but a few weeks ago I finally got started.

I made it out of a 24"x48" piece of  3/4' Melamine-coated particle board, with a 3/4' backing of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), using a commercially purchased insert plate and fence. Melamine provides a slick, smooth, easily-cleaned surface, which makes it a pretty good choice for a top. 3/4' isn't enough to prevent bending, though, and the fiberboard core isn't as dense as MDF, hence the MDF backing.

Step 1: Laying Out the Mortise

The router, in a router table, is screwed to a router table insert plate.  The insert plate is a flat piece of stable material (often metal, sometimes acrylic or wood), that sits into a reset mortised into the top.  The first task in building the table is to cut out this mortise.  This is usually done with a hand-held router.

I bought a commercial plate, and the manufacturer offered a template sized to match the plate.  I didn't buy one.  It required a 1/2" pattern cutting bit, which I didn't have, and didn't have any other immediate need for.  So instead of shelling out $30 for the template and bit, I made up a template of my own that I could use with a guide bushing kit and the bits that I already had.

A guide bushing is used with a straight bit. It rides along the side of the template, keeping the bit a set distance away from the template.  The critical factor is the distance between the outside of the bushing and the edge of the bit.

I constructed my template out of straight strips of 1/4" MDF, held in place with double-sided carpet tape.  As I said, the critical dimension is the offset, the distance between the outside of the bushing and the outside of the bit.  This equals the radius of the bushing minus the radius of the bit, or half of the difference between the diameter of the bushing and the diameter of the bit.

Fasten the insert plate to the top, in the position you want it to be, with double-sided tape. Tape straight strips of 1/4" MDF around the plate, separated from it by your calculated distance.  Peel up the insert plate, and then tape down some pieces of 1/4" MDF in the center, to help provide stability for the router.  The position of these inside pieces isn't critical, so long as the gap between them and the outside pieces is wide enough that you can route an area greater than the width of the lip you want to end up with.

I added some small triangular pieces into the corners, to keep the bit from cutting too sharp a radius.
<p>Where does one get holdfasts like that from.... I'm in South Africa</p>
<p>This appears super... So much information and photos i'll ought to study at a more leisurely time. I do not have a router but , but know I want one and had been questioning approximately a router table - this concept is so more likely to in shape my desires/area.You can follow the site : <a href="http://powertoolsmaster.com/best-router-table/" rel="nofollow">http://powertoolsmaster.com/best-router-table/</a></p>
<p>Excellent Guide! I'm about to start a router table / saw bench extension and plan to use a similar two-part top / &quot;H&quot; subframe, but I'm a little sheepish about routing out the router plate. I think I'll need to pick up some carpet tape...</p>
I love this instructable! <br>I've seen it the first time about a year and a half ago but i never had the real mood to make one $$$$$. <br>i had a cheap ryoby table what was good for rough carpentry. <br>but now i can aford it and i looked at a lot off other plans and for me this is the best i know whats going on not confussing at all like a lot off the pay planns. <br>well im looking forward to build this table but with an optional base so i can have it in my workshop stationar or on the jobsite suported with sawhorses with cinderblocks for the wheight. <br> <br>Thanks for the plann Andy!
You have a nice table, I am to slow to make something like that so I bought mine. <br> <br>I have 3 good metal router tables with fences and guides, total cost from auctions and flea markets $ 7.00 for all, <br> <br> I used to think about building a router table, but they can be had so cheap now days, <br>I am using 2 of mine at this time to make professional cabinet doors for a house I am redoing to sell. <br> <br>one has a 3 1/2 hp router with cabinet door bits, the other has a 1 hp router in it for routing edges.
I had Incra Jig on my router table it made possible repeat cuts exactly alike a Incra jig the basic jig cost about fourty dollars but has accuiracy down to tent of a inch. and you can apply masking tape to strip and re adjust to the exact same location time and again. I used it to make dove tailed boxs like oit shows in its advertising. my jig was just scred to the mDF in the exact middle this jig can be mounted behind or off to one side or the other. they have fences and alot other fancy expensive jigs but the old standard is good as it could get right!
Wow. Great stuff. I'm going to need a little more &quot;breaking in&quot; before I attempt this, but it was educational just reading it! I could feel my tiny mind starting to swell with all the learnin'. Great instructions, very descriptive photos too. Thanks for naming the equipment as you went along. I think I learned the most from that alone. My respects to you, sir!
They are many ways to go and this is one of them.<br /> Good instructable
<p>is this cost effective vs buying a router table?</p>
The Rockler Router Table Plate I used was $60, the fence was also $60.<br /> <br /> Rockler's cheapest Router Table is $350.<br />
Been meaning to make a new top for my old homemade router table - BTW, your definitely right, if you don't focus really hard on keeping this thing flat, you will fight it - until you remake the top. Hmm. <br /> <br /> Your step by step will help me immensely. Thanks!<br /> <br /> Mike<br />
I love the bench mounted idea, thats great!<br /> <br /> In step 2 it looks like the adapter plate is set below the level of the bench top, what did you do to pack it up to the right height as shown in the&nbsp;last step?
The mortise is deeper than the insert plate.&nbsp; The plate is raised to be level with the top using the four corner screws installed in step 4.<br />
This looks great... so much info and pictures I'll have to read at a more leisurely time. I&nbsp;don't have a router yet , but know I&nbsp;want one and have been wondering about a router table - this idea is so much more likely to suit my needs/space. Thanks.<br />
Wonderful Instructable! I learned a thing or two. Thanks for all the fine work. I&nbsp;gotta go make some sawdust!<br />
What a great idea, to build the template piece-by-piece and tape it down. I know it wouldn't work in every situation, but that's a real winner. I have a 8-foot IKEA&nbsp;countertop I'm building into a mobile workbench, and cutting the router insert was somethig I&nbsp;was struggling with. Thanks much!<br />
The first time I tried it (on the piece of Melamine that's leaning against the wall in step 1), I&nbsp;just used a piece of tape at each end of each strip of template.&nbsp; The strip shifted, under the pressure of the router.&nbsp; On my second attempt, I&nbsp;used tape along the entire length, and made a point of not pushing hard against the template.&nbsp; This worked, at the cost of having a lot more of the sticky glue to clean up.<br />
I remember watching something like it on the Woodsmith Shop show&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.woodsmithshop.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.woodsmithshop.com/</a>) but they were making a whole table. What I like about your instructable is that shows how to work around any problems. Great work!<br />
Looks really nice. Would be nice if you could show a video of it in action.<br />
i'm always a big fan of making a tool with the tool that you intend use the tool you made with...the insanity of it all is just delicious!<br /> <br /> i'm planning on building a &quot;folding&quot; work bench in my carport since i don't have a real workshop (nor space or funds to acquire one) and i planned on incorporating a router insert like this into one end of it (and a place for a miter saw to bolt in on the other end)...you've got some good ideas in here that i'll probably use (also bookmarked your workbench ible as well)

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