Introduction: Simple Router Table From Reclaimed Desk

In my hometown here in Nebraska every spring we have a city wide clean up. Everyone in town can put almost what ever they want on the curb, or haul it to the dump yourself, and not have to pay the fee. In town they bring in dump trucks and loader tractors and go house by house, like regular garbage pick up, but will take most anything. Many people use this opportunity to throw away tons of perfectly good items that they just don't need any longer. Furniture, electronics, yard tools, (I have a friend who claims to have found a running weed eater and leaf blower). Most decent people will even tape signs onto things that still work.

To the point I am an avid recycler/reuser/salvager. If it has use or even something I can remove to use or just metal I can sell for scrap, I will take it. Most all electronic devices have steel and copper $$$. I am ranting. So a few years ago I find this small desk in decent shape, and my girlfriends young son needs more storage space, so I strap it to the roof of my car (I wish i had a pic for you) and bring it home. It served that purpose until I built them some custom shelves. Now I am left with this small desk in my shop waiting some fate.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


It just so happened I was researching router table plans because I needed one to make a a small part for a project. I wanted something sophisticated and fancy, but time and money were of the essence. Then one day it hit me. Make a simple router table out of what I already had instead of buying lots of lumber. Let the recycling begin.

Tools for this project were simple also. A drill and some bits, the router itself, and a jig saw. The only other materials needed where screws that threaded into the base of the router.

Step 2: Prep the Desk

Under the top of the desk was a long narrow drawer. This drawer was located where the router needed to go. A few screws and a quick slice with the jig saw to remove some glue and the drawer was removed. I also removed the back of the desk. I planned to replace the back when everything was finished but leaving it off makes it easier to adjust the routers height.

Step 3: Remount the Drawer

I remounted the drawer to the bottom of the desk. It seemed better than throwing it away. I didn't know what, but i figured something would go in there.

Step 4: Router Mount

This is the most complex part of the whole project. On most routers there is a plexiglass plate screwed to the bottom of the base. I removed this to use a template for where the screws would need to go on my table. I marked off the holes, drilled them, and a large hole in the center to accommodate the bit.

Next I used the router to carve away some space underneath where the router would be mounted. This is to make the wood thin enough to allow the bits to rise far enough through the table. I know this is the "wrong" way to do this. The right way is to use a piece of plexiglass (acrylic) that fits into a rabbited hole on the top of the table. I didn't have funds to make it that way and on Sunday in my small town acrylic is not available anyways. Some day I will redo the top to have a T-track fence system, feather boards, dust collection, and a proper router inlay. I hope to create a new 'ible just for that. This is KISS method, keep it stupid simple. And it works great.

Step 5: Finished Product

Mounting the router was difficult. I can see why the clear acrylic is so popular. Getting the screws to line up with the holes in the router base was surprisingly much more difficult than I would have ever guessed. I did get it but wow. As you can see I actually drilled a second set of holes to help with alignment.

The drawers that were already in the desk proved to be excellent storage. There was even room for the old trim router that I was given.

Step 6: Results

The project I needed the table for was to put a good round over on some small cupboard doors. As you can see in the photo it worked great. With the bearing topped bit and no fence it took literally one minute to do all four corners of the door. To clamp the door down to a table and do one edge at a time would have took much longer and produced less favorable results.

I have since used this table for many more small projects and have used a clamp on fence to do some other styles of work.

This project took about 2 hours total. Over half that time was getting the bolts holding the router aligned. This truly was a simple project that worked out great.

In the future I may build a better table, or most likely add a new top to this desk that larger and more features (T-track fence for sure and drop in acrylic router mounting plate). For now it gets the job done.

Comments

author
jfitzpa22 made it! (author)2016-04-10

I made something very similar out of an old rolling kitchen table. It doubles as a router and saw table! Thanks for the Instructable!

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author
tjdux (author)jfitzpa222016-07-16

That's a great duel use table that doesn't take hardly any space. I really like it. If I ever downsize to a smaller work area i may make that

author
kbbaktha (author)2015-09-07

HIGH FIVE for an excellent way of upcycling a old desk.

author
pattiemelt (author)2015-01-13

I found a simple way to line up holes in situations like this. Using screws that are 2" or 3" longer (or more if needed) than the ones that secure the router, mount the router. The longer screws will give you a little more wiggle room to initially find the screw holes. Even though it will be a loose fit, you'll have the router (or whatever you're mounting) in the correct alignment with the screw holes. Then, while pushing the router against the surface you are mounting to, remove 1 over-length screw & replace it with a screw of the correct length & tighten. Continue replacing each screw until you have the unit fully mounted with the right screws.

author
tjdux (author)pattiemelt2015-01-19

That is a great solution. I will ne getting some long bolts next time I'm at the hardware store.

author
kbbaktha (author)tjdux2015-09-07

Another way apart from using a longer screws is to mark on the bottom side router would be mounted and drill it to top, where screw head would sit, in counter sunk end. Then because of counter sunk hold provide the necessary maneuverability. Straighter the hole drilled easier it is to find the mark.

author
Qtronik made it! (author)2015-01-30

yep! with adaptation of a vacuum

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Eh Lie Us! (author)2015-01-13

Nice build. What about some wheels?! :) Space is an issue in my garage so things have to be mobile.

It's amazing what people throw away.

author
tjdux (author)Eh Lie Us!2015-01-19

it would be simple enough to add casters to the bottom which I may do someday. Currently the whole table only weighs aboit 30 pounds so I can pick it up easy enough.

author
askjerry (author)2015-01-13

Ok... that is clever and a really good way to recycle an old desk.

You get my two THUMBS UP on this one!!

author
Ricardo Furioso (author)2015-01-13

Simple. Smart. Sensible.
Great work. Thanks.
Please share more.

author
evanwalkerdesign (author)2015-01-13

Great idea. Thanks for the 'structable!

author
richms (author)2015-01-08

I actually bought the cheapest brand from the hardware store because they had a demo unit out and it didnt let you turn the handle when it was locked. The other actual brands all had that feature.

After being locked out because of it and having to smash the handle off with a brick to get back in, its something to look for with a replacement so you dont have to replace it again.

author
jgarcia137 (author)2015-01-07

currently working on turning a nightstand into a mini table for my Black & Decker RTX. Hopefully one day I'll finish it up...

author
Pontay (author)2015-01-05

This is to make the wood thin enough to allow the bits to rise far enough through the table. I know this is the "wrong" way to do this.

Wrong by whose standard? As long as it doesn't weaken the surface so the router is unstable, who really cares? I say Great Job!

I wish I had seen this a week ago, I could have used this 'wrong' method on my own 3/4" MDF router table top. The bit only comes up a fraction of what it could because of the thickness. Luckily, it came up as far as I needed it for the current project.

Don't ya just LOVE instructables?

author
tjdux (author)Pontay2015-01-06

I sure do love instructable s. And yeah if it works it can't be wrong. I just wanted people to know about the benefits of the top mount inserts are the way to go if you have the money for it.

Its never too late to remove some of the stock from the underside of your table. Any excuse to get out in the shop lol.

author
Pontay (author)tjdux2015-01-06

One reason I love this site so much is the break away from the "oh well, it's broken. Let's throw it away" mentality. Long before up-cycling became a word people were making things work because they had to.

I sound old, I know.

As for my table, I was worried about the router being too heavy (and stripping out screw holes in MDF) so I put in T Nuts in from the top side (recessed) for a positive connection. I guess my next move will be an insert anyway! Great 'ible!

author
swilson112587 (author)2015-01-02

This is a great idea! Would that bottom drawer you reattached fit your vacuum system?

author

Oh nvm I wasn't paying attention to the fact that it was covered

author
NYCitySlicker (author)2015-01-02

Really nice!!

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pfred2 (author)2015-01-02

Looks good. I have my router in a wing of my table saw. That way I can share the fence. I used to have a board thrown over some saw horses. When you upgrade to an insert I think you will like it. I use an insert now myself. But as long as a router is going through a hole in a surface, that is all a router table really is.

author
susiefreckleface (author)2015-01-01

brilliant build!

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jhodges15 (author)2015-01-01

This is great! I actually have a spair older desk that I wasn't sure what I would do with. Now I know! Haha. Thanks for sharing.

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tomatoskins (author)2015-01-01

And see, I just have a piece of 3/4 inch MDF on a set of sawhorses that I use for my Router Table. Simple, inexpensive, and can break down when not in use. I like your recycled materials though!

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tjdux (author)tomatoskins2015-01-01

I thought of going that rout but I have cheap plastic saw horses that work great for some things but clamping things to them isnt one of them

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BeachsideHank (author)2015-01-01

This is a great use for a castoff desk. When woodworkers think router table, the first thing they do is get plans for one that will be the size of an aircraft carrier landing deck, rarely, if ever, is such acreage needed or used. This size you show is just about near perfect for 90% of typical home shop woodworking needs. For the remaining 10%, simply clamp on a temporary ply top the size needed and go. The only upgrade I can think is to make the router easily removable for freehand work, I show how to modify a tabletop to do this:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Precision-Router-P...

Those drawers are an asset as well, a terrific Instructable too!

author
Plunged_u (author)2015-01-01

The king of random has a great router table diy, check him out!

author
livichris (author)2015-01-01

planning on building a router insert into my workbench, router's are great but I find mine hard to use freehand. judging by your end results, a table's the way to go.

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Bio: I grew up on a farm where we had to be very self sufficient and DIY. Hard work and making and fixing what we had ... More »
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