Following an idea I saw on the web I created a Router Table that clamped into my Workmate a few years ago. The table served me well, however after requisitioning my old Workmate to the welding shop I then discovered that the jaws on my other Workmate wouldn't open up enough to accommodate my Router Table, thus the reason for this instructable; design a solid bomb proof mount for attaching DIY router table to Workmate.
At the same time I am taking the opportunity to change out the old router base insert that I made out of 1/4" plywood with a new one I recently purchased.
Step 1: What I Am Starting With...
It's quite likely that you won't be in the same predicament as me; modifying an existing router table to fit your Workmate and changing out a router insert plate but perhaps you are considering building your own router table from scratch. For that reason let me provide a few particulars regarding my original design.
Original Router Table Specifics
The table is made from 3/4" pre-finished birch plywood cut to 33"w x 22"d I mounted a 3/4" panel on the underside with adjustment screws to level my original 1/4" insert plate although I don't recommend that method any longer. Get a commercial Router insert base and recess it as I did in this instructable. I used ROK's 12" x 9" plate. Mount a 4" to 6" wide piece of 3/4" plywood across the width on the underside of the table about 6" from the edge facing the workmate clamp. Then use the anchoring method described in this instructable. I acquired a Kreg Precision Router Table Fence ITEM#: PRS1015 for use in my setup. I also made my own feather board from a piece of bamboo flooring, pictured in the Instructable content.
Step 2: Tools and Materials Required.
Handheld grinder with zip disc and grinding disk (or hacksaw and file)
Countersink bit (1/8")
Drill bit (1/8", 3/16")
Forstner or Brad Point bit (3/8")
Hammer and 1-1/2" finishing nails or Brad nailer with 1-1/2" brads
Green painter's tape
ROK 12" x 9" router insert plate or equiv.
3/4" x 2" x 29" strip of plywood
Two 1"h x 2"w x 3"l wood blocks (or laminate 2 pieces of 1/2" together)Two #14 x 2" pan head screws
Ten 1-1/4" flat head wood screws
Four #8 x 2" flat head wood screws
Two #14 x 2" pan head screws
Four #10 x 1-1/2" flat head wood screws
This project could be accomplished in 1 day or perhaps two.
Step 3: Preparing the Underside of the Old Router Table to Fit the Workmate Frame
Since the jaws on the Workmate wouldn't open up enough to accommodate the Router Table I decided to design a locking system that didn't require the Workmates removable jaw to be used. Instead I locked the table directly to the existing slots on the metal frame of the Workmate. Removing the detachable Workmate clamp offered a lot more below-table space to accommodate and access the router (think down the road dust collection).
With the front of the router table sitting on the adjustable clamp of the Workmate I measured 1-3/4" gap from the back underside of the router table to the top of the Workmates metal frame.
Remove the Workmate's detachable clamping jaw and open the adjustable clamping jaw to full open position.
Position the router table on the Workmate in its desired location. Note the clearance from the clamping jaw surface to the metal frame surface (about 1-3/4" in my case), hence the next 3 steps to build up the difference.
From the fully open jaw position advance the Workmate clamp about 1" to 1-1/2" in the closed direction. Mark location of 2 anchor slots (furthest end slots of the Workmate frame) on underside of router table.
Mount a strip of 3/4" plywood (about 2" x 29") on the underside of the router table directly over marked locations of anchor slots using 1-1/4" wood screws (1-3/4" gap minus this 3/4" strip reduces the gap to 1" now).
Mount a 1" thick block (I used 2 pieces of 1/2" plywood 2" x 3" laminated together) to the 3/4" strip directly above the end slots on either side of the Workmate frame using 2" wood screws (2 blocks total).
Position the router table on the Workmate in its desired location and then trace the furthest rear slot of the metal Workmate frame onto the underside of the two 1" blocks.
Flip the router table over again and pre-drill a 1/8" hole near the back edge of each of your previously marked 1" blocks.
Insert a #14 x 2" pan head screw in each pre-drilled block leaving about 1/16" clearance. This clearance should allow the head of the screw to lock into the front of the metal slot on the top of the Workmate - adjust clearance accordingly.
Test the fit; place the router table right side up on the Workmate such that the two #14 screw heads engage with the rear slots on the Workmate and tighten the adjustable clamp on the Workmate.
Step 4: Optional Front Workmate Clamp Groove Catch
After the screws were nicely engaged with the rear slots on the Workmate frame, I found that the front edge of the router table could be lifted away from the front clamping jaw with very little effort. My observations detected that the groove in the front clamping jaw of the Workmate left very little area for effective clamping. To remedy this I added 4 studs into the underside front edge of the router table that engaged with the groove on the Workmates front clamping jaw.
On the underside front edge of the router table, mark the location of the groove - this is where the studs will be located.
To make studs, simply pre-drill and insert four #10 x 1-1/2" wood screws, leaving them stick out about 1/2".
Then use a zip disk on a handheld grinder to cut the screws off leaving about 1/4" of stud. Then use a handheld grinder with a grinder disk to slightly round the studs to fit gently into the groove on the Workmates front clamping jaw.
Reposition the router table onto the workmate and test the front stud engagement with the groove in the Workmates front clamping jaw. If all went well you will now have a very solidly attached router table mounted on your Workmate.
Congratulations the first phase is complete!
Step 5: Installing the New Router Base Insert.
In my case I was replacing a homemade router base insert (made from 1/4" plywood) with a commercially purchased ROK insert. The ROK was slightly wider than my previous insert and slightly shorter. It was easy to make the cutout wider however the gap at the back edge meant I had to insert a filler and then route the drop edge for the new insert.
If you're following this instructable and creating your own table as you go then your process will be simpler but the insert placement and routing steps will be similar.
Note for clarification: Up to this point I have used 'Front' to refer to the side of the Workmate with the cranking handles, and subsequently the edge of the router table that faced that side. As a router table now, however I prefer to work from the opposite side so the Workmate cranking handles and lower step are not impeding access to the table' therefore from this point forward 'Front' will mean the side we'll work at the router table from (side opposite from the cranks).
Square up the new insert with the existing hole positioned centered left to right and back from the front edge of the opening about 1/4", leaving the resulting gap toward the rear of the table. Trace the outline of the new insert onto the router table top. Note that the new opening will be routed with a recess to the same depth as the insert thickness (1/4" in my case) for a perfectly flush installation.
Use the router with the factory base installed and a suitable router bit (I used a 5/8" straight cutter) inserted to make the perimeter cuts. Clamp a guide onto the table (you can use a router fence if available for the left to right cuts) to guide your router along the traced lines - remember only go as deep as the insert thickness; I find it best to creap up to the desired depth making finite adjustements as I go to avoid going too far.
Test the fit of the new insert into the recessed opening.
Now measure the resulting gap at the back of the insert cutout and create a filler 1/4" deeper than the measured gap. Glue, clamp and nail (brad) the filler strip into place being certain to maintain a perfectly flush surface at the table top. Note: be mindful to keep brads and nails further than 1/4" below the surface or you might nick them with the router in next step.
Once the glue is dry, place the insert into position on the router table and trace the outline for the front cutout. Set up the router fence again and route a recess into the newly added filler strip.
Test the insert for fit into the router table.
Step 6: Mount the Insert Onto Your Router.
Remove the factory base from your router and place it on the top of your new router insert plate. Mark the position of the attachment holes onto the new insert.
Tip - the hard synthetic material of the new insert may not mark easily with a pencil so place small pieces of painter's tape beneath the holes then mark with pen, pencil or other marker.
Note that the screws need to be countersunk so they are flush or slightly recessed below the surface of the insert.
Measure the diameter of the factory screw head as well as the depth of the head. Select a properly sized forstner or brad point bit (or equivalent) and drill the holes only to the depth of the screw head (I used a 3/8" forstner bit). Then select a drill bit suitable for completing the clearance holes for the screws and finish drilling the holes (I used 3/16" bit).
You can now mount the insert plate on your router and fit it into your finished Router Table.
Congratulations, you now have a fully functional router table firmly mounted to your workmate!
Step 7: Conclusion
I hope you found this instructable helpful. Being as this was a FIX for my existing situation the entire process might not apply to all followers, but I hope you found inspiration to adapt any useful concepts into your own projects.
Specifically I think the biggest Aha for me is realizing how easy it is to fixture to the metal frame of the Workmate; hence I can see myself adapting my planer, sander, scroll saw, etc. Removing the detachable clamp offers a lot more room to accomodate below-table equipment including router, dust collection ports, etc.
I genuinely look forward to your comments and feedback.
This Instructable is entered in the FIX IT contest, I appreciate your support and thanks in advance for your vote!
Kent at the FrontierShed