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TREND T5 Competition router table - progress report (long..)

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Neil

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A router table… what on earth is this doing in the competition? Well, I was making one anyway, and not being the most prolific producer of furniture from the workshop I knew that I wouldn’t manage to get a ‘proper’ table made in time. I was going to show my ‘first router table’ efforts to the forum anyway, and you never know - there might be a consolation prize for last place...


I knocked up a quick model in SketchUp to get the basic proportions. I liked the idea of having white MDF panels inset into a frame fastened with knock-down fittings - the latter making it possible to dismantle the table when I (hopefully) move house early next year. The router compartment is left open for ventilation a la Hylton’s ‘Woodworking with the Router’. Naturally I changed all of the measurements once I started making the thing :roll:

The top is made up of four layers - melamine-covered hardboard, two layers of 16mm MDF (would have been 12mm if I could have got it locally) and another layer of the melamine hardboard on the bottom to stabilise the laminate. I rough-cut the four pieces, then trimmed one of the MDF pieces exactly to size using my router & clamp guide. The four pieces were then glued with PVA and left for a couple of days on top of my (hopefully flat) benchtop with a huge assortment of clamps, heavy boxes, drill press etc. on top. (If you have to see the resulting mess, go ahead) Once the PVA had cured, I trimmed the waste off the remaining layers using a bearing-guided cutter. The resulting table top was nice & flat and VERY heavy:


I had bought an insert to mount the router, and the corners of the insert had a ½" radius, so I used a ½" cutter to create the opening for the insert. I don’t have a guide bush for my big router :blush: but fortunately the Makita’s round baseplate makes it quite a simple task to set up guides for routing the opening:

Before...


After...

I used a ½” spacer with the same guides to route another groove directly inside this one, but another few mm deeper. I then cut out the waste with a jigsaw, flipped the table top over, and tidied up with a bearing guided cutter. Then I cut a rebate from the underside using a bearing-guided rebating cutter - this was necessary because the bolts for the clips which come with the insert plate to fasten it down were too short to reach right through the rather thick top. I hope you see what I mean - I feel confused myself reading that last bit...

Anyway, here is the result - I’ve also added a thick pine lipping at this stage - I would like to say for the competition’s sake that I biscuited this on, but I’m just too damn honest :p. It didn’t really need them with all that glue area.


Now we all know the feeling making stuff for the workshop - you need the finished jig/bench/insert your workshop project here to make the item! This is particularly true for this router table, so I decided to mount the table top to a workmate and clamp everything on temporarily:


The little gloat in this picture also explains why I made the top so wide - ideally the Incra needs 20" from the cutter to the back edge. I have a tiny bit less than that, I was already pushing my luck (and the space in the workshop) with the size of it.

The table legs had to be grooved to allow the 16mm MDF side panels to slot in, this was a nice simple job with the Incra - cut a groove with the 12.5mm cutter, move the fence away from the bit by a smidge over 3.5mm, and voila, a (just over) 16mm groove. For the rails at the front, I milled shallow mortices using the same setup, but lowering the leg onto the cutter and moving it between two marks. I squared up the mortices using a chisel.

I decided to mill little stub tenons on all the rails, more to provide easy location than from any strength considerations. This was a simple job - I just lined up all the rails and ran a rebating cutter along. The side & back rails were also grooved to accept the MDF.


Here you can just about see the mortices on the leg nearest the camera (sorry about the overexposure) - also the grooves in the back legs, and the stub tenons on the rails.


Here are the KD fittings. I like these for this sort of application - they are really strong. It gets tedious drilling all the holes for them, though - there were quite a few of them!


Skipping ahead a bit (I forgot to take any photos :oops:) - here is the frame bolted together with the MDF panels in place. Fortunately I remembered to paint the MDF panels before installing them. I’ve also added the shelf - this is simply supported by battens, and has a small cove trim in an attempt to avoid sharp corners for dust to gather in. - I’ll probably do all my template routing from the back of the table to make the most of the table depth, so I mounted the NVR switch on the side rather than the front so I can get to it more easily.

I really needed to have the table on castors, and locked castors with rubber tyres just slide on my workshop floor, so I needed a simple system to raise them. I liked a system I had seen on NYW, but I was determined not to lose the space for my drawer so I had to modify it slightly:


Each pair of castors is attached to a hinged board, and there are little hinged flaps to hold the boards down when the wheels are in use. When you want to flip them up, you simply take the weight on that side of the table, and yank a cord to pull the flaps up. You then repeat on the other side of the table. To lower the castors, you simply lift the front and the back of the table in turn, and the flaps just drop. Norms version has flaps on each side, and so did mine at first, but I had some problems with friction in the system to lead the cords around the space for the drawer, so I dispensed with the left hand flaps. There is still too much friction to allow the flaps to fall under their own weight, so I added some bungee cord to pull them down (the blue cord). It works really well, and doesn’t seem to flex if I apply a Mike testTM and put my weight on the table.

The cords pop out of holes on the left hand side of the table:


I had an urgent bit of template routing to do, so I’ve also made a bit guard with dust extraction. The acrylic guard can be adjusted to three different heights, to match the size of the work and have the guard as close to the bit as possible, just by putting more blocks between the acrylic and the main part of the guard. Here it is in the middle height position, with one block either side of the acrylic. I had to set the extraction tub in at an angle so that it didn't restrict the minimum height for the guard too much.


That’s about it for now - remaining jobs are to French Polish the pine frame (only joking, Neil - I think oil & wax will do!) and make the drawer. I also have to make a ‘Wonderfence’ substitute to attach to the Incra for use with big cutters - I managed to get hold of a piece of box-section aluminium, 100x45mm, 2mm wall thickness, which will form the basis of this. I’ve cut an opening in this (I would like to say I routed it, but I was a bit nervous :oops:) - some careful jigsawing followed by a bit of work with a drum sander did the job :)

I need to add moveable MDF faces, dust extraction and fastening points for mounting to the Incra.

Sorry about the long post...

NeilCFD

<edited because I got the required distance for the Incra from the bit to the back edge wrong in the write-up :oops: (luckily not on the table though :wink:) - it is 20", not 24">
 

Alf

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Up the proverbial creek
<Throws in towel without further preamble>
Blimey, Neil, your workshop stuff's smarter than my furniture... And just how heavy is that top?! No danger of sagging at any rate.


Cheers, Alf
 

Adam

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You;ve made a nice job of that. Look forward to seeing the first project using it :shock: :wink:

Adam
 

Noel

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Rather excellent Neil. really good. Make sure you keep us up to date with fence etc.

Noel
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi NeilCFD

Sorry, but I'll have to ban you as I saw a speck of dust on the floor. :wink:

It's looking good.

Cheers
Neil
 

Signal

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Funky table neil, good idea to make it flatable

Signal
 

tim

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Neil,

Looks fantastic - well done. Makes me realise that I need to get on and build one. V. impressed with your sketchup drawings as well. Its quite a 'spenny bit of software - do you use it only for furniture or more for architectural stuff.

Also forgive me - I haven't got the book you refer to but I would always have thought that doors on the router space would be better for both sound and dust extraction. Can you explain the thinking behind not having them please?

Covet the Incra!!

Cheers

Tim
 

DaveL

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Neil,

Nice table, like the wheel idea, with the weight of that top you must need the wheels. :wink:

Are you going to do any under table dust extraction?
 

Midnight

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Proper Job Neil.... ;)

Norm would be proud of the castor arrangement.....

Just one suggestion....

might be an idea to add a dust port for the DC somewhere around level with the router... I learned the hard way that an enclosed router likes to be kept cool....

The DC probably winna do much to keep that side of the top mess free.....but it'll shift enough air to stop the router cooking....
 

Neil

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Thanks, everyone :oops:

Alf, I don't think you have anything to worry about if your music stand & boxes are anything to go by - in fact, I'd say your only worry will be whether your remaining routers will go up in smoke!

Re: the top, um, it is a little heavy - I was pretty careful not to drop it on my foot before mounting it on the cabinet :shock:

Adam, Noely, Sig - thanks, I now have Alf's head-swelling affliction :lol:

Neil, damn that dust, I knew I'd missed something :)

Tim, I use SketchUp just for furniture, and to be honest I haven't used it much yet. I use a package called Rhino for work which is much more of a 'proper' 3D CAD package, and this is sometimes useful for woodwork stuff too, but SketchUp is so much quicker for, well, sketching!. The pricing is daft, though - should be 1/3 the cost :roll:

Re: the door, I must admit I'm a bit dubious about this too. The reasoning in the book is all about getting maximum airflow so the router doesn't overheat, but I can't imagine I'll be running it continuously for great lengths of time. I thought that I would suck it and see for a while, and add a acrylic door at a later date if I decided that the overheating concern was a bit far-fetched.

Oh, and buy an Incra - fantastic!

Dave, I am indeed going to have extraction under the table, with a T-piece to take off a hose for the above-table stuff. I must admit, for the stuff I've done so far (template routing, box joints with the Incra etc.) there hasn't been much dust in the cabinet afterwards, but I'm sure that will change! :wink:

Mike, thanks - as I said to Dave, I'll be putting something in, but after your advice, maybe I'll raise it further up the cabinet. So did you melt a router, then? What do you think of the door/no door decision?

Cheers,

NeilCFD
 
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Neil,

Very impressive, the table and the posting. I particularly like the castor arrangement, I can see uses for that in my shop.

Everything I have read about router tables always stresses the importance of flatness of the top. But the Rousseau insert that I have is slightly crowned, deliberately I believe, which sort of defeats the flatness argument doesn't it?

Wulf
 

Signal

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Midnight and Neil...

I mounted my dust ex port for my table mid way just infront of the router to keep the router cool.

Was a totally pointless exercise, router still died way earlier than it should of and the dust extraction was useless.

Ripped the back off and moved it to the bottom and the dust extraction is much better and the router has lasted longer. Cant really put the router death down to it but hey who knows :wink:

Signal
 

frank

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nice one neil ,will those castors work on a t/saw of 250 lbs .
 
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Lovely job Neil. How could it not be enterred into the competition? Well, if it wasn't made with router and biscuit jointer I guess :lol:

Seriously nice table with a good solid top. Makes me think about my next project...
 

DaveL

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frank":223vkoir said:
will those castors work on a t/saw of 250 lbs .
Frank,

As long as you use suitable sized castors, hinges and timber I cannot see why the design will not work for a bigger machine.
If I was going to use this design on a table saw I think I would fit a support flap on each end of the castor flap to stop the weight twisting the timber, as Neil started out with. The shock cord can be bought from B&Q and I think with careful hole cutting and corner smoothing a double flap will work.
If your floor has a good flat surface, you do not need the wheels to drop very far for the machine to be mobile. This would allow controlled testing, with limited danger of the whole thing going over.

If you do try this out please take care, don't do you back in trying to get the saw on to the base.
 

Chris Knight

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Neil,

Great looking table, I am sure it will serve you very well. At least until you make your next one, incorporating all the improvements you dream up whilst using this one!
 

Philly

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Neil
Good work!
Glad you like the Incra-are we looking forward to a double dovetailed drawer???
Philly :D
 

Waka

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Neil

Very smart looking table, how did you fit the top to the base? really like the wheel idea. not going to mention the Incra because I said I wouldn't but anymore tools this year.
 

Neil

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Wulf, as far as I am aware, the crowning of the insert is designed to compensate for the deflection when a heavy router is hung off it. The Makita is one of the heavier routers around, at 6kg I think, and I must admit I haven't noticed the crowning now that the router is mounted from it. I haven't checked with a straight edge, though - I'll check later today.

Sig, this is interesting. Has anyone else had overheating problems? How has yours been with the acrylic door, Philly?

Frank, the cheap Axminster castors I used won't take that sort of weight, but I'm sure as Dave says, the lifting system would work with the right hinges & timber selection. I agree with Dave about having all four flaps too - if you're not putting a drawer above the system, friction won't be a problem anyway. Also I just used cheap metal eyes to pass the cord through - the next time I'm ordering stuff for my boat, I might get some microblocks to use instead which will improve things no end.

Tony, hope your next project will involve getting an Incra, honestly, you would love it :D

Chris, I'm already thinking of a few improvements, so I think you could be right!

Philly, I'm afraid it will just be finger-jointed :lol:

Cheers everyone,

Neil
 

froglet

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A very nice table Neil. Which version of the Incra is that? I am about to start on my first router table and i am seriously considering getting an incra fence system for it, the only problem being that I have very limited space and they appear to need tops the size of carrier decks :?

Graeme
 
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