Saturday, 12 March 2016

Router Table - Part 2

A lot has happened in a year. A lot of tools were bought and I finally finished some projects that I had been "working on" for quite some time. In particular the Router Table. Here it is at approximately 70% done:

It's not quite finished but it's usable.

Making the table top

After a failed attempt to use the rest of the salvaged plywood from an old pallet, I decided to just use a manufactured material for the table top - MDF.

MDF is an engineered product and relatively flat which make a a great candidate for providing a reference surface for shaping timber on the router table. It does have a few downsides however:
  1. Potential health risks due to fine dust and binding agents (e.g. formaldehyde).
  2. Splits easily when using screws.
  3. Poor resistance to moisture.
Because of the first issue, it's important to have good dust extraction and to wear a respirator when working with MDF. I bought a basic respirator from Bunnings a while ago and use this whenever making fine dust - especially if it's MDF dust. I'm also working towards having dust collection at the source for most of my tools as this is by far the best way to ensure that you don't breathe in any harmful particles.

After cutting the MDF to the appropriate size, I lined up my router's base plate to mark the holes in the center of the table then drilled and countersunk the holes for the M5 machine screws. I had to buy longer screws in order to accommodate the additional thickness of the 18mm MDF. The router base plate is only about 5mm thick.

I made a simple jig and used my router and a guide bushing for cutting the recess for the 100 mm butt hinges.

I then used the same jig to make a similar recess on the table box itself and then attached the hinges to both pieces using screws.

The router was then secured to the bottom of the table with the M5 machine screws. I hadn't completely accounted for the depth of the router in my design so I had to make a recess in the bottom of the main box to allow the router to drop through. I would need to work around this later in order to keep any dust contained within the main box when using the router table. 

Making the fence

I had always planned on making a split fence in order to be able to joint boards using the router table. The split fence design also makes it easier to ensure that the router bit is as close to the fence as possible at all times. This improves dust collection and makes routing operations safer by providing more support to the work piece.

I didn't make any real plans for the fence and more or less made it up as I went along.

I cut two long pieces for the front and base of the fence using my recently acquired Scheppach CS-55 track saw. This was much faster than the previous approach of using a router to cut materials to size. I also cut out the vertical support pieces to keep the fence square, the 45 degree angled piece that would provide a dust collection port and the two front sliding fence pieces.

The pieces were glued and screwed together.

In order to cut the slots for the sliding front, I setup a temporary fence with the router installed in the table. I then made a wider slot for the bolt heads to sit in.

I had wanted to try making some knobs for a while so this seemed like a good chance to try it. I began by drilling five pilot holes in a piece of MDF. 

I Then used a 16 mm spade bit to bore out the outer holes.

The the whole knob was then cut out using a cheap hole cutting bit in my cordless drill. I made matching cut-outs in a thinner sheet of MDF and chiselled out a recess for the bolts in the thicker piece.

The thinner sheet of MDF was then used to cover the bolt.

The hole assembly was glued together and after a bit of sanding the finished knob looked pretty slick.

Not quite square

After assembling the fence I realised that a combination of poor alignment and bulging from screws in the MDF meant that the fence was not sitting 90 degrees to the table top. To fix this, I decided to plane down the base of the fence until It was as square as possible to the table. For obvious reasons, I had to remove the screws before doing this.

After a bit of fiddling around, I got it pretty much dead on.

For bonus points, I added a mitre slot and a really simple mitre gauge to the table. My plan is to just clamp down the fence for now. At some point I might try to add a slot or track system to make things easier.  

Finishing touches

To finish things off I attached the 4 of the 5 free Ikea style legs to the bottom of the main box with screws and painted the main box with a water based paint. The MDF was sealed using shellac and then waxed to provide a smooth low friction surface. I bought a switch from the local woodworking supply store and attached it to the outside.

Due to the hole in the bottom of the box, dust collection was not perfect. Also, the cord for the router had to be fed through this hole to reach the switch on the side of the box as the switch is actually for a Triton table and isn't really designed to be installed into something with walls as thick as my router table.

In part 3, I'll finish things off. The Ikea legs are temporary. The plan is to make a rolling cabinet with drawers for storing power tools and accessories.

No comments:

Post a Comment