The Ultimate Router Table Takes Shape

Guess the heading says it all.

There are still some developments in…uh…development, but I have now started making actual progress on the new “ultimate” router table.

The Ultimate

The Ultimate

As I’ve talked about (and shown the concept of) in the past, this is the router table top actually bolted together, and the original laminated top has been retired.

The top – 5 tablesaw wings bolted together with high tensile bolts.  The 5th wing is known as a router wing, as it has the hole and mounting points for a router.  The inserts for the hole are not shown (I didn’t have them in time for the photo).

The top weighs around 100kg, and is 1250 x 680mm in size. On top of that is, of course, the Incra LS 17″ Positioner, held down with 2 MagJigs.  There is also a MagSwitch featherboard in the foreground. The tablesaw wings and router table wing were all sourced from Carbatec.

So what is to come? The router currently shown is actually in the secondary router position, which is going to be for template copying bits, and for when I’m using the Gifkins Dovetail Jig (which requires you to swap between a straight cutter and a dovetail cutter – might as well have both set up ready to go, as is suggested by Roger Gifkins – if you have the luxury of having 2 outers that is!)  What I want to do is replace the second panel with one that has a cavity that can take a full router lift, such as the Woodpecker router lift with Wixey Digital Height readout.  We are talking about “The Ultimate” router table after all!

Woodpeckers UniLift

Woodpeckers UniLift

The base is also extremely temporary – it will get retired as soon as possible.  However, it will have to do until the top is properly finished, so I know its final dimensions. That top sure looks good for a router table doesn’t it!

The router mounted extremely easily to the router wing shown above

Triton Router Mounted

Triton Router Mounted

There are T slots on the underside of the router wing, and all I had to do was partially grind down the two coach bolts on the Triton router that are there for quick mount & release in the Triton router table.  (They are under the black knob seen here on the base of the router).  It means the router is still almost as easy to remove and replace as it was in the Triton router – you just need to slide it along the T slots!

As you can also see here, this Triton router doesn’t have any of the plastic dust extraction shrouding on it.  That is because I use a 4″ dust extractor on the router table, rather than 1″ pipe going directly to the Triton base.  These are routers designed for permanent table mounting after all, so optimising the setup for that seems sensible.

Update:

I now have the inserts for the table, so here’s photographic proof. Also, the benefit of a good cast iron table makes for easy storage of the MagSwitch featherboard! Storing it like this will degrade the magnetic strength over time – something in the region of 5% loss in strength after 100 years apparently.

Surround & MagSwitch Storage

Surround & MagSwitch Storage

The inserts are not as flush with the table as I’d like – it’s a shame that I can’t retrofit the inserts from Woodpeckers.  Hmm – that just gave me an idea.  It is a long shot, but maybe I can (with a bit of filing / grinding).  That would be excellent if I could.  I’m thinking of something like this set here:

Woodpeckers Router Table Insert

Woodpeckers Router Table Inserts

For those wondering why the Triton router, the answer can be as simple as 4 words: Above-Table-Bit-Changing. There are plenty of other reasons, but that one is hard to walk past! And it only needs a single spanner.

Above Table Bit Changing

Above Table Bit Changing

Now, in answer to David’s question, here are some further details of fitting the Triton router to the CI router wing.

T Slots

T Slots

The underside of the router wing has these T slots cut, which are perfect for the router’s quick release bolts. They are not wide enough for the full width coach bolts, so I removed the two bolts from the router base and ground them down a bit on a grinder.

Ground down coach bolt

Ground down coach bolt

At the end of the day, it is only a coach bolt – if you stuff it up, just buy another for 20c!  You can’t grind the wing completely flush with the bolt – you still need a lip, as that is what is holding the router in place after all.  At some stage I might consider replacing the bolt altogether with a high tensile one, but given how well this solution works, that may never happen!

Quick-mount mechanism

Quick-mount mechanism

This is all there is to the quick mounting mechanism of the Triton router.  One coach bolt, a spring, and a knob with a captive nut.  One of these on each side of the router is sufficient to retain it in the table.  It may not seem a lot, but I’ve never heard of the mechanisms not holding a Triton router sufficiently to the table.  You could always add some extra support for the router using the same T slots in the table if you felt you needed to.

After and Before

After and Before

The router on the right is the original Triton setup.  The router on the left is the one ready to be mounted under the CI router wing.  You can see the ground down head of the coach bolt, and also that I have removed the plastic base.  The base is only there for handheld work, so why waste the extra 3mm or so in potential router bit height for a base that is not needed given the router will live under the table?

8 Responses

  1. can you show a picture of what you did to the bolts on the triton to use in the slots on the router table as i was using the ones that came with the table (not great), but i like the look of what you have done.

  2. Post updated with extra photos and description.

  3. thanks stu, it helped a lot, was trying to persuad ian and doug at carbatec to let me buy one of your wings last week but it was a no go. its stupid realy that the router wing is usually on the left of the table- but a router gets fouled by the adjustment crank for the table saw . ideal solution would be to swap the wings around and fit the router to the right hand side on a tsc 10hb saw.

    • All depends on whether you have a left or right tilting saw! Mine being left tilting, the wheel to angle the blade is on the right hand side.

      Also, it really depends on how you are using the router wing, and the tablesaw fence. If I had a wing on the tablesaw as my primary router table, I’d prefer to have it to the left of the blade so I could easily access all sides of it. If I was primarily using it to put large sheets through and do a treatment on the edge, or cut a dado etc, then I’d prefer the wing to be on the right of the table.

      So there’s the real solution – have both! 🙂

      • Just further to that – there is no reason why you can’t choose which side the router wing is on – they are interchangeable after all. Also, either having more than one, or some extra of just the blank tablesaw wings just means you have a greater surface area to the tablesaw, and that isn’t a bad thing either!

  4. Hi Stuart,

    Hope this finds you well.

    For the last week I have been looking and researching proper cast-iron/aluminium router tables for luthiery and general joinery around the house etc. I’ve stumbled across your table through my search and I am intrigued (and very impressed to say the least!) about how you have gone about this. Is it purely 5 cast iron wings from carbitec for their 12″ TS but not actually having the table saw at all, just the wings all bolted together for the top plus a custom built cabinet/stand? I’m thinking of doing the same, but different, wanting to create more of a router sled/drum sander/router table/table saw all in one… What I am wondering is how well do the wing extensions bolt together? Are they very accurate not only along the tops but the bolting face sides? Or did you have to do some grinding/machining to get them to bolt up true to eachother to have a perfectly flat surface over the whole length of the table? Hope I am making sense!?!

    Thanks heaps in advance for any help and info!

    Thanks heaps & kind regards

    Steve

    • Hi Steve, that is exactly what I did, and an Incra stand from Professional Woodworker Supplies.

      I bolted each section together with high tensile bolts, and it all went very smoothly, and flat, on all sides.

      The only machining was the opening for the router plate.

      Each top was carefully bolted, using a rubber mallet to align each section as the bolts were tightened, tightened again, and again (like doing the head of an engine, so as not to introduce warp, nipping up one then the next, rather than trying to get one fully tight before starting the second bolt.

      It is a heavy top, and is still going strong. Not a cheap way of getting a flat cast iron top, but very rigid!

      • Hi Stuart,

        Thanks for the promt reply and awesome info!

        It sounds like the best way to go about getting a large, perfectly flat, cast-iron table to build off of. I will call them today to try and work a deal with them to get it all started. I know what you mean by its expensive to do! But to get that sized table, along with all its features, it seems like it is the best option and way to do it. Hopefully I won’t feel the burning sensation in my wallet for too long after buying and building it! It should pay itself off pretty quick, hopefully… 😁 I’ll keep you posted on my progress of the build.

        Thanks heaps for the help and info! It’s truly appreciated!

        Kind regards

        Steve

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