Rockin’ the Router Table

It’s never the big parts of a job that take the time, it is all the fiddly bits at the end! Same applies to finishing off the router table, but when you are not in a rush, that time is not wasted or regretted.

With “The Wire” playing on the Shed’s TV, I kept plodding through the various outstanding tasks.  It also happened that a collection of three tools that arrived late last week played an integral role in the activities.  And exemplified themselves as useful additions to the shed beautifully, from cutting openings, drilling holes, driving screws, the collection of Lithium-Ion power tools from Rockwell proved to be as fun to use, as they were effective.

First job was creating access to the router, and I wanted it to be a door that would hold shut when a vacuum was created by the dust extraction that allowed easy access when needing to switch the router off for bit changes, and use the macro-height adjustment of the Triton router.

Cutting the access way

The desired opening was marked out, and where this would often be cut with a jigsaw, the oscillating saw does a great job.  The added convenience of the cordless version was excellent.

Plunging corners

Firstly, I plunged the cutter into each corner, defining sharp corners, then ran the saw from one corner to the next to break out the panel.

Access opening

The oscillating cutter (the Sonicrafter in Rockwell/Worx speak) was then used for sanding – breaking the sharp edges of the MDF.  One benefit of the oscillating cutter is it can work right into the corner, where more classic sanders would bounce themselves out of a restricted area.

A door was then fabricated, with cabinet hinges. Support for the hinges inside the cabinet was made, with pocketholes creating a solid foundation for the door support.

Sealed Hinge Door

I created a seal over the hinge-side of the door – normally disguised by typical cabinet designs.  There are other hinges I could have used, but these were ones I had already.  A handle from another discontinued project worked well here (think it came from the drill press drawer thinking about it).

Triton Router in place

I made sure there was plenty of space below the router – makes for better shape to the air flow for dust collection.  One thing I have yet to determine, is whether extra air-inlet holes are required – I am expecting they would be, except there are large gaps under the cast iron top, so plenty of air can flow through those gaps and flow down past the router to the collection port. I may even need to reduce the gaps to increase the suction through the hole in the router table top – only testing will determine how optimal the dust collection design is.

Starter

The starter was attached to the side of the table – given sometimes the router is accessed from the front, and other times from the right side, this corner is accessible for either operation.  A hole was drilled behind the switch to feed the flex into the cabinet to connect to the router.

The upper opening you can see to the right of the switch is where I am hoping to install some thin drawers to house the Incra templates for the LS Positioner, and the template book.  The lower opening will probably store some other routers. (Yes, I have one or two!)

Wixey Digital Height Gauge

I also found a location to mount the Digital readout from the height gauge that is affixed to the side of my router.  It does jut out from there over the fence, but for the majority of operations it won’t get in the way where it is.  I have attached it using bolts with the same hex heads as the rest of the Positioner (and the supplied hex drive), and butterfly nuts on the other side, so it can be very easily removed whenever it is necessary (routing tall object for example).

Ready to Rock

Speaking of rocking, these are the complement of tools I used, almost exclusively, and I was pretty stoked how they performed.

Rockwell Cordless Collection

If they look a bit dusty, that is because they were being used, not just admired.  I was expecting them to come in a single kit, so was surprised to discover they were each in a separate package.  Although that means you’ve gotten extra chargers, I’m not objecting – just means I can have one at either end of the workshop ready to go!

Quick charger

And the collection of interchangeable batteries won’t go astray either, even though the chargers are quick (15 minutes to 75%, 30 minutes to 100% charge).

Sonicrafter - Oscillating Cutter

The oscillating cutter was used with both blades and sanding attachments, stripping paint off the cast iron edges, cutting the opening, then sanding the cuts and rounding the edges.

10mm Drill

The drill is quite lightweight, but still has a good feel, and worked well with the holecutter, as well as the Kreg Pockethole jig.

Impact Driver

Finally, the rather impressive impact driver.  Never had one before, or even used one, so this was a bit of a first.  Feels solid, and works!  Initially drives smoothly, but when it gets to a particular torque level, the high-frequency impacting kicks in driving the screw (or whatever) home.

The combination of the three proved very effective in covering a whole variety of jobs that I had on, and the ability to interchange the rapidly charging batteries is a definite bonus.

3 Responses

  1. Nice work, Stu.

    That impact driver may well grow on you – I had similar reservations over how much use it would get when I bought a package from Metabo, just before Chrsitmas… Yet, I’ve found it’s great also for removing rusted screws and also machine screws that are typically found on power tools – they always seem to do them up that extra bit too tight in the factories!

    Won’t the dust ‘hopper’ directly underneath the router provide enough ventilation, withdrawing any warm air away from the motor housing?

  2. hi stu.

    love the table.
    instead of that door you could have put a sheet of clear plastic and bolted it on with bolte and wingnuts so that you can see into the space . this is what i did to my table saw , althow slower to open it provides better suction than a door.

    i feel that your router will be starved of air to cool it down because of the extraction bellow it creating negitive pressure , you could put a 2 inch pipe from outside to the bottom of the router to let it pull its own air that will be clean

  3. Thanks for the thoughts – a 4″ dust system needs air flow for it to work (high volume, low vacuum), so you need to provide as much (if not more) cross sectional area of inlet into the space being cleared, as the 4″ pipe leaving.

    In this case, the top of the router table base is not sealed against the bottom of the cast iron, so there is plenty of airflow of clean air into this space and across the router. Granted the router is not running in a completely dust-free environment, but there will be a lot more airflow of clean air vs the amount of dust that will be coming from the work above.

    There is still the dust extraction happening from the Incra fence as well to collect a significant amount of the dust generated from the routing operation.

    With regards to the access door – I need to get to the router quickly and easily (and often), so a door was a lot more beneficial in this case. As much as I ‘sealed’ the hinges, this was more because of the gap I could see (aesthetics) than function (although it may have had an annoying whistle without it).

    I may still attach some rubber draft-stop around the door to stop it whistling if that proves an issue once I get to test that out (still haven’t connected the table to the dust system).

    On a tablesaw, you rarely have to access under the saw, so a clear door that takes a bit longer to access is not an issue, whereas with the router table you have to get to the router often.

    I could have gone with the router bit extender option, leaving the router switched on permanently (and turned on with the external switch) and not having to get to the router itself, but I still like how solid the router collet holds the bit compared to the extender.

    One of those trade-offs between functionality and convenience. I may decide to use the extender for smaller bits, and only attach the larger bits directly to the router (such as panel raising bits etc) That might prove an excellent solution now thinking about it!

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