Router Table for Limited Space

Welcome on this new blog entry.  This week I have chosen to explain you how I did overcome a problem in my shop a few times ago.  Unfortunately my shop is somewhat tiny.  I have a 12’ x 14’ space at my disposal but I must share this territory with all my machines such as tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer, planer, drill press, miter saw, mortise, a workbench, dust collector, storage cabinets and so on.  So, space is at a premium and I have to be quite inventive to organize space in such way that everything remains functional while having access to my tools.

Needless to say that all my big tools are on mobile bases, including my workbench.  My problem was that with so much things in the shop, it was nearly impossible to accommodate a router table on top of that.  I did have a folding model but it was requesting nearly 15 minutes to set everything up and about as much to take everything back to storage afterward.  Not really practical at all!

I started to think about the best solution and I came to the conclusion that I would have to make the best of an unused space until now.  I got the idea to mount the router table into the open space on the right of my tablesaw, right between the fence’s rails.  I began the project by making a frame out of red oak scraps lying around the shop that I sized exactly to fit the space.  I assembled that frame using the Kreg pocket screw system I talked about in another entry of this blog.  I doubled the frame from the inside to support the top that will come next:

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For the top, I laminated together two 1/2″ thick baltic birch plywoods.  It’s rock solid and won’t sag under the router’s weight or the pressure applied on the top while moving parts over, even heavy ones.  I finished it off by gluing a plastic laminate on both sides using water based contact cement.  The plastic laminate makes for easy parts moving.

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The table is mounted to my tablesaw with bolts that slide through the fence’s rails slots.  I also added three bolts that hold the router table tight against the cast iron table of the saw as shown on the picture above at right.  Of course, each case will be different and if you follow that path, chances are you will probably have to adapt it to suit your needs.

I installed a Kreg precision router table plate with its levelers system and reducing rings to close up the gap around the router bit according to its diameter.  It makes things easier to cut the opening and install the plate in the table’s top.  Also plate is lightweight but still sturdy enough to support the heaviest routers.  I also made a homemade fence to accommodate the Jessem Clear Cut guides.

We can see one of the two slots I made in the top to allow the guide to move along with the rail at front to receive a regular tablesaw miter gauge.

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To put underneath such a nice table I opted for a dedicated permanently mounted router.  My choice ended up with the 3.5hp Milwaukee 5625-20 router.  It’s a real workhorse that will take up the largest router bits such as those used to make raised panels without complaining and the bit height can also be adjusted over the table top.  One handy feature is that the motor can be completely taken out of the base while it remains in place under the table.  I install the motor only when needed otherwise the weight quickly becomes a concern while I have to move the tablesaw around the shop.

At first, I could only capture dust at the fence level but I often ended up with a nice coat of shavings and dust on the floor.  So I needed to address this issue.  The solution came with the DustBucket from Rockler.  With the DustBucket came a dual port to hookup the dust collector hose and a smaller hose to the fence.  So now I have dust collection capabilities both at the fence and below the table, so best of both worlds!

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I installed four screw underneath the wooden frame shown below in order to quickly install and take away the DustBucket.  Here is a shot of the router mounted in with the DustBucket surrounding it.  On the lower picture we can see the fence, the hose that links it to the DustBucket for dust collection along with other accessories.  On the last picture we can see the support leg I add to support all the router’s weight along with the pressure applied on the table top.  It fits easily with a wooden block shaped like a dovetail at the top that nests between 2 other blocks of the opposite shaped that are mounted under the table.  Quick, simple and efficient!

As you can see there is always a way to make the best out of small space.  Often you need to be very inventive but that should not keep us away from moving forward and finding the best solutions to suit our needs and constraints…

To conclude, here is a list of links of products used on my system:

Milwaukee Router 5625-20

Kreg router insert plate

Kreg levelers

Kreg reducing rings

Rockler DustBucket

Rockler router table dual port

Jessem Clear Cut guides

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