Making a Router Table Surface

Making the table top was a worthwhile challenge. 

Here's how I did it:

  • Cut two pieces of MDF oversize, glue and clamp using stretchers to spread the clamp force from the edges to the middle of the sheets.
  • Make one long edge the reference with a hand held circular saw.
  • Cut one short edge perpendicular to the two long edges.  I used the handheld circular saw for this.
  • Cut the opposite edge parallel.  Use the handheld saw again.
  • It should now be undersized from the final desired dimension by the thickness of the trim.
  • Attach the trim.  Mine has mitered corners, glued using small brads to hold it in place (ala Norm Abram).
  • Attach the plastic laminate and backer material with contact cement.  It is very important that the laminate be applied as flat as possible.  I used a smaller paint roller to put on a thin layer of contact cement and spread it flat.  I then used a J-roller to fix the two         surfaces together.
  • Edge the top by putting a chamfer on the corners and to trim the laminate materials to meet the trim.  At this point I had the router table top complete, needing only a hole for the insert.
  • Make a template for the hole.  I used my old table top as the pattern to make a template of 1/2" birch plywood.  I cut it using a flush trim bit.
  • Clamp it to the table top in the final location.
  • Rough cut to remove most of the waste material.  I cut holes at the corners inside the template using a Forstner bit and then use a hand saw to remove the waste between them.

It's very important to remove as much of the waste as possible before cutting to the final size with the router.  When I attempted to cut the full width and depth of the pattern bit, the bit and router climbed out of the hole, cut the template and the table where I didn't want either to be cut.  I have a small scar on the edge of my table opening to remind me of this forever...

  • Cut the hole to size.  I used a 3/4" pattern bit to cut about half the depth.
  • Turn the assemply over and used a flush trim bit to remove the second half.

Using the router to cut MDF creates a lot of very fine dust.  I was very careful to use a dust mask and perform this last task in a well ventilated room (i.e. garage with the big door open).

The finished hole is a tight fit to my insert because it's a  near perfect match to my original table.  The Stay-thru Levelers hold the insert in position and allow height adjustment.


   

 

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