Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring #114: Polypropylene Router Table Runners

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Blog entry by retired_guru posted 04-03-2020 01:10 AM 539 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 113: Kicking Excuses to the Curb Part 114 of Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring series Part 115: Match-Making: Ryobi Benchtop Router Table & HF 2 HP Fixed-Base Router »

Recently I purchased a Rockler Box Joint Jig with the intent on using it in either of the two router tables in my workshop. The newer Ryobi has standard 3/4” W x 3/8” D slots, but the older entry-level Blue Hawk (commonly sold at Lowe’s) table has 5/8” wide slots. The Rockler jig comes with runners to fit only the standard size slot. So I knew going into this purchase I would be making new runners, and if it worked, out of polypropylene strips I had cut from new cutting boards bought for this purpose.

The cutting board had been previously ripped a few years ago to ~ 3/4” wide strips, intended for use in table saw jigs. The were too thick as well as too wide for the Blue Hawk slots, so I mounted a strip in my benchtop Moxon vice and used a Stanley No. 6 plane to re-dimension height and width.

If you haven’t hand planed polypropylene before, the difference over planing wood is in the need to use even, steady downward pressure on both the toe knob and rear tote or the plane will skip. You don’t need a lot of momentum, as in with hard woods. A slow, even push does it, giving some pretty cool shavings.

Once dimensioned, I first replaced the super sloppy aluminum bar in the miter gauge. Polypropylene is less dense than HDPE, and will try to deform before splitting. It took a couple of tries to get the holes the right diameter to hold the bolt threads.

Unlike the miter gauge, which works best with a smooth sliding runner, the Rockler jig needs its runners to expand in the slot to clamp itself to the table. It took a few designs to find the right length and reliefs holes for the bolt head to expand the plastic for a tight grip in the slot.

The miter gauge slides smoothly in the slot and has no play. With steel threads seated in soft plastic, there’s no doubt they will eventually loosen and enlarge the holes. Still, I was surprised at the amount of torque I could but on the gauge without altering its setting.

It appears to me the runners on the jig will work just fine on the Blue Hawk table. I have enough polypropylene to make many more runners as they wear out, at an original investment for the cutting board of around $6.00. More important is that I can use this jig on a table it wasn’t designed for and marketed to fit. For me, a win-win.

-- -- Paul: jack of all dreams, a master none.

2 comments so far

View luv2learn's profile


3066 posts in 3083 days

#1 posted 04-03-2020 02:36 PM

Nice mod Paul.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View retired_guru's profile


838 posts in 2140 days

#2 posted 04-04-2020 11:35 PM

Thanks, Lee. I hope to give the jig a test run in a week or so. Still finishing up on the reorg in the shop. I’m finding all sorts of stuff I had long forgotten I had!

-- -- Paul: jack of all dreams, a master none.

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