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First Go at Sketchup, what a cool program!

I have always liked CAD programs but have used them very little. I was an engineering major for a short time in college and took a few technical drawing classes, which I loved. I always thought it would be neat to own some sort of CAD program but never bought one. I think it is great that Google now offers one for free! I had never heard of Sketchup before I found LumberJocks.

Anyway, I am building a new router table for my Incra fence+positioner, so I thought I would give it a go. The program was amazingly easy to use and navigate. I am still learning some of the advanced features but I am already getting pretty fast at building models.

I am glad I was able to use Sketchup for this project. I built and rebuilt the virtual model several times to find out what worked and didn't work before I came up with a final design. Normally my design would have just been sketched on a notepad. If I had done that I would have had some serious problems. Anyway, when I worked all the bugs out, the final design turned out to be almost identical to the one that "mski" posted on my Incra blog, as well as the link he referred to. (Thanks, mski.)

I guess I learned my lesson of trying to re-invent the wheel.

So here is my first Sketchup Drawing of the Router Table I plan to build:

Blake good job. You started yet?
 

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...A Pile of Potential

This is the exciting start of my new "proper" router table:

Pile of wood… I had the lumber yard cut my plywood to size since it is difficult/impossible to maneuver a full sheet in my shop.



I assembled the carcass with biscuits.







Great start Blake. It's looking good.
 

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Table top and drawer slides

More progress on the router table…

I installed the drawer slides today. This is only because I intend wanted to put the table top on and it was hard enough to do with the cabinet face already on. I really should have put the drawer slides in first. It took me forever and I had to bend down through the cabinet or reach through the drawer openings to precisely mark, measure, drill and screw the slides in place.

I actually intend to make the drawers later on, but I had to put the slides in now.



As you can see, Incra was anxious to move in! (Especially since I got rid of the old router table.)



With that done, I was able to install the table. I decided to use the suggestions on this page by "floating" the table on weather-stripping foam and then securing it (not tightly) with screws from below on those angle brackets.



Over the last few months I have been trying to figure out how to go about making this router table. I have been weighing the cost/time/quality ratio of buying commercially made components vs. making stuff myself. Obviously, I decided to make my own stand/cabinet. I think the my custom-made cabinet with storage, built in dust collection, noise reduction, etc, was about the same price as some of the commercially made bases which consist of just legs.

For the table top, the commercial equivalent of my table top cost over $250 plus heavy shipping. I found a cabinet maker in town who told me he could make one for me for $80. He used basically the same type of material, five layers of formika and a high quality particle board, pressed perfectly flat in a huge press. The upside, besides the huge cost difference is that I get to make it any size. The commercial tables are only 27" wide. I made mine 32" wide because that is the width of my fence. I didn't want the fence hanging over the edges. The only downside is that I have to rout out my own insert plate hole. No big deal.

I will also be adding a hardwood edge around the table top to seal out moisture and protect it.

Table Top (without finished edge yet):



The Top installed:



Another View (notice power cord also)



By the way, I had some people asking me about my dust collection chute Idea. So I played around in Sketchup a little to illustrate it. Maybe this will help…



It is a cut-away view from the left side of the router table. The red ribbons are supposed to be air flow down through the router bit hole and through the front vent. They lead under the sloping shelf and down the dust collection chute which is hooked up to the shop vac.
Great looking table top Blake. The cabinet is coming along great.
 

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Finishing Touches

I've been adding the details as I have had time here and there after work.

I finally got my router plate (Incra Magni-lock) which I had to special order through Woodcraft because as far as I could tell nobody carries it. Woodcraft had to order it from Incra and have it shipped to them before shipping it to me. This is what I got:



I liked the actual Incra router plate better than the woodpecker brand version. And after it finally arrived in the mail I was pretty glad I had chosen it. That magni-lock system is pretty nice. I also ordered the extra ring set. Eleven different sizes in all.

Here are the cabinet doors in place: (I got anxious and installed them before I even sanded them. So I might have to remove the doors to do some sanding later)



Now for the drawers… I got the pieces cut to size (more birch plywood):



Then I started setting up to biscuit-joint the drawers together but it started turning into a nightmare of aligning, labeling, marking, cutting, etc., for each part of each drawer. I love the biscuit jointer. But this time it seemed to be taking more time than saving it.

So I came up with an idea: Cut the biscuit slots all in one pass with the dado blade on the table saw. This way I wouldn't have to worry about marking each biscuit position. I had never heard of anyone doing this before. Have you tried it or heard of anybody doing this? I gave it a test run:





It seemed to work just fine. The single dado blade was the same width as the biscuit cutter. And with the way I set up the fence in relationship to the dado blade I was able to do the edges and faces with the same set up:



The continuous biscuit slot worked beautifully and saved a ton of time. I was able to just tap the biscuits in wherever I wanted and didn't need to do any marking first.





Here is a finished drawer without the drawer front. I made the drawer fronts already but I have to install the drawers in the slides first so I know how to align the fronts. You can also see the first (top) drawer which has already been installed in the cabinet:



I wouldn't recommend this method for fine cabinetry but it sure is practical for something like this.

It will be nice to have the drawers in place. As you can see in one of the above pictures I installed the Incra positioner and fence. I guess I forgot to take pictures that day. The next thing I need to do is work on making a precise template to rout out the resess for the router plate.

Oh, I also forgot to show you pictures of the hardwood edge-band I put around the formika/particle board table top (Sorry). It is 1/2" thick and I screwed and glued it to the edges with epoxy and then plugged the screw holes. That is the first time I have ever used my plug cutter! That is a slick little drill bit. I will take some more pix of some of these details next time I am in the shop.
Great Blake. I like the cabinet Idea. I might have to reorganize my design. I noticed my router table top has bowed over the years.
 

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Tedious details... Gettin' there

Here's what I have accomplished in the past week or so…

Drawers:
So last time I talked about my drawer construction and my not-so-orthodox method of "biscuit-slotting" them together (the "don't try this at home, kids" method). I got scolded for that a little, and for good reason. It probably wouldn't have lasted as long. So I ended up just shooting them full of brads to reinforce them since I figured out that the brads would be hidden by the slides anyway.

By the way, here is how the drawers started out:



So I then I [correctly] biscuit jointed the drawer fronts on to the drawers:



I clamped and Glued (this picture is really just to show off some new clamps I got!):



And Here is the result:





OH MY GAWD! I am glad to have that out of the way. So, what's next? Finally, time to get that router plate installed. I have been putting this off because I am a little scared. What reason could I possibly have to punch a big hole in a perfectly good table? Oh yea, it's a router table. Ok, here goes…

I had been agonizing about how to make the template to rout the opening. I have already spent enough money on this project and didn't want to buy one, plus shipping, etc.

The corners of the plate are rounded to a 1 1/2" radius. Ideally they would have been a radius small enough to match one of my template router bits with bearings. That way I could have just made a rectangle template and the router bit would take care of the radius.

But no, Incra had to get all fancy with their 1 1/2" round corners. So creating that inside radius became the next challence. What I did was drill a hole in a piece of plywood with a 1 1/2" forstner bit and carefully cut away the waste so I was left with four corners around the hole that were barely held together (I wish I had taken a photo of that). Then the four corners easily broke apart.

This next picture is the beginning of the template. The two inside pieces are carefully machined to the length of the plate. For the other dimension (width of the plate) I just slid them together until they contacted the plate, which is sitting in between them. Notice my radiused corner pieces sitting near the corners (which I will insert later):



So now, how to join the parts of the template? Hmmmm, how about… MORE BISCUITS!

Ok, now I know what you are thinking. But I actually saw this in a magazine article so it is legit! I used tape to temporarily hold the joints together and then I made the biscuit slot across both pieces.



Then after I glue in the biscuits I will cut the extra half off and sand the whole thing.





Here is the fully glued up template. Notice the 1 1/2 radius corner pieces which I glued in place:



The corner pieces up close:



So when the glue sets up the next step will be to cut off the biscuit excess and sand the whole thing. I will need to especially sand the insides of the rounded corners because I left it a little tight on purpose. I will test the accuracy of the template on another piece of plywood. I will rout out the opening and see how tight the plate fits. Then if I need to do more sanding I can. Once it is the perfect size I will rout the real thing. Wish me luck.
You are going to make two different cuts, right. one to match the router plate and the other to make a shelf for the plate to sit on. You don't want the stright cut all the way through the new top, right.

I'm sure you knew this, I was just wanting to reconfirm.

Great looking cabinet.
 

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Tedious details... Gettin' there

Here's what I have accomplished in the past week or so…

Drawers:
So last time I talked about my drawer construction and my not-so-orthodox method of "biscuit-slotting" them together (the "don't try this at home, kids" method). I got scolded for that a little, and for good reason. It probably wouldn't have lasted as long. So I ended up just shooting them full of brads to reinforce them since I figured out that the brads would be hidden by the slides anyway.

By the way, here is how the drawers started out:



So I then I [correctly] biscuit jointed the drawer fronts on to the drawers:



I clamped and Glued (this picture is really just to show off some new clamps I got!):



And Here is the result:





OH MY GAWD! I am glad to have that out of the way. So, what's next? Finally, time to get that router plate installed. I have been putting this off because I am a little scared. What reason could I possibly have to punch a big hole in a perfectly good table? Oh yea, it's a router table. Ok, here goes…

I had been agonizing about how to make the template to rout the opening. I have already spent enough money on this project and didn't want to buy one, plus shipping, etc.

The corners of the plate are rounded to a 1 1/2" radius. Ideally they would have been a radius small enough to match one of my template router bits with bearings. That way I could have just made a rectangle template and the router bit would take care of the radius.

But no, Incra had to get all fancy with their 1 1/2" round corners. So creating that inside radius became the next challence. What I did was drill a hole in a piece of plywood with a 1 1/2" forstner bit and carefully cut away the waste so I was left with four corners around the hole that were barely held together (I wish I had taken a photo of that). Then the four corners easily broke apart.

This next picture is the beginning of the template. The two inside pieces are carefully machined to the length of the plate. For the other dimension (width of the plate) I just slid them together until they contacted the plate, which is sitting in between them. Notice my radiused corner pieces sitting near the corners (which I will insert later):



So now, how to join the parts of the template? Hmmmm, how about… MORE BISCUITS!

Ok, now I know what you are thinking. But I actually saw this in a magazine article so it is legit! I used tape to temporarily hold the joints together and then I made the biscuit slot across both pieces.



Then after I glue in the biscuits I will cut the extra half off and sand the whole thing.





Here is the fully glued up template. Notice the 1 1/2 radius corner pieces which I glued in place:



The corner pieces up close:



So when the glue sets up the next step will be to cut off the biscuit excess and sand the whole thing. I will need to especially sand the insides of the rounded corners because I left it a little tight on purpose. I will test the accuracy of the template on another piece of plywood. I will rout out the opening and see how tight the plate fits. Then if I need to do more sanding I can. Once it is the perfect size I will rout the real thing. Wish me luck.
Blake: Yes thats one of those things that your know or should know, but it's a brow slap time when you forget it.
 

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A Proud Moment

So, No more messin' around! Its time to cut the hole!

With my template all biscuited and glued up, I shaved off the other half of the biscuits and sanded everything flat. With a little sanding and shaving off the inside I got the router plate to fit perfectly inside. So I decided to use my fabricated router plate template to make a one-piece template. This way I could also test the accuracy of it.

So I sandwiched together the template, one solid piece of plywood which would be the test piece as well as the final template, and a scrap for underneath. Then I made the cut with my template router bit:



Here is the result: A perfect template.



A perfect fit!



I used carpet tape to stick it to the table top:



I then routed the inner "shelf" which the plate will sit on:



And then routed out the inner part, which cut the whole:



Dropped the plate in… perfect fit… A proud moment!



Used my little dial indicator jig to make sure it was flat:



And the rest of these photos are just to show off:









You may have seen this on my projects page (throat insert holder):





Thanks for staying tuned. It has been fun to build and I had a good time documenting and sharing the journey. But I am really glad this project is done. I still have a few small details to add. I want to oil it, it needs some ventilation, and I need to make a router bit holder for the drawers. But for now this is pretty much a wrap. I am looking forward to getting back to some real projects.
Great Job Blake. I've used a router table quite a bit, and I wish I knew the answer to my question.

How much table is required (necessary [useful]) around the router bit. In your case front, left and right of the bit. The slider controls the amount toward the back.

I've cut some large panels and would it be easy to balance (control) them on a smaller table. I'd like to have something like you built, but mine is mounted on my tablesaw so I have 4' in front of the cutter and 20" on the left and right.

Great job. Nice construction. Are the door panels just (maybe I shouldn't say just) maple plywood or do you have solid wood or veneered wood?
 
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