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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, I'm impressed with your work on SketchUp. I've been trying to figure it out for a few weeks and am not much closer than when I started.

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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.

Blake you are on your way to a really nice router table. You sure don't let much grass grow under you feet - when you decide on a project you get with it.

Also, thanks for the push on the biscuit joiner. My wife gave me one, a Porter Cable I think, two years ago for Christmas and I have yet to take it out the box. I just put it in a closet and forgot about it, until now. Gotta get it out and try it out.

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Finishing Cabinet Assembly and Dust Collection

This project is really coming together. That biscuit jointer really makes quick and easy work of cabinet assembly. I have never really gotten a chance to use it before.

I ordered an Incra Magni-Lock router plate through Woodcraft. It seems to be on the slow boat. But hopefully it will come at about the time I need it.

Anyway, more chronicles of the progress I made on my day off yesterday:

Here is the cabinet fascia with half lap joinery, 3/4" x 2" Beechwood (the most inexpensive hardwood at the local yard), glued and clamped together:

Yes its true, my clamp collection is used to small jewelry boxes. But I say, work smarter (and cheaper), not harder! So for $15 these ratcheting tie-down straps held the cabinet face securely to the carcass until the glue dried. The whole face was biscuited to the carcass:

The clue has dried and I found some casters I like. They have rubber wheels and a lock that I like for about $11 each.

Finally, the cabinet gets flipped to rest an all fours. Also, you can see I added a melamine shelf for under the router. This slick surface will allow the dust to slide toward the dust collector more easily. At this point I had not figured out how to best direct the dust toward the chute, or where to put the chute.

I had decided that I would use the bottom-left space for a dedicated dust collector. I figured out that I would have just enough room for the smallest Craftsman vac that still has a 2 1/2" hose (the 6 gal model). This will also cut down on noise. I will probably add some noise insulation inside the vac compartment as well. This will be a huge improvement over the vac being outside the cabinet. (Maybe I could insulate the router compartment too?) I may not even need earplugs!

I wired a switch that would simultaneously activate the router and the vac. This gives each there own plug in there own compartment, leaving the router compartment sealed airtight. Their is also a 15 foot cord which powers that switch box. That cord comes out the left side of the cabinet. Notice the yellow cord end in the vac compartment (below) and the black cord end for the router:

The switch is a rocker/paddle style. This is so I can later add a large safety "Stop" paddle. Notice the router table power cord coming out of the left side:

I spent a couple of hours trying different things and thinking about how to best direct the flow of air/dust toward the dust collection chute. I wasn't sure where to put it either. Should it be directly below the router? Maybe over to one side?

Finally I came up with a plan. I decided to create a sloping shelf with a thin, wide opening below it. Under the shelf would be the chute, which is hooked up to the vac. This way any dust which landed on the shelf would fall right down to the opening and get sucked in. I will make a small vent in the sealed router-compartment door which will allow a cross-flow of air from front to back along the slick melamine surface directing dust right to the chute.

So this is the chute (that connector will be installed underneath the hole to connect to the vac hose):

And this is the sloping shelf (Chute is underneath):

(By the way, those corner brackets above are for securing and leveling the table top)

I hope it works as well as it seems like it should. The idea is that if the router compartment is airtight, and air is being sucked out through one hole by the vac, then suction will be created at the only other opening which is right around the router bit. I may also add a second dust collection port which consists of another hose connector on the back of the router compartment (behind the sloping shelf), and a hose which goes from there to the fence (which has integrated dust collection). This way chips and dust will be sucked away above and below the router bit.
Blake that is an awesome looking router table. I'm building a cabinet for my Bosch 4000 Contractor Saw and have been thinking about dust collection under the saw. You just gave me the solution, I think. I will be using my big DC - but the principle should be the same.

Also, when you say that you are going to install the vacuum under the router, in a sealed compartment (insulated for noise), do you think that your vacuum might need some type of ventilation? Just wondering, hate to see you burn up a good shop vac.

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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.
Blake that router table is really coming out nice. You are quite the craftsman. With all the planning and workmanship involved, it should be a pleasure to use for may years.

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Doors and Drawers

I would have waited until I made more progress until posting this next one, but since I have been stuck in bed with the flue for three days (and I am good for nothin' in the shop) I may as well post what I've got. The following was done before I got sick.

I am keeping the joinery as simple as possible on this project. I want it to look nice but it mostly needs to be functional. So I used simple grooved "style and rails" for the doors and drawer fronts, with more of that birch ply in for the panels. This way I can just glue the whole thing up and not even have to think about wood movement. I would rather use the time that it would take to do something fancier on another project. This phase of the project was pretty quick.

Here are the styles and rails milled and cut to size:

Here I have cut the grove with a dado blade to accept the plywood:

Making sure everything fits:

Here everything is laid out and ready for assembly:

But wait! Why didn't I just glue 'em up? Well it turns out that in my haste to just get this thing done I made the groves a little too narrow for the plywood to fit without crumpling the birch veneer on the edges. So, measure twice, cut once, right? Well if I widen the grove the rails won't fit the styles. So My only option is to trim a little thickness off the edges of the plywood. Oh well, no big deal.

So when I get to feeling better I will complete that last step and glue the darned things up. Thanks for tuning in.
Gonna be one nice router table when you get it finished.

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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.
Very nice Blake. I bet you had a few drops of sweat on your forehead while you were getting ready to cut that hole. This has been a very interesting blog, thanks for sharing it with us. You have one fine router table now and that fence and plate are top notch. Nice job.
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