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What size are you looking for? What do you plan on doing primarily with the table, long pieces, raised panels? I built my own into the side table of my cabinet saw and while it does have a few shortcomings, the biggest benefit is that it takes up virtually zero additional room.
 

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I built mine as a table saw extension. I don't know about you, but space is always at a premium. I find it's a bit of an ego boost when you can build your own tools.
I used arborite for the top, to keep it smooth. Then I built a simple Right angle fence out of 1×4 pine that I clamp in place. Ain't pretty… but it works very well
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Window Wood Flooring Floor Composite material


One of these days I'll re build it with a lift mechanism.
Good luck.
 

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I built mine from scratch (minus the fence, plate, and power button).



That being said, if I were to do so again I would buy rocklers kit for the top and build my own base. The base can be done pretty cheaply with some 2×4s. Once I finished paying for all the pieces for the top my cost was almost as much as rocklers and I don't think mine is really any better.
 

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I think I would buy the rockler kit with the fence and build a base. The base can be as simple as some legs or a fancy cabinet with dust collection and storage. Its what I have and it was handed down to me. I have since worn it out, but I can very cheaply rebuild the top, but reuse the fence and track.
 

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I think I would build my own, or buy the plans and DVD and build the "Norm" r.t…...That's what I did a few years ago…..It has nearly all the bells and whistles, but one thing I did was modify the fence to accept 4" dust collection at the fence and down below in the cabinet…....Hooked it up to my d.c. system, and it works really good…I have pictures of the cabinet and d.c. hookup…..Plenty of storage for all sizes of bits, plus big pull-out drawers below on ball bearing slides…...
 

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I built my first router table using plans from an early woodsmith magazine. It served it purpose well for many years. I even put a Jess-em lift in it toward the end of it's life. I finally outgrew it and had plans to build another had even price out the wood. My local woodcraft had a sale on the Jess-em top. I went in to look at the top as I was considering putting on a Jess-em top. They had a base and fence on closeout when I got there. I bought all three for little more than what I was going to have in a base and cabinet. I was able then to use the time I would have in building the table for other projects.
My advice to you is design what you want in a table, price it out. Look at what is available ready made and go from there. What ever fits you.
The rockler kit is a pretty good price. You would prabably need to build a better base as the base they have with it looks a little on the light side.
 

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I have built three over the last several years. The last one will be my last one. It has dual routers and it comes with a lift! heh, heh…a table lift, that is. The height is adjustable so I can use it as an outfeed table or router table or an assembly table. It has proven reliable and works great in my small shop.

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Furniture Rectangle Art Table Wood


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I can not understand why anybody that considers themselves to be a woodworker would not build their own router table. They are easy to make and there are a gazillion plans out there mostly for free or for nominal cost, like the price of a book, that have some amazing features that you'll never find on a commercial table. Find a set of plans that suits your needs and start building. I have made several over the years, it is both a rewarding and forgiving experience. You can use cheaper materials and if you make some mistakes no one is going to care because after all it is shop furniture. I think making a router table is a great beginner project, kind of a "rite of passage".
 

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The main benefit I see of buying over building is that if you have limited time to work in your shop as I do and you would rather spend that limited time building things other than shop furniture then it affords you that opportunity.
 

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I think Bondo is usually pretty spot on, but I have to disagree with him on this one. I have very limited shop time and I would rather use that time doing something I enjoy. Bottom line, I do not enjoy building router tables. I built my last one, it seemed more of a chore. Good timing on this thread, I actually came here to looking for router table reviews. I just moved across country and the previous router table did not make the move, so looking to add a new one to the shop.
 

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Well I got talked into building my own last year by fellow LJs and I'm glad I did.
I was ready to buy one for the same reason as Marcus as well as not finding plans I really like.

I did not make the top however, one of my LJ buddies sent me one that she wasn't using.
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One other comment…I had previously built one as a table saw extension. I found this to be miserable on my back. I'm 6'1" and bending over to use it was miserable. Something to keep in mind if you're thinking about doing the same and you're a tall guy.
 

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I built my into the right wing of my table saw. I like this setup because I have a small shop. I do not have space for a dedicated router table. This way does not take up any more room, and I am able to use the same fence as my table saw.

BTW, this discussion is my first "Post of the Week" on my new blog.
 

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I think a lot of router table stuff is spendy and
you don't need much to cut joinery. Usually
for tenons for example all I use is a straight board
clamped to the router table.

For make moulding cuts in the edges of boards
or making cope and stick board profiles,
you'll need a fence with some sort of
sacrificial faces you can slide closed over
the bit. This helps chip-out. When I need
to do this sort of cut I use an MDF fence
I made in an hour or so with 90 degree gussets
to make it L-shaped. It has slots in the face
and I attach sacrificial fence facings using
carriage bolts backed up with large plastic
wing-nut type knobs on the back. It works
well enough.

For cutting dovetails and box joints you'll
probably want to look at something exotic
like and Incra system. Considering the price
of that sort of thing though there are other
options for cutting these sorts of corner joints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A couple of good questions where asked here, so here are my thoughts:

What do I plan on doing with the router table: I was thinking about a couple of projects that have smaller pieces (like 1/4" thick boards, for small shelves) where I would want to move the material past the blade instead of trying to figure out how to get the router to say accurate as I move it. Also, the pattern bit seemed like a neat tool that I could use in an upcoming project.

What size table: my "shop" is super small. All I have is a little 6×10 corner of my basement; so space is a premium. I don't have a big cabinet saw, just a higher end portable one (Makita 2705); though, there might be a way to integrate the router with it.

Time to build shop accessories vs project time: I have very limited time (about 1~2hr per week) to spend on woodworking. That said, I think building a shop accessory is not only good practice, but would be good fun.

Real woodworkers would build their own: my only concern is that I don't have an extensive set of tools that I might need to build a table and fence that would give me accurate results. I don't own a jointer, or planer, or drill press, or any other piece of bigger shop equipment. I'm also budget limited, if I have to spend more than $200 on materials to make something worth while, then I would consider it a wash.

As I said, I'm only really concerned about a nice flat top and a straight fence; I'm not worried about the base.
 

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Its really a personal choice.

For me I'd rather pickup the material and build something, that's the fun of woodworking. You can build a base and buy a top that meets your needs and fits your space.

I think there are a few vendors who sell the tops. There are even a few sellers on ebay who sell factory seconds.

I also second the New Yankee workshop video, Norm builds his own. Even if you don't use that specific design, you'll get an idea on how to make the top. I think he used just his router and tablesaw to build it.

The other route, is to buy one, see if it works for you. Keep an eye on craigslist, I see them all the time in my area anywhere from $10 and up depending on the size and quality (and the person's desire to unload something if they are moving).
 
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