Cost to build Norm's Router Table/Cabinet/Fence?

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Forum topic by cracknpop posted 08-07-2020 05:08 PM 619 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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446 posts in 3197 days

08-07-2020 05:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Time to seriously upgrade my router table. Have pretty well decided on the Jessem Masterlift. However, I am now weighing the cost of buying a table top and cabinet versus the cost and time in building one, perhaps like Norm Abram’s design. I’m a hobbyist with a conscious awareness of ‘time is money’.

With this in mind…
If you have built a Norm Abrams or similar router table, approximately how much did you have in materials, not counting a lift? To add in the cost of time, if you were to sell your router table cabinet and fence you built, how much would you sell it for?

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

9 replies so far

View JackDuren's profile


1323 posts in 1808 days

#1 posted 08-07-2020 06:11 PM

If your going to build one why not just lay one out and determine how much materials would cost to build it…

Most on here will build from scraps around the shop. I’m not sure if I had to buy everything to build one..

View therealSteveN's profile


6245 posts in 1422 days

#2 posted 08-07-2020 06:19 PM

I imagine if you don’t charge yourself for hours worked, and like most woodworkers probably have enough scrap Plywood, and lumber so your only material cost is nutz and bolts, it could be a free build, or close to it. Therein lies the beauty of Norms idea for a router station. :-)

If you had to go buy everything then it’s variable. The cabinet is largely ply, but there is a miles difference between BB Plywood, and CDX, and knots filled with Durhams, Bondo or drywall compound. Worst case is 250 bux, if you go glitz all the way. Best case if you paint the case to cover slightly flawed wood, you could go for 50 to 75 bux.

Can’t help you figure what your time is worth, only you can do that, but if you build such a router station, and use it some, I cannot imagine you not being pleased.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Axis39's profile


338 posts in 445 days

#3 posted 08-07-2020 10:27 PM

I haven’t seen Norm’s (or at least not taken notice of it in a very long time)

I built a router table that fits into the extension wing area of my table saw. But, I reused the route table fence from my old Bosch portable table.

But, here’s a loose estimate:

3/4 Baltic Birch (I bought some lacquered stuff for another project and had about a half a sheet left) – $55 (price for a full sheet)
1/2 Baltic Birch (lacquered, had more scraps left over from other projects, probably used about 1/4 sheet) $40
1/4” Baltic Birch (lacquered scraps, you guessed it, leftovers and used maybe 1/4 sheet for drawer bottoms) $28
T-track for fence attachment (I bought 2 48” pieces of Amazon for $30 and used two 8” sections for my table) $15
1/2” MDF for adjust fence faces (Yeah, more scrap, but needed to replace the chewed up pieces that were on the fence) – $20
Two pieces of poplar for drawer fronts (again, scrap) – maybe $10?

The fence I had, had bolts and knobs and stuff, but if I was to make one from scratch, it would take 6 1/4-20×1 1/2” carriage bolts, or 4 carriage bolts and 2 t-bolts. I usually make my own knobs out of wood scraps and nuts, so, another 10 bucks maybe?

I made simple drawers by cutting grooves into the cabinet sides and center supports and slid the 1/4 BB plywood into the slots. Then, built different style drawers onto for each style of storage I needed – bits, tools, extra parts and pieces, etc. Then, built a box out of 1/4” ply to house the router and help with dust collection. The top is simple 3/4 lacquered BB Ply and works nicely. Building a fence would be an easy addition, and wouldn’t require any additional materials… There’s plenty of leftover scrap from the other parts.

So, if I bought everything specifically for a router table, my total investment would be around $175-ish. But, then, I’d have a lot of leftover material to build at least one more shop cabinet or tool cart, etc….

I built mine in about two and half hours, not including configuring all the drawers (because I still have several empty drawers I haven’t figure out what to stick in, yet).

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3589 posts in 2342 days

#4 posted 08-08-2020 04:27 AM

Built a router table extension based on Crestonwood Ultimate Router Table, similar to Norms.
Crestwood site seems to have disappeared, but plans are available over at Woodworkingtalk forums:

Most expensive part was choices made in hardware. Didn’t have enough 3/4” BB ply handy and spent $60 on sheet for the cabinet, but that was cheap part. Miter slot track and T-track on sale from Peachtree cost about $35. My preferred flat profile solid brass lift handles are imported from England via fleabay for $3 each .vs. LV $12 cost. Wanted 150lb rated BB drawer slides to hold extra routers in big drawers, and they run $10-15/set. Guessing I have ~$150 in material costs without the WoodPecker router plate, or the $100 Peachtree Supreme router table fence saved from last router table project.

If I tried to sell it, be surprised if anyone would pay much above materials costs for cabinet and fence. Why?

Never see a used router table sell for more than the fair used value of router plate/lift/router/bits included, even when only couple years old. It is almost like the router table and cabinet itself is worth maybe $50 as part of package deal, even if it is a RBI or Jessem $1200 router table package. Can often pick up naked router tables with metal frame legs, MDF top, and a plate for $100 locally. See folks asking ~$150+router hardware value, if it is a copy of norms design with all storage drawers. The used value in my area may be lower than other areas? But in my thinking, when I can slap a set of 2×4 legs under an MDF top for $50, then add a plate for $50; why buy someone else’s cabinet for more money? Wood workers tend to be cheap when it comes to buying stuff made of wood.

Despite poor resale values, if my time was better spent working on money making projects; would still not buy a complete router table package. None of them offer any storage underneath the table. I would buy the top, fence, and plate/lift, and still build my cabinet under the table. This gives you storage you need, and control over your dust collection. When building your own router table; laying out the table top locations, and making the fence are some the most time consuming parts of process. That is why I use the PeachTree Supreme fence.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View cracknpop's profile


446 posts in 3197 days

#5 posted 08-08-2020 01:05 PM

Thanks for your feedback. Some good food for thought as I weigh buying complete setup or just a top with lift and build a cabinet. Also have a neighbor with router cabinet built on Norm’s plans that he has not used for awhile, thought of making an offer to see how attached he is to it.
I appreciate you all.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View JackDuren's profile


1323 posts in 1808 days

#6 posted 08-08-2020 01:23 PM

$100. Without the router….if it’s nice..

View Bob Kassmeyer's profile

Bob Kassmeyer

272 posts in 3773 days

#7 posted 08-08-2020 09:01 PM

I believe I have about $150.00 in mine without the incra fence, t track, that I have never used, the lift, and the router.
I am still not completely done, I have one drawer I have never finished, it’s only been a couple of years, well maybe five. I’ll get to it in Bob’s time as my wife says.

-- Bob Kassmeyer, Nebraska

View ibewjon's profile


1937 posts in 3641 days

#8 posted 08-08-2020 10:26 PM

As for selling one, I would say not worth much. I recently purchased a fairly nice homemade table, with lift, and 3hp Porter Cable router for $250. I am sure the builder is looking down crying. Have you looked at the table that was a project on The Woodsmith Shop? There are two, a mini table, and a large one with some nice features. I have not built one, but it looks like a nice setup.

View tmasondarnell's profile


138 posts in 2637 days

#9 posted 08-09-2020 10:06 PM

I built a variant of Norm’s router table and love it. Excluding the lift, I think I got out for under$150—certainly under $200.

It has been a few years and I have slept since then, but I think I used (all bought at either the Blue or Orange Borg):

1 sheet of 3/4 ply
1 sheet of 1/2 ply.
Cracked sheet of Formica on clearance for $25
Some popular for edge banding
Set of casters
Plus misc bits and pieces

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