Daily Archives: June 20, 2006

Router Table

One other thing I did over the weekend was begin building a router table. I had ordered and received the Veritas Base Plate/Table Insert from Lee Valley. It came with a host of accessory items for getting it attached to one’s router, in my case a Porter-Cable 690.

First there was a positioning template, which consisted of a sheet of letter-sized plastic transparency, on one half of which were printed instructions and rows of circles with cross-hairs, while the other half was blank with a 1/2″ hole in the middle. After cutting off the half with the instructions, the half with the hole slipped over a handily included alignment pin chucked into the router collet. From there I cut out circles that matched the screw holes in my router base, taping them on the transparent sheet over the holes. Then I used an awl to punch holes in the plastic sheet where the cross-hairs in the circles met. Then I transferred the plastic transparency, now with the hole marks, onto the new base plate. Now I knew where to drill the holes to attach the base plate to the router. They even included an 82° countersink bit to drill said holes.

I had some trouble punching with the awl into the hard phenolic of the base plate. And then I had some trouble drilling the holes, though, because I don’t have a drill press. I have an old Portalign with my old 3/8″ Sears drill attached to it. It’s pretty good actually for drilling straight holes, although the plastic base is all bent to hell. But the depth stop mechanism doesn’t work very well at all, so trying to get a countersink to an exact depth is a bit tricky. So I ended up doing it pretty much freehand, starting a little shy of the depth that I eventually wanted, then sneaking up on it.

So now the base plate is on the router. Easy.

Now comes the harder part, which is building some sort of table for the router and base plate to drop into. But, as a matter of fact, Lee Valley includes some instructions for doing just that. They include these instructions I guess because this is a round base plate but yet they still claim that you can install and remove it from below the table, so as not to have to thread the cord to the router. But imagine trying to get a manhole cover down into a manhole. How do you do that?

And bonus as well is a trammel bar that LV includes to help you cut the hole in the table top. And a washer that fits into the counterbore for the brass insert that goes into the base plate. So with the washer installed, with the alignment pin in the router, the trammel bar fits over the alignment pin. On the other end of the trammel bar are two holes which act as handy bushings for drilling two 3/16″ holes in the edge of the base plate. Sadly my crappy Black & Decker drill bit makes hardly a dent in the phenolic plate. I grind at it for like five minutes, smelling the plastic burning, before giving up and heading to Fragers to get a decent bit. That B&D set of drill bits was probably like ten bucks at Home Depot. A new single DeWalt cobalt 3/16″ bit at Fragers is five bucks, but it sails through the plate in less than a second.

Then out comes the alignment pin, to get stuck into a 1/2″ hole drilled in the center of the table for the router table, upside down now this time, so that the 3/16″ pin end is sticking up. And now the 3/16″ holes drilled into the edge of the base plate stip over the pin and act as centerings, around which the router rotates, with a 1/2″ router bit carving out the recess for the base plate. First the inner hole on the bottom of the table for the drop through, and then the outer hole on the top of the table for the recess into which the router plate fits.

Ingenious, huh?

There’s also two sort of wings, one on either side, routed into the recessed ledge, so that the base plate can turn sideways and fit down into the hole. I was especially pleased with myself for chiseling out fairly straight corners, after the routering had left such round areas.

Lastly there’s a way to keep the round plate from rotating in the recess, by inserting a screw with a bushing over it, into the outer 3/16″ hole in the base plate, to act as a kind of bumper that fits into a slot in the recess. Unfortunately I countersink the wrong side of the base plate. So I have to get out the trammel arm and drill another hole with the new DeWalt bit and then countersink it. Is a minor screwup, all in all, but a screwup nonetheless.

But after all this the big old handles on the PC690 router don’t really allow enough room to tilt to get the router in and out from underneath. Turns out to have to go through the top anyway. Oh well. It was still a fun project.

I still have to figure out some sort of fence system. I’ve got my eye on the the Rockler fence. But at this point I really should make it myself. I’ll go looking for plans on the Web.