05 August 2012

Home workshop–Router Table–Phase 1

Put this in the list of 'things eating up my time that keep me from posting'.  Yes that is getting to be a long list.  As I have to measure out my energy and, thusly, my time, projects have to be done in small steps so that I can reach natural completion points in case life gives me something else to do.  Past postings on my SKS, putting in extra parts to my workbench and things like getting an EMP cabinet up are examples of this and I have a few more in the deck beyond this like getting EMP screens set up for some appliances, I'll have to be putting up a small shed on the back deck and then putting a solar power system in that, to name but a few.  Each is done step-wise, usually by scoping out the size of the project, making sure raw materials figured out and ordered, then getting to the project itself.  All told my workbench project ate up about 1o months, total, but had a few other things going on during it.  The idea is to use any physically productive time well to the point where downtime means complete rest.  Sometimes days of it.

For all of that the router table is finally at a point where it is no longer a bunch of cut up lumber scattered on my workbench.  Three weeks ago I would have had little to show but that.  Today I have the pieces cut and partially assembled to be well into Phase 1 of the process: getting the router portion of the internal framework nearly complete.

The objective of this router table is to take the old router bench top's table and put it onto a framework to secure it in the new table.  The new table is to have a height equal to the workbench (34") and be on casters to do that.  Much of the wood that I have on-hand is gently warped from gaining small amounts of humidity over the past couple of years, just enough to make it a hassle but not enough to commit to a major planer to get it down to flat surfaces and lose a bit of width.  Beats me how other people do it, but that's how I'm doing it: if I need planing I can take a hand planer or a block plane out for that and small stuff I can do on the table saw.

Now onto the pictures!

Entering the shop this is what greets you:


Loverly, no?

The entire thing is going to be made on 30"x48" 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood on the exterior.  The interior is whatever wood I have in the shop like the 'white wood' from HD or splendid if very dirty planks I got from a skid used to deliver some outrageously large item (those pieces are of oak and pine from what I can tell).  The very top is the support structure for the Veritas steel router table top (I got mine at Lee Valley tools) and it is in the 'just complete enough to find out where the cuts didn't go exactly right' stage.  It's mission is to sit 3/16" below the top of the table so that the router table top is flush with the rest of the top.  That larger surface will be another piece of 30x48 ply.

That large area in the center will be where my Hitachi M12V2 router (purchased reconditioned at Big Sky Tool) will be suspended under the table.  I'm planning on putting a small scissors jack there and getting the router's elevation adjusted by that, which is a much later part of the process, but I already do have the jack.

And what router table is worth its salt if it doesn't have drawers?  The carcass has space for 5 aside and a large one in the bottom (which I might sub-divide into 1 or 2 smaller drawers).  I left space above the bottom drawer and the top drawer opening for running anything from the rear of the cabinet to the face of it.  There will have to be at least 2 switch boxes (router and dust collector) and one 2.5" blast gate for getting a tube feed to the router fence (or any hose attachments I might want to use).

3/4" plywood is the base of the interior space.

From the side:


Not a lot to see here, save the drawers from the side.  I used a dado blade to put in 1.4" deep dados for those 3/4" strips that will be the supports for the drawers.  The bottom strips likewise have 1/4" deep dados for the side and interior supports, including the interior plywood base.


The rear shows a bit of spacing at the rear of the shelves for yet to be inserted pieces to give the entire thing structural stability.  Those will be nominal 4" pieces to insert, which means the drawer space from side to side is 3.5", ergo the drawers will be 3.5" square faces and up to 24" long (which seems impractical to me).

Seen is a piece with a clamp that needs just a touch more dado work as it is just about 1/16" out of alignment, which I found out by getting a clean crack on the end trying to finger place it.  What can be seen on the near end of that is the amount taken off the side (done to all the pieces) so as to fit better into the space that will be cut out of the plywood top for the router table top.

Notable on the top is oily dirt from a piece that came from the skid.  As no one is going to see it, it is left as-is.  This is true of all non-visible pieces, they are unfinished and unsanded: if they need sanding/finishing, that is a detail piece of work I'll do by hand or with a multi-tool.


Taken from the reverse angle on the other side of the workbench.

One of the problems is that the non-square, non-planed wood gives slightly out of tolerance heights when I get to the top.  This will be addressed, as the old song goes, 'Shim, shiminey... shim, shiminy... shim, shim, pushee...'  Or something like that, anyways.  Yes, shims are the answer to such things.  How the drawers can line up and the top not, that is a question I will leave for the mystics.  Still it is very close and that is all that matters.  Sanding, planing, minor rip cuts... that should take care of the rest plus shims.

What you can't see...


Casters.  Bought from Harbor Freight, cheap, on sale.  I put in knock down inserts into the plywood, pounded them home and used 1/4-20 panhead bolts to attach them.  Made sure the little brake pedal actually shows on two sides so the thing can be properly kept in place, too!  Did a quickie Tung Oil finish on the bottom, just once using a 1 part oil to 4 part thinner (limonene) ratio.  In the hot outside air it evaporated extremely fast.  I left it 'as-is' as no one will most likely see it or care about it.


This is my bench top router table from Veritas.  It is steel, 24" x 16" with rubber bumpers inset to the inside of the table.  Thus those will be on the inside of the top part of the larger table top.  I will be moving from the side router table supports to ones that use T-Track for the fence and anything else when I get this put into the table.  Basically this gets to transition from a very nice bench top to a more standardized table system, for things like jigs.  Or larger boards.  I have nothing against the Veritas system, save that it needs to expand a bit to give me more space so that I can reclaim shop space.


What a mess, huh?

That's the back of the Veritas system.  I have one of those cute, two-way dust collector hose systems with a cup right up under the bit and a hose to the fence.  The hose to the cup stays, the hose to the fence will be replaced with a separate 2.5" feed.  The rest of the stuff is in-process supplies, tools, and other assorted junk that needs to find a home associated with the router.  Getting all the router equipment into one place, where it is easy to find, is a massive priority.

Seen off to the right in the very first picture in all of this is the Ridgid shopvac I'm using for this affair.  It is my ersatz dust collector and general shop cleaning vac.  In off-line storage I have a small dust collector that makes a real racket (from Steel City) and it should also fit into the space in the rear of the table.  The problem is that if I run that and any other piece of equipment, I trip the breaker for the room.  If I need to really clear the air, I can turn that on using an outlet port for a Big Gulp hood and throw that on top of something and leave the room.

One of the 'nice to have' things in the table would be a special drawer for my saw blades in the rear of the table.  Neither the vac or dust collector will take up all the space and I'll have about 5" to play with under the table top in the rear.  Plenty of space for rear drawers or (if I'm really clever) to make the rear part of the table a flip-up affair to get to a storage space under it.  That may be beyond my capability at present, so drawers are a better answer.

With the front area semi-complete, I can put up the sides, internal wall (between the router area and the rear dust collection area) and begin running piping and tubing for the dust collection system, and the power cables to run everything.  Inlets with immediate single outlet boxes in the rear will allow me to run power cables back to the rear and get a single feed for each of the router and dust collector with switches in front.  Doors to get to the rear area (or lower rear area) will be cut out and concealed hinges put in for them, thus allowing easy access to the vacuum area.

When this is done all the routing tools get a home in one place, the dust collection gets centralized (and ports standardized), the table that all of this sits on gets to be folded up to go away someplace, and workflows get straightened out when everything has a home to go to.

After this comes a stand for the miter saw, a stand for my bench grinder (now sitting off-line due to lack of space) and the slow cleaning out to get at the raw materials necessary to build this stuff.  With smaller stands and a home for the dust collecting detritus (fittings, hoses, etc.) another table can come down and the stuff under it can get shelved because the shelves will then be accessible!  Glory Be!  While there will still be large pieces of equipment, they will be mobile and easy to move, and those that have work tops will have a common height so that they can serve as run-out tables, supports or other fine things as yet undecided.  I might even put together a proper stand for my drill press so that its table can be at a common height... then I might even get to put together a seamless workflow utilizing everything... what a thought!  Then, maybe, a special table for small piece finishing and firearms cleaning that I can SIT AT!

More than a body can handle, I know.

I learn a lot along the way by trial and error and this is necessary knowledge. Right now it is one step at a time.  They are small steps, yes, but steps nonetheless, until I can get to that day when I'm doing something other than building equipment to do things I want to do.  Making the tools to make the tools so I can actually get to make things I want to make.

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