Extension Wing Router Table Homemade Machines & Jigs
With my move to a shop nearly half the size of my old one, I had to try to arrange the tools that are important in the most efficient way possible. Throughout the year I’ve been in this new shop, I’ve only had issue with one tool: my router table. It is located directly in front of the table saw and would have to be moved frequently to cut longer material. Being in the middle of the floor, it also crowded other shop tools and operations. Since I video record a lot of what I do in the shop, I was constantly moving it around to get the camera set up in the right location. Add to that the fact that I rarely use it, and often the top would be piled up with various junk, I decided a change was needed.
As I have been working on my house renovation, I have a small on-site workshop set up in my basement to do some of the work in there. I already have my utility table saw and folding miter stand down there and often need to use the router table for various tasks, so I figure that would be a good place to have it. This would be a temporary situation, and the router table will come back to the shop when I have the space to put it. The long range plan is to either expand the current shop or build a new one.
So, if the router table goes, I need a replacement and after giving it a lot of thought, I decided the best solution was to install a router and lift in the extension wing of my table saw. The greatest benefit is that it takes up no additional space in the shop, while not compromising on functionality.
This article focuses more on how I built the fence, while all of the other details for boxing in and mounting the router lift are covered in this video:
The first thing I had to do was modify the mounting brackets so that the router lift would fit in the small extension table:
The router side of the lift was boxed in and the floor attachment from the shop vac was screwed and caulked to provide a convenient outlet for the vacuum hose to attach.
A switch was wired to turn off and on the router. It is also connected to an outlet for the vacuum:
The lift installed from beneath. I’m keeping the original crank and locking knob, since this is not a permanent application.
The electrical box is mounted with the switch facing down, so that it won’t be accidentally turned on by bumping it with my knee:
With the lift installed I discovered that I could not get my wrench on the shaft of the router to change bits. The problem was the thickness of the top, so I routed out an area for the motor housing on the router to fit:
It easily comes up high enough now.
A recent trip to Home Depot had me walking out with this vacuum, on special for $30:
I figure it’s perfect for a dedicated dust collector for this router table. The capacity is not large, but I can empty it quickly and easily.
The fence for the router table uses the fence system of the table saw, and I want to keep it as simple as possible. Making it easy to install and remove is very important – I don’t want to have to go looking for a screwdriver or wrench to attach it. It also needs to be fairly compact and lightweight, for convenient storage.
After giving it some thought, I started with a piece of pine nearly 2″ thick and notched for the bit:
Into this I drove two hanger bolts, just above the table saw fence. I jammed two nuts together to turn the bolts in.
I cut blocks of 1/2″ plywood to form clamps to hold the pine tight to the fence:
The clamp block is notched out to put the pressure as low as possible.
The pine I used is an old stair tread and I didn’t spend any time trueing the faces. It turns out it was slightly off, and I didn’t want to remove the hanger bolts to send it through the saw. To overcome this and square the router fence to the table, I drove screws near the top (green arrows) to adjust the face of the router table fence in and out:
The face layer of 3/4″ plywood goes against the screws and ends up square to the table.
Since my table saw fence can lift at the back end (it locks on the front rail only), I added a notched cleat to the fence that hooks over the side table rail:
Installing the fence is as simple as slipping it over the table saw fence and pulling it forward to lock on the rail. The wing nuts are then tightened to hold it firmly in place.
There are drawbacks to having a setup like this, the main one being if you have an operation where you need to cut several parts on the table saw, then mill it on the router table. Thinking through my shop work history, I really can’t recall any specific project where I had to do that. Of course, now that I have this done, I’ll run across a bunch of times when that will happen. Still, given the shop as it is and the space that will be freed up with this change, I think I can tolerate a small amount of inconvenience.