Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Router Table

A router was something I picked up very quickly after my mom got me my table saw. I did some edge shaping, groove cutting, and mortising with it and have been getting by with a lot of just really basic handheld routing techniques. As I've been wanting to start cutting wood more again and I have future plans like building furniture for my bedroom renovation, I've been watching and studying plans. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed a router table was to be the next logical step.

I debated how to go about the router table. I have an extension wing that I built for my table saw, and it looked like that might work out with some modifications to the extension, but I decided I'd go a different route and build a standalone table. I do want to have a bit more closed storage, and the router table allows me to free up space in my main cabinet by giving me a dedicated space for my router bits, jigs, and stuff.

Looking for inspiration, I spent a lot of time on the Google looking for ideas. I also looked to Norm for ideas, and I watched a bit on YouTube. I watched Steve Ramsey's videos as well, and from all of that, I started laying out my design. It was based pretty heavily on the New Yankee Deluxe Router Station. I was able to get the plate and miter track on sale from Rockler, and got some plywood from Home Depot and got to work.

It's been a few months since I did anything related to woodworking, so I had to clean off my table saw and do all the maintenance and all that first. Thankfully the saw cleaned up quick and everything was still aligned well. I spent one afternoon earlier this week cutting all my 3/4 ply to rough sizes for the panels. Thursday I spent time cutting all my panels to exact size and doing a very careful layout to make sure I didn't screw anything up. With the layout done and checking against my sketch and plans, I figured that it was good to go, and I got to work yesterday (Friday) cutting dadoes and rabbets so I could assemble things.

My initial dry-fit was pretty good. I had to do some fine tuning to my panels since my plywood wasn't very consistent in thickness so some parts of the dadoes were a little loose while others were almost too tight. With some careful sanding, I got everything together dry and worked out my bit storage drawer layout. I put together my parts for that, got everything fitted in, then it was time for some assembly.

As I put everything together, the internal sub-assembly worked out fine. I held everything together with screws and glue, and did some initial toe-nailing with the brad nailer to get it together before I could set the screws. Needless to say, I learned that the toe nailing technique works well -- I should believe Norm when he says that. I only blew one brad through a side, but it was in the back where no one would really see it, and it was barely through enough so I just sanded it flush and it's basically invisible. I figured one blowout was a win. The last time I tried to toe-nail, it was a disaster and I hate removing brads.

Next it was on to the sides. I had one set of really tight dadoes, so I was ready to get that all together. Strangely, it went together pretty easily. I figured it must have been the glue helping to lubricate the assembly. I attached both sides with glue, toe-nailed brads, and a few clamps to keep everything together while I got the nails in. The nice part -- no mechanical fasteners showing on the outside.

I stood the cabinet up to look at it, and then it dawned on me why the assembly wasn't as difficult as it seemed -- I put in the internal sub-assembly backward! My initial plan was for the small storage drawers to be on the left side. The small pocket was on the right now. Apparently that tight part of the dado was sitting in a part that wasn't cut quite square enough, but with the assembly reversed, it went in without much drama. I figured that it didn't matter to me where those two smaller drawers would be, and I didn't want to have to try and tear everything apart. The good news was that my layout was accurate enough that I could get away with putting it together backward without messing up life.

I attached the back and got everything all put together. Checked it for square, and it was all good.

Here's some images:

With the carcase complete, I can work on cutting up some drawer stock. I have to think about the joinery, but if I can rough up the stock first, then I can make my decision as I go. I should probably practice more locking rabbet joinery, but I just loathe the setup for it. I think I messed around with my setup for a good hour today cutting samples so my dadoes would work out. Laying out drawers takes me even longer. I hope that my experience making my shop cabinets pays off and helps me shorten my working time.

I'm still trying to finish up my fence and tabletop design so I can get working on that. I have the MDF for it all ready to go and I just need to get everything laid out and I need a good way to rout the recess for the plate to fit in. I'm sure that I'll get everything figured out as I go.

I have to repaint my bedroom and install the new flooring too, so this may take me a little longer than I wanted it to, but I know that out of it, I'll get a nicely renovated bedroom along with a router table. Then after that, it's a matter of making new furniture.