Equipped with an affordable trim router, this totable table means business.
Design Editor John Olson wasn’t thinking outside the box when he ideated this results-driven router table. Instead, he was laser-focused on what he could fit inside the box. We’re pretty sure the actionable synergies are shifting paradigms here, too, but we don’t know what that means, so we’ll just sell the sizzle: The 1"-thick tabletop provides a best-in-class flat surface; fence-mounted dust collection minimizes the mess; and it all self-stows in a compact package. Win-win-win.
We equipped it with a Porter-Cable PCE6435—the top tool in our trim router shop test (issue 268, July 2020)—which measures 3½" in diameter at the base (minus the subbase) and 7½" tall without the collar. To accept a larger router, adjust the part sizes and hole in the bottom tabletop to fit that router and allow the top to open and close.
Bring innovation to the table
Baltic birch plywood comes in metric thicknesses close to, but less than, ½" and ¾". Measure assemblies as you build them, and adjust part dimensions to accommodate the slight size differences.
1 Cut the case parts A–K to size and label each with its part letter [Materials List]. Jigsaw notches in the case bottom (A) to suit the actual thickness of the ¾" plywood [Drawing 1]. Dry-fit the sides (B), front, and back (C). Drill countersunk pilot holes, then glue and clamp the case [Exploded View, Photo A].
2 Fine-tune the corner blocks (D, E) to fit the notches in the bottom (A) [Exploded View]. Glue and screw one small block to each large block, and then glue the block assemblies to the case [Photo B].
3 Glue the long legs (F) to the short legs (G) flush at the sides and one end [Exploded View]. After the glue dries, fit the legs (F/G) in the case openings, and cut the rails (H) to fit between them. Laminate the rails into two 11⁄2"-thick rail assemblies, flush all around. Glue the rails to the legs [Photo C]. After the glue dries, reinforce the joint with screws.
Build a top and circle back
1 Notch the shroud sides (I) [Drawing 2]. Glue and clamp the sides to the shroud front and back (J) [Exploded View].
2 Trace the shroud opening on the bottom (A) [Drawing 1, Photo D] and cut the hole [Photo E]. Square the corners with a chisel and sand the edges smooth. Glue and screw the shroud to the case.
3 Drill the holes in the tops (K) [Drawing 3]. Laminate the tops with the ends and edges flush.
4 Using a dado clean-out router bit, gradually deepen the 3½" hole until the remaining thickness of the upper top matches the thickness of your router subbase [Photo F].
5 Build a template [Fast-track the T-track] and use it with a dado clean-out bit to rout the stopped dadoes in the upper top [Drawing 3, Photo G]. Cut T-track [Sources] to length with two screw holes in each piece and set the tracks aside.
A fence for the cutting edge
1 Cut the fence parts L–O to size. Notch the base (L) and backer (M) [Drawing 4]. Glue the backer (M) between the base and cap (N) [Drawing 5, Photo H].
2 Drill countersunk pilot holes into both fence inserts (O) and screw them to the fence backer (M) [Exploded View].
3 Miter-cut the braces (P) from a ½×1¾×12" plywood strip. Glue and clamp the braces to the fence [Drawing 5].
4 Bevel-cut the dust hood (Q) and drill a centered hole sized to fit the hose of your shop-vacuum [Drawings 5 and 5a]. Glue and clamp the hood to the fence assembly. 5 Center the fence assembly on the top (K) and transfer the edges of the T-track dadoes to the fence bottom (L). Drill the bottom to accept the T-bolts [Drawing 4].
Now leverage the end process
1 Apply finish to the case, legs, top, and fence. (We sprayed three coats of rattlecan lacquer, sanding lightly between coats.)
2 Screw the T-tracks to the top (K). Then install the top with a continuous hinge cut to length [Photo I]. Install the latches and handle on the front of the case.
3 Cut and apply weatherstrip to the top edges of the shroud (I/J).
4 To orient the router in the table, mark the router’s front on its subbase and remove it from the router. Place the subbase in the recess in the top (K) with the mark against the wood and facing the latches. Transfer the mounting holes to the top. Drill countersunk mounting holes and screw the router in place [Photo J].
5 To set up your new router table, slide the legs in place on the table and clamp at least one leg to a solid worksurface [opening photo]. Mount the fence using T-bolts and knobs [Sources] and attach the vacuum hose.
6 To make a cut, install a bit and adjust the bit height as needed. Lock the top in place and you’re ready to rout.