Designing a new router table

With all the components on hand (that I can think of) to use the router table on a regular basis, the time has finally come to design a new base that should be something I use for many years to come.

With such a long life anticipated, I’m having to revisit a question I thought I had already answered: how is it going to be oriented?

I still believe that the best place for my table is paired up with the table saw. They are just about the same footprint, and both need a little bit of room to the front and back to operate properly. However, there’s one thing that makes it a bit less simple of a task: the Incra positioner. With a normal router table fence, you can easily slide it back or remove it and have just about a flat surface over the entire table in which to work. With the Incra, even when the fence is fully removed, you still have the base at the rear that is better if it isn’t removed. If I had the Incra pre-built table, it might be a different story, but I don’t. At least not quite yet. And it shouldn’t impact my decision, because I really would rather not go through the setup process each time I want to cut something on the table saw.

With an offset table, obviously there are two options: have the router paired up with the right side of the saw, or have it paired up with the left side of the saw. With it to the right, the saw and router table become yin and yang. The saw outfeed travels over the back (right) side of the router table and vice versa. With it to the left, the saw outfeed travels right over the working area of the router table. Both units would operate in the same direction.

Each has attributes and demerits. With the router table in the current position, opposite the saw travel, it feels more natural. The drawers are right there to your right as you stand at the router table operating position. I can’t really explain why it feels better like this, but it does. The hose for both the table saw and router fence are basically in the same place.However it has the most drawbacks: whenever I want to use the saw, I basically have to pull the router table around to the other position. Why? Because I can retract the fence back all the way and pretty much clear any width on the saw. I also can’t clear the table saw extension on the saw. The rails, but not the table.

With the table in the same plane (both operations on the left), I don’t have to turn the table around to use the saw. For router operations, I can either push the saw more toward the wall, or pull the router table out slightly. The drawers would be on the other side of the router table during operation. The vac port isn’t on the side with the table saw.

It was at this point in writing this that I took a break and played around a little with the relationship between the saw and router table. I tried it a few different ways, including putting the saw in the middle of the shop, oriented to the door. I came to the realization that everything should remain how it was – with the saw and router table in a yin and yang configuration.

So many words to come to a conclusion that is the status quo, but it had to be done to lay the foundation for where things will go. This is also where this particular post ends. I have taken pictures of everything I think I need to store within the body of the router table, and the next step is to logically lay out where these things should go. About how big the drawers will be, and what can fit with what and where. I have a ton of layout strips for the Incra jig that will get a home, and that will require some special thought. I already found a couple sources of inspiration, though. There are also decisions like how to access the router, the size of the casters, and whether or not to have metal drawer pulls.

I have to do some work in Sketchup to help pull this off. I actually started preliminary work on this back a few months ago, so hopefully most of my work is still valid considering the structure should be roughly the same. Perhaps I’ll get some work done on that this weekend.

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