Shop Built Router Table

A quality router mounted into a well designed table is an excellent alternative to a stationary shaper.  After all, the cutters are much less expensive for a router than a shaper and the router can be easier to setup as well.  You can pull the router out and use it handheld when needed too.  A shaper is a wonderfully versatile machine, but many woodworkers get by just fine with a router table.

My router table (above) is based on an old design originally made popular by American Woodworker Magazine.   I borrowed much of the design from their original, along with design modifications shown on the New Yankee Workshop television show, and some ideas of my own.  In particular, both of the previous versions used shop built fences made out of hardwood.   In my opinion a wood based fence is a poor choice and prone to distort.  I chose to purchase a commercial aluminum fence with sacrificial MDF facings.  This is rock solid and easy to adjust.  The MDF facings are designed to adjust tightly up to any size or shape of cutter, and can even be cut for zero clearance if desired.  The 7 small drawers are storage for router bits and small accessories.  The large drawer at the bottom stores feather boards, dovetail jig, inlay jig, cope and stick sets, push blocks, etc.  A dust collection port is built into the back of the router gallery.

The table houses this router, a Porter Cable 3.25 HP plunge base with variable speed.  Variable speed is absolutely necessary when turning the larger bits.  This router handles panel raising bits of 3" in diameter with no problem.  The router motor plugs into a receptacle designed into the cabinet, which is interrupted by the external toggle switch which you can see in the uppermost photo.  The router plunge base is outfitted with a Router Raizer lift system.  This system permits adjusting the depth of cut from above or below the table.  If you remove the router from the table for hand held use the RR still does the job.  I don't think there is a better system for the money.