Fine Woodworking, New Router Table
Comments 5

New Router Table: Getting Started

Here is the current design for my new router table.

Here is the current design for my new router table.

Time for a new project. I am in the process of building a new router table which will replace the antiquated one I currently use – a much-needed upgrade for my shop.

When I think back to the day I received my first router table, I have to smile because I got it shortly after we moved into our current home – that makes it about 25 years old. I saw it in a Highland Hardware catalog (currently known as Highland Woodworking) and immediately knew I had to have it. I had never seen a router table before and once I had it in my shop, ready for use, I was the proud owner of what was then state-of-the-art and a very nice router table (you will see a photo of it later in this post).

But that was then and this is 25 years later. I’ll modernize the new router table by incorporating dust collection and hopefully a router lift. The fence will be taller and even though you don’t see it in the illustrations, I am going to add a t-track to the table and possibly the fence which will enable me to easily attach things like a feather board. And, in an effort to make better use of shop space, my router table will be incorporated into the extension table of my table saw. This will free up some valuable shop space for other uses.

This is what I am shooting for.

This is what I am shooting for.

This router table design is based on one I saw in Fine Woodworking issue 216. What I liked most about this design is how the router table fence simply clamps to the table saw fence making removal a snap. The fence incorporates dust collection by way of a portal built into the table.

Note the handy fence design.

Note the handy fence design as seen in Fine Woodworking magazine.

But, I did not want my version of this router table to hang from the table saw’s fence rails. I have been thinking about adding a cabinet to sit next to my table saw; something that would provide additional storage space. So, in my router table design, I am building an enclosed cabinet with one large drawer and I have added casters just in case I have the need to move it around my shop.

Construction Begins
To get started, I decided to build the case first. The sides are simple frame and panel construction, but this is fancy stuff for a router table – those are mahogany raised panels you see in the illustrations. Upon showing this design to a friend, he commented about the elaborate panels. I simply told him this project will result in a nice router table and it will help teach me a few things. It has been forever since I last created raised panels and I wanted to give it a try again. Plus, this design helps me get rid of some small pieces of mahogany that have been lying around my shop for a while.

Zeroing in on the right size for the raised panels.

Zeroing in on the right size for the raised panels.

After forming the rails and stiles for the frame, I use a scrap piece of MDF to determine the exact size needed for the mahogany panels. Once this was determined I used my old router table to raise the panels.

Old router table

An action shot of my old router table.

As you can see from the photo above, I have no dust collection for my old router table. I have literally duct taped a shop vac hose to the back of the fence on one or two occasions, but no permanent modifications which is my fault. But I have never been able to find an easy and totally effective dust port for the fence (note the cool grain in the mahogany).

Here, I am pre-finishing the rails and stiles.

Here, I am pre-finishing the rails and stiles.

Because the panels and the frame are different colors, I had to pre-finish the panels and paint the frame components. This would be very delicate work if I were to apply the finish after glue-up.

Side Panels

The side panels almost completed.

Since painting my new sawhorses, I had a conversation with my dad about a painted project he is about to complete. He had purchased a high quality brush and commented how well the paint went on. I usually buy either a cheap brush or at best one that is medium grade. For this project, I decided to try a high quality brush and paint. The paint is Benjamin Moore Regal Select – the kind that is both a primer and paint, and in combination with the better brush, the paint went on fabulously. The cheap pine from Home Depot has never looked better.

The mahogany looks good – this is the best grain match given the scraps I had to work with. I did very little preparation for the wipe-on poly; just a light sanding to try to tame some of the moderate tear-out from the power planing and routing.

Next Up
I need to paint the back of the frame and then cut a shallow dado for the shelf which separates the router area from the drawer. Then I’ll begin making the back which is a similar frame and panel design, except it will have quarter-inch MDF panels instead of mahogany. The finished router table’s back will be virtually hidden from view. I have not finalized how I will hook up dust collection to the table. I’ll have to come up with some dust port design before I begin work on the back.

Move to the next post in this series by clicking here.

NEW WOODWORKING PLAN: How to make a large painted bookcase – this plan covers the construction of a bookcase I built for a co-worker and was designed to be simple to build, yet stylish. See the free plan by clicking here.


  1. I agree regarding brushes and paint. Painting is such a joy compared to when using the cheap stuff. Can’t wait to see the router table top construction – I’ve got a cabinet door project looming and my current setup of handheld + jig is a source of much frustration. Cheers!

    • Marie, I know about router frustrations. This new router table will tame some of my frustrations, which I’ll write about in my next post. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Wow mahogany! When I’m building stuff for my shop I often think about making it more furniture like, but I just can’t can’t bring myself to spend the extra money and time.

    • Ben, those mahogany scraps have been in my basement for over a year and I needed to do something with them (I am tired of looking at them, LOL). Plus it will give me something good to look at while I am in my shop. Thanks for the comment.

      Sent from my iPad

  3. Pingback: New Router Table: Adding Dust Collection | Jeff Branch Woodworks

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