New Router Table
Comments 5

New Router Table: Adding the Base

Making a mortise with an old drill press.

Making a mortise with an old drill press.

I have said before that an old rickety drill press is better than no drill press at all. In the photo above, I am using my Dad’s old Craftsman bench top drill press to do some deep mortising.

This drill press shakes worse than a wet dog; it shakes so much I feel like I need to call someone to help me keep everything in place. I am doing some mild exaggeration here, but in the photo above I am using several clamps while drilling some mortises. The clamps keep things secure while the drill press vibrates away. Old and rickety, but it still does the job (a new drill press will be my next power tool purchase).

I have heard recently two different podcasts which discuss high profile woodworkers who don’t have the latest and greatest table saw, or hand tool. Either old tools are being used or very rudimentary processes are being employed to make excellent furniture. I used to hide the fact that the drill press I use is so humble and old, but no longer. 🙂

The Goal

The goal: fabricate the parts highlighted in blue and attach them and the casters to the router table.

As I work on the base for my router table, I need to make a number of mortise and tenon joints. I recently watched a really good video at which shows Gregory Paolini using a plunge router to make a quick mortise. I also have seen Chris Schwarz using a drill press to remove stock for a dovetail joint (I love the large photo at the top of Chris’ post).

For my mortises, I had originally thought to make them using my router table – plunging stock onto a 1/4 inch spiral bit, but I need to make a 3/4 inch wide mortise 1 1/2 inch deep. The drill press is better suited for this and I happen to have a 3/4 inch forstner bit, so the drill press won out.

Deep drilling; 1 1/2 inch deep to be exact.

Deep drilling.

After using the drill press to remove most of the stock, I still needed to square up the mortises and cut the corresponding tenons. This involved work with some chisels and my block plane. Since I am very much a novice at this, fitting the tenons to the mortises took some time, but it only got a little tiresome. I’ll get faster at this with more practice.

Cleaning up with chisels and a plane.

Cleaning up with chisels and a plane.

The major base components completed.

The main base components completed.

Where the individual boards did not meet perfectly at the corners, I simply touched them up with my smoothing plane. I am really enjoying my hand planes (both of them).

Then it was time to start bringing some various items together – the parts in the photos above, the casters and I want to add a MDF panel to close off the base from the floor.

Note above on the left, the four sheet rock screws - these attach the base to the inside of the cabinet.

Note above on the left, the four black sheet rock screws – these attach the base to the inside of the cabinet.

The base with the dust panel added and some paint.

The base with the dust panel added and some paint.

With the base completed, I want to fill the screw holes in the face frame while it is easy to move the router table around the shop. The process is pretty standard fare – I cut plugs using the drill press and glue the plugs in place. Then, the tricky part begins; how to trim the plugs flush and flat with the face frame surface. I use a pull saw, a chisel, my smoothing plane and sand paper and get very good results as shown below.

If you look closely, you can see the almost hidden plugs in the face frame.

If you look closely, you can see the almost hidden plugs in the face frame.

Time to add paint to the face frame and touch up some paint where I used the sander earlier in the build process. Again, the combination of high quality paint and a good quality brush make this process a lot of fun.

Looking a lot more like a router table.

Looking a lot more like a router table.

At this point, I need to add the dust port to the back; a step which would have been a lot easier if I had cut the hole for the port prior to gluing the back in place. But I think I have a good, but slightly complex method for doing this. It will involve my router and a pattern cutting bit. I am trying to resist buying a hole saw kit which I would not use very often. I will then begin working on the top which signals I am more than half way through this build. Stay tuned…

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.
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During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


  1. Beautiful work! That is a heavy duty base! Mortise and tenons?? I’ll admit I would have used pocket screws there. Speaking of MnT joinery. Jessum has a mortise mill for $70 that I’m thinking of trying out. I actually enjoy cutting tenons, by hand or machine, but I hate making mortises.

    • Thanks Bill – one thing I did not anticipate in using construction grade 2 x 4s is the knots. I dislike mortises too. Knots interfered with two of the mortises making the work harder. I thought of pocket screws and biscuits, but I really wanted the practice with M & T joinery. I’ll check into that Jessum thing.

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

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