The Portable Router Table

This small, portable router table was part of an extension table I originally built for my Ryobi BT3000.  

When I got my new tablesaw the extension table either had to go or find a new life.  Seemed silly to just throw it away, so I cut it back some, to about 22" x 20", banded the edges with soft maple, and made a pair of brackets/cleats I can use to slide it onto my folding workbench.  Until I build a new stand-alone router table, this little guy will let me do the cuts I have to do without taking up a lot of precious floor space in my very crowded garage workshop.

This photo shows the portable table clamped to my folding workbench.  It uses a Rockler aluminum plate and a Woodpeckers Aluminum / MDF router fence.

These are the cleats that hold the portable router table to the workbench.  I got the idea looking at a portable highchair someone was using when I was at the diner, the kind that clamps to the edge of the table.   The table slips over the edge of the workbench, and soon there will be a set of knobs on the backs of the cleats to tighten the table to the workbench.  So far it seems really strong. 

Here's a line drawing of the table.  The actual table is slightly narrower.

How I made it:

I started with a couple of pieces of 3/4" MDF.  If I'd had access to one sheet of 1-1/4" MDF I would have used that.  I laminated them together with contact cement and pressed them flat.  If I were making the portable table shown I would have started with two peices 19" x 22" and trimmed them square on the table saw after the cement dried.

(There were some other steps I followed to make the extension table for the table saw, I'm going to leave those out because they aren't important to this process.)

I would then have glued the bottom piece of laminate on with contact cement.  Trim flush with a flush trimming bit in your router on all four sides.

Next would come the cleats.  The diagram has a better view of the cleats that support the table than the photos.  They are about 27" long and the depth between the table and the cleat where the workbench slips into is just over 1-1/2".  I made it this way to accommodate my workbench, you should make yours match your workbench.  (If I want to attach the table to a thinner workbench, All I need to do is use a couple of wedges to take up the difference in thickness.)  The cleats are cut from 2x4 studs because I had some, and felt 2-by would be sturdier than 4/4 runners.  

I attached the cleats thru the surface of the table with 3" #10 wood screws.  (I would have preferred to attach them from below but I was worried the wood screw threads wouldn't hold in the MDF.  I'll fill the holes with epoxy and sand them flush soon.  Had I made the table from scratch I would have attached the cleats from the top before the top piece of laminate was applied, or I would have used Confirmat screws and gone up from below.)

Next I would apply the top laminate with contact cement and again trim flush to the MDF with the router.

Edge banding would be next.  I used a few lengths of Soft Maple, 3/4" x 1-1/2" mitered at the corners for edge banding.  Apply the two sides first and flush-cut with the router before adding the front and back.  Then flush-trim the front and back.  Finish with Polyurethane, gloss finish preferable.

Time to cut the dadoes.  I centered my router plate and marked the edges with a pencil.  Then I marked another set of lines inside that about 1/2", with some extra at the corners.  I cut out the inner lines with my jigsaw after making a starter hole with a drill.  Then I set temporary fences on the tabletop and used my router with a 1/2" straight bit to cut a rabbet about 5/16" deep around the edges.  When all was done I dropped the plate in and it fit pretty well.  (Now that I have a template guide set for my router, I would cut and use a custom template instead.)  Holes for leveling screws that came with the plate were drilled into the corners and the Confirmat screws inserted.

Then I routed two dadoes for the T-track the the fence attaches to, about 10" long, 3/4" wide and 3/8" deep.  The T-tracks are represented by the red lines on the drawing.

I'll be inserting a couple of threaded inserts and studded knobs into the underside of the cleats to clamp the table to the workbench, so the vibration doesn't cause it to walk off.  For now I'm just using a couple of wedges.

Hope this helps!

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