How to Build a Router Table

A router table is an essential woodworking tool that allows for versatile routing operations and increased control and accuracy. With the right materials, plans, and techniques, you can build your own high-quality router table suitable for all your woodworking needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, from choosing a design to completing final assembly. Follow along to construct the perfect router table for your workshop.

Choosing a Design

When deciding how to build your router table, first consider the design. The two main styles are:


Benchtop router tables are compact and designed to be secured to a workbench or table. They maximize workspace while remaining portable enough to stow away. Benchtop tables work well for small shops and DIYers with limited space.


Cabinet router tables feature an enclosed base that houses the router and provides storage. The substantial design increases stability and makes the table more of a standalone station. Cabinet tables are ideal for frequent use and woodworkers with ample workshop real estate.

Other factors that impact the design are size, material, and features. Focus on picking a design that fits your space, budget, and routing needs. Many woodworkers choose to build their first table as a simple benchtop style and later upgrade to a cabinet down the road.

Selecting the Right Materials

Wood router tables are typically constructed using plywood, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and hardwood. Consider the following materials when sourcing lumber:

  • Plywood: Birch plywood offers an affordable option that is stable and resists warping. Opt for Baltic birch or cabinet-grade plywood for the highest quality.
  • MDF: Uniform in consistency, MDF is smooth, strong, and inexpensive. Look for 3⁄4″ thickness for the tabletop and base.
  • Hardwood: Hard maple and oak are common choices to construct a router table fence. Select dimensional S4S (surfaced four sides) lumber for straight edges.

Other materials needed include:

  • Router plate
  • Table inserts
  • T-tracks
  • Fence
  • Dust collection port
  • Accessories

Purchase router table hardware from specialty woodworking stores. Check that your chosen plate and inserts align with the design specs.

The Right Tools

Assembling a router table requires basic woodworking tools:

  • Table saw for ripping lumber and cutting joinery
  • Miter saw for cross-cutting boards
  • Router for handle cutouts and surfacing edges
  • Drill/driver for installing fasteners and hardware
  • Orbital sander for smoothing and flush trimming
  • Jigsaw for curved cuts
  • Screwdrivers, chisels, and other hand tools

Make sure to utilize proper safety gear like eye and ear protection when operating machinery. Additional clamps, levels, squares, and straight edges will also help with construction.

Step-by-Step Instructions

With your design decided and materials purchased, you’re ready to start constructing. Follow these step-by-step instructions to build your own router table:

1. Cut the Tabletop Pieces

The tabletop consists of an MDF substrate with two layers of plywood for stability and smooth edges.

Cut the following from 3⁄4” MDF:

  • 1 piece measuring 30″ x 24″ for the center substrate
  • 2 pieces measuring 30” x 5” for side borders
  • 2 pieces measuring 24” x 5” for end borders

Cut the following from 3⁄4″ plywood:

  • 1 piece measuring 301⁄2“ x 241⁄2“ for the bottom plywood layer
  • 1 piece measuring 303⁄4” x 243⁄4” for the top plywood layer

Tip: Cut oversized by ~1” on all board dimensions for final trimming.

2. Cut the Cabinet Pieces

The cabinet has a simple box design made from plywood with a hardwood face frame.

Cut the following from 3⁄4” plywood:

  • 2 pieces measuring 24” x 201⁄2” for the side panels
  • 1 piece measuring 30” x 201⁄2” for the back panel
  • 1 piece measuring 281⁄2” x 203⁄4” for the cabinet floor

Cut the following from 3⁄4″ hardwood:

  • 2 pieces measuring 30” x 3” for the front face frame sides
  • 1 piece measuring 24” x 3” for the front face frame top

3. Install the Router Plate

  • Trace and cut out the opening for your router plate in the MDF substrate, following the dimensions.
  • Use a jigsaw to cut the hole. Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.
  • Center the plate and pre-drill holes for the mounting screws.
  • Attach the plate using brass screws, checking it sits flush.

4. Assemble the Tabletop

Glue and clamp the border pieces around the MDF substrate using wood glue and clamps. Affix the bottom plywood layer next.

Once dry:

  • Trim the plywood edges flush with a router.
  • Sand smooth.
  • Roundover the edges with a 1⁄4” roundover bit.
  • Apply glue to the plywood bottom and position the top plywood layer. Clamp until dry.
  • Use a flush trim bit to trim off excess plywood from the top layer.
  • Sand entire top smooth up to 220 grit.

5. Assemble the Cabinet

Attach cabinet pieces as follows:

  • Front frame to side panels with pocket screws
  • Cabinet back panel with wood glue and brad nails
  • Cabinet floor resting on cleats attached to side panels

Sand cabinet smooth and install preferred door(s)/drawers.

6. Mount the Tabletop

  • Center the tabletop on the cabinet and attach using figure-8 fasteners.
  • Pre-drill holes to prevent splitting. Use corner braces for added stability.
  • The tabletop should overhang the cabinet by ~1” on all sides.

7. Install the T-Tracks

  • Mark and rout channels for two 24” T-tracks in the tabletop, one along the back and one along the front.
  • Position them equidistant from the router cutout. Predrill and use flathead screws to secure the tracks.

8. Build the Fence

The fence ensures precise cuts with your router. To construct:

  • Cut fence rails from MDF – 1 piece measuring 30” x 3” and 1 piece 24” x 3”.
  • Glue and screw the rails into a 24” x 24” square.
  • Use threaded inserts and knobs to attach and adjust the fence.
  • Add a tall auxiliary fence for support when routing tall stock.

9. Add Dust Collection

  • Select a dust port that fits your router and install it centered on the back side of the cabinet.
  • Connect 4” flexible hose running to a shop vacuum or dust collector. This manages dust and debris.

10. Complete Remaining Tasks

  • Seal the tabletop and cabinet with 3 coats of polyurethane.
  • Install your router, securing it from underneath.
  • Add safety accessories like a switch, cord wrap, and outlet strip.
  • Apply self-adhesive measuring tape to the tabletop and fence.

The router table is now complete and ready for handling any project! Be sure to utilize best practices for router safety. Enjoy your newly constructed table and the expanded capabilities it brings your shop.

Tips for Using YourRouter Table

Constructing your own router table allows full control over the layout and features. Follow this expert guidance for optimal use:

Choose the Proper Router

Small trim routers generally don’t have the power needed for extensive table routing work. Opt for a minimum of a 2-3HP fixed or plunge base router designed for table use. This provides versatility for handheld or table-mounted routing.

Adjust Bit Height Carefully

Set bit height so no more than half of the cutting edges are exposed below the collet nut for optimal performance and safety. Adjust in very small increments, checking frequently.

Use Quality Bits

Carbide-tipped bits stay sharp longer and produce smoother, tear-out free cuts. They’re worth the extra investment for superior results. Properly store bits to avoid damage.

Utilize Feed Direction

Always feed stock against or along the bit rotation, never with the spin direction. Climb cutting increases dangers of kickback. Feed control comes with experience.

Take Light Cuts

Remove only a small amount of material with each pass. Multiple light cuts are safer on the router and achieve a better cut than one deep pass.

Secure Stock Properly

Use hold-downs, featherboards, push sticks and related accessories to firmly hold stock flat to the table when routing. Preventing movement is crucial for control.

Wear Safety Equipment

Use eye and ear protection when operating the router table. Router bits spin at high speeds, creating noise and sending chips flying. Prioritize safety.

Maintain the Table

Periodically check that all table components are tight and clean. Lubricate adjustment points and keep the tabletop free of wax, grease, and dust buildup for smooth feeding.

Following these guidelines will help you safely get the highest performance from your router table for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size router tabletop should I build?

The most common sizes range from 16” x 24” up to 32” x 40”. Consider what you’ll use it for – bigger is better for handling large stock. But small tables like 24”x30” work well for average tasks.

What’s the best material to make the router tabletop from?

The top layer should be a void-free hardwood plywood like Baltic birch for a flat, smooth surface. MDF is prone to swells and dips from moisture. Many tops use a stable substrate like melamine with a replaceable hardwood top layer.

What’s the recommended thickness for a router tabletop?

A 3⁄4” thick tabletop provides ample stability and minimizes vibration. Two layers of 3⁄4” plywood laminated together makes a rigid 11⁄2” thick top. Avoid thinner tops that can flex during use.

Is building a router table base necessary?

The base provides storage space and keeps the tabletop surface at a comfortable working height. You can simply mount the top to a workbench, but the base makes the table more of a standalone station.

What safety equipment should I use with a router table?

Always wear eye and ear protection. Use pushers, holders, featherboards and other accessories to safely feed stock. A guard or shield helps contain flying debris. Turn off the router before any adjustments.

How do I mount a router to my router table?

Routers designed for tables have threaded holes on the bottom. Align these with the holes in the plate, then use hex screws tightened from under the table to secure the router.

What thickness of wood can be routed on a table?

With adequate fence support and proper technique, router tables can manage wood up to 2” thick in a single pass. Multiple light passes allow thicker stock to be worked. Use care when routing thin stock.

How do I prevent tear out when routing plywood?

Various methods help reduce splintering on plywood edges: use a sacrificial scrap against the fence, add blue tape strips, wrap edges in duct tape, or apply glue before routing. Take very light final cuts.

What accessories do I need for my router table?

Essentials like featherboards, push sticks, a quality fence, miter gauge, and hold-downs greatly expand abilities. Specialty jigs, plate inserts, lifts, switches, and other options customize the table further.

Building a router table is an extremely rewarding DIY woodworking project. Follow the techniques described here, take your time, and you’ll have a custom table tailored to your routing needs that will provide years of use. Always prioritize safety and be proud of your table!

How to Build a Router Table

Constructing your own router table is an excellent woodworking project that will expand the capabilities of your shop. With the right materials and proper techniques, you can build a high-quality, custom table for all your routing tasks. This comprehensive guide details the complete process for designing and assembling a versatile router table suitable for DIYers and seasoned experts alike.

Selecting the Design

When planning your table build, first determine the size, style and features that suit your space and skills. Consider the following when deciding on a design:

  • Benchtop vs. Cabinet – Benchtop mounts to a workbench; cabinets have an enclosed base.
  • Size – Typical range from 16″ x 24″ up to 30″ x 40″ or more.
  • Mobility – Stationary or easy to move around shop.
  • Material – MDF, plywood and hardwood are common choices.
  • Features – Fence, plate, miter track, storage, dust collection, etc.

Consider options like pre-made kits if you are new to woodworking. Otherwise, custom designing allows for versatility. Scale drawings help visualize the layout.

Choosing the Right Materials

Quality materials are essential for a router table built to last:

Plywood – Void-free Baltic birch makes an excellent tabletop, or use medium density fiberboard (MDF) coated in laminate.

Hardwood – Maple or oak work well for fence faces and trim. Select dimensional S4S lumber.

Hardware – Purchase items like plates, tracks, inserts and lifts specifically designed for router tables.

Fasteners – Opt for brass screws, steel corner braces, and premium wood glue.

Proper materials prevent vibration and warp, ensuring smooth operation. only use the highest quality for best results.

Helpful Tools to Have

Assembling a table requires common woodworking tools:

  • Table Saw – For ripping lumber and joinery cuts.
  • Miter Saw – Make precise crosscuts and angle cuts.
  • Router – For edge profiling, inlays, and hardware installation.
  • Drill/Driver – Drills holes and drives fasteners/screws.
  • Orbital Sander – Smooths and flush trims boards.
  • Jigsaw – For curved cutouts like the starter pin hole.
  • Clamps & Squares – Aid in precision assembly.

While most DIYers likely have these essentials, specialty router tools like decorative cutters, bits, and jigs help with detailed work. Safety gear like push sticks, featherboards, and guards are a must.

Step-by-Step Build Instructions

With your design plan complete and materials purchased, you’re ready to start constructing your custom router table. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

1. Cut the Tabletop Pieces

Cut an MDF substrate and plywood top layer to your specified sizes according to your table design. Leave extra for trimming.

2. Cut Cabinet Pieces

Cut the plywood cabinet sides, face frame, back panel, and floor pieces per your plans. Hardwood face frames add strength.

3. Install the Router Plate

Trace the opening size from your plate template and carefully cut in the tabletop substrate. Then mount the plate with brass screws.

4. Assemble the Tabletop

Glue borders and plywood layers to the substrate. Trim edges. Roundover edges. Flush trim. Sand smooth.

5. Assemble Cabinet Carcass

Attach the cabinet face frame, back, sides, and floor. Use glue, nails, screws, and pocket holes as needed.

6. Mount the Tabletop

Center and attach the tabletop to the cabinet base using fasteners and corner brackets for support.

7. Add T-Tracks

Rout channels for T-tracks in the tabletop for attaching fences and accessories. Secure with screws.

8. Build the Fence

Assemble a square fence from MDF or plywood. Add faces, insert, knobs, and attach to T-tracks.

9. Install Dust Collection

Cut port hole in cabinet back. Add 4″ port aligned with router below. Attach dust hose.

10. Complete Remaining Tasks

Seal wood, install router, attach cord management, and add measuring aids, stops, and safety accessories.

Refer to the in-depth instructions above for specifics on constructing each step to build your router table. Take it slowly and feel accomplished creating a shop upgrade you’ll enjoy for years!

Helpful Router Table Usage Tips

Once constructed, apply these expert tips for safe operation and getting the most from your table:

  • Use at least a 2+ HP router designed for table mounting. More power allows bigger cuts.
  • Set router bit height carefully – no more than 1⁄2 of the cutting edges should protrude. Adjust in small increments.
  • Feed stock against bit rotation only for safest results. Never climb cut or remove too much material per pass.
  • Utilize hold-downs, featherboards, push sticks and other accessories to stabilize stock. Prevent movement and kickback.
  • Wear eye protection – router bits spin at high speeds, sending chips flying rapidly. Use guards to contain debris.
  • Take light, multiple passes on thicker stock rather than hogging out material in one deep cut. Go slow.
  • Maintain the tabletop surface flat and slick. Check for debris buildup or damage over time.

Following these guidelines will help you safely get the most from your router table for years to come. Enjoy the vastly expanded capabilities of your shop!

Common Router Table FAQs

What’s the ideal router tabletop thickness?

A 3⁄4” laminated top provides ample rigidity and minimizes vibration. Avoid thinner tops that can flex during use.

What router motor size do I need?

Small palm routers generally lack the power for extensive routing work. Use a minimum 2-3 HP fixed or plunge base router designed to mount in tables.

What accessories are must-haves?

A quality