Fixing the Top

I’ve had a good weekend in the workshop so far, which means that my social life definitely isn’t improving… Actually, I still have two days left (thanks to the Jubilee), it’s pretty safe to say that I’ll have the router table completed very soon indeed.

Those are the two ‘dividers’, being pocket-screwed in to position. Their main function is to ‘brace’ and support the vertical dividers either side of the router. Their front edges will be hidden by the timber frame that is fixed below the top.

I’d given the top a second coat of oil and then, a single coat of wax, before clamping it in place and fixing it to the frame with pocket screws. It’s quite an impressive surface and very slick. Perhaps not quite as ‘durable’ as Formica but, I think it’ll be fine for my workshop.

That’s the sub-frame or ‘skirting’ fixed to the underside of the top. I had to insert several small wedges in places in order to level the MDF sheet. I guess that my sanding was a bit ‘heavy’ in places… It’s not perfect now but, it’s certainly serviceable for woodworking. Another great thing about an MDF top is that it can easily be flattened. You don’t really have to worry about going through the show face or a veneer.

This frame is then fixed to the main carcase with machine screws; two at either end. A slight miscalculation in the positioning of these holes resulted in T-nuts that wouldn’t fit. So, in order for them to clear the two dividers I showed you earlier, I had to file away one of the four prongs from each nut.

If I’m honest though, I hate T-nuts! They seem like a good idea at the time but, you’ll always get one that works itself loose and just spins as you try to drive the screw in! I wasted a lot of time trying to get that one out, using a claw hammer and all sorts.

With everything coming together nicely, I was almost ready to give the router a test run. First though, I wanted to make and fit a new door, as this new setup would prove to be quite noisy while running. I’m not sure why but, it’s far louder than my previous, smaller table… Maybe that’s MR MDF was a better material, last time? Fitting the door has helped and, the inclusion of draught-proofing strips also seems to have been a good move.

Yep, you guessed it… This door was also assembled with… Pocket Screws!! 😀

Before I could assemble it though, I needed to groove the rail and stile components in order to accept a 5mm thick acrylic panel. This was my first time using the new table and, yep, it was loud, which is why I kept the router set on a low speed setting.

Routing on a Part-Finished Table…

I used my pillar drill’s fence (that aperture for the pillar was almost perfectly sized!) with a pair of push-sticks for added safety. No dust extraction and, of course, not a recommended practice but, the job is done.

With the door done, I started working on the fence.

Like the carcase, this was assembled using pocket screws, but with biscuit joints for alignment. I do have a dedicated’ biscuiting board‘ with a back fence but, I decided to improvise here and found that a spare sheet of 18mm MDF and a pair of those Bench Cookie Plus accessories made for a good substitute. I should really have taller support for such a wide workpiece stood on edge but, this setup was very easy to setup and then break down again. Must get my extraction sorted soon…

With the screws in and glue beginning to cure, I then added four right-angle triangles to improve the rigidity of the structure. I then added two clamping blocks:

I was going to use a hardwood but, although I couldn’t find any scraps of the right dimensions, these bits of softwood from the bin seem to work well.

I also used my bobbin sander to size an accurate dust extraction port for the back of my fence. It’s for a 100-58mm reducing cone, which actually came with my sander. I used to have a 100-75mm reducer for my other table but, I think it makes sense to use the same cone for several machines (plus, Axminster didn’t have anything larger in stock when I placed my order a few weeks ago). I drilled out most of the waste with a 50mm forstner bit and then carefully sanded back to my lines – the irony here, was that while I needed to use this cone to periodically check its fit as I sanded the hole, I wasn’t able to fit extraction to my sander without it! MDF dust is nasty at the best of times…

My new fence will also have two sliding faces on the front, so that you can close or widen the aperture around the cutter, depending on what size of bit you are using.

I had to redrill the aluminium insert plate for a couple of things – one of those being the fact that I needed to rotate the position of my router by 45°, so that I could fit another extraction port in to the underside of the plate itself (I’ll show you more on this in a separate post).

Two things I should’ve shown you last time…

First – that I was able to attach the feet blocks using pocket screws; before turning the whole assembly over and then driving some longer screws in through the MDF from above.

Then, there were the two castors. Now, I purchased swivel castors (no brakes) and someone later pointed out that I’d have been better off with fixed castors only. Things seem to have worked out in my favour though. I don’t need to consider returning or exchanging either of these wheels as the bolts and nuts I’ve used seem to restrict the swivel of both castors! So, I’ve essentially got two fixed castors; just with a little extra room to manoeuvre! 😉

That’s how it stands at the end of play today. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the two compartments either side yet… I’d like to be able to store cutters and accessories (spanners, collets, etc.) at the very least. I’m almost ready to start making featherboards and other safety/work hold-down devices so, that means that it’s very nearly complete! 🙂

I’ll try to update you with all the work I’ve been doing on the plate, tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading.

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