Home > Woodworking > Mostly good days in the Sandy Turtle woodshop….

Mostly good days in the Sandy Turtle woodshop….

The weekend before last, I was able to move 4 bookshelves out of my shop freeing up some room in my sparse 13′ x 11′ workspace. I know that I’ll be moving things around for quite sometime until I arrive at an optimized setting. I have also continued to “shop” at home and with help, I moved my daughter Callie’s abandoned pine amoire downstairs for use in my “man cave”.  It presents itself as a perfect project for my skill level, it is not a particularly expensive piece, it is in need of some minor repairs and it will make a fine toolcabinet once I give it some attention. The unit has two lower drawers and two large shelves in the upper cupbard. Several of thin pine door panels had been broken but fortunately, the kids kept the pieces so I was able to glue them back together. I have other projects ahead of this one but I can see clearly how easy it will be to convert this piece into a proud addition to my shop. Rude of me not to have a photo, I’ll take a picture of it tonight.

I also had a couple of productive shop days this last weekend. Susan took the girls to go clothes shopping on Saturday, leaving me to attack the problem of a top for my benchtop router table. I’m basing my build around this plan which I like due to it’s simplicity.

Benchtop Router Table by Larry Okrend

Benchtop Router Table by Larry Okrend

As a beginner, I wanted something SIMPLE yet functional and I was hoping I could pull this build off. If you read my previous post on joinery, you will remember that I don’t have a biscuit joiner so I decided to assemble the base using pocket hole screws. For the router plate insert, I splurged and purchased the Rockler Router Lift FX which might be overkill for a benchtop table but I figured if I’m not spending $500 to $1,000 on a commercial table, I can at least spend $180 on a nice lift.

Router Lift FX

Besides, I may very well move this lift one day to a full sized router table but until that day, I’ll use it in this application. The plan calls for rolled countertop laminate to be glued to the MDF but I couldn’t find this stuff anywhere and when I did find it online, it was way expensive. Perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places, but I didn’t want to spend $50 on that stuff so I bought a whiteboard handy panel at Home Depot to surface the MDF base. That is when my next challenge surfaced. The router plate thickness is 1/4″ and the hardboard was only 1/8″ thick. After serveral days of “engineering” and even purchasing other panels, I came to the brilliant solution of laminating two pieces of the dry erase hardboard together! That worked and the thickness was just right to bring the router plate flush with the table surface. Next I needed to cut the hole in the panel to accept the plate. This I did by starting a hole with drill and cutting it out with a jig saw. I am a beginner, but I can learn and what I learned is to cut shy of the line to always leave a bit of extra material on your workpiece then ever so carefully creep up on the final cut line. This I did with chisel, handplane and sandpaper. I finessed the round corners with a small drum sander attachement on my Dremel. Alas taking my time I was able to get a pretty decent fit.

Art's Benchtop Router Table

Much more to do on this build but this particular “challenge” has been tackled. Next, I’ll finish leveling the top and then add the threaded inserts to the MDF that will be used to secure the router lift. With the plate securely in place and the top carefully lined up,  I’ll glue it to the MDF base (I’ll let you know how I did this after I’ved done this!) When that’s completed I’ll finish the top by routing the edges flush and will probably add some sort of edge banding to dress it up a bit. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself…..

What I’ve learned on this project thus far….

  1. pocket hole jig first use
  2. challenges with slippery glue-ups
  3. laminating two panels
  4. problem solving
  5. leaving the kerf proud of the line (making the router plate cut out)
  6. leaving the top proud and then routing it flush (didn’t actually do this but should have)
  7. it’s OK, everything isn’t just going to work the first time you try it
  8. “you can fix that”

Hey I’ve learned 8 valuable lessons and I’m not even half way finished with this project. That is way awesome!

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