Having completed my tool cabinets, the next step in organizing my workshop was to build a router table. The goal was to use my modular toolbox design to create a cabinet with a fully functional router table on top with drawers for tool storage.
I already had a basic store-bought router table, but its design left me wanting for more. So, I set out to design a new router table, one with drawers for built-in storage, and better dust collection to help keep things clean.
Table of Contents
- Designing the Router Table
- Assembling the Frame
- Adding Side Panels and Drawer Slides
- Building the Router Motor Box
- Adding a Safety Power Switch
- Finishing the Cabinet
- Attaching the Router Table Top
- Installing the Router Lift
- Router Fence
- Adding Drawers
- Organizing the Drawers
- Adding LED Lights to the Motor Box
- Final Thoughts
- Tools and Materials
- Other Posts in this Series (Background Reading)
Designing the Router Table
I started iterating my design using SketchUp. I was able to base the router table on the rolling tool storage cabinets designs I already modeled and built, saving me from having to start from scratch. The basic cabinet is 54.5″ wide, 28″ deep and ~33″ high (28″ for frame plus ~5″ for the 4″ casters).
My plan was to center the router in the middle of the top and put a box inside the cabinet to contain the dust. Underneath the top I decided to fill all the internal space with drawers, which I prefer over cupboards or open shelves.
I also left space at the rear of the cabinet to store the router fence when it’s not in use. With the router box in the middle, I was left with space for 17″ wide drawers on the left and right. They wouldn’t have the same full 24″ depth as the drawers at the bottom, since I needed 9.5″ to build a shelf for the fence in the back.
Assembling the Frame
With my design locked in, I purchased and assembled the frame in a similar manner as my tool cabinets. The framing consists of:
- 4x 54.5″ Faztek 1515 T-slot aluminium for the width
- 11x 25″ T-slot with anchor bores at both ends, for the height and depth
- 51.5″ T-slot with anchor bores at both ends for the shelf at the rear
- 3x 12.5″ T-slot, 1x 11″ piece and 1x 14.5″ piece for the Y section at the front
- 4x 4″ locking casters
- 5x 8′ of black T-slot inserts
The main components of the frame are held together using the anchor fasteners. The Y section at the front is then installed using end fasteners:
Including the casters, aluminium extrusion, and fasteners, the cost of the frame came to around $350.
Adding Side Panels and Drawer Slides
The sides, center support, and rear of the cabinet are made from 1/2″ finished plywood. They are routed down on each side to slot into the T-slot of the aluminium framing. The drawer sliders are then installed and ready for the drawers.
For a full walk-through on this design see Part 2: Adding Sides to Modular Tool Cabinets.
Building the Router Motor Box
Next up was the router box, which in addition to trapping the dust, also stores the router fence.
The front of the box, which holds the motor, is built from 3/4″ MDF laminated with Formica, and the rear compartment is made from 3/4″ beech plywood. All the pieces are assembled using Kreg’s Pocket Hole system.
Finally, I drilled a 2-1/2″ hole through both rear panels for the vacuum port. On the outside of the box I installed a Rockler 2-1/2″ dust port and the right adapter so I could plug in my Dewalt Shopvac.
When using a router box it’s essential that the heat and dust generated is vented from the box, otherwise the life of the router is going to be impacted. My plan is to use a Y-adapter on the hose from my Shopvac so I can have dust collection at the fence and the router box.
Both boxes are then placed into the cabinet and rest on the center drawer support and horizontal aluminium support at the back. The top sections of the aluminum frame, not shown in the photo, holds everything in position.
Adding a Safety Power Switch
I value my hands, and so I’m always keen to ensure all my tools are nice and safe to use. I wanted an on/off switch in an easy reach location at the front of the cabinet. This switch has a large paddle lever for turning off power to the router, and it’s a large enough target that you can bump it with your body in case both hands are occupied or in an emergency.
First, I installed a piece of 1/4″ black acrylic into the section on the right and installed the safety switch above it. In the left section, I installed a piece of clear 1/4″ acrylic sheet, which is impossible to see in the photo! All these pieces are slotted into the T-slot and the frame is then firmly held in place using the end fasteners. I place 1/4″ foam weather stripping into the T-slot on all sides to ensure a tight fit.
Finishing the Cabinet
To prevent dust getting into the drawers from the router box, I installed 3/4″ MDF Formica, recessing it into the frame on the left and right sides of the cabinet.
These are installed using my “Flush Mount” approach outlined in Part 3: Durable and Low-Friction Work Surface.
Attaching the Router Table Top
For the top I created a 28″ x 54.5″ work surface.
I started with a sheet of 3/4″ MDF cut to size. On the sides, I installed black FastEdge, peel and stick edge banding from Fastcap. For the top, I laminated Formica’s excellent Microdot surface.
Using a router, I then cut the hole for the router plate. I did this by using my old Kreg table top as the template, replicating the hole using a jigsaw for the rough cut before cutting it flush with a trim router bit.
I routed a channel in front of the router plate for a Woodpecker’s Combo track, which has a T-slot track and also a miter track for use with a miter gauge. I used a Freud flush trim bit in my Festool router, mounted on guide track, to get a nice accurate fit. The combo track is 48″ wide, and so I didn’t have to cut the groove down the full width of the table. If this makes using a miter gauge a challenge, it will be easy to extend the channel the full width of the table down the road.
Finally, the router fence I planned to use required two T-slot tracks, placed 17″ apart, at the left and right of the router plate. The fence attaches using 1/4″ hex bolts, so I used the same technique to route grooves to fit Woodpecker’s Dual Purpose track. If you look carefully you’ll notice a design feature (aka mistake) that I made when measuring the cut. The fix was to expand the groove to have two tracks on both sides, ensuring I had the required 17″ spacing!
On the bottom of the table I installed an additional piece of 1/2″ MDF to give the table some additional support. With all the material removed for the tracks I was a little worried the table would be weak. Most router table tops I’ve looked at are at least 1″ thick, and so I think this is a common consideration. In this photo you can also see the bolts holding all the T-tracks in place.
Installing the Router Lift
With the top done, I installed Kreg’s Precision Router Table insert plate levelers in the four corners of the cut-out.
I mounted a Kreg Router Lift fitted with a Dewalt DW618. The plate levelers have eight screws which allow you to get everything perfectly flush with the table top. Once aligned, there are four screws that hold everything securely into place.
My first router table featured a simple router plate, but I soon discovered the difficulty adjusting the position of the router, especially when accuracy was essential. A router lift allows you to raise and lower the router table from the top which drastically improves the usability of the router table.
I researched router fences and ultimately decided to go with Woodpecker’s SuperFence. I was tempted by JessEm and Incra router fences, but felt that the Woodpeckers would suit me best.
I am able to store the entire fence at the rear of the cabinet, allowing me to push the whole cabinet under my stationary benches when it’s not in use.
You can also see on the left the power outlet that runs through the cabinet to the paddle switch. These are mounted at the rear so they are out of the way when the table is not in use.
The final step was to build the drawers. I went with six 4″ high, 17″ x 18″ drawers to go on either side of the router box.
Below the router motor box, I built two of my standard 6″ high 24″ x 24″ drawers on the left. I also wanted a nice deep drawer, so I built a 12″ high 24″x 24″ drawer for the bottom of the right side of the cabinet.
My previous post discusses how I build these drawers – Part 4: Every Tool Cabinet Needs Drawers.
Organizing the Drawers
The left set of drawers are used for storing router bits in removable plastic bins, and on the right are all the tools, jigs, and parts for the router, router mount, and fence.
Full details on the different organizational approaches I have taken can be found in my previous post – Here are Some Ways to Organize your Drawers
Adding LED Lights to the Motor Box
Finally, I went a little overboard and installed a strip of LED lighting inside the router box. It looks awesome, and it actually lights up the router too, so it’s actually quite useful, plus it’s a good visual indicator that the power strip is plugged in and turned on.
This particular table was a result of being snowed in for 7 days in January. There was nothing horrendously wrong with my previous router table, but I felt that a custom-made DIY router table setup would serve me better. Most importantly, I wanted better dust collection and built-in drawers for more efficient use of space.
This new router table exceeds my expectations. The large top is a pleasure to use, there’s a lot of easily accessible storage, there’s room to store the fence when it’s not in use, and it matches the styling of my tool cabinets.
Would I change anything in this design? I think I will end up adding baffles to the router box to help channel the dust more effectively towards the dust port.
I hope this brings you inspiration. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Tools and Materials
- Sketchup 3D Modeling (Free Download)
- T-Slot Framing
- Faztek Products (via Amazon)
- Faztek Website
- 4-Pack Swivel Casters (via Amazon)
- Drawer Hardware: GlideRite 2075-ZC-10 Drawer Slides (via Amazon)
- Router Table Top Surface
- Fastcap Edgebanding (via Fastcap)
- Formica Fog Microdot (via Cabinet Maker Warehouse)
- Router Lift, Fence, and T-slot Channels
- Kreg Precision Router Table Insert Plate Levelers (via Amazon)
- Kreg Precision Router Lift (via Amazon)
- Woodpecker Super Fence (via Woodpeckers)
- Woodpecker Combo Track (via Woodpeckers)
- Woodpecker Dual Purpose Track (via Woodpeckers)
- Router: Dewalt DW618 (via Amazon)
- Route Box:
- Rockler 2 1/2″ Dust port (via Amazon)
- Dewalt DWV9140 adapter (via Amazon)
- Drawer Organization: Schaller Boxes (via Schaller Corp)
- Power and Lights
- Rockler Safety Power Tool Switch (via Rockler)
- LED Strip Light (via Amazon)
Other Posts in this Series
This post builds on techniques and design principles I’ve discussed in some of my previous posts:
Any ballpark number, maybe quick summary, on the material cost?
With $350 into the frame alone, I suspect this would be pushing close to $1000 with the lift, fences, and other parts.
Personally, I would find it hard to justify spending 30+% of my budget on the frame, that adds very little in terms of function, when a more traditional cabinet would cost so much less. That said, i like the frame’s asthetic and ease of assembly and if cost weren’t a consideration, i may do it the same way.
Sometimes it’s best to not add these things up 🙂 But here goes:
$60 Finished Plywood
$100 ApplePly Drawers
$20 Drawer Handles
$50 Drawer Sliders
$27 Miter Track
$25 Side tracks
So $380 for all the material to finish the cabinet. I’m sure I’m missing a few things.
I agree the frame can be cheaper, but I REALLY like how I’ve been able to repurpose the pieces by simply undoing the fasteners. I was able to reuse all the material from my previous router table to build this one. So there’s definitely a benefit that has measurable value in using aluminum extrusions in the long run as needs change.
The fence, lift and router add $700!
$240 Woodpecker Fence
$300 Kreg Router Lift
$150 Dewalt Router
There’s cheaper options I’m sure but every lift, and fence I looked at is $$$.
The fence, lift, and router are the parts that make it functional… pricey sure, but thats unavoidable if you want the functionality, so that’s $700 that is well spent.
The $730 on the cabinet is the only place you could have skimped without impacting the functionality… and almost half of that is the aluminum frame. Of course, as you said, there are advantages… but I’m cheap and would likely skip the frame.
That said… not knocking your decision, it’s a nice build.
Beautiful build quality. Thanks for sharing all the details.
Can you elaborate a bit on the strategy for dust collection? Is there a split hose that goes to back of table (visible in one photo) and to the router?
Be curious to see how featherboards would be used in your set up as well.
My plan is to use a Y-adapter to split the hose so I can run it into the top and bottom of the table. Finding a good Y-adapter to work with Dewalt hoses is a challenge. The cost of a Y-adapter, a male adapter, two female adapters and then the same for hoses, it’s just gets a bit silly!
At the moment I tend to run the hose to the cabinet and deal with the mess up top. I do have a Y-adapter from Rockler so I will probably tape something together for now!
You can always design and print them on your PRUSA :>)
In all seriousness, I just created my own custom adapters for threaded hose and printed them. I was actually surprised they worked pretty well, I didn’t think they would be airtight.
I think there are a few designs for Dewalt hoses out there too.
Very nicely done. And all completed in a week. Impressive.
Looks amazing. All your builds are great, thanks for sharing.
Whiskey and Wood
Have you compared the pricing of these extrusions to Misumi? Alabama Woodworker introduced me to them and their pricing seems to be a bit better, but I haven’t gone through a purchase with Faztek yet.
That looks amazing. Great work! I love the lighted router area.
Yeah that worked out better than I planned, initially it was just a gimmick because I had the strip hanging around. But it has real value!
Wow, very impressive!
Great work, very neat.
My initial impression when viewing this was: “There will be dust in all the drawers with this design.” After reviewing the entire article, seeing the design elements, including the covers, overhang and vacuum, I believe you have a winner. Really neat design. The added safety features with the stop switch and the under motor lights are extremely desirable. I wish I had the time to build this myself. Maybe later this year…..
Yes the dust in the drawers was a problem I was also trying to solve from my last cabinet. It’s generally working out really well. I might install some weatherproofing above some of the drawers to prevent dust coming in from the front. So far it’s not been an issue.
Considering quite a few router table actions happen from the side of the fence, that’s quite a lean to get your stock to the bit…
I think the image distorts the distance a little. It’s the same depth back from the front as the Kreg table it replaced. Yes from the right there’s more table, but that doesn’t appear to have been a challenge yet….
Looks real nice. The space around the router in your “router box” seems sufficient to allow for air circulation and cooling. Some router motors and switches apparently don’t do well with heat – and dust can prove to be an issue for them when under-mounted. The Bosch that I have mounted in my table reportedly suffers from switch failures because of dust infiltration. In my case the switch is always in the “on” position (contacts made up) as I use the auxiliary switch on the table. It looks like you do the same with your Dewalt.
Yeah I leave the router on all the time, and use the paddle to control it.
I noticed on the Dewalt there’s a fan pushing air towards the router piece, I’m wondering if this also helps keep the motor clear, as well as keeping the bit clear….
Looks awesome! Quick question. You say that the basic cabinet can s 53” w, but in the parts list the long extrusions are 54.5”. I’ve read your other articles and see that you standardized the larger cabinets at 54.5” so I’m wondering, is this a typo and the cabinet really is 54.5” w, or were you just meaning that from the edge of the left set of drawers to the edge of the right set of drawers is 53”? This would July take into account the width of 1 of the 1.5” extrusions.
I’m inspired to build one of these for myself, but I already have the Woodpeckers 32” x 24” router top. Is it possible to get your Sketchup file? Thanks.
Yes the top should be 54.5″, made up of 1.5″ + 25″ + 1.5″ + 25″ + 1.5″.
Here’s a link to the SketchUp file, I hope it’s helpful!
Hey Ben, excellent build! Really enjoy reading about the attention to detail!
However, it appears the link for the SketchUp file is broken, any chance you’ve got an updated link?
I’ll drop you a DM.
would you please send me a copy of your SketchUp file too?
I like the aesthetic as well. I built a similar cabinet with dust extraction set up the same way. It works OK, but still leaves a lot to clean up inside the cabinet that can be tedious, especially on larger projects where it may be necessary to do multiple clean outs. Mortising in particular comes to mind when thinking about the short comings of this set up. With the top collector negated, the lower port can’t keep up with the volume of dust or heat dissipation. Typically I would end up opening the router compartment to mitigate these issues. You can imagine how this effects the clean up of the entire shop and air quality. There is a better way…
By replacing the bottom of the compartment with the big gulp I solved all these short comings.
Thank you for a great article. One day I’m. Going to try out aluminum extrusions, they look like fun.
Good tip, I’ll check that out.
If I do have problems, I think I could cut away some of the box and not loose the storage at the back to accommodate this.
One thing I didn’t note is the top is on hinges, so I do have good access to the box.
Thanks for reading!
Re:switching: having just switched out my router and plate for a new router motor and lift, I ran into a conundrum.
My new router (used one, new to me) is an older Makita 3612 3Hp motor. It’s unique among 3hp plunge routers for three reasons. First – the switch is body based, so the handles can be removed, second, it’s the quietest on any router I own, including a Bosch 2.25hp, a Fein 3.25hp and a Dewalt 3hp, and third – it’s got a super fast electronic brake system that shuts down the bit spin in about 5 seconds. Each of the other routers take between 15-25 seconds or so.
Problem is – using a remote power switch means the router brake doesn’t kick in – so that sucks. I may try to do a remote body switch work extension or I guess do without it… too bad though – great safety feature.
If you come across one of these old Makita routers – buy it – it’s the best 3hp I’ve found for the above reasons.
Thanks for the tip!
There’s talk on the various CNC forums I am on about hooking directly into the router’s switch so you can have the CNC control it directly.
I’m sure that voids the warranty but it would probably allow the brake to function properly using an external switch…
That’s one of the reasons I plan on going with a dewalt for my table too. Seems like it will one self cool sufficiently (provided it can get air) and two the air path seems to protect the motor body from eating fine dust.
I would have to have the light also.
Question do you think you might need an air inlet for your router box. IE some path for it and the vac to suck air through. Increase the flow rate – etc. I was thinking if I built one I would have a slot or something so it could pull from the bottom. (custom chute all the way tot he bottom of the cabinet so to speak)
or just open the front door when it’s on. maybe I’m overthinking it.
Anyway like it I won’t use the AL but I get why you did. If my shop was also a showroom or studio etc that adds to the need. But I like the idea and it fixes an issue I have with space. I can make this and roll it under a workbench and not really lose anything.
Thanks for the file. I’m starting to go through and order the parts. The link for the casters say that they are 4”, but then it says that the height is 5”. The link is for black ones but your pictures show blue and you did mention some issues with getting different casters when you were ordering the same part. I just want to clarify the height because I am also trying to make this 32” high to match my Festool MFT 1080 table. I didn’t get the quote back from Faztek yet so I have time to alter the height if I need to, but I’m just trying to figure out if 4” casters will really mean a being of 5” to add or if that might be a typo in the Amazon description. Thanks!
Sorry but I’m still trying to figure this part out. “and 32″ high (28″ for frame plus 4″ for casters)”. The link to the casters is 4” casters but they say total height of 5”. Does this make your cabinet 33” high? Thanks.
Sorry Lyle for the late response.
You are correct that I have typo! The casters I use have 4″ wheels but add 5″ to the overall height. I would recommend buying them and measuring them accurately because they appear to be a little over 5″ in reality.
To get it to perfectly lined up with an MFT you might want to consider a way of raising and lowering the cart. I looked at some leveling feet like these to solve that problem:
I’ve been thinking of buying something like this so I can deal with my uneven garage floor.
In terms to color, yes I had some issues getting all matching casters from this company. I wanted to stick with blue, but after buying 4 sets they started to turn up with a slight different hub. On Amazon you’ll see the picture shows a grey hub with a circular pattern. But I got casters with a hub and spoke style. I return those and tried a few times but couldn’t getting matching ones. So I purchased some red and black ones and the hubs do match. Not exactly what I wanted but I didn’t want to spend $400 buying new casters from another company!!!
Good luck with your build. If you are on Instagram, please tag us we’d love to see pictures 🙂
Thanks! I’ve modified my dimensions and will be jumping in with both feet today. I don’t do Instagram but I might take some pictures when done.
Here’s what we do for our machines at work:
So we have both casters and leveling pads, but we have a big hunk of aluminum for the machine’s base; I’m not sure how hard it would be to do something similar without the base. (BTW, we are using some 80/20 extrusions for the sides of these machines with sheet metal panels, and another large piece of aluminum for the top).
BTW, an Austrian company, Robot Units, that makes extruded aluminum framing claims their fastening technology allows strong connections with minimal drilling. I have no clue how good it really is.
Hmmm you’ve given me an idea with that photo. I think I’ll buy some levelling pads, mount them into a l-bracket which I can then raise and lower as needed.
One of my small drawer units is in the corner of my workshop and it’s noticeably leaning forward. Put a pair of these on the front will fix that!
Please give us a Prusa update when it’s finally upgraded 🙂
How was the shipping costs for the Faztek stuff? I just ordered a much smaller amount of stuff, my longest piece of extrusion is 30.5” and for about $250 worth of stuff, I got charged $98 to ship this stuff ground from IN to NE. I was stupid to agree to the order before the shipping quote. I can’t imagine the cost if I had it shipped to Hawaii. The shipping makes this stuff way too expensive. How much did you pay for shipping your order?
I agreed with Faztek to let me arrange shipping and I just send them a label. The company I work for let’s us use their UPS negotiated prices. I don’t know how big that discount is but I have generally paid less than $50. UPS also massively varies in cost based on whether you are on a standard route or not. Getting it shipped to a non-residential address is also worth looking into.
I would see if Faztek will do the same, get them to send you the weight and dimensions. Then see if you can arrange a more economical (perhaps slower) option.
I have also purchased a bunch through Zoro, they do free shipping over $100.
Hey Ben what do you use to countersink your screws on these builds?
I used a Dewalt countersink, specifically the DW2710.
Recently I have switched to the Snappy Tools Quick-Change 5-Pc. Countersink Drill Bit Set. They are recommend by people on the Festool Owners Group.
Great work with the table, i would like to make one for myself but all of the links for the sketchup design dont appear to work.
Could i have a link to download the design please.
Would love to build this for my Workshop in Australia. So I can cost it out and source the materials, I want to design in Sketchup but having not used it before would love it if you could share your Sketchup design please.