Woodshop Tools: Building a Rolling Router Table

How to build woodshop tools. The rolling router table is built from a spool, the article includes detailed instructions and photos.

| June/July 1996

Woodshop tools: Making the most useful table in the shop. (See the woodshop tool photos in the image gallery.)

Building Woodshop Tools: Making a Rolling Router Table

I used to know a guy who never bought a nail. He'd pull them out of pallets or old junk wood. He'd salvage the wood and he'd straighten out each nail, securing it in a pair of rusty pliers and beating on it with his hammer until it was just about usable again. Nick wouldn't pay for anything if he could find something that would work just as well. He would've appreciated my router table.

I don't hang on to too much junk, but I just couldn't see getting rid of that big wooden spool that had held the electrical cable I used to wire my shop. The wood might have burned alright, and there were some hefty steel rods that might come in handy someday. Still, it seemed a shame to dismantle such a potentially useful structure. I left it outside the shop for a few weeks while I pondered.

Now it's one of the most-used items in my shop. It serves primarily as a router table, but it's also sized just right to support long boards as they come off the back of my table saw. By mounting a router upside down in the table, you dramatically extend its capabilities. Because you can bring the work to the spinning cutter—instead of the other way around—you eliminate the hassles of clamping the work down. Your router becomes more like a stationery shaper, allowing you to set up for repeatable tasks including template routing and joinery.

The surgical procedure for making a cable spool into a router table is really quite simple. After you tighten the nuts on the rods that run through the structure, the first step is to cut the ends from round to square. I have an old circular saw blade that's missing some teeth; I use it when I have to cut into something that may have hidden hardware. I created parallel long edges on one end of the spool, which I decided to call the bottom. I let the other two edges keep their curve.

Next I tipped the spool over onto its side and used my large drywall square to indicate matching corners on the other end. I tipped the spool up and used my framing square and drywall square together to lay out parallel edges that would match the ones I made on the bottom. When the cutting was done, I flipped it over again to attach casters to the bottom. Then I flipped it one more time to start work on the tabletop. I used a reciprocating saw to make a cutout in the end of the spool for the router to fit down into.

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