Making the Mounting Plate

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The approach here will be to make a plywood or medium-density fibcrboard (MDF) template or pattern, then use that to make the plastic mounting plate. There arc several reasons for this.

• Plywood and MDF are easier to work than plastic.They won't melt, for example, if you sand an edge too aggressively.

• Both wood products cost less than plastic, so if you goof, you aren't writing off a $10 to $15 square of material.

• Both products provide good surfaces for note taking. You can jot directions for using the template right on it. In the future, when you want to make a dupe of your mounting plate, you will be reminded of what bits and guide bushings to use.

But you need not make a template if you don't want to.To make a one-off mounting plate, follow the sequence, but work with the mounting plate blank instead of a template blank.

1. Select the mounting plate material. The materials usually used these days are plastic: acrylic, polycarbonate. and phenolic. In three nutshells:

• Polycarbonate is easy to work with woodworking tools and is readily available at plastics stores and through mail-order woodworking suppliers. Virtually unbreakable, it is a tad flexible—it gives rather than shatters—and may sag under the weight of a behemoth router. Third choice.

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Cutting List

Part

Qty.

Dimensions

Material

Template

1

fc" X 8" X 11 Va

MDF

Mounting plate

1

W X 8" X 1 1 Va'

Plastic'

Starting pin

1

'Acrylic, polycarbonate, and phenolic are all suitable.

• Acrylic also is easy to work with woodworking toob and is readily available at plastics stores and through mail-order woodworking suppliers. It isn't as unbreak- j able as polycarbonate, but it is more rigid. A [ ^»-inch-thick piece will support a screaming 18» pounder without sagging. Second choice.

• Phenolic is easy to work with woodworking tools,but 1 it is difficult to find; a few mail-order woodworking suppliers carry pieces. It is very strong, very rigid. A '/»-inch-thick piece of the right grade will suppon tint 18-pounder. First choice.

More information about the materials and about te niques for working them is in the appendix.

2. Settle on dimensions for the plate. Howbjj; should the plate be? Just big enough and no bigger. You want! to be able to drop the router through the tabletop oj without unnecessary maneuvering. You want to be able io| raise the router to its maximum depth of cut without havt the handles bottom against the tabletop before you get tothf| router's limit. But you want the plate as small as possible.! optimum dimensions thus may vary from router to routct

Plenty of clearance between the table and the handles. Router will easily clear the tabletop opening.

FITTING PLATE AND TABLE OPENING TO ROUTER

A. PORTER-CABLE #690 lft-HP FIXED-BASE ROUTER

Plenty of clearance between the table and the handles. Router will easily clear the tabletop opening.

Large, fixed handles will prevent the router from dropping into place.

B. PORTER-CABLE #7519 3^-HP FIXED-BASE ROUTER

Large, fixed handles will prevent the router from dropping into place.

C. RYOBI #RE-600 3-HP PLUNGE ROUTER

Ryobi Router Base Plate

Make easy clearance for the handles by orienting them on a diagonal across the mounting plate.

Handles touch tabletop just before router's maximum plunge depth is reached.

Smooth mill marks from the template edges. Any nicks or washboardlike ridges will telegraph into the plastic mounting plate's edges. Since it's easier to file or sand them from MDF than from acrylic or phenolic, do this cosmetic work on the template.

C. RYOBI #RE-600 3-HP PLUNGE ROUTER

Even at maximum plunge depth, there's plenty of clearance between table and handles.

But because of handle design.

the router will not easily clear the opening.

As a practical matter, though, it may be best to pick up rocs from those mail-order catalogs. I checked several: oounting plates offered ranged from a small of 7-V* x l&A inchcs up to a large of 9 X 12 inches. Bear in mind that most catalogs offer suitable plastics in nominal foot-square pieces, meaning that they are 11 '/j inchcs square or \\V\ inchcs square.

So measure the router you've earmarked for the router able.What's the distance from handle to handle? What's the dbtance from the bottom of the handle to the bottom of the base? (If you are measuring a plunge router, be sure to bottom lout for this measurement.) If you go with 8 X 1 iH inches, cm you make it work? The tabletop opening (excluding the nbbet) would be about 7XA X 11 Inches. Tliis is the size I picked as being an appropriate compromise between the size of the routers typically used in router tables and the nominal foot-square plastic plates most commonly available.

3. Cut the plate template. Make the template out of fine particleboard. MDF, or plywood. Use material that 's h inch thick.

Make easy clearance for the handles by orienting them on a diagonal across the mounting plate.

Smooth mill marks from the template edges. Any nicks or washboardlike ridges will telegraph into the plastic mounting plate's edges. Since it's easier to file or sand them from MDF than from acrylic or phenolic, do this cosmetic work on the template.

Handles touch tabletop just before router's maximum plunge depth is reached.

An easy solution? Remove the handles. A single screw secures each one. Removal of the router is now easy, too.

MANEUVERING ROUTER THROUGH OPENING

What to do?

On the table saw, cut the material to the dimensions you've settled on for the mounting plate.

Round the corners.There's a practical reason for this: It's easier to rout the tabletop opening if the opening's . corners are radiused. Squaring the corners has to be done with a chisel.The work of rounding the template corners can be done on a stationary sander, but I like to use a template to guide a router and pattern bit. (See "Boring Templates" on page 6 for more information on comer-rounding templates.)

4. Drill the mounting-screw holes. You want to be able to use the template to guide the drilling of the mounting-screw holes and the routing of the bit opening. Use the router's factor)' baseplate as a pattern for the mounting-screw holes.

Remove the baseplate from the router. Use it as a drill gauge to select the proper-sized bit to drill the mounting-screw holes. With the drill selected, stick the baseplate to the template. Although the bit opening must be absolutely concentric with the bit axis if you want to use template guides successfully, it doesn't have to be dead center on the plate. Therefore, you can eyeball the router location on the plate. Apply carpet tape to the factory baseplate, position it on the template, and press it firmly to the template.

Take the template and drill bit to the drill press, and bore the mounting-screw holes. Take your time; get the holes perfectly positioned. Pry the baseplate off the template. Then, strange as it may seem, countersink tile holes in the template.

5. Locate and bore the bit opening. Now mount the router itself on the template. This is why you countersunk the screw holes; you need to get the screws tight enough to pull the template into position so you can accurately mark the bit opening's center.

Chuck a V-grooving bit in the router's collet. Don't plug in the router, but rather turn the bit by hand, just barely marking the template.

Remove the router from the template, and head back to the drill press. Use a centering pin or a small-diameter bit in the drill press chuck to align the workpicce for boring the bit opening. When the center pin point is right on the ccn-tcrmark, clamp the workpiece. Then switch to a 11 2-inch-diameter Forstncr bit or hole saw and bore the hit opening in the template.

Depending on the bit and template guide combinations you use, this size template opening can be turned into a mounting-plate bit opening ranging from SA inch diameter up to a full 1 Vz inches.

6. Locate and drill the starting-pin hole. The starting pin is called a starting pin because it helps at the beginning of a cut. It's a fulcrum lor the workpiece when you are routing with a piloted bit but no fence. You brace the work first against the pin, then "lever" it into the bit.

Commonly, a starting pin is a wooden peg or metal or plastic pin projecting from the mounting plate 2 to 4 inches

What to do?

While an 11 "-long opening will accommodate most big routers, it will NOT offer easy passage for all. Ryobi's RE-600, for example, has huge,fixed handles that won't pass, even on a diagonal.

Then move the router back along the diagonal, so the handle is above the tabletop.

Router Table Lifting
Right the router, lifting the second handle clear.

Tip the router so the opposite handle clears the tabletop.

Then move the router back along the diagonal, so the handle is above the tabletop.

Lift the router by the mounting plate, and maneuver one plunge rod into a corner.

from the bit. The position I recommend is shown in the plate layout drawing. Mark the location on the template, and drill the '/»-inch-diameter hole.

7. Make the mounting plate. Use a couple of strips Of carpet tape to bond the template to the plastic you've jdectcd for the mounting plate. If the plastic is protected by masking paper, leave the paper in place.

At the drill press, drill the mounting-screw holes. Be careful to center the drill bit in the template's guide holes so you get the holes in the plate perfectly positioned and also so you don't erode the guide holes. Drill the starting-pin hole.

Set up your router to rout the bit opening. Here are a fcw bit/guidc-bushing combinations to choose from:

• Fur a Vi-inch opening, use a '/«-inch straight bit in a 1-inch-diameter guide bushing.

• For a 1-inch opening, use a '/»-inch straight bit in a pinch-diameter guide bushing.

•For a I' »-inch opening, use a Si-inch straight hit in a ^inch-diameter guide hushing.

•For a lkt-inch opening, use a pattern bit.

If you want to make a bit opening that will use template guides configured on the Porter-Cable standard, bore a 11 «-inch hole clear through the mounting plate. Then witch to a '/4-inch straight bit in the 36-inch guide bushing, and rabbet the hole. Measure the flange on a pride hushing, and rout the rabbet that depth. It's usually about S2 inch, but cheek.

Different combinations of template guides and straight bits enable you to transform the template's M-inch-diameter bit opening into one of a smaller size when making a mounting plate. You can even rout »rabbeted bit opening that will accept template guides, as shown here. After routing completely through the mounting plate with one bit/guide bushing combination, you switch bits to rout the rabbet

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