How to Build a Router Table

A DIY router table for woodworking

George Thomas / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 4 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Yield: One router table
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $80 to 200

So, you've mastered your new router—or, so you think. Now it's time to unlock the next level of routing techniques by building your very own router table. A handheld router is an amazingly capable tool that's only improved upon once fixed to a router table. Not only will more cuts and applications be possible, but nearly every application of a handheld router will be more easily done on a router table. Follow along to learn how to build your own router table.

What Is a Router Table?

A router table is a flat work surface with a centered mount that holds a router in place with the bit protruding upward through the table. This allows the user to cut material without having to hold the router, increasing control and accuracy.

Before You Begin

A quick internet search will yield a seemingly endless display of router table varieties, each with its own specific design, accessories, and reasons why it's the best router table. This is because the best router table for one woodworker may be drastically different than another. While the bare bones of a router table stay the same, minor design tweaks and a wide array of accessories can make it hard to know what's necessary and what's overkill.

The steps outlined below will yield a router table that can be customized to work with various work surfaces and mounting options. It can even be used as a portable router table and clamped to sawhorses, though we'll outline how to build a basic wooden base. The standard router table accessories listed below will be included, but any of the luxury router table accessories can easily be added during construction or at a later date.

Standard Router Table Accessories

Consider this the first level of options for a DIY router table. These are accessories that would benefit nearly every user, from advanced woodworkers to beginner DIYers.

  • Adjustable Fence: An adjustable wall of wood that is positioned perpendicularly to the table that material rides against while being cut. This will make the router table quicker and easier to use, as well as improve the accuracy of cuts.
  • Router Insert Plate: An aftermarket plate, typically made from metal, that's built into the router table top to accurately and securely hold the router in place. Many models feature interchangeable rings that fit around a variety of bits.
  • Safety Switch: A safety switch is used to reposition an easy-to-use on/off switch to a place that is accessible and away from the router. This will greatly increase the safety of the unit while improving usability.

Luxury Router Table Accessories

Consider this "luxury" tier to be specialty accessories and options that are nice to have, but aren't crucial to the function of the router table.

  • Featherboards: Featherboards are adjustable accessories that apply pressure to the material as it's fed into the router table. This improves the accuracy of cuts and prevents kickback, which can damage the material and pose a safety risk. Featherboards can be installed on the table and on the fence.
  • Miter Sled: A miter sled allows the user to hold and push the material at a specified angle while feeding it through the router table.
  • T-track: T-tracks are embedded aluminum rails that have a T-shaped slot for accessories to slide through and lock into place. These can be used to mount an adjustable fence, featherboards, or a miter sled.
  • Router Lift: A router lift is typically built into a custom router plate insert and allows the user to adjust the cutting depth of the bit from above the table.
  • Dust Collection System: A dust collection system provides a dust port and a mount for a shop vac hose. When properly installed, this system will remove all sawdust as it's created.

Safety Considerations

Routers, like most power tools, are not inherently safe and should be handled with extreme caution. A router mounted on a router table features a high-spinning bit protruding from the work surface. For this reason, never wear loose-fitting clothes, always keep your hair tied back, and forgo work gloves that could be snagged by the bit. Always operate with your hands away from the bit and use safety devices whenever possible.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Circular saw with guide (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Router
  • 1/4" straight router bit
  • 1/2" top bearing flush trim router bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Jigsaw wood blades
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Clamps
  • Rags
  • 220-grit sanding block


Router Table Top

  • 4' x 8' x 3/4" Unfinished MDF
  • Router plate insert with hardware
  • Super glue
  • Wood glue
  • 2-1/2" wood screws
  • 2 2-1/2" x 1/4" bolts
  • 2 1/4" flat washers
  • 2 1/4" hand-tighten knobs
  • Spray-on lacquer
  • Finishing wax
  • Router table safety switch
  • 5/8" wood screws

Wooden Base

  • 1 2x2 x 8' pine board
  • 1 2x4 x 10' pine board
  • 2-1/2" wood screws
  • 2" wood screws
  • Wood glue


How to Build a Router Table

Follow along to learn how to build a router table that can be secured to a variety of work surfaces.

  1. Cut MDF Top

    Use a table saw or a circular saw with a guide to cut a piece of MDF down to 36-inches by 24-inches. Adjust these measurements as needed for your space and use.

  2. Plan Router Plate Installation

    Because every router plate is different, installation will vary depending on the one you choose. Be sure to buy a router plate that will work with your specific router.

    Generally, every plate installation will consist of cutting a hole in the center of the MDF top, then a second larger hole that is exactly the same width, length, and thickness as the router plate insert. This allows the insert to sit on the ledge created between the larger and smaller holes while sitting flush with the top of the router table.

  3. Cut Small Hole

    Position the router plate in the center of the MDF top and adjust with a square until perfectly centered and square. Trace the insert with a pencil, then remove it. Use a jigsaw to cut out a hole approximately 1-inch smaller than the router plate insert.

  4. Create Router Plate Insert Template

    The easiest and most accurate way to cut the larger hole for the router plate insert is to create a template using scrap MDF.

    To do so, place the insert on your work surface and cut two boards to the exact length of the insert. Place the boards flat on the work surface, pressed against the insert.

    Next, cut two boards to run the full width of the insert, plus the width of the previous two boards. Place the boards flat on the work surface, pressed against the exposed sides of the insert.

    Glue the boards together at their ends and clamp until the glue dries.

  5. Position the Template

    Place the template on the MDF top aligned with the outline of the router plate insert and clamp in place.

  6. Cut Router Plate Insert Ledge

    Fit your router with a flush trim bit with an upper bearing. This way, the bearing can ride against the template while cutting the MDF below. Adjust the depth of the bit to only penetrate the MDF slightly more than the thickness of the router plate insert, then carefully cut the MDF.


    Router plate inserts nearly always have adjustable mounting hardware to aid in leveling with the router table top, which is why it makes sense to make the ledge slightly deeper than the insert's thickness. If this isn't the case with your insert, drive screws into the ledge in all four corners and use them to fine-tune the height of the insert by tightening and loosening each screw.

  7. Mount Router Plate Insert

    Slide the insert to place and mount with the provided hardware. Adjust the hardware until perfectly level.

  8. Build Fence

    Cut two pieces of MDF to 36 inches in length, then rip them to a width of 4 inches. Glue and clamp the boards together lengthwise to form a long L-shape. Wipe away any excess glue.

    Screw them together using six 2-1/2-inch wood screws. Drill pilot holes with a countersink bit for each screw to prevent splitting and get the screw heads out of harm's way.

  9. Mockup Fence and Drill Holes

    Place the fence flush against one long side of the router table top, positioned so that no end grain is exposed on the front of the fence, then clamp down. Make a mark in the middle of the flat board, 6 inches from each end. At each mark, drill through the fence and through the router tabletop using a 1/4-inch drill bit.

  10. Rout Fence Grooves

    Rout grooves to extend the 1/4-inch holes left by the drill, allowing the fence to slide back and forth once mounted. To do this, clamp a straight edge parallel with the 24-inch side and spaced away from the hole for your router to ride against, then rout the groove with a 1/4-inch straight bit. Stop the groove just past the middle of the router table. Repeat on the other side.

  11. Mount Fence

    Mount the fence by sliding bolts with washers through the bottom of the table and securing with hand-tighten knobs.

  12. Finish the MDF

    Remove all metal and plastic hardware, then lightly sand the MDF and remove all dust. Spray the entire surface with spray-on lacquer, following the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying times. Once dry, wax the surface and buff until shiny. This will protect the MDF and make for a smooth work surface that's easy to clean. Once finished, reinstall the hardware.

  13. Mount Safety Switch

    Screw a safety switch with an oversized "STOP" button into the bottom of the MDF using 5/8-inch wood screws.


    If you plan to mount the router table top to a permanent base or cabinet, consider mounting the safety switch to the base.

How to Build a Router Table Base

To build a wooden base for your router table, follow the steps below. Skip these steps if you plan to mount the table top to a cabinet or pre-fabricated router table base.

  1. Cut and Attach Table Top Supports

    Cut a 2x2 into two 36-inch pieces. On the bottom of the router table top, mount one board flush with the front edge and the other with the back edge. Glue the boards and clamp the boards, then screw them in place using 2-inch wood screws. Wipe away any excess glue and remove the clamps once the glue has dried.

  2. Cut Angled Legs

    Use a miter saw set to 5 degrees to cut a 2x4 into four 12-inch legs with parallel angles on each end.

  3. Attach Legs

    Attach the legs to each corner by screwing through the legs into the 2x2 supports using 2-1/2-inch wood screws. Position the angles so the legs stick out further than the table top.

  4. Cut and Attach Foot Rails

    Cut a 2x4 into two 24-inch pieces. Screw each 24-inch board into the bottom of the right and left set of legs. This will add stability and provide a horizontal board to clamp the table down to a work surface.

How to Mount Your Router Table

While you may simply opt to purchase a router table base, there are several ways to mount your router table. You can build permanently mounted wooden legs, build a cabinet with custom storage, or you can even attach the table to a pre-fabricated 36-inch base cabinet. If you want something that's easy to store away when not in use, this design is perfect for clamping on sawhorses during use, as it's easy to disassemble for compact storage. Additionally, the MDF top can be secured to an existing work bench by simply cutting out a slot for the router.