Can you router the edge of plywood?

Routing Plywood Edge

Before we start, let’s get the basics out of the way: You cannot just cut a piece of plywood and use it as your router table. That would be illegal! There are special tools needed to do so. And there are rules about what you can or cannot do with them.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to make a table from scratch or buy one already made. If you’re going to build a new table, then buying one already built might be cheaper than building your own because they usually cost less than $100. But if you plan on using an existing table, then spending money on something that isn’t up to snuff might not be worth it since the manufacturer probably doesn’t have the best quality control procedures in place.

If you’re going to buy a preexisting table, then you’ll have to decide which type of table you want. Table legs are generally used for tables that will be placed on the floor or another flat surface (like a countertop). They come in different lengths and thicknesses, but they all follow the same basic design principle: A long length of wood is attached at each end to form a U shape.

If you’re planning on buying a pre-made table, then you’ll need to determine which type of table you want. Some types are better suited for certain tasks than others.

The three types of tables are:

Folding Legs

Rolling Legs

Fixed Legs (sometimes referred to a pedestal table)

A folding leg table is just that: the legs retract into the table for easy storage and transportation. The upside to this type of table is that they are really portable (which is why most people who make them tend to have them made). Their big downside, though, is that they have a tendency to break at the joints, especially if you are heavy handed or clumsy like me.

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The second type of table is a rolling leg table. They work just like the folding tables–the legs can be folded up for storage–but they offer a little more stability because the addition of wheels takes some weight off of the legs. The wheels also allow you to move the table from place to place with relative ease.

The third and final type is the fixed leg or “pedestal” table. These are just like they sound: The legs are not designed to fold up (like in the other types) or roll on wheels. They’re typically larger and offer more stability, but of course they do take up more floor space.

Once you’ve decided which table you want, you’ll have to buy/build it and then rig it to fit your router. Here’s how I did it:

I bought a rolling leg table from Amazon. It was relatively cheap, and I liked the small size for my small shop (it’s only about 2 feet by 2 feet).

I cut an opening in the table top using a jigsaw. Using a jigsaw is not the most ideal way to do this, but I didn’t have a better tool on hand at the time. I used a combination of measuring, tracing, and eyeballing to cut out the opening. I tried to get the opening as close to the outline of the base plate as possible.

Once I had the opening cut, I had to spend quite a bit of time cleaning up the rough edges using a sander and hand planer.

Once I had the opening cleaned up as much as possible, it was time to attach the router base to the table. I used some L-brackets to affix the base to the opening. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it gets the job done.

The mount isn’t going to win any design awards, but it works for me and that’s all that matters.

All that’s left now is to mount the router to the base and start routing.

Here’s a diagram of my table:

So now that I had my router table finished, it was time to put it to use.

In order for the table to be most effective, I decided I needed to make some custom jigs. Without jigs, the router would be too difficult to control (especially on larger projects) and it wouldn’t perform any better than a handheld router.

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I built a simple jig that would allow me to cut grooves (or rabbets) in the side of a board and another jig that would allow me to cut dadoes (or grooves) in the middle of a board. Having these two attachments would allow me make frame and panel doors (one of the most common door types).

I won’t go into too much detail about how I made these jigs since there are plenty of online tutorials about how to do this. Just Google “frame and panel jigs” for tutorials.

Here’s a picture of the two jigs I made (the smaller one is the dado jig).

I also made a few other accessories for my table such as: a sliding deadman, a featherboard, and a miter track attachment.

With these accessories, my router table is pretty much complete. It allows me to handle all of my trimming and edge treatment tasks with ease.

The best part about making these tools is that they allow me to build nicer pieces. With a store-bought router table, you’re somewhat limited with the types and sizes of projects you can handle. With my table, there are no limitations other than my imagination.

Thanks for reading about my custom router table. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below. If you want to keep up on my future posts, please subscribe to my blog.

Make it safe and keep your hands safe,

Sincerely,

Matt K.

Sources & references used in this article: