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I am in the process of making my very own router table. I saw plans where someone was repurposing a old kitchen countertop. Well, I have found one through a freecycle website in my local community. My question is that being the countertop has a laminate finish already applied. Would it be ok to route a channel with a carbide bit for a "T" channel through the laminate? I was thinking of just taking it a little at a time until getting to the desired depth. Also would it be ok to route the area for the router mounting plate?

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Hey Greg, you shouldn't have any problem doing that at all.  The router table that I made a few years ago, I covered in laminate and then routed it all out with no issues. 

Counter tops are generally 3/4'' thick.

When adding a groove for the t-track, that area will be subjected to fracturing, 

without adequately supporting the underside.

I'd add and underlayment sheet, glued to the underside,

so as to make it thicker---build-up the top to 1 1/4'' thick. 

A shop-made router table top can include several handy features, in addition to a router.

The top can suffice nicely, for multiple asks, when not performing routing operations.

The top could feature multiple tracks---

front and back---one along the front and another along the back,

as well as front to back, near one edge.

A track at 90 degrees comes in very handy for some tasks.

Locate the tracks 2'' in form the edges.

2 t-tracks, along the front, spaced 4'' apart, is useful for clamping smaller objects, like when using a hand-held router, as well as performing other functions---planing, sawing, drilling, or the like.

Another useful item is the Kreg Klamp Traks, 

that can be bolted to the top, when making face frames.

These tracks can be installed, so as to make them removable, when not in use.

I am inheriting a 24x48 countertop. I plan on cutting it down to 30-36" and will make a fence with the backsplash & cutoff material. I was wondering if I should use 3/4" MDF on the underside for reinforcement or should I use 3/4" plywood? I do plan on putting some "T" tracks in as well. I was thinking of gluing and screws (being careful with the screw placement for "T" tacks. Countertop and MDF both predrilling holes for the screws. I probably should cut the countertop from the bottom up to prevent splintering/chipping laminate, right?
 
Ken Darga said:

Counter tops are generally 3/4'' thick.

When adding a groove for the t-track, that area will be subjected to fracturing, 

without adequately supporting the underside.

I'd add and underlayment sheet, glued to the underside,

so as to make it thicker---build-up the top to 1 1/4'' thick. 

Greg,

A countertop of 24'' will not suffice to make a table top 30" deep.

A fine tooth carbide tipped saw blade will produce the smoothest cut edge.

An electric hand saw will suffice nicely to make the cuts---

use a suitable straight-edge. 

ALTERNATE:  cut the workpiece a little oversize, and trim to the finished size, with a router, to obtain a smooth edge.

Cut the workpiece from the opposite side of the laminated surface, to minimize chipping---

position the workpiece so the saw teeth cut toward the laminate vs away from the laminate.

Cutting away from the laminate may result in the saw teeth chipping away at the edge of the laminate material.

I'd use MDF,  on the underside, and glued in place.

Using screws, to affix the under panel, will interfere with machining in the worktop.

1/2'' MDF will be adequate, for the size top you're planning.

MDF is more stable---plywood will warp.

When gluing, use a slow set glue---spread evenly---using a fine tooth grooved tile adhesive spreader.

Clamp the panels together---use shop made cauls to apply clamping pressure to the center area, to obtain a flat surface.

Flatness can be checked by using an appropriate straight edge.

(A 4ft I-beam style level is a handy tool for this purpose).

TIP:  

Apply an edgeband surrounding the worktop.  3/4'' x (top thickness) ___ maple will suffice nicely.

Glue the edgeband in place.

Applying an edgeband, to avoid chip-out of the particle board during use. 

Make the edgeband slightly oversize, and trim it flush, on top and bottom, using a router or plane.

NOTE:  

When using screws in MDF, particle board, or the like, use screws that are designed for the intended purpose.  (Fine thread screws don't hold in particle board---they'll easily strip out

Have fun with your build.


Greg K said:

I am inheriting a 24x48 countertop. I plan on cutting it down to 30-36" and will make a fence with the backsplash & cutoff material. I was wondering if I should use 3/4" MDF on the underside for reinforcement or should I use 3/4" plywood? I do plan on putting some "T" tracks in as well. I was thinking of gluing and screws (being careful with the screw placement for "T" tacks. Countertop and MDF both predrilling holes for the screws. I probably should cut the countertop from the bottom up to prevent splintering/chipping laminate, right?

The laminate on the counter is nothing more than strong plastic.  I was once told by an old gent who was retired from doing tile, stone, all types of flooring & laminate that if a circular saw will cut it so will a router.  I have found that putting tape down on the cut line helps with the chipping.  Don't rush the router & have at least one straight edge to follow or the router will tend to try & make a circle.  I prefer a double edge where the router sets between them.  Good luck & post pictures when you start, during 7 when you are done.  We would like to see it.

Greg,

When adding a groove (dado), to inset the t-track, 

I'd make the groove depth .008'', (file card material thickness), deeper than the track height.

This will allow the track to set slightly deeper into the top surface, so objects on the surrounding surface don't catch onto the metal track.

Chamfer the grooved edges just a tad---

use a fine file/rasp, card scraper, or the like,  to break the sharp edges, so as to avoid chip-out on the cut edges.

You are thinking it right

don't burn the bit like I did once

I was at our local builder supply store looking for MDF 2'x4' x1/2" but they only carry 4'x8'x3/4" sheets. However they do carry 2'x4'x5/8"particleboard, would that be "ok" to use?  I did see the top sheet in the stack that was bowed which raised an eyebrow. I was going for the 1/2 MDF because of 1/2 was recommended.  I can't see buying a 4'x8' 3/4" for this project. However, I have a 5'x10'x3/4" MDF that was left here when I bought this house, I currently use it as a shelf on sawhorses to stack other wood/building materials on it. I guess this project might take some rearranging of the shop to get this thing built; should I decide to cut a section from it.

BTW...I want to say "Thank you" to all of those who have shared information for this project.

Greg,

If you plan to build other projects, using 3/4'' MDF, get the whole sheet.

It's only a few dollars more than the 1/2'' size.

Perhaps, the supplier can cut the sheet in half, so as to make it more manageable for you to handle/carry.

A 3/4'' 4x8 sheet is very heavy.

Yes, particle board will suffice.

(MDF is a particle board---it's made from fine wood ''particles''---basically compressed and bonded sawdust).

I'd cut a section from the on-hand 5x10x3/4 sheet.

CAUTION: Wear a dust mask when cutting MDF.

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