DIY instructions for cutting out a router table top

for an insert or lift

by making your own template.


Bill Esposito


First place your insert where you want it and trace it with a pencil. Remove the insert and using a straight edge, mark where you want the inner edge of the ledge to be. You should have two rectangles, one inside the other. 1/2" to 3/4" is plenty of ledge.  Using your Jig saw cut out the waste using the inner rectangle as the guide.

Cut 4 pieces of material which will be used as the template about 2" or 3" wide and at least that same amount longer than the sides of your router plate. Example, 11" long side of the plate, if you cut the stock 2" wide make the length at least 13". They can be longer but shouldn't be shorter.

The thickness of the stock needs to be large enough so that the bearing of your pattern bit will ride on it. With a 1/2 or 3/4" cutting length pattern bit, 3/4" material is fine. So the recommended material for the template pieces is 3/4" MDF or Plywood.

This is a pattern bit.  Notice the bearing is on the shank not the end.  Available at and other woodworking stores.

Lay your insert on the table lining it up with your outline. Using double sided carpet tape, stick the template pieces you just cut up against the plate and around it overlapping them as shown in the pic. Hint, if you have rounded corners on your insert, find a pattern bit with the same radius. Another method is to use a Forstner bit of the proper radius and drill the corners first.

Once the template pieces are firmly stuck, remove the plate and rest it on top of the templates. Next set your router on top of the plate and templates and plunge it down until it touches the table, and lock. You now know the exact depth of the ledge you are going to rout. Set your depth stop on the router for that depth, and add just a bit so that the plate will sit below flush and so you can level it with leveling screws. (This is a posed shot and I was too lazy to install a pattern make believe that is a pattern bit :)

Next remove the plate and using your template, rout the ledge.  Again, if you have rounded corners and are going to use a Forstner bit, drill the corners the depth of the ledge before you rout.

24 November 2006
Copyright © 2006 , Bill Esposito
All Rights Reserved.