Few tools offer the versatility of a router table. Fewer still produce the amount of chips and dust when in use. This not only makes a mess in the shop, but poses a health concern as well. So capturing them at the source is the best solution. Here are a few products that can keep the air clean whether you’re routing an edge profile or a series of dadoes or grooves.
FENCE-MOUNTED DUST PORT
A simple dust collection port attached to the fence of your router table is the first place to start corralling chips and dust. It’s the least expensive and most effective addition you can make.
The port features a 2 1 ⁄ 2 " opening, designed to accommodate most shop vacuums. This port focuses collection right where you need it, making it highly efficient when routing the edge of a workpiece.
ROCKLER DOWN UNDER
While a fence-mounted collection port is a great start, it’s only helpful when edge routing. When routing grooves and dadoes, the chips are trapped under the workpiece and can’t be collected through the fence port. In this case, you need a method of collecting the chips from under the table.
Rockler’s Down Under focuses the airflow of a dust collector in a circle around the bit. The plastic port locks onto the plate insert for a tight fit. This way, it pulls in the chips and dust before they fall into the air intakes of your router.
The Down Under works with any router, but requires a Rockler insert plate. You can connect it to a dust collector or shop vacuum.
ROCKLER DUST BUCKET
Rockler’s Dust Bucket takes dust containment to the extreme. The “bucket” part of the collector is a galvanized steel box that mounts under the top or to the inside of your table to completely surround the router. As you can see in the photo, when combined with a dual dust port (sold separately) the Dust Bucket offers dust collection both above and below the table.
The best feature may be the adjustable vent in the side that allows you to regulate the airflow. (Too much suction can cause your workpiece to stick to the tabletop.) The vent also helps prevent your router’s motor from overheating. A hole for your router’s power cord is sealed by a rubber grommet. A sturdy front door secures with a strong magnetic catch and makes it easy to access your router.
There is one thing to keep in mind before adding the Dust Bucket to your router table, however. You’ll need a full-size dust collector to provide the suction. A shop vacuum isn’t up to the task.
Double-Safe: Woodpeckers Free-Hand Guard
Freehand routing, like adding an edge profile on a round or curved workpiece, challenges even the dust collectors shown above. To safely rout these shapes, you usually need to move your fence out of the way and use a starter pin. Woodpeckers Free-Hand Guard The guard you see here provides a solution for both starting a freehand cut and collecting the dust and chips in the process.
As you can see in the photos, the guard also adds a clear plastic shield for chips. If you use a Woodpeckers router plate, the mounting holes are already in place.But you can always drill holes for the mounting screws in your existing tabletop or plate.