Bench Saw Table for a Wood Lathe





Introduction: Bench Saw Table for a Wood Lathe

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

I became fascinated with wood lathes when I was in Junior High. I saved my money until I could buy my own lathe. Soon I wanted a bench or table saw, too. I decided to fit a saw blade to my lathe and make a table for it. The unit in the photo is not my first effort, but is an improved version.

Step 1: Blade Mount

My lathe uses a smooth shaft 5/8 inch in diameter. There is a flat spot ground into the shaft for attaching fixtures with a setscrew. Blade mandrels are available from various hardware concerns. This one slides onto my shaft and is secured with a setscrew. It has a 5/8 inch diameter threaded end with spacers, a washer, and a nut. Check your lathe. Some lathes use a hollow shaft with a Morse taper. You may need to get a special mandrel direct from the maker of your lathe.

Step 2: Mandrel and Blade

Here you see the parts of the mandrel laid out on top of a 10 inch carbide tipped blade. Notice the threaded end of the mandrel 5/8 inch in diameter.

Step 3: Build the Table

Pardon and ignore the paint splotch on the piece of old plywood leaning against the wall behind the lathe and saw table.

I used some scrap plywood for this project. That limited the size of the table parts to some extent. Make the top of the table as large as you like. What I made is about as small as you would want to use.

The construction is a simple box open at the front and back. The front is completely open to allow room for tightening the bolt that holds the table onto the lathe bed. The top of the table needs to be high enough so any pieces of work clear the top of the headstock when moved over the table. You also want the top of the table to be as low as possible to take maximum advantage of the avaliable blade.

Step 4: Back of the Table

I added this piece to the back of the table to give it stability and rigidity.

Step 5: Bottom of the Table

I attached two cleats to the bottom of the table. These fit firmly against the front and back sides of the lathe bed to keep the table aligned with the saw blade. There will be more about that later. Notice the bolt from the lathe's tool rest and the fitting with nut to lock the table down on the lathe bed. It also comes from the tool rest. The cleats should be adjustable for keeping the table in alignment with the saw blade.

Step 6: Cut a Slot for the Blade

Make a slot in the top of the table to accommodate the blade. If you are using a 10 inch blade, the slot does not need to be 10 inches long, but only as long as needed at the portion of the blade that meets the table at the bottom of the table. Drill a hole at each end of the slot and use a sabre saw to make the slot. Make the slot wide enough.

Step 7: Cutting the Miter Gage Slot

I already had a steel bar 1/4 inch x 3/4 inch for making the miter gage. 3/8 inch x 3/4 inch is the usual size of a bar for a miter gage. I needed to make a slot in the table to fit my steel bar. Make the slot edge nearest the blade about four inches from the blade. The easy way is to use a table saw or radial arm saw. A dado head makes it very easy. In the absence of those things, a circular saw, a framing square, a couple of clamps and a precise rule will help you do a decent job, too. Set the saw depth to the thickness of the bar. Clamp the square at a right angle to the front of the saw table. Use the square's edge as a fence and guide. Make a cut. Use the edge of the cut to measure so you can move the square laterally almost the thickness of the saw blade. Make another cut. Keep the cuts parallel to the first cut. Make the last cut so it allows the steel bar to move smoothly in the slot, but without looseness side to side. Finish the slot with a file or scrape smooth with a chisel. (The second clamp on the square is outside the right border of the photo.)

Step 8: Make the Miter Gage

Drill two holes 1/4 inch in diameter near to one end of the steel bar about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Step 9: Countersink Screw Heads

Use a countersink bit to make room for the screw heads so they are recessed.

Step 10: Insert Screws

Place a lockwasher onto each screw and tighten a nut on each screw. The screws are 1 1/2 inches long each.

Step 11: Make the Rest of the Miter Gage

Cut a disc with a radius of 2 7/16 inches. Saw almost half of the disc off as shown. Drill a 1/4 inch hole at the center of the radius. Countersink the bottom of the disc for the nut. Glue a flat face to the disc as shown. To avoid slippage, you may glue fine sandpaper to the wood face of the miter gage.

Step 12: Assemble the Miter Gage

Make a piece of strap iron to reach between the two screws as shown. Place a washer and locking nut on the axis bolt. Snug it up, but not so much that the miter gage is difficult to adjust. Place a wing nut on the other screw.

Step 13: Square the Miter Gage

A homemade miter gage does not have a degrees scale, but you do not need one. Just use a square and lock the adjustment down.

Step 14: Align the Saw Table

After the miter gage has been squared, place the miter gage in its slot. Here it is placed backwards of the usual position, which is very helpful sometimes. Place a square against the face of the miter gage and adjust the table until the other leg of the square fits the saw blade.

Step 15: Fasten the Cleats to the Bottom of the Table

Once the table has been aligned to the blade, slide a cleat against the lathe bed without moving anything. Clamp it in place. Screw the cleat to the bottom of the saw table. Slide the other cleat against the other side of the lathe bed. Clamp it in place. Screw it to the bottom of the saw table. The table should be in alignment each time you place it back onto the lathe bed.

Step 16: Using the Saw

Crosscutting with the miter gage is straightforward. In order to rip, use a framing square to locate and align a fence. Clamp it down. Remove the miter gage and square. Rip your work. You may add a support farther down the lathe bed near the tailstock, if needed.

This saw is a handy saw to use as a second saw when you need to make a quick cut; but your other, bigger saw is already set up for some very precise cuts. it is also a handy saw for someone with a lathe who is on a budget.

Step 17: Tilt Table Feature

The original version of my saw table featured a hinge system so I could tilt the table to make a bevel cut. A second set of hinges allowed me also to raise the back of the table in order to reduce the cutting depth of the blade.

In the graphic the three dimensional square is a piece of sturdy plywood. It would be mounted under the table top and above the table base. The red lines show the location of hinges that allow the table to tilt for a bevel cut. The green lines show the location of hinges that allow the blade's cutting depth to be altered.

Wedges or slotted struts would be used to hold desired angles of tilt. The slot in the table top through which the blade passes will need to be altered to make it wider if you are tilting the table top for a bevel cut.

As always, be sure you know how to use a table saw safely. They can be very dangerous during any lapse of attention or unsafe practice. I already like you because you read my Instructable, but I cannot be responsible for any accident or injury you have making and using what is described here. There are plenty of sites on the Internet that describe safe table saw practice.

(Note: If you looked at this step before, I corrected the hinge positions. The previous arrangement would have created problems if both tilts were used at the same time. What is shown now will work.)

Step 18: Questions About Safety

Since I posted this I have gotten a number of inquiries about the safety of the exposed blade below the table. Before you ask or otherwise comment about that, you should know that my first exposure to a circular saw of any kind was a variation on what you see in this photo. For the most part, I watched my father operate a saw like this that was also powered by a large belt about 8 inches wide. The belt had no guards and was fully exposed. It would have been on the end of the shaft at the near end of the photo. I even operated that saw myself a couple of times. We simply kept our distance from anything that moved. So, if you wish to tell me that the saw table on my lathe is unsafe and should not be used, know a saw very similar to the one is the photo is what I saw used and even used myself over quite a number of my early years. These are called a tractor buzz saw. If you are curious, the log or limb is placed on the table as you see it. The table pivots down low near the ground. The operator rocks the table into the blade. Then the operator pulls the table forward toward himself and slides the wood to the operator's right for a new cut. This photo is from Bing Images.



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    I first began to use circular saws before bladeguards were anything but a novelty. Basic safety procedures and alert caution are better than bladeguards any day. The only injuries I have had from a circular saw ever were light scratches incurred while changing or otherwise handling a blade. During those events the saw was not running and there was no power to it. But, in our politically correct, lawsuit happy world, we have come to expect bladeguards.

    I agree with that. I'm more concerned about the underside though, with the giant expose saw blade under the visibility of the table top...

    There is no reason to reach under the table while the machine is running or even get close to doing so. It would be easy enough to add a panel in front of the blade where it runs under the table. Years ago American Machine and Tool made a line of very inexpensive power tools that worked pretty well, including a bench saw. It sold for $9 new at the time! (I think their planer/joiner was $19.) It had an open front with adjustment levers for tilt and cutting depth right in front of the blade. That could have been dangerous.

    In today's society, no one wants to take responsibility for there own safety. This is partly due to the OSHA attitude that no one can look after themselves so a guard or switch or brake or some other device that can fail is now responsible for your safety. Manufacturers are terrified to produce a product that may even look like it isn't safe. All due to people refusing to accept responsibilty for their own actions. You are now seeing this in the multitudes of drones that mindlessly inform you they can see the blade, so therefore it must be unsafe. In my mind and attitude a majority of guards are quite unsafe in several different ways. The most important flaw in a guard or cover is the false sense of security it gives people. They can't see the danger, so they tend to be more careless.

    Thank you for your comment. It also reminds me of a radio broadcast about new safety features on automobiles, like ABS brakes. Drivers with various additional new safety features on automobiles tend to take additional risks they would not normally take. It is too easy to rely on a safety feature rather than on caution and good sense. I check to make sure my guns are unloaded before I handle them, but I also keep my finger off of the trigger and do not point the barrel at anything I do not intend to shoot.

    You've obviously read Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper's (USMC , Deceased - natural causes.) set of four rules for weapon safety, or were taught by someone who did. Col Cooper was an absolute genius.

    One can certainly make a bladeguard to go with the saw table. I made one for my old tablesaw, which can be adapted to various configurations. It is not too hard to form and bend polycarbonate plastic ("Lexan") using a heat gun, or even a propane torch if you are careful.

    Thank you.

    Great work, application of ingenuity and common sense will often win the day. Great work.

    An old wood lathe also makes a good sander.

    The brief manual that came with the lathe back when it was new suggested that very thing. I tried it, but did not use it much that way.

    Great idea! A little dangerous, but that never stopped me before. I already have two table saws and no lathe. Any way to do the opposite? 5/5*

    6 replies

    yes it is dangerous, i work in metal spinningand lost a finger when i was in college. like anything when you work with your hands. be sober and take EVERY safety precaution.

    ++++++ You are the first smart person on i've seen on this instructibe!


    The VERY MOST IMPORTANT safety device for any bladed tool or cutting tool is use of common sense by the operator thereof.

    I am often appalled at the "reviews" of power tools written by those who quite obviously never read the DIRECTIONS. If you don't know how to do something, find the owner's manual and read it. One chap reviewed a "Variable speed reversible rechargeable hand drill" made by a well known manufacturer. He complained it only had one speed - which in reality is speed controlled by how much pressure is placed on the drill's trigger. He also complained it would not reverse, when in fact it reverses exactly the same way 99.9%
    of ALL power drills reverse. Then he griped you could not use it while plugged in - when it was designed NOT TO BE used while charging.

    No amount of safety device(s) will make up for the application of common sense. If you do not wish to lose a finger or an arm, do not put them in harm's way, and avoid baggy clothing around ANY power tool. Push tools, learning proper use from someone who is experienced, e.g. apprenticeship or being taught by one's father or mentor (hopefully someone who has all appendages in their proper places, not in a jar of formaldehyde...)

    Using a circular blade at about half it's rated maximum rotational speed is inherently safe when it is aligned and in proper balance.

    "Life is tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid." - John Wayne

    Read the directions and be familiar with all safety procedures for any tool when using it, and don't let complacency get you in the Emergency Room. (One man's opinion, not necessarily that of the management.)

    yes very true, once they are gone there is little you can do!

    I've seen a make-shift lathe made from a drill press...the guy was making ink pens on it