Introduction: Bench Saw Table for a Wood Lathe

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.

Comments

author
dpokijan (author)2014-05-04

wow amazing

author
WalterJT (author)dpokijan2017-03-12

An old wood lathe also makes a good sander.

author
Phil B (author)WalterJT2017-03-12

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.

author
Phil B (author)dpokijan2014-05-05

Thank you.

author
KimberlyP (author)2014-03-01

Great instructable. I hope many people build from this, and try to improve it. For those concerned about safety, post your own instructables on improvements to safety. Work through rules of thumb in safety calculations, strengths of materials etc.

At least that is a positive, that says, yes you can. Just use your mind, act and think in a safe manner.

author
Tubehacker01 (author)2009-09-09

WARNING, DO NOT TRY TO RECREATE THIS!

I hate to rain on your parade but doing this to a lathe could result in SERIUS INGURY OR DEATH, a lathe is not designed to withstand these stresses and neither are the blade mounts.

-To the instructibleler ,It's nice that this have worked out for you, but other lathes may react differently to the stresses that sawing in this matter will create.

Possible results include: shattering of the blade, shattering of the axle. This simply means that the blade, axle and other tool and projectparts might shatter and fly out of the contraption with enormous amounts of energy.

I hope that neither you or anyone else get hurt doing stuff like this, remember DO NOT TRY TO SAVE MONEY ON SAFETY, you might end up regretting it your whole life.

author
garthn (author)Tubehacker012013-10-22

I think you're on the wrong instructable, that sounds more like the 600 ton 10000RPM turbine one.

How putting a blade on a lathe will make it shatter when it doesn't on a table saw is a matter for scientists to investigate. Might result in unimaginable weaponry. I like the concept of a little wood lathe generating enormous amounts of energy, perhaps wood lathes are the answer to the world's energy needs. Who would have thought.

Two comments about safety - if using a morse taper (I realise this does not use one), a drawbar is of course essential - and a sled makes a table saw a whole lot safer (and easier to use). And is very easy to make.

author
Phil B (author)garthn2013-10-22

I responded to Tubehacker01 when I got notice of your comment, but then found I had already responded to his post, so I deleted my new comment. I did check and the maker of the sawblade in the photos is marked as safe to 5,500 rpm. My lathe is capable of only 3,000 rpm. As regards the lathe shaft, the lathe is designed to handle a large piece of wood, even heavy wood, up to 30 inches long at speeds up to 3,000 rpm. I think the 5/8 inch shaft will be just fine with a 10 inch circular blade with carbide tipped teeth.

The motor on my lathe is only 1/3 horsepower. Long before a dangerous situation might develop the motor pulls down and stops.

I just wanted to provide some objective data. Thank you for your response.

author
Phil B (author)Tubehacker012009-09-10

Thank you for your concerns. I could agree with you if the blade ran with vibrations that signal trouble, but it runs vibration free. The blade mandrel was designed and made to do exactly what I have done with it here. My lathe is made from very sturdy cast iron.

author
Tubehacker01 (author)Phil B2009-09-11

Well, maybe my concerns were a little overstated, great that it worked out for you, however, anyone thinking of doing this should consider the possible consequences, agree?

author
1ofakindwork (author)2013-10-21

I also appreciate the inventiveness but safety was thrown out the window. I would love to know younger teens have a safe place to draw ideas from, but after seeing this I wouldn't let my child use instructables without my super vision. I can't believe you have the bottom of a saw blade exposed. That is a huge no no. What if an article of clothing got sucked up in there, you would probably take a nose dive into the blade. I don't know if the lathe can handle this but I do know how dangerous a table saw is with all the extra safety measures. I understand you are use to open blades but be considerate that a lot of children visit this site and one may have the means to make this death trap. Once again for you it seems brilliant and I appreciate your inventiveness but be considerate of others safety. Not everyone has had the years of training you have. Oh yeah don't forget to tuck your shirt in before working on your table saw.

author
Phil B (author)1ofakindwork2013-10-21

I am curious to know if you read any of the previous comments. All of your concerns were raised by various people in them. I always stand off to the right side when using this and use the miter gauge with my left hand, which gives you an idea of how far off to the right I am when using this. As one person mentioned, this is really no different than the table saw attachment sold for the Shopsmith. I have thought about ways to shield the blade, though. If you did read previous comments, you know my first exposure to circular saw blades was watching my father operate a commercially made saw that attaches either to the front or the back of a tractor. A table to the left of a blade about 30 inches in diameter rocked on a hinge point into the saw to cut sections of tree limbs for firewood. There was no meaningful guard on that blade. The operator simply stayed far out of the way of the blade. There was also no way to stop those saws quickly. I never saw or heard of any injuries from those saws.

author
Ricardo Furioso (author)2012-07-17

Brilliant.
Of course it's dangerous.
But no lawyers were involved in its creation, use, or publication!

author
Phil B (author)Ricardo Furioso2012-07-17

A certain amount of safety guards and precautions are necessary, but, after that, there is nothing like being a careful operator. The world changed when that woman spilled hot coffee on herself at McDonald's and won a pile of money after suing.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-11-22

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*

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tpitner (author)LinuxH4x0r2010-11-25

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

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Phil B (author)tpitner2010-11-26

I did something like that once (turn a pen on a drill press).  I think others may have, too.  Check this link for my Instructable. 

author
usmcoap (author)Phil B2010-12-22

Hey Phil. You very seriously need to consider putting a piece of something to cover the saw blade area underneath. All you need is one sliver of wood to drop down the hole, and be flung back at you and it could be bye bye femoral artery, not to mention the possibility of accidentally sticking a hand in there because it's open or getting a piece of clothing caught...

author
borsodas (author)LinuxH4x0r2009-08-17

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.

author
Tubehacker01 (author)borsodas2009-10-09

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

SAFTY FIRST, DAMM THE EXPENCE, YOU CAN'T BUY YOUR FINGERS BACK...

author
borsodas (author)Tubehacker012010-04-25

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

author
punkhead58 (author)Tubehacker012010-04-25

*ahem*

www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/news/2007/07/xfinger

But, in all seriousness, you are correct; never skimp on the safety equipment.


author
0087adam (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-12-09

ive been trying to do this too.

author
Phil B (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-11-22

By "do the opposite" I assume you mean adapt a table saw for use as a lathe. That might be tricky, but a lathe is not real complicated. In Germany I saw a foot-powered lathe that worked with a springy bough from a tree and a piece of cording that wrapped around part of the work. It was at a medieval craft show. The remainder was a sturdy wooden bed with metal centers at the head and tailstock. Someone did an Instructable on a nearly identical lathe. Someone else did an Instructable on a lathe powered by an electric motor. All you really need is a sturdy bed. Some 1 inch or larger iron water pipe will do. Clamp some short pieces of 2 x 6 inch stock in layers to make the headstock and tailstock. The tailstock spindle could be a 1/2 inch bolt or threaded rod ground to a point. Feed it through two nuts mounted on the top of the tailstock. Clamp something down over the threaded rod to keep it tight while the lathe is running. Use some shafting and pillow blocks for the headstock. If you use 5/8 inch shafting, you could buy a commercial chuck that mounts like the mandrel I used for mounting the saw blade in this Instructable. Make a toolrest from almost anything. Attach an electric motor. Buy a belt and a couple of pulleys.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)Phil B2008-11-22

I actually plan on making a lathe in my welding class in the spring. I have also seen spring lathes and like them a lot, but I plan on doing metal. Thats pretty much what I had planned. I got a free (dumpster) motor thats a little under a horse. I'll definitely do an ible about making it

author
bluGill (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-11-30

You can do metal on a spring lathe as well. Your foot controls the speed. The spring is just for the return (non-cutting stroke).

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)bluGill2008-11-30

Yeah, but I don't have enough power to keep it up for 30 mins

author
bikerbob2005 (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-11-26

turning wood might want more than a horse motor,my craftsman had 1hp on it and it would bog down very easy when the furnace kicked off i got a 1.5 from it . for metal work 2 horse wont turn much have to gear it down and then get a rough finish,when you build the head for the lathe make it 2x stronger than you think it needs to be,you do not want to be near a 20 lb chunk of metal when the head self-destructs .

author
Phil B (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-11-22

The lathe I bought has a swing of about 4 inches over most of the bed. The first few inches next to the tailstock allow a swing of about 6 1/2 inches. That means I can turn pieces 8 inches in diameter over most of the lathe bed and almost 13 inches near the headstock, as in turning a bowl. See the Instructable I did on enlarging the arbor hole in a regular saw blade to 1 1/4 inches for use on a Sawsmith radial arm saw. I needed a faceplate with a wood disc about 11 inches in diameter. Make sure your lathe has a way of fitting a larger disc to a faceplate.

author
jongscx (author)2008-11-22

*cough* BLADEGUARD!!! *cough*

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Phil B (author)jongscx2008-11-22

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.

author
jongscx (author)Phil B2008-11-22

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...

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Phil B (author)jongscx2008-11-22

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.

author
fentanyl3 (author)Phil B2009-06-29

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.

author
Phil B (author)fentanyl32009-06-30

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.

author
grunthos (author)jongscx2008-11-24

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.

http://www.bolis.com/amillar/category/project/tablesaw

author
0087adam (author)2008-12-08

that looks like one mean saw blade!

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Phil B (author)0087adam2008-12-09

All saw blades are mean and should be treated that way. This one is usually mounted on my radial arm saw. It looks just as mean there. I have a rule for myself that I keep my hands and fingers at least six inches away from all parts of the blade. I avoid standing in-line with the blade's line of cut, especially with the radial arm saw where the blade could catch something and kick the motor with spinning blade back toward me or my hand. I also think a lot about avoiding any situation where something could drag my hand into the blade. After using a power circular saw off and on over 40 years I have never had a hand or a finger come into contact with a spinning saw. I did get a couple of scratches while changing a blade. But, even then I have the power to the saw disconnected.

author
Burf (author)2008-11-27

As a retired carpenter of 40+ years, I have seen the evolution of safety devices for power tools. I have also seen a number of severed fingers and a thumb or two (none of which were mine, fortunately ). Though I appreciate the idea of making a tool a multi-tasker, dismissing some obvious safety devices makes me cringe. A blade guard, completely boxing in the blade and a large, prominent kill switch would help alleviate some of those concerns.

author
Phil B (author)Burf2008-11-27

A couple of people asked about blade guards in the earlier comments and I gave responses then. While I would never discourage blade guards, my first experiences with circular sawing blades involved one about 24" in diameter mounted on the back end of a tractor. It used a tilt table and was for making firewood from brush. Blade guards on that were almost non-existent. It had many years of use in our family and everyone knew to keep hands and arms far from the spinning blade. The unit in my Instructable gets very minimal use. My main saw is a 1972 vintage radial arm saw with no drop down blade shrouds like one sees today. I just learned never to get my fingers close to the blade, not even in its path, but always off to the side by several inches. I use pusher sticks a lot. Safety devices are great, but each time a new one comes along we want to condemn all earlier models made without it as unsafe when people used them safely for years. Someone has a new table saw that senses changes in electrical capacitance and locks the blade immediately. I expect the day will come when someone will call any saw unsafe that is not equipped with that feature.

author
Burf (author)Phil B2008-11-29

I'm not trying to comment on your skills or the caution you use with your lathe/saw conversion. This is after all, an Instructable, and I believe there is an obligation to point out to anyone that doesn't possess your skill or knowledge, and who might attempt to duplicate your instructable, there are some real safety issues that they should know about. I have read several Instructables that I was tempted to try and then after reading some of the comments, I became aware of dangers unknown to me beforehand. With that knowledge, I was able to reconsider and in some cases revise the instructable to eliminate a potential hazard that may have injured me or someone else. I feel that is one of the benefits of having member comments following the instructable.

author
Phil B (author)Burf2008-11-29

In the last frame I did tell users to read on table saw safety practices before using a table saw. When I started, there was no Internet, but I have several articles on table saw safety I clipped from Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. They all advised keeping hands and fingers far away from blades. Those were the days before blade guards, too.

author
wa7jos (author)2008-11-26

This is the scariest contraption I have ever seen. Where are the blade guards? Especially for the exposed portion of the blade below the table. This could be a death trap without them.

author
roguegeer (author)2008-11-24

This is a great idea and a great instructable!

The actual idea is very similar to the Magna ShopSmith. Check them out if you'd like some more ideas. there is a thriving shopsmith community too, if you were looking for parts or photos of parts and pieces in operation.

(i have a ShopSmith VII, which isnt technically the same breed as the vaunted shopsmith V and 5xx series... but i grew up with one and like it just fine.)

the ability to raise and lower the table (for deeper or shallower cuts) is great, and your hinge system is very simple and robust!
another option would be using threaded rods as post for the table-top, and nuts at the corners of your cleat-base, with sprockets welded/attached to the nuts, and a chain around the outside. then rig an oversize "wheel" rim to one or two of the nut-sprockets: turning them would cause all four posts to raise or lower in unison (assuming the sprockets are ll the same size!)
many thickness planers use a similar system for adjusting the bed/blade depth. obviously you would need some stabilizer posts too so the table top isnt wobbly, but that could just be plywood perpendicular to the table that slides through slots in the cleat base.

but the hinges are surely simpler!

for some more ideas:
shopsmith main site
shopsmith community forum

author
roguegeer (author)roguegeer2008-11-24

and NOW i see that you even mention the shopsmith in your comments. *sigh* eager beaver misses the worm. or something like that.

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Phil B (author)roguegeer2008-11-24

Oops! I just overlooked what you wrote about thickness planers and mentioned thickness planers. We humans are a strange and funny lot.

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Phil B (author)roguegeer2008-11-24

Hey, we have all been there and done that. Do not let it bother you. Thanks for your comments. I like your idea about the threaded rods and the chain. I think I have seen that on some thickness planers.

author
kelseymh (author)2008-11-22

That is extraordinary! The concept itself has that feel of "it's so obvious", but only after someone like you has created it. The I'ble is sufficiently detailed that someone else (lucky enough to have a lathe!) could reproduce it. Well done, sir, well done!

author
Phil B (author)kelseymh2008-11-23

Thanks. I think of this as my homemade Shopsmith. They basically put a saw table on a lathe. There are ways to make your own lathe. If you simply need a saw, mount a motor and a bearing mandrel. Then you can build a saw table over it.

author
rc jedi (author)2008-11-22

I got a lathe but no tablesaw. Great idea! Thanks!

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