Introduction: Convert a Hand-held Circular Saw Into a Table Saw

Picture of Convert a Hand-held Circular Saw Into a Table Saw

This instrucable is about building a table and attaching a hand-held circular saw to the table. The table stands on saw horses, so it's more of a surface than a free-standing table. The table includes a removable panel where the saw attaches, so the table can be used with other tools---a router for example.

Please be careful if you attempt this project at home. There are power tools involved, which should inspire extra caution. Real table saws cause their share of injuries, so just imagine what could happen with this ad hoc arrangement.

Step 1: Make the Table

Picture of Make the Table

Find some reasonably-flat lumber and make a table. You can make legs for it, if you want, but I just put mine on saw horses.

You'll probably want to add some cross pieces. Be careful that all screws are counter sunk or counter bored. I used pine and 2-1/2" coarse-thread dry wall screws, which countersunk themselves. I used a pilot hole to prevent the plank from cracking.

Remember that you want to hang a large saw under the table when you're choosing where to put the cross pieces. Make sure there's enough room to mount and adjust the saw.

Step 2: Make a Removable Panel

Picture of Make a Removable Panel

Leave a hole in the middle of the table. The removable panel makes it a lot easier to mount the saw and allows you to use the table with other tools. To mount a router, just make another panel and mount the router on that.

To install a panel, there are a lot of options. I had washers and smallish lag screws and was thinking about how cleaver I was, so I used them. It's a lot of work to remove the lag screws and I don't have the appropriate attachment for my drill. Instead of lag screws, you just us regular screws.

Again, make sure all of your hardware is below the surface of the table.

If you're inspired, you can even use a block plane to deal with any bumps. But the plane can only make it locally flat, so your table could still be off. But who cares---if you wanted something really precise, you'd have purchased a table saw a long time ago and you're only reading this article to see if it's a joke.

Step 3: Make a Flat Edge for the Fence

Picture of Make a Flat Edge for the Fence

You may need to add a true piece of wood to the edge, where the fence rides, depending on the lumber you started with and the final shape of the table. I started off without putting too much thought into the orientation of the table, so I ended up with a rough edge.

I found a flat piece of wood of the appropriate thickness, a bit of 1/4" plywood, and some glue. After it was firmly glued into place, I realized that the edge was a good straight board but the edges were not parallel. I was able to correct for it later because the fence need only be true to the blade, not the end of the table.

Step 4: Make the Fence

Picture of Make the Fence

The fence it the bit of wood that acts as the guide when you're cutting. It must be adjustable but firm enough to allow consistent cuts.

I had some 1x4 lumber in the garage, so I used it. I tried to cancel out errors in the wood by screwing them together at right angles so that their cross-section was L-shaped. I was working with pine, so I pre-drilled my holes. The edge of the fence needs to be smooth, so I counter bored holes with a 1/2" spade bit.

Step 5: Mount the Saw to the Panel

Picture of Mount the Saw to the Panel

Cut a slot in the panel and figure out how to mount your circular saw on the bottom of it. I have a DeWalt saw (too bad it's not Craftsman!) and it's got a fiberglass deck (the black bit) that I had no trouble drilling through. I used 1/4" hardware because that was what I had on hand. I used a counter bored holes and carriage bolts, so I didn't have to worry about the bolt turning as I mounting the saw.

There were two problems from this set up, though. First, I couldn't cut through 2x4 lumber because the boards I made the table out of were too thick. Also, I found out why zero-clearance plates are so popular.

I removed the first panel, which was made out of 3/4" lumber, and replaced it with 3/8" plywood. There's a bunch of shims to keep it level with the surface of the table. The saw is mounted on a panel and there is the possibility of changing the bit that surrounds the blade. The combination of the panel and plat works, but the table isn't very flat. There are a lot of little corners and edges and sometimes things get caught.

I also found out that the slot was too wide because bits of wood kept falling into the saw. They either were launched toward the ceiling of my garage or caused the saw to slow down and jam up. So I made a new slot that was just wide enough for the saw blade. It doesn't have a blade guard, anti-kickback device, or a splitter, so it's really quite dangerous. I'll have to make a splitter and guard ASAP.

Step 6: True the Fence to the Blade

Picture of True the Fence to the Blade

The fence must be parallel to the blade. Square up the fence to the blade. You'll probably have to pull back the guard, so make sure the saw is not plugged in. Then put a single screw in the T of the fence and square it with the end of the table. Add at least one screw to set the angle.

I spent a lot of time making the T square, but it turns out that the table's end wasn't square. I was able to correct for the difference using the method outlined above.

Step 7: Cut Something With Your New Table Saw

Picture of Cut Something With Your New Table Saw

After the fence is square to the blade, try it out. Set tje distance to the fence and the depth of the blade.

I had to use a bit of wire to activate the switch on the handle of my saw. Then I used the plug to turn it on and off.

Remember to use something wood to push your piece through the saw. Check the direction of the blade before you start cutting.

Also, don't wear loose clothing or gloves. Do wear safety glasses. Have a firm footing before you begin a cut. Beware of twisting the piece or pausing mid cut. Basically, remember all the stuff your shop teacher told you.

Use the saw at your own risk. Your fingers are responsible for your actions.

Step 8: Things I Made With the Saw

Picture of Things I Made With the Saw

The main reason I made the saw was to cut up the old lumber I had in my garage. There's old 2x4 and other stuff from the last 7 years of home improvements. I was able to re-claim some of the lumber but a lot of it is probably only good for throwing away or making charcoal. I also made a shop cart for my tool box and misc tools. It was inspired (but doesn't at all resemble) by an instructable about building a shop table.

Please take a second to rate this instructable. Click on one of the stars in the upper left corner.


JimP144 (author)2018-01-06

Thanks for all the info and comments

JimP144 (author)2018-01-06

I lost end of finger and thumb so decided to use push sticks just cut V shape in end of 2 lengths of wood one to hold down work one to push work through, still have most of my fingers since using push sticks

MoulinduB (author)2017-09-01


i am a hobbyist & planning to built a table saw using a seven n half inch circular saw, but after hearing all the risks especially kickbacks i got sceptical. As my setup wouldnt be having riving knife, i thought of using a sled riding on a pair of telescopic channel which will feed the job & use clamps to hold the job with sled. I can feed the sled from side holding those clamps from sideways thereby avoiding standing in path of blade. Even if i use a rail guide it will run on top of the sled for whole length of the table. Do you think its workable. Any suggestions will be very helpful

bfarm (author)2010-07-16

Money spent at a garage sale for a real table saw would be well spent. New saws also can come with a brake that stops the saw INSTANTLY when it comes into contact with flesh. Sooner or later, this machine will get you hurt.

JoshuaC156 (author)bfarm2016-09-16

I bought two cheap, used saws--perfectly serviceable--at garage sales. Yes, SawStop and now Bosch make both job site and shop versions of table saws that "break" intantaniously, but they begin at around $1200-1600 dollars. Take of you fingers out there.

lordgarion514 (author)bfarm2010-12-08

hate to tell you this but since i spent 15 years in the construction business I feel at least a "bit" qualified to make this comment. A table say never stops when it hits flesh. It stops when that plastic guard is raised to high high. You set most of them by adjusting the blade tips so they barely clear the wood you are cutting(just like you should do with any circular saw(it make the cutting much much more efficient, reduces kickbacks and reduces the force needed to push the blade through the wood) If you try to slide something else under that plastic guard be it a body part or another piece of wood it jams the blade.

Please educate yourself on how things work BEFORE bashing someones good idea. This tablesaw is no different than the older ones that didn't have the brakes on them and so are no more dangerous.

Well not counting those 1 or 2 models that are very expensive and can actually sense human flesh. But try finding one of those at a garage sale.......

joeny1980 (author)lordgarion5142012-08-13

I know this is an old post, but doesnt mean you're not still wrong. :) There is most definitely flesh detecting saw safety mechanisms. YES, not on most consumer grade equipment, but it definitely exists.

Please educate yourself on how things work before bashing someone's insightful comment.

hellgas00 (author)joeny19802012-08-17

Those saws are not even remotely close to being incorporated into the design of the manufactures of table saws. The likes of Craftsmen DeWalt and Milwaukee have even said that they will not be incorporating this design into their models because of the cost. The top comment is akin to saying that you should buy a new car because the new ones have ejector seats that will save you in a crash because he saw it in a movie once and it was theoretically possible. So, "Please educate yourself on how things work before bashing someone's insightful comment."

neffk (author)joeny19802012-08-14

Joeny and Garion, take it easy. Let's take the time to read and understand before reacting. Try to be positive and have a good attitude. Put that confrontational energy into posting a new instructable or something. Your comments will be much more credible after you've posted some of your own work.

Oh, and as far as people being wrong on the internet, see this link:

neffk (author)bfarm2010-07-18

A real table saw, even a bench-top model, probably would be better. This design, however, is one way to use labor in the place of cash. Someone in my family worked on a nuclear submarine. He told me that they were taught not to rely on safety features. That's all I have to say about that. A garage-sale table saw won't have the flesh-sensing feature. That feature is proprietary and is on a saw that is relatively expensive.

mmould03 (author)neffk2011-01-04

Excellent idea and exactly what I was planning to do. Do not listen to the ramblings of attention-seeking, drama-loving individuals. As has been mentioned, safety is in procedure. A simpler mind or more careless individual should not make or use this table. For that matter, they should not be around power tools in general; store bought or otherwise. Great instructable. I'm also planning on making a router table for my dremel tool. I'll post back if I lose a finger.

neffk (author)bfarm2010-09-08

Good point. That was the conclusion I came to, eventually.

There is only one brand of table saw with the emergency-stop feature. It is far from a standard feature. That'll cost 600-800, too.

mr_jcrp (author)2016-04-20

The construction of the table is going to be very simple. It will be a box with a hollow top. The hollow top is through which all the dust that falls down the blade will be collected.

jkiesskalt (author)mr_jcrp2016-09-06

a good idea if you want to make a quick change multitool table is to head to your local hobby shop and pick up some battery phugs/sockets and some wire. Bypass the original switch with a socket/plug on the positive or negative, and insert a 250v reccomended switch somewhere on the table with a socket/plug opposite to that of whats on your tool. When your tool is mounted on the table, use the trigger lock feature most tools have(to keep it on) so you only have one switch to turn it on and off at will. If you're worried about usability after such a mod, just make a loop jumper to continue the circuit and use the drill like normal

randolpharno1025 (author)2016-01-19

I found this too

paul the maker (author)2015-12-12

i love the idea i might try for my projects now goodbye to my fingers

ddwight (author)2015-09-27

I never thought of this! This is awesome

wade7632 (author)2010-12-20

ths seems really cool how do u keep the saw running or triger on .

cpd_trigger (author)wade76322015-08-22

I'm working on one presently (converted from an old oak desk), and I zip-tied the trigger down and am using a power strip that I switch on to turn the saw on. I'll be posting my setup in the coming weeks.

eMagi13 (author)wade76322012-06-28

Years ago, when I was working with my Grandpa who was a master-carpenter, he had a home-made table saw. He had a light switch wired to an outlet on the bottom of the saw table and a dowel that just fit into the trigger guard and two wood pieces with holes the size of the dowel that were set to sit on either side of the trigger with the saw mounted. He would push the safety button, pull the trigger back, insert the rod, cotter pin it in place outside the wooden "guide blocks" and then use the light switch to turn the table saw on and off.

What I wish I could remember is what he did to make it easily removable so that he didn't have to have a separate circular saw...

wade7632 (author)2010-12-20

this is cool i am making my own how did u keep the saw on thow

neffk (author)wade76322010-12-20

I drilled holes in the circular saw's guide plate. I think there's picture...

neffk (author)neffk2010-12-20

agapetos (author)neffk2013-08-14

Just add "g" at the end. Here it is complete:

SIRJAMES09 (author)neffk2011-10-13

that link/address is dead....

monty324 (author)2012-04-09

this would be good if you also made a thing to hold a jigsaw or a router so it is a table saw, a scroll saw and a table router

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-10-13

This was a good read, & interesting too...HOWEVER, would it not be better to make the entire table top from 1 whole sheet of plywood??
That way, all the edges are the same, the surface is more likely to be all flat(or at least flat as in 1 solid piece).
Or, you could do like I did yrs ago & cut tongue & grooves into some 2x6's, glue & clamp them all together, then cut to size & sand them smooth.
This is what I did when I made a dining room table. turned out sharp too. :-)

I was thinking, that one thing you could do to keep the saw running when in use, is to by pass the switch on the saw & wire in a switch within arms reach by your waist on the side of the table. it may sound complicated, but it's really not. It's actually quite easy.

Just my 2 cents worth...not telling you what to do...

shuja.shaher (author)2011-07-01

great !!!!!!
but i am not clear about the mounting of the saw on to the table
i have only a 4" circular saw

jungleflyer (author)2011-05-27

I made my own saw, similar to this. I do NOT use a fence. What I did was to take a long, straight edge, put against the blade and made a long line on my table that extends to the end. This I call my Zero (0) line, I drew 1/2 inch lines parallel to the first one. That gave me widths in 1/2 inch increments. Now, when I cut a board that I have cut from a tree with a chain saw, I pull a straight line down one side. If you put the end you are cutting first with the line on the board lined up with the saw blade, and the other end of the line over the 0 line, now all I have to do is to push the board, keeping my marked line over the 0 line. After that, I then pick the width of the board I want to make, Mark that distance, say 6 inches. Then I place that mark on the 0 line at the saw blade. I then mark the other end of the board at 6 inches, keep it over the 0 inch line, and just push. You would be surprised at how accurately you can cut long boards that way. you just have to have a table as long as your longest board.

neffk (author)jungleflyer2011-05-27

I understand there is some danger in cutting wood this way, but I admit that I've done the same on rare occasions. For example, I have some rough-cut lumber which I squared up along the edges. Still, I'd recommend a fence for the average user!

DOSn3rd (author)2011-05-14

Just an idea about the insert and it's clearance, wouldn't it be possible to just lower the blade aka. increase the cutting depth with the saw alredy attached to the underside of the insert-board?

neffk (author)DOSn3rd2011-05-14

Well, it's an 8" blade and the table is 5/8 or so thick. There's only so much you can do, even with the blade *lowered* all the way.

DOSn3rd (author)neffk2011-05-15

Now that I look at it I wasn't making myself clear in my previous comment, sorry :/

What I wanted to say was that if you attach the saw to the underside of the insert and then "lower" the saw while it's on and by that making a "zero-clearance insert" instead of drilling holes. Would that be a feasible idea?

neffk (author)DOSn3rd2011-05-15

I think that's a good idea. I made an insert like that for the real table saw this project inspired me to buy!

mightywombat (author)2011-02-24

This is awesome. I am doing this as soon as I can lay my hands on the wood for it, or the money to buy said wood. I am thinking of incorporating a couple of features from similar Instructables, mostly for aligning the saw. I'd really like for the base plate of the saw to sit on top of the table, but I haven't figured that out yet.

betin (author)2010-11-24

es muy buena idea

oitchy (author)2010-11-23


Are you completely insane??? Sorry, what I meant to ask is,"Are you still alive?" and if so, how many arms, legs, fingers etc do you now have? Jeez, posts like yours need etc etc

If this post isn't considered positive,constructive or more appositely, INSTRUCTIVE, I'll be the naked one riding the pig bareback through town on Saturday night

neffk (author)oitchy2010-11-23

Safety is more about procedure than equipment. This saw never kicked back because the motor is small. My 1-hp table saw is much more dangerous in this sense.

oitchy (author)neffk2010-11-24

fair enough, fella

psiked (author)2010-09-25

Thorough ible. Been planning on buying a table saw, but kicked around the idea of making my own since I have 3 hand ones. Now I'm inspired.

Ellen the Generous (author)2010-07-16

Well, if this isn't safe, then I don't know what is.

luvit (author)2010-07-15


spammy90 (author)2009-03-05

just a nifty little photographing technique for you: the pictures you posted have a noticeable yellow tinge to them, which I suppose is due to the lighting in your shop. You can correct this by adjusting the White Balance on your camera. There should be a little WB button somewhere, and select Tungsten as a setting. This will balance out the yellowness, and make it look more natural. Hope that helps, great instructable, btw.

neffk (author)spammy902009-03-05

Yes, yes. The custom color balance was set for other stuff I shot between the various stages pictured here. Thanks for stopping by. Click on the stars to rate the article, please.

Or you can simply use photoshop to remove the yellow cast and balance your contrast.

I have build one of my own teble saw mount on a mobile bench if you wanna take a look in my instructables.

Thank you for sharing.

neffk (author)spammy902009-04-26

I see you haven't contributed any instructables... Maybe you could post an instructable about setting the WB on whatever camera you have. The buttons would be specific to your camera, but the concept certainly would be useful and broadly-applicable. I don't see any other instructables on setting WB for still photography.

Lateral Thinker (author)2009-08-05

I made one similar, using it I went into production of wooden toys. I now have a Dewald Table saw, I dismantled my homebuilt, but I will use photos for a future instructable. My suggestions for homebuilts. Any flexibility is bad in power tools, and with a table saw, can cause kick backs, therefore plenty of bracing, specially to prevent the top sagging. I would recommend fitting the work top onto a bottomless box, with sides maybe 300-mm high. Another thing I learnt (I use machine tools, such as a metal lathe with my other interests) is that mass (weight) is important, as in reducing flexibility, it eliminates bounce too. I would suggest MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) to anybody copying this design, for the worktop, two layers of 19-mm, and where the base of the skill saw fits, the top would reduce in thickness. Over all that, would be a 6 mm thickness replaceable layer of hardboard, a nice running surface, and around the saw blade, that hardboard would be replaceable, with various slot openings. I found any kind of self paralleling fence, an impossible dream, I had thought of that T-fence idea, but just too much flexibility. instead, I just clamped a fence of wood, at both ends. Setting it, by measuring from both the front and back of the blade, did not take along, and worked pretty good, however, I tended to set the fence parallel with gages, in production, I would have left over a off cut from the last time I ripped timber to that dimension, and I had scraps of hardboard and MDF, 3.0, 4.5, 5.0, 6.0 etc, the strips on edge, in suitable combinations, placed between the blade and fence, then the fence clamped, worked great. When using this rip fence, I always worked from the fence side, so I held my work piece at both ends, while pulling it hard back against the fence. Thus I was clear of any throw back from the blade. Personal rule, if the saw wants to grab, don't try and save your work, look after yourself first, let it have its way, it, and your job, are expendable, you are not. Use jigs and work holders to the maximum. That makes up for the short comings of a home built. A personal rule was a dry run with every job, to check that nothing was going to catch, and there was room to finish the cut. Such a saw works great for small jobs, but if I had to break down a large sheet of MDF, I would do that with a hand-held skill saw, and cut oversize, acknowledging that finishing to size on my home built would incur extra wastage, but that was acceptable, as a penalty for not having proper equipment. But I had a proper mitre gage slot, which I used for most of my jigs, I will have to leave that description until I do my own instructable shortly. Sometimes I do miss this machine. BTW, don't try for blade tilt or height adjustment, that was not viable, the blade had to be at maximum height and square, if not, there was dangerous flexibility between the skill saw base and blade. I am adding a photo of a mass produced toy, whether this example was done on my homebuilt or Dewalt, is irrelevant, because the design has not changed. NB, I also used pattern routing for this toy. The toy sample I selected was a special order from a large local company, based on my standard chassis and cab design, the client took it unpainted, as it was to be finished in company colours (Purple known worldwide) and they bought a pair, plus a forklift to the same scale.

Important note, never ever use this kind of home built saw freehand, even if only cutting firewood, I haven't, thus I still got all 12 fingers. (Not too good at counting, I am not decimal I still think in feet and inches, and dozens)

0087adam (author)2009-02-26

Wierd how this is posted after mine is for the same exact thing...

You thought more outside the box than i did; u added a fence.

I dont use a rip fence, miter guage, or splitter...
but i modified it so u can stick the wood in a set of 'handles' so if it kicks back it doesnt hit you...

it works fairly well, but i went out and bought a real table saw just for the heck of it and let me tell you i like it much better!

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