Introduction: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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