The DeWalt DW744 is a practical table saw for a small workshop and some enhancements will make it safer and easier to use.
Step 1: A Practical Base for the Saw
I have a rather small room for my workshop. It's long and narrow so one of the first things I did for my DeWalt table saw was to build a platform to put the saw on. My primary requirement was to have the platform mounted on casters to allow me to easily rotate and move the saw to accommodate the material I needed to cut. I made my platform from square tubular steel but you can make the platform from a variety of materials. It just needs to be big enough to mount the saw but not so big as to make it hard to move around. Also if you have other tables or workbenches in your shop, design your platform so the top surface of the saw will match them. As you can see from the photos, I also enhanced my platform with dividers to accommodate sleds underneath and accessories on the front and back. I also put a sheet of Masonite under the saw to prevent sawdust from getting on my sleds.
Step 2: A Push Handle Made for Safety
My next modification was for safety. I wanted a push handle that would always be handy whenever I needed it. In designing my push handle I wanted it to be able to hold the material down and against the fence. And I also wanted my hand to be protected, so I built a wide base with a handle to allow me to apply pressure to hold the material safely. I made the actual pushing piece from Plexiglas to allow me to better see what was going on. The hook I cut at the back edge only needs to be big enough to bite into the back of the material. If you make it too deep it will catch on the table if you are cutting thin material. To make it always readily available, I mounted a strip of plastic on the back of my fence using standoffs to create a slot for the handle to drop into. I just drilled and taped the fence for the bolts to hold it on. I find it very handy when I am cutting a long board, that once I get near the end, to just grab the handle and finish the cut using the push handle to push past the blade. Also for smaller pieces of material I find that the design of the handle allows me to easily apply pressure both down and towards the fence. I always feel safer with the wood base between my hand and the saw blade.
Step 3: Extending the Table
A small saw is practical for a small shop but I found that the table was a little too short, so I decided to extend the back. One of the really great features of this saw also creates a problem for extending the table. The front and back rack and pinion system, which keeps the fence absolutely parallel to the blade, requires a space for the rear fence connector to travel.
- After analyzing the saw, I found that there was a piece of metal bolted under the table on each side of the saw table to make it more comfortable to lift the saw by the table. Since I wasn't going to be lifting the saw I decided to remove these and use the threaded bolt holes to mount the table extension. There are three bolt holes under each side of the table. I used these to bolt some aluminum angle brackets under the table. I actually recycled some brackets that were designed to mount computer equipment in a rack that was wider than what the equipment was designed for. But anything that can be bolted under the table and extend down would work.
- I then bolted on a similar piece to extend back to be used to mount the extension table. This piece must be bolted on parallel to the table. The length is not critical. Longer is stronger. Drill some holes that will be used to screw to the extension table. Then drill all the holes you will need to bolt to the bracket under the table, but only drill one hole on the bracket under the table and bolt the brackets together. Then clamp a very straight board to the saw table above where the bracket is and use this to align the bracket parallel to the table. Clamp and drill the remaining bolt holes, and bolt the brackets together.
- The extension table can be whatever size you want, but for a small shop don't make it too big. The extension table is just a rectangular frame with a cross piece for strength. A piece of 3/4" MDF is screwed to the frame. The height of the frame should be the distance from the brackets to the top of the saw table less the thickness of the MDF table. I would make it a little less to make sure the extension is slightly below the saw table. The width of the frame must align with the brackets it will be screwed to. The depth can be whatever you want. I made mine 17". Screw the top to the frame, counter sinking the screws. Do not put any screws in the area where you will be cutting the miter slots.
- When locating the table on the brackets, allow about 2" of clearance for the rear fence clips. At this point you need to clamp the table to the brackets and use the miter in the saw table slots to mark where the slots need to be cut in the extension. Use the saw fence to cut the slots in the extension top. When mounting the extension table to the brackets, use the miter to align the extension slots with the saw slots. Extend the miter far enough to assure the saw and extension slots are parallel. Clamp the table to the brackets and test with the miter or a sled to assure smooth operation. Then screw the extension table to the brackets.
Step 4: Enjoy Using an Improved Tool
I have used my saw with these improvements for many years and found them to be extremely beneficial.