Introduction: My Table Saw From a Circular Saw Redone

More than 40 years ago I wanted a table saw, but had very little money. I bought a good circular saw and hung it below a piece of 3/4 inch plywood. I added a couple of my own innovations, and it could do very precise work. I could also remove the circular saw to rip a panel too large for my table saw, and put it back into my table saw without the need to align it again. I no longer have that circular saw or the table I made. See how I made that table saw here

But, I wanted to have a table saw again and wanted to utilize my Porter-Cable circular saw (Model # PC15TCSMK). This saw has a rigid base that does not flex easily, a 13 amp motor, and almost no run out to change the line of cut when the motor starts.

What I do not have is a lot of space to store a table saw, so I wanted a saw that almost stores flat. See the second photo. When I want to use the saw, I back my car out of our garage and set up my saw near the open door on folding sawhorses.

Materials
  • 3/4 inch plywood 29 x 48 inches for the saw table
  • 3/4 inch plywood for the fence and the face of the miter gauge
  • Steel bar 1/4 x 2 inches and 1/4 x 3/4 x 24
  • 1/4 inch and 5/16 inch threaded rod
  • 8-32 machine screws about 1 1/2 inches in length
  • Various nuts and washers
  • 3/4 inch water pipe
  • Angle iron from an old bed frame
  • Steel fence post
  • Steel electrical boxes and covers for a switch and an outlet
  • Three 3/8 inch romex connectors
  • 15 amp duplex outlet and 15 amp toggle switch
  • Twist on wire nut
  • Three prong male plug
  • 16-3 rubber covered wire
  • Round steel bar to make the collar in step 2
  • Concrete reinforcement bar for the carrying handle
  • 1/4 inch plywood

Tools
  • Circular saw
  • Radial arm saw
  • Dado blade (adjustable)
  • Framing square
  • Folding rule
  • Router
  • Handheld Drill
  • Drill press
  • Welder
  • Angle head grinder with a cutting wheel and a grinding wheel
  • 3 pound hammer
  • "C" clamps
  • Plywood straightedge guides
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Files

Step 1: First Step: Cut the Miter Gauge Slots

The miter gauge slots need to fit the miter gauge's steel bar precisely. I used an adjustable dado blade with carbide tips to dial in the exact width of the 1/4 x 3/4 inch steel bar I planned to use for the miter gauge. I made test cuts in some scrap lumber. In the process I learned two bars may be classed as 1/4 x 3/4 inch, but one is a bit narrower than the other. I cut my slots to fit the piece of steel I would use. 

I also have a radial arm saw now. One capability of a radial arm saw is using the edge of the table nearest the operator as a cutting guide together with a straightedge clamped to the bottom of the work piece. I described that process in this Instructable. I have a piece of 3/4 inch chipboard about 4 inches wide and 36 inches long. It has very straight parallel edges on both sides. I clamped it under the piece of plywood you see in the photo. It was positioned midway between the two slots in the table and was parallel to them. All I had to do was set the depth of the dadoes and hold the plywood firmly on the table while cutting one slot and then turning the plywood end for end to cut the second slot. The process is almost failure proof and the finished product is very accurate.

Step 2: The Miter Gauge

The bar stock for the miter gauge is ( as mentioned earlier) 1/4 x 3/4 mild steel about 23 inches long. I also had a piece of flat steel 1/8 inch thick and about 8 x 10 inches. The miter gauge has a wooden face about 2 inches high. The miter gauge is wider on one side than the other because of where I had to place the slots in relation to the steel plate that mounts the saw. The miter gauge can swing to a little more than 45 degrees left or right. 

See the second photo for how the arc opening was cut into the 1/8 inch steel. I am illustrating with a piece of 1/8 inch Masonite. Drill a 1/4 inch hole for the pivot point. Bolt the steel to a 2 x 4 so the steel can pivot left or right. Clamp the 2 x 4 to the table of a drill press. Drill a series of holes next to one another as the steel pivots through its arc. After the row of holes had been drilled, I used the edge of a grinding wheel on a 4 inch angle head grinder from both sides to remove most of the metal between the holes. Then I used a file to smooth and fit the arc slot so the steel can pivot smoothly with the lock down bolt in place.

The pivot bolt and the lock down bolt are both 1/4 inch. The steel bar can be drilled and tapped, or bevel head screws could be used. I drilled the holes and welded threaded studs in the holes.

See the third photo. The pivot hole did not fit tightly enough around the pivot bolt. There was some wiggle. So, I made a collar with an outer diameter of 1/2 inch. I drilled a hole in the 1/8 inch steel almost 1/2 inch in diameter and filed it by hand for a close fit on the collar. I welded the collar to the pivot bolt. I used washers to fit over the small welds and a self-locking nut to secure the 1/8 inch steel on the pivot bolt. 

The fourth photo shows how the wood is attached to the steel on the miter gauge. Although the bevel head screws were countersunk, some grinding was still needed to make the bottom surface smooth.

See the fifth photo. It is a handle for the miter gauge very similar to the handle on the miter gauge I bought from Sears for my first saw conversion 40 years ago. It was a very useful feature. Already I was finding the wing nut shown in the first photo for this step tedious and difficult. I cut two slots into the end of a piece of 3/4 inch water pipe. I filed them until the wings on the wing nut could slide into them. I positioned the piece of water pipe over the wing nut and tack welded it in place. See the sixth photo. I finished the welds and used a cutting wheel to make grooves on the side of the water pipe for a nice grip, especially when loosening the miter gauge to adjust it. 


Step 3: The Saw Mounting Plate

40 years ago I simply used two 1/4 inch bolts with bevel heads and wing nuts to hang my saw under 3/4 inch of plywood. That meant the maximum cutting depth was reduced considerably. Thicker pieces of work required making multiple passes: one normal pass, inverting the work, and making a second pass. This was not a big problem because most of my sawing involved 3/4 inch stock.

This time I wanted to keep as much of the saw's cutting depth as possible. I had some pieces of steel 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches wide. My first plan was to make a frame for the saw's base and support the saw on some welded tabs from below so the base of the saw would be flush with the surface of the steel frame. It worked, but I decided the saw was not secure enough and might move while in use, so I removed the tabs and welded more pieces of steel into the frame. I hung the saw from threaded studs welded into the steel mounting plate, one of which will be seen in a later step.

Someone will surely wonder about the rather large throat plate clearances. They are necessary so the saw can be used when the blade is laid over for bevel cuts. A solution to the large throat clearance will be shown in a later step for when a very close throat clearance is needed for thin pieces.

Welding extra pieces into the initial frame caused warping. After welding I did some work with a 3 pound hammer. I also did some grinding. A one piece steel plate would have made this easier and eliminated the need for some of this corrective work, but I wanted to use what I had.

The plywood is recessed by means of a router so the surface of the plywood and of the steel mounting plate are even.

See the second photo.I found the level of the steel mounting plate was just a little below that of the wood saw table. For many things this created no problem. But, it was potentially problematic when sawing smaller pieces where precision is important. I brought the level of the mounting plate up to that of the rest of the saw table where necessary by smearing a liberal application of auto body putty (Bondo) on the steel plate. I used a piece of 3/4 inch wood on its edge as a screed to level the body putty much like a mason would do to level freshly poured concrete in a form. As a last step I wrapped some medium sandpaper around the bottom of the piece of wood to further smooth the auto body putty.

Step 4: The Underside of the Mounting Plate

The first photo shows one of the 5/16 inch studs for mounting the saw. The criss cross bracing pattern cast into the saw base leaves no place for a nut. I added a square steel washer I made so the nut can work as it should. A second mounting stud is at the hole in the other end of the saw base. In the lower left corner of the photo you can see the stud and nut that secures the steel mounting plate in the plywood. The mounting plate fits very tightly in the plywood, especially on one particular side.

See the second photo. Notice two wooden blocks attached with studs and nuts. A machine screw runs through each so their tips touch the saw base. Either screw can be turned part of a turn to move one end of the saw's base over just a few thousandths of an inch. (Space for reaching the screw heads is limited. I use a needle nose locking pliers to make adjustments.) I used this system in my saw from 40 years ago. Once aligned, the saw can be removed and put back in place later. Simply slide the saw so the base touches these two screws and the saw is precisely aligned again. Then tighten the nuts on the mounting studs.

Step 5: Underside Framework

The tan pieces of steel running up and down under the plywood are angle iron from an old bed frame. The green pieces connecting them are pieces of steel fence posts.

Notice the electrical boxes. See the second photo. One contains a common outlet receptacle. The other contains a toggle switch placed so it is easy to find and shut off in case of a problem during use of the saw. Both are welded to a piece of bed frame welded to the green fence post.

I also added a carrying handle that also helps control the cords while carrying. See the third photo

Step 6: Preparing to Use the Saw

Some alignment and calibration is necessary before the first use of the saw. 

I have raised the long leg of the framing square a little so the other leg can catch in the miter gauge slot. I loosened the locking wing nut on the miter gauge and allowed the miter gauge to pivot until its face rests against the leg of the square. Then I tightened the locking nut. 

See the second photo. If you wish to check your square for accuracy, you can invert it and see if the leg touches the miter gauge slot as fully as it does in the first photo

This is all that is necessary to set the miter gauge for a square cross cut. Repeat the first part of this step anytime the miter gauge has been reset or disturbed. The third photo shows a cross cut checked with a square immediately after making the cut. (I have checked the square, too, and it is accurate.)

Step 7: Align the Blade

During initial set up and occasionally later gently slide one leg of the square against the blade without putting pressure against the blade. If the leg of the square is parallel to the miter gauge slots, it should also be parallel to the saw blade. Use the adjustments in step 4 to align the blade.

Both the saw and the miter gauge should be aligned quite precisely now. 

Step 8: Rip Cuts

I am still making rip cuts the same way I did 40 years ago. It is not fast, but it works very well.

Bring the square against the miter gauge. Slide it for the correct width of the rip cut. Hold the square firmly to the table with downward pressure. Slide the fence against the square. (I use the factory edge of a piece of plywood. I have made a new higher fence from two pieces of plywood and it will be seen in a later step. Hold the plywood fence down at the front of the table and carefully clamp it with a "C" clamp. Do the same at the rear of the table. Check again to be sure the square touches the fence evenly along its length with no gaps. Remove the miter gauge and the square. If all was done well, there is no need to measure between the blade and the fence at the front and back of the blade, but it is a good check to perform, anyway. Make a small test cut. Adjust the fence, if necessary. In this Instructable I developed a reliable way to adjust the rip fence just a tiny fraction of an inch.

Step 9: Zero Clearance Throat When Needed

When a close clearance is needed on the throat, a thin piece of plywood or Masonite can be brought near to the blade and the fence can be clamped with it in a sandwich. 

In the photo I am ripping a piece about 5/16 x 3/4 inch down to 1/4 x 3/4 inch. I am using my new "L" fence that supports vertical work pieces better than my old flat piece of plywood. 

You can also see the piece of 1/4 inch plywood that nearly touches the blade and supports the thin work piece very well. That piece of 1/4 inch plywood is a couple of feet wide and runs from the front to the back of the table. If need be, I could add a thin piece that covers the whole saw table with only a thin slot where the blade comes up through the table.

As a general safety practice, I like to keep the blade as low as possible. If my hand would happen to go over the top of the spinning blade, I would have only a flesh wound. I would not lose a finger or a thumb. (I read that advice many years ago in a DIY magazine article.) I need to make a featherboard yet for cuts like this.

Step 10: Miters

I walked around to the the rear of the saw and placed the framing square so the corner is located over the miter gauge slot. I placed the square so the markings for 15 inches on both legs of the square intersect the back edge of the table. See the second photo. I adjusted the miter gauge so its face evenly touches one leg of the square. See the first photo again.

See the third photo. The miter gauge did not catch any of the square, so I used a straightedge ruler as an extender.

Later I made a miter sled from old bed frame steel and a 1/4" x 3/4" bar to fit the miter slot. (fourth photo) The steel was not straight or uniform enough for precise work, so I added a facing of 1 x 2 pine held in place with multiple screws. Then I used my regular adjustable miter gauge to trim and square the pine facing so the edges are straight and true. The bed frame is attached to the bar with screws and there is room for adjustment. I took time to adjust the miter sled so I can cut two pieces from the same side of the sled and they still form a 90 degree corner.




Step 11: What Will It Do?

After a few months I have mostly used this saw to resize lumber for very mundane projects. Shown are photos of two projects I did with this saw. The first photo is a slipcase for a used Hebrew/German Old Testament my brother gave to me. The slipcase prevents the binding from becoming looser during storage. I used clear pine and fiberboard to make this slipcase.

This was photographed with my iPhone 4S camera from a very close position, so there is an unnatural perspective. And, I used a router table for forming some of the cut profile. But, miters and other cuts were made on this table saw. I made a couple of trial cuts and adjustments on the miters before they fit as I wanted.

The second photo is of a processional cross I am making for our church. All of the miters were cut on this saw with the miter sled shown in step 10. The wood is 1/2" red oak joined with biscuits.

I have continued to tweak my table saw for more ease of use and insured accuracy. But, it works very well already and is a nice tool to have when my other tools are set up for special needs I do not want to disturb yet. Most of this saw adaptation was built with discarded materials. Since making this saw adaptation I made a sled for putting a true edge on a board that has become wavy, but without making holes in the good board that mean sawing around the holes. Click on the link in the previous sentence.

Comments

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SherylinRM (author)2016-11-07

Very nice.

Of course would need a table saw to make this table saw right? LOL

Just kidding.

Very good work.

Suggestion. Use bigger pictures next time so we can see details easier.

Thanks.

Thanks for this :)

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Phil B made it! (author)SherylinRM2016-11-07

Thank you for looking and for your comment. Although you are joking with me, the photo shows another table saw I put together because I needed one in that place. I had no access to any saw other than the Skilsaw that would become the main component of this table saw. I used the long leg of a framing square as a guide for the saw. That meant a lot of careful measuring followed by clamping and cutting one cut at a time until slots for the miter gauge were uniform in width and exactly parallel to one another. It is possible to do this without any other saw to assist, but it means slow and careful work.

I have found by experience photos larger than 100 to 150 kilobytes are often slow to display, so that is the file size I aim to use.

Knoxville saw.jpg
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SherylinRM (author)Phil B2016-11-12

Ok, then maybe more close ups?

So if not bigger pics, maybe more pics?

I have a slow internet and I often wait for pics to load. Just use to it.

So I understand the slow opening of pics. :)

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MIKE_FLOOD (author)2016-03-27

This is one the best written 'ables I have seen. Good work.

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Phil B (author)MIKE_FLOOD2016-03-27

Thank you. I spent my working life as a pastor trying to present things in a clear way.

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mrandle (author)2014-07-12

I will definitely need to try this. I found a skil saw that was being thrown away because it doesn't have a guard, it works but I value keeping most of my appendages attached.

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Phil B (author)mrandle2014-07-13

Thanks. It takes a little more time to set up for some cuts than a commercial saw would require, but it does a very nice job.

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pheenix42 (author)2014-03-07

I used to have a pair of those very same sawhorses years ago...but, a friend needed them and I haven't seen another set in stores in years. Amazingly strong they were!

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Phil B (author)pheenix422014-03-07

My wife got these for me in the late 1970s. The plastic feet came off and have mosty been lost. They have always worked well. I sometimes struggle while setting them up. Thanks for looking.

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aboelkasem (author)2013-05-09

Oh That's a nice table saw
Thank you
i think I can do .I hope that

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Phil B (author)aboelkasem2013-05-09

Thank you for looking and for your comment. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I could do with what I have. There were choices at different points, and the saw could have been done a bit differently here or there without drastically affecting the outcome. What I did is intended to give people like you a starting point so you can make something that suits what you need, materials available to you, and tools you have available.

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tashammer (author)2013-05-02

This is an excellent solution to living in a small space and only having a wee amount of workshop space Phil B and i thank you very much.

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Phil B (author)tashammer2013-05-02

Thanks. This is another "fold flat" saw, but it is also a little more difficult to use than a traditional table saw. Take a look, too, at The World's Smallest Workshop by Steliart.

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tashammer (author)Phil B2013-05-02

Yes, i had a look at Steliart's Instructable. Sometimes it seems like there is a veritable snow storm of little Blessings. It really gives me hope. Like the song says, "From little things, big things grow..."
God Bless
Tom Mitchell

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Phil B (author)tashammer2013-05-03

Thanks, Tom. God bless.

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schmitta (author)2013-05-03

I designed and built a table to house a circular saw as you did. Needed a table saw to make plastic boxes for my project. Saw was very accurate. Had a wooden cradle for the saw with a rabbit in the front to catch the saw's lip. I used turn buttons in the back of the saw to lock the saw in place. added a mitre gauge bought from Woodcraft with a T channel. The fence was a piece of angle iron and two C clamps but later added a T square fence running on a metal to metal rail along the back of the table. I produced plans and sold them for about $12 each but only got 12 to 14 orders a year. Took down the website or I would include it. Like how you reduced the distance of the saw base to the table top. I used 1/2 inch plywood but I could cut 1 1/2 inch with blade at 90 degrees. Maybe you should come up with a kit as many are interested. Thanks for the ible.

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Phil B (author)schmitta2013-05-03

Thank you for sharing what you did. In my brief experience it is not easy to find a universal design that will suitably mount all circular saws. Many have two holes in the base plate, but beyond that similarities end. Your design sounds like a good one.

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ehensel1 (author)2013-05-02

Phil- I think this is awesome, and I applaud your creativity! And yes, the DIY magazines of yore have gone by the wayside. (Although Make does a decent job.) However, the middle school shop teacher worries about no anti-kickback mechanism, or blade guard. Now, I understand 99% of the people making this understand how to use the tool properly in such a way that they can still use it safely, but as I explain to my students "Who wants to leave with 99% of their fingers?" Maybe a blade guard molded from plexiglas, and a splitter behind the blade would be helpful? Believe it or not, the people that hurt themselves in my room are the teachers that come in after school, and say "Oh, don't worry, I know how to use a table saw." That usually is heard right before they crosscut something using the fence, and take a good shot to the chest. All around though, great Instructable!

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Phil B (author)ehensel12013-05-02

Thank you for your suggestions. I am a big fan of pusher sticks and of standing off to the side of the cut line. Those two things keep my body parts away from the blade and out of the way of anything that might be thrown. Right now I am making a lot of small pieces used in assembling pocket crosses for a homeless ministry. The saw I am using to cut pieces to length sometimes throws the small 1/4 x 1/4 x 1 cross arms, but standing off to the side and wearing a partial face mask keeps me unscathed. I have also clamped an extra guard to the table that presents a barrier for my hand to the blade, does not allow the small pieces to rise up on one end as happens just before catching the blade, and also blunts the direction and the force with which the small pieces can be thrown. 

I experimented with a splitter on another saw, but found any irregularity in wood I was ripping caused the wood to bind between the splitter and the fence. The steel I used for the splitter is the width of the blade. Perhaps I need to make it a little thinner than the blade.

It was the late 1960s when I wanted to begin using a power saw. In those days table saws all came without splitters, floating blade shields, and anti-kickback devices. Those things are all good. It has been interesting to watch the addition of all of these devices to saws as mandated safety devices, knowing that there was a time when they did not exist and people were extra careful. I remember more than once someone has done a study showing that where extra safety protective devices are in use people take extra risks they would not take without those devices. 

While some of the current safety devices might be a good idea, fitting them to a saw like this presents extra challenges. The one idea I have had involves an arm from one side of the table that is a few inches over the table and holds a floating shield over the blade.

Thank you, again.

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ehensel1 (author)Phil B2013-05-02

Phil, I'm with you on safety measures allowing us to get lax on practicing safety. I'm not sure where it is online, but there is an article about the guys who own SawStop, (a company started by lawyers) and how if you have an accident on a non-SawStop table, they'll represent you in court. Some guy who was using a table-top saw, freehanding a curved cut, lopped off some of his fingers, and SawStop won the lawsuit for him. Interesting side note, when they developed their safety, they went to the government, and tried to have them mandate it on all table saws, but the government said no.
That being said, we used to be able to show students real videos of real injuries, which I think made them more respectful of the tool. Now, it might psychologically damage them, so we don't show those anymore. Because we all know a student with respect for tools and all of his limbs is a bad thing if he is a little scared of something. Keep up the good work!

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Phil B (author)ehensel12013-05-02

The first study about people becoming less careful with more safety measures was in relation to ABS brakes on cars. With ABS brakes on a car, drivers allowed less time and distance to stop safely.

I have viewed a demonstration video on the SawStop. It is quite amazing. I know someone in a woodworking club who has tripped one three times. The club pays the $80 rebuild charge the first time only. He has paid for two as of now. The homeless ministry I mentioned had a trained volunteer cut off a thumb. (He was wearing gloves and the saw pulled his hand into the saw when it caught the glove.) After that they bought a SawStop saw. If all saws were required to have that feature, very few of us would be able to pay the cost of a table saw. I recently learned that wood with a high moisture content will trip a SawStop, too. (I have not yet been checked out by the shop foreman and am not yet allowed to use saws or planers in that shop.)

It amazes me that kids can view slasher movies and play violent video games, but they are not allowed to view what can actually happen in a moment of inattention.

I served as a Lutheran pastor for 40 years and taught confirmation classes to 14 year old kids, which is about the age you are teaching. There might have been a few I would have trusted around cutting machines, but then only in very small numbers at any one time. Kids at that age do not think enough about what could happen. When I start up a saw I think to myself, "Be careful. You have enjoyed your hands and your fingers for 67 years. Today would not be a good day to lose any." Still, I know there are situations you think are safe, but something suddenly moves and one's fingers are suddenly in the saw. I try to remain very alert and very safe.

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tshedd sr. (author)2013-05-02

That's way cool.....one of the best projects I have seen in a long time

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Phil B (author)tshedd sr.2013-05-02

Thanks. Practical things that do real work are a joy, especially if you can build them yourself from low value items.

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dougbyte (author)2013-05-02

Excellent ible. Thank you for taking the time to post it. Saved it in my fave's

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Phil B (author)dougbyte2013-05-02

Thank you for looking. I hope it gives you some ideas so you can do what you need with what you have.

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HollyHarken (author)2013-05-02

Thank you, thank you!!! Many years ago my now ex husband had a small stand that held a circular saw and could be used as a table saw. He bought it at Sears nearly 30 years ago. Now he and his table saw are gone and I often wish that I had that old stand and saw. I've been trying to find something like it on the web without any luck. Now I have a way to build one or have my boyfriend build one so that I can have a table saw again. Not that I have much of a use for one, but it would be nice once in a while to use one. This is the best replacement that I've come across. Thanks again for going into such great detail on how to make this wonderfull tool.

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Phil B (author)HollyHarken2013-05-02

Holly,

There are several circular saw to table saw conversions on Instructables. From what I have seen, those do not have features leading to reproducible precision that I tried to build into my version. As I mentioned in reply to TedRobotBuilder, conversion tables like your former husband bought at Sears were available commercially during the 1970s. In my response to him I tried to suggest some reasons why those tables may not be available now.

Take a look at my first version linked in the Introduction. I had fewer nice tools available then and had to make do with simpler processes. That first version sacrificed 3/4 inch of cutting depth for ease of construction. I found ways with that saw setup to make the saw table work well for about 98 percent of what I needed to do, even though total cutting depth was reduced. That earlier version also shows a very similar miter gauge easily made with fewer tools and it worked quite well.

By the way, I once made a slightly different version of one of these for a friend. I cut a hole in the 3/4 inch plywood table to fit the saw. I used a steel bar about 1/4 inch thick and two or more inches wide to hang the saw. That bar was about 15 or more inches long. It ran across the hole in the plywood parallel to the saw blade. Two holes in the middle part of the bar's length to bolt the saw to the bar. The bar also had holes near each end to fasten it firmly to the table. I covered the table with three pieces of 1/4 inch Masonite. One was cut to fit around the steel bar I mentioned and around the saw's blade. I left a gap on each side of this piece of Masonite when I mounted the other two pieces of Masonite. Those gaps became the slots for the miter gauge. The bar used for the miter gauge was also 1/4 inch thick.

There is a lot more detail I could have included, but wanted to focus on setting up the adjustments for this saw. If you need more detail, tell me what you need and I will tell you ideas I have used or considered. Thanks.

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TedRobotBuilder (author)2013-05-02

Love this! What doesn't anyone sell these? Would buy right now! >_<

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Phil B (author)TedRobotBuilder2013-05-02

Back in the mid- to late-1970s there were conversion tables for making a circular saw perform as a table saw. Often the miter gauges were small and weak. The miter gauges were also rather loose in their slots. The table surface was rather small. The rip fence was held in place with a lick and a promise. Another difficulty was that one table was supposed to fit all saws. That means some saws would work fairly well while others would not work so well. And, there was no precision alignment feature like what I tried to achieve with the two wooden blocks and the 8-32 machine screws to adjust the alignment of the saw. My guess is that there simply was not enough market and profit to make selling these feasible. And, about that time there were some really cheap circular saws on the market. I remember one that sold new for $20. It was mostly plastic. The steel that was used for the base plate was about as thin as they could make it. A saw like that would not perform well in a conversion table. But, back in the 1950s and 1960s there were several plans for conversions like mine in Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. I read those articles and am somewhat familiar with them. Even my first version (linked in the Introduction) had a couple of features that were big improvements over what was in those articles.

Thank you for looking and for commenting.

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Eh Lie Us! (author)2013-05-02

Right on, Capt'n!

I love the can-do attitude of this Instructable.

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Phil B (author)Eh Lie Us!2013-05-02

Thank you. I thought a great deal about the first version of this, which I linked in the Introduction. I have thought a great deal about how I would do a new version as shown in this Instructable. Some deviations are due to what tools were available for each, as well as what materials. Also, one of my goals was to need minimal storage space leaning against a wall rather than making a sizable footprint on the floor. Mostly, I wanted something I could use as a fairly decent table saw again.

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HWACK (author)2013-05-02

did i miss the part for adjusting the cut depth or most importantly adjustment for a bevel o/r rake cut ? regards

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Phil B (author)HWACK2013-05-02

The bevel adjustment and the depth adjustment come built into all circular saws. One of the positive attributes of these circular saw to table saw conversions is the key adjustments are already part of the circular saw you choose to use.

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GarageGuru (author)2013-04-30

I've read some of my Dad's and Grandpa's old Popular Mechanics and you're right, they had projects just like this. True, while you could simply buy a table saw or perhaps a table like you made, I enjoy making projects like this. Excellent article! Very impressed!

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Phil B (author)GarageGuru2013-04-30

Thanks. Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have pretty much gone the way of showcasing and testing new products. Apparently they cannot sell enough magazines to do-it-yourselfers who want to build things, or they are concerned about liabilities if someone uses one of their articles to super-heat a cup of coffee and then spills it on himself. There is a real sense of satisfaction that comes from doing unquestionably good work safely with a tool you made or adapted. Thank you for looking. Anyone who wants to make his own saw adaptation can certainly cut corners to make it fit his needs and make use of what is available to him. The one thing I think important is to find someone with a good commercial saw who can cut the miter slots and get them absolutely parallel. It can be done with a square and a circular saw, but it is more difficult to do a really good job.

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technovative (author)2013-04-29

Nice saw table, sturdy & versatile. I assume if you need out-feed support you use a roller stand? I had the pleasure of using a variety of Porter Cable power tools in my former employment, but never a circular saw. Sounds like you're satisfied with yours?

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Phil B (author)technovative2013-04-30

Thank you. I have an inexpensive and adjustable roller stand I do often use for out-feed support. That is probably close to essential with most table saws, unless you have a big commercial setup with a permanent table behind the saw.

For several years I had wanted to replace a barely adequate circular saw family once gave to me. I looked at several quality saws, but most had too much flex in the base of the saw for my tastes or they had quite a bit of run-out on the blade when the blade started or the edge of the base was not parallel to the line of cut. I settled on this Porter-Cable saw and find it a joy to use. I have had it two or three years and can make no complaints of any kind about it. In addition, its price at Lowe's came down 10 per cent during the last year or so.

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rimar2000 (author)2013-04-30

Wow, that tool is really useful: collapsible, foldable, complete.

I expected no less from you, Phil!

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Phil B (author)rimar20002013-04-30

Thank you, Osvaldo. It works pretty well. After setting it up for a cut, I do need to make a small test cut to be certain the end product will be what I expect. If the test cut shows a problem, I need to make an adjustment until the test cut is right.

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Goodluck (author)2013-04-30

You should be able to cut a rectangle of 1/4 inch plywood, masonite, mdf, whatever to fit the hole in your steel plate. It will then rest on the saw's baseplate and be flush. Figure out a way to hold it down... perhaps as simple as double faced tape sticking it to the saw's baseplate?

Now, lower your saw all the way, put the insert in place, clamp it down with a scrap of wood, start the saw and raise it up through the insert. Zero clearance both sides. Not only is it safer, but it results in less chip out as the workpiece edge is well supported.

If you need an angle, lower the blade, set the angle, plunge through again. I'd suggest making up a bunch of blank inserts at one time so you can replace them quickly and easily if they get broken or if you change blades or want to use a dado blade or...

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Phil B (author)Goodluck2013-04-30

I used my first version of this saw adaptation extensively when I did it 40 years ago and made some of our furniture with it. I was always able to work around the excessive throat clearance when it posed a potential problem. If I add another layer to the top of the saw table, that will reduce the available depth of cut, which may not be a problem all of the time, but will be a problem some of the time. I would also need to raise the bottom of the miter gauge slots an equal amount. I have thought of various ways to insert something, but there is no good way to make it stay in place without the risk of it moving and binding against the moving blade. One thing I did in the past is all but finish a cut and break off what remains by hand so a small piece cannot fall through the table into the saw where it could create a problem. Zero tolerance throat plates are nice when needed, but there are ways to work around their absence, especially for the home user.

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John Shanrock (author)2013-04-30

This is absolutely brilliant! I have always wanted my own equipment and it never occurred to me that I could just make my own equipment. This is definitely going on the to do list. Thanks for the idea.

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Phil B (author)John Shanrock2013-04-30

Thank you, but there was a time when projects like this were common in magazines like Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Mechanics Illustrated. I remember two or three articles on circular saw to table saw conversions. I simply added a couple of touches for more consistent precision of cut and a more rugged tool where it counts.

While you can make some of your own tools and jigs (router tables, saw guides and tables, drill presses, welders, sanders, etc.) there is usually a compromise or a trade-off you need to be willing to accept. That trade-off may be more time in setting up the tool, or in limitations to the capacity of the tool. But, sometimes you just need to do one simple task, not a full range of tasks, and adapting or making your own tool gets the job done with very little cash outlay.  

I once did an Instructable on finding great how-to articles on projects like this in old DIY magazines now available on the Internet. You might enjoy looking at those projects and finding others in those magazines. There are also a number of tool projects people at Instructables have done, including drill presses and CNC machines.   

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Phil B (author)2013-04-29

Thanks, Jim. I try to hide the flaws behind something when I take the photos. It does work very well, though.

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coolbeansbaby68 (author)2013-04-29

Very very nice phil

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Bio: 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 ... More »
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