Introduction: No Table Saw? No Problem! Build a Portable Cutting Table and Use Your Circular Saw

Picture of No Table Saw?  No Problem!  Build a Portable Cutting Table and Use Your Circular Saw

I enjoy taking a pile of wood and turning it into sawdust and sometimes even a piece of furniture. I consider myself an amateur woodworker and have been slowly accumulating tools as my skills develop. The one tool I have yet to acquire is a table saw, but I have not let let keep me from building tables, bookcases, cabinets and beds. I built this portable cutting table so I could rip and cut sheets of plywood with my circular saw. In some ways I think this this is easier to use than a table saw. Have you ever tried to lift and feed a 3/4 inch thick 4x8 sheet of plywood into a table saw? Unless you have another person to help, along with a heavy stand and out-feed table it can be downright scary! No worries with the cutting table. Simply lay the plywood on the table, clamp a straight edge, set the cutting depth on your saw, put on your safety glasses and let-r-rip. Don't worry about cutting into the table. That's what it's for

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Tools:

-Saw. I used my miter saw but any saw could work.

-Drill. Corded or cordless. Use it to drill and drive the screws.

Materials:

-5 pieces (or about 40 feet) of 1x4 pine, poplar, or plywood strips.

-Melamine shelving. 2 pieces of 8x36 and 1 piece of 12x36

-Folding table legs

-Screws and glue

Step 2: Build the Frame for the Table

Picture of Build the Frame for the Table

I built this table several years ago and didn't take any pictures of the building process. It's really just a simple rectangular frame that I made with some leftover plywood. It could be easily made with 1x4 dimensional pine or poplar. I cut the plywood into 3 1/2 inch strips and used it to build the outside perimeter of the table. I simply butt jointed and screwed/glued the corners. The table is about 37 inches wide and 78 inches long.

Step 3: Add Some Wood to the Top

Picture of Add Some Wood to the Top

Well, I don't know if you can call it wood. Shoot, I can't even pronounce Melamine. I used 8x36 inch melamine shelving for the ends and a 12x36 inch piece for the middle because it was cheap and I was feeling kind of lazy that day. I simply screwed through the frame into the sides of the shelves. This strengthens the frame and keeps the corners square. I added a few more cross supports to make an approximate grid of 12 inch open squares.

Step 4: Give It Some Legs

Picture of Give It Some Legs

I bought some folding table legs at the local big box store. I think they were about $25 for the pair. I screwed these to the support pieces/open grid parts of the frame.

Step 5: Make Some Sawdust!

Picture of Make Some Sawdust!

Unlike sawhorses that can allow the wood to sag in the middle, the complete sheet is supported by the table. Need to cross cut some boards that are too wide for your miter saw? No problem. I screw a straight edge/board directly to the table. Then screw another board at a right angle (or whatever angle you need) to the straight edge. Once you make your first cross cut the saw blade will make a cut through your board and into the table. Just line up your next board with the cut in the table. Easy Peasy. The open grid works great when you are cutting a hole in or notching a piece of wood with a jig saw. It's also makes great portable work table.

Step 6: Fold It Up and Sweep the Floor

Picture of Fold It Up and Sweep the Floor

The table takes up very little space when folded. This was very important as it allows my wife to park her Suburban in the garage. Happy wife, happy life! At first I wished I had built it larger, however after using it I find it is the perfect size. It's easy to move around, carry and store. I plan on getting a table saw eventually, but until then I will continue to cut more grooves into my cutting table.

Don't forget your safety glasses!

Comments

Cueball21 (author)2017-11-02

Great 'ible!

I really like the saw table and will probably put one together. Thanks for the idea. In the past I've put sheet goods on runners on the ground to cut them down, but I'm now to old and arthritic to get down on my knees for cuts. The table gets sheets up where using the circular saw is far easier to use - and safer.

I like the details for the cutting guide and for pocket screws on your products. One thing I always do when using the circ saw is put tape on the underside to reduce tear out. If you have a circ saw that doesn't rotate the teeth away from you - I've never seen one - or if you use a table saw, put the tape on the top side.

Thanks again for a great 'ible!!

Reilly1 (author)2017-11-02

If you attach your circular saw underneath the central section you will have your table saw. Just clamp a straight edge for a fence and away you go. I had to do this recently to a folding table I mainly used for assembly work as my table saw is temporarily out of commission, it worked a treat. Made me wonder why I needed an expensive bench saw.

Wild-Bill (author)2017-11-02

I like your table. With my daughter I through a table together using those folding legs, for a dinner with family and friends. I now us it as a cutting table. I protect the surface somewhat (yes I have made mistakes) with a sheet of cardboard. I find it easier cutting plywood with a track saw then with a light-weight table saw. The only time I use the light-weight table saw is for ripping lumber.

Rue Shamrock (author)2017-11-02

Like it! Intended to get beaten up, functional, and yet will last a long time.

jeanneambro (author)2017-11-02

Awesome idea! I've always been reluctant to sacrifice anything - until now. Thanx.

Man Up (author)2017-11-02

A combination torsion-box table and sacrificial work surface - very good idea! I know what I'm building this weekend!

seamster (author)2017-10-30

A sacrificial cutting table like this is a really effective way to cut up wood, when you don't have a table saw. I did something very similar for many years.

Nice to see this idea here!

About This Instructable

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Bio: Married, father of 4 (including triplets) plus 2 Boston Terriers. My daytime job is at a Mercedes-Benz car dealership. Sometimes on the weekends or late ... More »
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