Introduction: Table Saw Lathe

About: I like to work with wood, electronics and sometime mechanics.

To be able to make cylindrical and conical wood parts you normally need a lathe. I dont have one, but I have a table saw.

There are several descriptions and videos how to make a table saw lathe rig on the internet, but few have made a rig that can make conical parts. To be able to do so you need to change the angle of the piece. The goal was to make a simple, yet robust design.

I made this design in SketchUp


The rig should be made of 15mm birch plywood. A sheet of 1500x750mm is enough.

Other supplies:

  • 2x skateboard ball bearings (8x22x7mm)
  • 6x M8x40 bolts
  • 6x M8 T-nuts
  • 1m M8 threaded rod
  • 4x20mm wood screws
  • 4x30mm wood screws

Tools needed:

  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Hacksaw
  • Cordless drill(s) (if you have three it will go a lot faster)
  • 4mm drill
  • 8mm flat wood drill
  • 18mm flat wood drill
  • 22mm flat wood drill
  • Countersink bit
  • Wood router
  • 8mm router bit
  • Straight router bit with ball bearing (optional)

Step 1: Cut and Prepare the Plywood Pieces

Using the table saw and miter saw, cut the following pieces:

  1. 1000x230mm (main bottom plate)
  2. 2pcs. 1000x50mm (side plates)
  3. 2pcs. 200x50mm (end plates)
  4. 3pcs. 200x150mm (slide rig bottom + front plates)
  5. 2pcs. 250x130mm (lift rig side plates)
  6. 4pcs. 250x50mm (lift rig rail support)
  7. 200x130mm (lift rig top plate)
  8. 2pcs. 170x150mm (lift rig front plates)
  9. 4pcs. 100x50mm (ball bearing mount plates)
  10. 2pcs. 150-75x135mm (slide rig side supports)
  11. 170 x ~120mm (slide rig back support)

Using the 8mm drill bit make the 6 holes in the slide rig side supports and lift rig side plates.

Using the 22mm flat drill "countersink" room for the T-nuts in the already drilled holes

Clamp together two ball bearing mount plates and drill throug as straight as possible using a 4mm drill. Remove the clamps and drill down 3-4mm using the 22mm drill on both pieces.Test fit the ball bearings in the holes. Drill through from the other side using the 16mm drill on both plates. Repeat with the process with the last two pieces.

Using the jigsaw cut the big holes for the ball bearing mount plates in the slide rig- and lift rig front plates. Trim the cuts using the wood router against some leftover plywood (trimming is not necessary)

Using the 8mm router bit make the 10mm deep track in the side plates. Do multiple passes. Using the same bit make a 3mm deep 25mm wide track for the pivot bolts on the front plates and ball bearing mount plates. (The bearing mount plates tracks can be cut by the table saw in stead of the router to make a tighter fit)

Step 2: Assemble

All the parts will be attached using wood screws. I use 4x30 for the most part, but in some cases also 4x20 if two plates of 15mm is to be connected together flat side to flat side. All holes should pre drilled and countersunk. NB: pre drill just one plate (15mm deep). The attaching plate should not be pre drilled. I am not using any glue because I want to be able to disassemble this if I mess up. Also the plywood I am using is covered in a non-stick film so wood glue would not work.

The threaded rod is cut into the following pieces using the hacksaw:

  • 2pcs, 100mm for the spindles
  • 4pcs. 50mm for the pivoting ball bearing plates

The long pieces is put into the ball bearings sticking out even amounts on each side and attached with one nut on one side and two on the other side.

Screw everything together and adjust if needed.

Insert the six T-nuts and M8 bolts into the slide ring and lift rig side plates. These are for fixing the parts when you are ready turn some wood.

Now, just place the rig on top of the table saw, center it and make the center cut in the bottom plate.

Drill 8mm holes in the end of the wood you want to turn. The best is to use a benchtop drill to get the hole straight. I also use T-nuts in both ends of the wood to get a good fit.

Insert the wood piece into the rig and fix the 6 M8 bolts.

Turn some wood!