Intro: 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
-Saw. I used my miter saw but any saw could work.
-Drill. Corded or cordless. Use it to drill and drive the screws.
-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
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
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
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!
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
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!