Objective- Create a portable table saw from plastic crates, plywood and a circular saw. When I can't lug my big shop table saw with me on a job (I don't have a contractor type either) and all I'm driving is a sedan, I've got to come up with something that I can use besides screwing the circular saw to a plywood work top when I need my saw horses for layout or to work on. I need something that breaks down, doubles as tool storage and attaches securely enough that I won't cut my leg off. Let's keep expectations in check here. This project won't cut sheets of plywood but it should cut basic trim easily.
Design- Those of you who follow me know that I like to make things that have more than one purpose and this is no acceptation. This portable saw will have a base with no skid bars, crates that stack on top of one another, a plywood top and the usual accessories for a table saw including rip fence, cross cut sled and power switch.
- 3 plastic crates
- About a half a sheet of 3/4" plywood
- Whatever wood you have at hand for the hangers and such
- 4 casters
- 16 1/4-20 bolts about 2" long
- 16 1/4-20 crown nuts
- Epoxy glue
- Handful of misc wood screws
- No skid material for feet/bars
Step 1: The Base
I wanted to be able to attach the base easily to the bottom crate and I worked through several prototypes. I settled on sliding doors bolts. They slide into drilled holes in the bottom crate. There's a collar around the perimeter that keeps the crate snug. I added casters for easy maneuvering around and when it's time to cut, I attach the no-skid bars that lifts the caster clear of the floor. Having a detached base let's me arrange all the components in the trunk easier for travel.
Step 2: Attaching the Crates-
Here's the part of the project that kept me awake at night. I tried bungee cords on the outside of the crates and locking panels on the outsides but each of these approaches were either unstable or looked sloppy.
I decided that the best way to attach the crates was to secure blocks in the opposite corners near the top of of the crate's top lip and drive bolts down through the bottom of the crate above into embedded crown nuts. It only takes a few seconds with my impact driver and they're really secure.
Step 3: Lower Crate-
I opened up one end on the crate and added a sliding panel that keeps my tools from falling out. When I get to the site, I remove the panel for quick access to the tools.
Step 4: Middle Crate-
Same goes for this one, easy access to tools and it secures to the crate below with 1/4-20 flat head bolts.
Step 5: Top Crate-
The top crate secures to the middle crate the same as the others but no sliding panel.
Step 6: Plywood Top-
Here's where all the real action happens. The plywood top secures to this crate the same way as the crates do but cut into the top is a smaller panel that the circular saw is mounts to. After a lot of measuring, I mounted the circular saw to the smaller panel and secured it to the plywood top with hidden crown nuts (I love these things). I've cut a second panel in case I want to use the top as a portable work surface (it works great as a feed out table for my shop saw).
Step 7: Controlling the Power-
I used Velcro to keep the trigger engaged and fed the power cord through the side grill of the top crate. Then I connected it to a separate on/off switch that plugs into the multi box outlet.
Step 8: Accessories-
I built a cross cut sled that slides along the edges of the plywood top. I also built a rip fence that secures to the plywood top with a couple of speed clamps. There's a holster for the push stick and hangers for both the rip fence and cross cut sled.
Step 9: Conclusion-
I had lots of fun designing and building this and it's surprisingly stable but lets' keep our expectations in check here. This is NOT a replacement for a full size or contractor type table saw. The size of the top can be made larger but it could become unstable but that's up to you.
It has some pros and cons though.
- Great backup job site table saw if you don't have one of those a contractor type ones.
- Breaks down and assembles fast.
- Crates double as storage for tools and supplies in your vehicle while en-route or back at your shop. Plywood top doubles as an extra work surface or out-feed stand.
- Casters allow it to roll easily. No-skid bars make it real sturdy when cutting.
- Cutting height limit of about 2".
- Must remove saw and plywood panel to adjust height of blade.
- Rip fence cutting limit of about 8".
- Cross-cut sled width limit of 7".
Build Difficuty Rating-7 out of 10.
Useability/Utlity Factor Rating- 10 out of 10.