The whole build from start to finish has been documented with both video and pictures. Enjoy!
Step 1: Subframe
A square will make your life MUCH easier when building big boxes like this. Cheap adjustable squares are usually just that, cheap and not square. A set of machinist squares are the best but the next best thing at a fraction of the cost are 1 piece framing squares. Even the cheap ones seem to hold a good tolerance thru their length.
Step 2: Surfaces
Shop grade birch isn't quite as nice as baltic birch and has quite a few less ply's, but for a structural element it will more then suffice. The melamine could be replaced with whatever hard wearing surface you like, I had a bunch of 12" wide shelving slabs in my wood pile so that is what I used...plus its very inexpensive and fairly easy to cut, even if you only have a handsaw.
A dowelling jig is a wonderful tool to add to your collection at anytime. I purchased it a few years ago and it has served me well since. The clamping style dowelling jigs are very nice when working with low density material like melamine as it squeezes the wood together to help prevent splitting.
Step 3: Biesemeyer Fence Layout
I purchased all the metal for this fence from a local metal supplier and set to work bolting it all together. I went a little overkill on the thickness of material used (3/16") but I didn't want any worries about bending or warp from use. For the design I went with it was also necessary to tap into the material for quite a few of the bolt holes so the extra thickness is required here.
If the funds allow for it I would go with an aluminum extrusion for the main slide rail and the actual fence rail (sufficient rigidity and much less weight). Sadly I do not have a local source of aluminum extrusions and didn't want to wait for mail order so steel it was for me.
Step 4: Finishing the Fence and Alignment
A set of clamps in indispensable for holding the rail in alignment. A 70 odd inch length of 3/16" steel is far from light!
Since I don't have access to a lathe at home I used my drill press and a rotary tool to clean the ends of my 1/4" set screws for fence fine adjustment. Cutting a quick slot in the end makes for an easy to work adjustment bolt. These were installed into tapped holes and loctite'ed into place once I was happy with the fence angle.
Due to some "design oversights" on my part the top of my fence guide rail was higher then I would have liked so I changed the plastic slide blocks from 1/4" HDPE to a thinner nylon bolt head which as been working very well.
At this point I was able to align the fence as close as possible by tape measure (depicted in the pictures). Further alignment to the blade was accomplished by making cut into hardwood. Normally one would also check to be sure that the blade is aligned to the miter slots first, then square up the fence. I had aligned the blade to the slots in the past so I was able to forgo this step.
Step 5: Cutting
A sacrificial piece of wood is a good thing to place along the side of the fence. Not only will this keep you from inadvertently cutting into the metal fence, it will also allow the cut material to slide smoother, and let you bring the fence flush with the table surface. I have designed this fence to ride ~1/16" of an inch above the table, the wood sides take up this difference.
With this saw station now complete I was able to use it to slowly upgrade itself (better table surface, better sacrificial fence choices, new cross cut sled, etc.).
The next steps are more for "beautifying" the saw :). The entire outside of the cabinet will closed up with plywood, with the space directly under the saw used for saw dust extraction. The large open space under the work surface will later be used to hold a router lift and storage cabinets.
While this may not look as "high speed" as the unisaw I get to play with at work it cuts just as well. All lumber for the saw was cut with an ugly el cheapo 40 tooth blade, but running a nicer budget brand blade (I'm using an 80 tooth freud right now) its more then capable of precise work. A table saw is the heart of any workshop and I'm very please with the way this has turned out!
I hope this build can inspire people that building can work just as well as buying...with the added element of fun!