Introduction: Table for a Cheap Tablesaw
A few weeks ago, I made a homemade tablesaw with a handheld circular saw that I already owned. While this saw served the purpose of making long cuts with a homemade fence, it didn't have the flexibility of sawing angles or even a right angle.
I agonized over buying a cheapo saw from Harbor Freight or an inexpensive saw from Lowe's or Home Depot. But, when the cheapo saw went on sale for $99, I couldn't resist. I took it home.
The problem is that it is very hard to saw anything with a power saw when you have to squat on the floor to do it. Of course, there always were the sawhorses, but they made the top of the saw too high.
And, of course, (I think I actually saw this) there was that tablesaw stand for $29.99. Naturally, since I have lots of wood and time, I decided to build my own tablesaw table.
A little of Stan's philosophy about "time" here: "What is time, anyway? Time is going to go away all by itself, if you don't find something for it to do." So, this instructable is about making a table for a tablesaw. A small bonus at the end, I made a mini sled for it as well. This project took me a week; but then I had a very bad cold, so that added to the time.
Step 1: Materials
Wood (all the wood I used is from my own stockpile and from scraps saved over the years. I did not buy any of it.)
- 2x4 - four for each end structure and two for supports for the saw (total of 10 2x4 pieces of lumber.
- 2x6 - two for the cross pieces
- 2x3 - 6" scraps from cutting other pieces; used for mounting the caster wheels
- 5/8" plywood measuring 21" x 40" for the table itself; notice that the table has two wings for putting stuff when you are busy sawing
- 8 each - #10 wooden biscuits for joints
- 3" deck screws
- 4 - 1/4 x 3" lag bolts
- 4 - 1/4 x 3" stove bolts or carriage bolts
- 2 - 2" caster wheels; the stationary kind NOT the swivel kind
- drill press, if available. Hand drill is OK.
- drill bits
- DeWalt biscuit joiner
- hand tools such as combination carpenter square; carpenter's square; hammer, keyhole saw (if you don't have a reciprocating saw)
- reciprocating saw
Step 2: The Basic End Pieces
I have a very nice wooden workbench that I've used for a long time, and it formed the basis for this table. It consists of two end pieces that I glued together using my DeWalt biscuit joiner and biscuits.
I will leave the dimensions up to you, especially the height which can vary widely depending on the user's height and preference. The width is about 20 inches. You'll notice in the picture that the foot has a nice little diagonal cut into it. The top is flush with the sides. The angle for the foot piece is more design that function. The total height that I use is about 37 inches to the top of the tablesaw itself.
The fourth picture is an important one. I marked EVERYTHING with a marking pen. Every joint is marked as A and A, B and B and so on. This becomes very important when you start moving pieces around the workshop and forget where it was supposed to go, it gets to be irritating. I also marked the top as in "TOP" of most pieces, so I did not get them reversed. It is so easy to get things confused without these markings.
Step 3: Add the 2x6" Crosspieces
These are the main supports that keep the table steady and, hopefully, precisely square.
The 2x6" boards should be cut exactly square--even if you have to go to a friend's house to do it. I had a hard time cutting square ends, because my cheapo saw was not precise enough to do a good job. I had to cut and recut several times to get it reasonably square. Add to that the fact that the board itself was slightly twisted; so this became a bit tricky. In the end, I had no choice but to leave the twist in, but I did the ends exactly 90 degrees.
Notice the dowel rods in the rest of the pictures. I used 3/8" dowel rods that I inserted about 1 inch from each end of the 2x6" boards. I used a drill press to bore the holes. The purpose for these dowel rods is to provide support for the lag bolt that I used in each end. If one just uses a lag bolt on an end grain, it doesn't take long for the bolt to work itself loose, because the end grain simply isn't robust enough to sustain the stresses.
I used only one 3" x 1/4" lag bolt on each end of the crosspieces. (My workbench also has this construction and in the ten years that I have had it, there is no sign of the joint weakening.).
Regarding the dowels, I put a dab of glue on each one. Probably not necessary, because when it has a lag bolt through it, it won't go anywhere. The hole for the dowel is tight; I actually started the hole with a Forstner bit and finished it with a normal 3/8" bit. A hammer was needed to drive the dowel home.
You will also notice that I put the cross pieces in different places on each side. The one nearest the top is about 5" from the top and the other one is about in the middle. The purpose of this off-centered design is to allow a way for the table to roll into a spot that may have a box or something else on the floor. It's a handy feature. I used the centered crosspiece on the operator's side and the high piece on the backside. You can put them both in the same place, if you like. It's up to you.
Step 4: Square Everything Up
Be sure to square the table with the floor. Ideally be sure the floor itself isn't uneven. You may want to use a heavy sheet of plywood on top of the floor.
Drill starter holes in each side where the lag bolts will go. Screw the lag bolts into both 2x6" boards on one side-left or right side. Using clamps or a partner, stand the bolted end frame on its foot and then move the remaining, loose end frame into place. If everything is cut precisely, the 2x6" boards land at about the same height on both ends.
Drill your final two holes for the lag bolts and screw them into place. You should now have a very stable table. It should not wiggle at all.
Step 5: Add the Supports for the Tablesaw
Notice the two 2x4" boards flush with the top of the table frame. One on the front and one on the back. Those are there to mount and support the tablesaw. If you have very heavy plywood--3/4" or better--you may not need these. In my case, I had to extend them a little beyond the frame in order to use them for drilling the mounting holes for the tablesaw. Be sure to measure the width of the tablesaw and make sure that it fits the area with the support 2x4" boards.
A thought here, if you fail to make these wide enough, it may not make any difference. You can still mount the tablesaw bolts through the plywood on top. Do it either way, extend the supporting 2x4s to fit the tablesaw or not. The tablesaw isn't going to go anywhere when you are done.
Side note: I found that when you do all of these things, it is hard to keep straight where the middle is. The third photo here just shows that I made a very clear mark of where the middle of the table is. I used a try square to make that mark all around the top supporting 2x4s. So, when you need to center the plywood in the next step or the tablesaw itself, you have a reference. (I also marked the center of the tablesaw on the front and back.)
Step 6: Add the Plywood Top
You can see in the picture that the plywood top has a big, square hole in the middle of it. My tablesaw, and probably most of the cheap ones, have an open area on the bottom where the sawdust drops to the floor. The plywood top needs to have that as well, otherwise there is no way for you to get at the sawdust. I cut a large hole with a reciprocating saw (you can use a keyhole saw and handsaw as well).
First, though, I drilled a 1/2" hole in each corner where I wanted to make the bigger hole. That was to allow the blade of the reciprocating saw (or keyhole saw) to maneuver. The big square hole nees to be about 2" less on each side than the opening in the bottom of the tablesaw. The dimensions of the square hole for me was something like 14" x 16" or so. That hole is taken right out of the middle of the plywood top. Later, I actually used the cut out piece as the basis for my mini-sled.
You can fasten the plywood top to the table frame at this point. I did not, but just used the holes and bolts with which I fastened the tablesaw to the plywood top and supporting 2x4" cross pieces that we put in earlier.
Step 7: Add the Table Saw
Now, you can add the tablesaw. I used 3" x 1/4" bolts in two diagonal holes. (That's all I had available, I'll add two more next time I go to the lumber yard.) Not much to explain here. You should be good to go.
Step 8: Add Caster Wheels (optional)
A nice touch is to add caster wheels to make it easy to move around the workshop. I use my garage as a workshop, so I need to move it out of the way to park the car when I'm not working in the garage.
There are many ways to mount the casters, my idea is depicted in the photo with this step. I have a scrap 2x3" piece of wood about 6" long that I cut at an angle parallel to the floor, and mounted onto the side frame. I then mounted wood blocks with the casters in such a way that they do not quite touch the floor when the table is in working position. If I just lift the operator's end of the tablesaw a little bit, then the wheels are available to easily move the tablesaw.
Step 9: Bonus: Mini-sled
I made a mini-sled out of the plywood piece that I cut out of the middle of the table. I patterned it after this online how-to: http://woodgears.ca/delta_saw/small_sled.html. His is a little more sophisticated than mine is. If you follow his instructions, you can have a very nice mini-sled. I'll describe the basics, but refer you to the link for details. The first thing I made was the square plywood base. The corners need to be square. Exactly square.
Then I cut a piece of hardwood to match the width of the miter groove in the tablesaw. That needs to be cut precisely as well. Very precisely. You don't want it too loose so that it does not provide an accurate cut, nor do you want it so tight that it binds and gets stuck. I cut the "runner" just slightly higher than the groove itself. So the width is exactly the width of the groove and the height is just slightly (ca. 1/8") above the top of the tablesaw deck.
The purpose of having the runner a little higher is for it to fit into a groove that is dadoed into the bottom of the plywood base. The dado is nothing special, just multiple passes of a normal tablesaw blade. The width of the groove should very closely match the width of the runner. The groove needs to be exactly 90 degrees to the back of the base. After the groove is dadoed, the runner should fit exactly between the bottom of the miter track and the bottom of the mini-sled plywood base. The base should not be "floating"; it needs to touch the tablesaw deck.
Next is to add the rear 2x4" board that is used to push the mini-sled. Once again, the angle must be exactly 90 degrees to the saw blade. This board is screwed to the plywood base. A small piece of 2x4" is screwed to the back of this board with deck screws and is used to preserve the operator's fingers and hands for another day. The 2x4" on the end farthest from the operator, is there to hold the plywood together when the cut is made into the sled base.
A serious note: When you screw the 2x4" boards onto the base of the mini-sled make sure that those screws are not in the way of the blade. I almost overlooked this. If I had left all the screws in where I initially had them, the blade life would have decreased greatly. Before finalizing everything and testing it, mount the sled and check where the screws are. If they are in the wrong place, move them.
The very last thing you do is to make the first cut into the mini-sled. Just raise the saw blade as high as you need to have it to cut the stock you plan to cut with it. Fingers! Always watch where your fingers are!
Step 10: After Thought - Cutting Diagram and Detail of Saw Support
I thought about this after I had published the instructable. I hope it makes this a more helpful article. The dimensions are not really that important, but I thought I'd at least pass along the dimensions I used. Also, the part about saw supports may have been confusing. I hope the diagram helps. Since the front-to-back saw dimension was bigger than the frame, I had to extend the saw supports outside the frame by about an inch. That is what I'm trying to display in this diagram.