Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spare 2x4 Project: Benchtop Table Saw Table

Recently I made a simple wood bench out of spare 2x4 wood.  The purpose of making this bench was primarily to get rid of an abundance of spare 2x4 wood I had piling up in my garage.

But I still have a lot of spare wood left!  So onto another project using 2x4 wood!

When I moved to Arizona almost 2 years ago, the first big power tool I bought myself was a table saw...


The Ryobi table saw was a good 'beginners' table saw, but it did have many problems:  It couldn't accept dado blades, the fence was problematic at best, the miter gauges would not sit in the table top tracks well - and most importantly it broke way too soon.  When my table saw broke I didn't have enough money to buy a new one, so I converted one of my work tables into a new table saw.

The saw for this table was simply a circular saw mounted to the bottom of the table top.  This table saw was nice because it had a large top to work off of, so I could cut large pieces of wood easily.  But the plywood top often would not smoothly move pieces of wood over it.  I also could not easily raise and lower the blade, and most importantly it was not overly safe.

So, for Christmas Santa bought me this nice little table saw from Harbor Freight.  It cost about the same as the Ryobi table saw, and is about the same size, but this one is much better.  For one thing, the fence on this is fantastic. It moves smoothly and is straight when locked in place.  The miter gauge fits snugly in the table top giving me straight cuts.  And it's safe!  I know a lot of people don't bother with the safety features, but I always use them when possible.  I value my fingers.  The only drawback that this table has is that it didn't come with a stand. 

 I went out and bought a metal stand for the table saw.  The stand itself is good, but its too tall and honestly I do not care for it much.

I also have the old table I converted into a table saw, which is now simply a table again.  I think I will re-purpose this table once more, plus use up some of my 2x4 wood.

To do this I went back to my original work table schematics I made with SketchUp.  I then made additions to fit the table saw on one side.  The white pieces are the existing table.  The colored pieces will be the new add-ons.

With my design complete I dug up some more of my 2x4s and began measuring and marking.

Then all the pieces were cut with the miter saw.

It didn't take long to cut it all.  

Next I drilled pocket holes into each of the pieces that needed them.

Then I began assembling with pocket screws.  I started by making the side that holds the table saw.

I figured this was a good time to attach the casters on the bottom.

Then I attached the side to the existing table.

I had an old piece of plywood left over from an old project that fit the area (for the most part).

Then I perched my table saw on it.

The saw was not completely level.  It was a little low - which is good because it's easier to add height.

I added a piece of MDF below the saw.

Now it's perfectly level!

With the table saw top being level with the table top, I mounted the saw to the table.

And it can easily be moved around thanks to those casters!

Next I emptied the table and began attaching the wood for the shelf.

Lining up everything to be level took a little time but was worth it.

Once I have a little spending money I'll buy some proper wood cut to size for the shelf, but in the meantime I used strips of leftover MDF as a temporary shelf.

But for the time being I can use this table again!

In my original plans I covered the back and the sides with wood to close the shelf areas.  I thought this would be a nice touch, but it's not very necessary.  Plus the added wood would weigh down the table, making it more difficult to move around.  So I think I'll leave the back and sides open for now.

The top still has plenty of room for me to work on.  In the image below I am fixing up a miter saw...

...and I can store stuff on the shelves.

So finally after a few days I got around to getting some wood... I removed the old shelves.  I even removed the preexisting bottom shelf since it was a little longer than it should have been.

Using the table saw, I trimmed the shelves to the right sizes.

Then I put them in place and screwed them down.  I'm done!

Now this table is super useful!  Aside from the bench top table saw, it's also an extra work table, plus has shelves for storage.

I also got rid of a good amount of 2x4 lumber I had hanging around.  Woohoo!

A few weeks after working with the table saw, I had a sneaking suspicion that there was a massive amount of saw dust underneath the saw....and I was right.

Yikes that's a lot!

So I need to make a better bottom to the saw, one that will keep underneath the saw relatively clean.  So I removed the saw and the boards under it.

Then I began cutting some 1x4 boards... make a frame.

This frame will sit on top and the big hole in the middle will allow saw dust to fall through.

The saw will fit on top of the frame.

But I do not want the dust to just fall over the shelf underneath, so I began cutting some leftover plywood...

...and added hinges to one side.

Then I clamped the board underneath and attached the hinges to the table frame.

Now when I want saw dust will fall through the back.

The plywood will stay closed with a D-ring and a screw.

After saw dust accumulates, I unlatch the plywood and let the dust come out.

Then I attached the frame with some screws.

Instead of adding another frame to raise the height so the saw will be level with the rest of the table, I simply screwed in some pegboard strips.

The table saw will sit on these strips, allowing it to be level with the rest of the table.

This time I didn't make the table saw next to the table top.  I used a 1x2 spacer to give me more room to use the sliding fence all the way to the left.

With that done I made one more thing - a new cross cut sled.  I won't go over how to make a sled since I have it in a previous post (Click here to see that previous post).  Thankfully I had some leftover plywood to make it.

Instead of cutting wood runners, I'm simply going to use some miter gauges that fit my table.  

This is advantageous since I adjust the miter gauges to make the cuts accurate.

And my new sled fits underneath the saw table!

As easy as the miter gauges were, I did eventually make actual runners.

And they actually glide a lot better than the gauges.

I also made a sled for making 45 degree cuts.

This will be super helpful when doing some frame work.

And with that my table is done!

UPDATE: a few months after completing this I noticed a few problems.  The most important problem was that the whole table would move sometimes when cutting large pieces.  A lot of this problem is the result of not easily being able to lock the casters in place.  Another problem I had was that the table top of the saw and the table top of the table were not aligning at times.  This was due to the table top being on hinges and not sitting flush when other things (such as my tabletop belt sander) were being moved around on the table.  And one last important problem was that the saw blade and the table top were not parallel & perpendicular to each other.  This caused not-straight cuts on large pieces.  So I disconnected the saw table part, and made it independent of the work table.

This was a good move, because now it was easy to access those locking casters.  I also reinforced the strength of the stand by adding some sides that connect the saw to the stand.  The sides are made out of OSB board - which isn't structurally a great material - but the little bit or reinforcement goes a long way. 

 I then removed the old work table top and hinges, and replaced it with a thinner board that is permanently attached to the table.  These changes on both the saw table 'cart' and the work table make both perfectly level.

So I can still put them side-to-side when working with large pieces of wood.

All-in-all these are good changes and makes working a lot easier.
Thanks for reading!

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