Monday, May 21, 2018

DIY Table Saw / Router Table

In one of my last blog entries I talked about making a new table saw / router table for my workshop.  Below is the design I came up with.  This project will take some time to do, and I am in no rush to get it done since I already have my other table saw and router table to fall on if I need to.  Also, it's becoming hot in Arizona again, so I need to limit the time I'll be spending in my hot workshop.

The table saw consists of a hand held circular saw mounted to a large cart made from melamine and wood.  To the left of the saw is some storage space.

The router would be on right end of the cart, along with some additional storage.

There's also additional storage underneath the saw.

Happy with this design, I color coded each piece as I normally do, and figured out how much material I needed to buy.

I'll need 2 sheets of 4'x8' melamine and about 10 pieces of 1x2 lumber.

I printed out my sheets as reference...

...and bought my materials.  Since I can't fit 4x8 sheets in my car, I had the people at the home center cut them down into eight 2'x4' sheets.  I chose melamine for this project for a few reasons.  The first being it's cheaper than plywood.  The second, and more imporant reason being is that melamine is very smooth and it will be easier to move material through the saw and router.  In the past I've made a few table saws and router tables out of plywood, and even when sanded, it's not as smooth as melamine.

Next I began cutting down the melamine to the sizes I needed.

I haven't worked much with melamine - which is particle board laminated with a thin plastic sheet on both sides.  What I didn't know then is that the plastic edges of the melamine can be quite sharp and I cut my hands up pretty well.  I ran out of band-aids, but had a total of 5 bloody scratches before I was smart enough to start wearing gloves.

After each piece was cut to size, I marked it with blue tape and a marker so I didn't confuse myself and grab the wrong piece.

Once all the pieces were cut, I began with assembly.  I started by gluing and nailing some pieces together while also using my corner clamping jigs.  Then I discovered that normal wood glue doesn't stick to the plastic sides of melamine.

So instead I had to simply drill holes with countersinks and drive screws.  I was going to do this anyway - but I was hoping for the additional strength of glue to help.

I started with the section of the table that houses the router, and used some spacers to add the middle shelf.

When done I put it aside...

...and repeated the process for the other side, which is a little smaller and just for storage.

With both ends of the table together, I flipped them over and attached the bottom of the table.

Then I added casters to the bottom...

...and flipped the whole thing over.

Next I added the middle shelf, once again using some spacers.

I laid the top board on temporarily to give me an idea how it will look and to see if the height is good - which it is. 

Then I moved the table aside for a while and cleaned up my messy shop a little before going out to run errands.  One thing I need to get is more band-aids.

Later on I decided to do a little more work.  I had plenty of leftover melamine, so I cut some to make another shelf under the router...

...and on the other side.  I think in time these will become drawers.

Then I took the top and began laying out where the saw and router will go.

Using a T-square clamped to the top, I lined up the circular saw...

...and I attached it using some screws in pre-existing holes I drilled into the shoe of the circular saw some time ago.  

Then I plugged in the saw, turned it on and plunged the blade through.

I have a little over an inch and a half of blade coming through the top...

...but that's enough to cut through 2x lumber - which is the thickest I normally work with.

Using the T-square I made sure the blade was straight.  It was slightly off, but I was too tired to fix it at this point.  It was getting late.

But I did draw in lines for the miter slots on the top.  And at this point I called it a night.

The next morning I began cutting some 1x2's to fortify the body, and hide the particle board edges of the melamine.

Since wood glue does work with the exposed particle board, all the 1x2's are attached with glue and nails.

For added strength - especially on the parts that attached to the plastic melamine - I added screws.

Once both of the long sides of the table had wood frames, I then worked on the short sides.
*Here is where I made a small error that will haunt me shortly.

...until it was complete.

Next I put the top on the cart and attached wood to the sides...

...except somehow my top was too short.*  

At the time I was dumbfounded - I had no idea why this had happened.  It wasn't until I went back to my plans that I found the answer...

...which was that I added extra trim to tops of all sides of the body.  This extra caused the top to be shorter.

So to fix the top I cut a scrap piece of melamine...

...and just covered the extra space.  Then I added the trim around it.

After that ordeal, I added an extra strip of wood to the back of the table, underneath the top.

This strip will help connect the top and the body with this long piano hinge.

I took a few minutes to screw in all those screws...

...but now the top opens...

...and closes nicely.

Next I attached a zip tie to the trigger of the saw...

...and began making a quick fence so I could try everything out.

This fence will in no ways be the final.  Just something quick and easy... test out a few cuts.  And it all works nicely so far, but the blade is still a little crooked, so all my cuts weren't perfect.

But before I tackle that I began removing stuff from the old router table cart.

Pretty much everything I need fits in the new router table side.

The other side just has some random stuff for now.

And the bottom/middle holds a tool box and my power planer.

Satisfied, I cleared away some room for the new table.  Tomorrow is another day to work on it.

The next day I decided it was time to set up the router.  Using the lines I drew in previously, I drilled holes in the corners... mark on the other side where the cut out will be for the removable router plate.

Then I drilled bigger holes inside the square so that my jigsaw blade could fit through.

Using clamping guides I began cutting with the jigsaw, but the cuts were all over the place.  It turned out that my jigsaw blade was bent.

So I switched to my other circular saw (since I couldn't find my spare jigsaw blades).

This did the job nicely.  I then used my jigsaw to clean up the edges a bit.

Next I attached a rabbeting bit onto my trim router and created an edge around the hole.  This edge is where the face plate will rest on.

Then I began cutting leftover melamine to make the new face plate.

Since the router left rounded edges in the hole, I had to square it up with a hammer and chisel.

Then I routed around the face plate... that it would fit perfectly.

With the face plate done, it was now time to attach the router.  I marked the center on the bottom of the face plate...

...then drilled a 1.5" hole in the middle.  1.5" is the diameter of the largest router bit I have.

Next I used the shoe of the router to mark the locations of the mounting screws...

...which I then drilled out.

On the top of the face plate I used a larger bit to make some wider holes to fit in the screws and washers that attach to the router.

Then I screwed the face plate to the router...

...and put it in place.

With that done I really wanted to get the circular saw blade straight.  So I wound up drilling larger holes in the shoe of the circular saw.  This allowed me to attach the saw to the table using screws and washers.  I lightly screwed it to the table, and the larger holes in the shoe let me move the saw around...

...until I got the blade perfectly square.

The blade is also a perfect 90 degrees.

So now the circular saw blade is straight, and the router is attached.  Tomorrow I will work on making the miter slots on the top of the table, and perhaps start on a fence.

The next day I started by attaching push sticks to the front.

Then I attached a power strip to the other side with the power cord running under the middle shelf...

...and out the back.

Then I drilled a hole on the side of the router section... the cord runs out the back...

...and underneath the shelf to the power strip.  Similarly, the circular saw cord also runs underneath.  This is all temporary, as I hope to one day do some wiring and have some nice switches instead of the power strip.

And now, thanks to an extension cord, the whole table has power!

And speaking of extension cords, the one that's powering this table is wrapped up in a cord holder, and at the moment, on the floor.

Since I'd like this cord to be attached to this table, I think I'll use 3 of these hangers I have.

I attached the 2 single hook hangers to the top of back side of the table, and the double hook hanger I attached upside-down towards the bottom.

This configuration let me wrap up the cord neatly and will also let the whole table be parked near the wall.

With that out of the way I next decided to make the miter slots.  Using the penciled lines I drew a few days prior, I lined up a clamping straight edge, making sure it was perfectly square.

Then I used my trim router with a 3/4" straight cutting bit to cut out the miter slot.

The 2 slots are perfectly straight...

But the second slot had some problems.  The bit started getting deeper as I cut.

As much as this angered me, it actually won't effect me too much.  My miter gauges are shallow, and still run through the slots easily.  As will the cross cut sled I will eventually make.

With those done I next turned to attaching a piece of wood to the front of the top.  I used glue and clamps to hold everything flush until the glue dried.

This little shelf will be for my eventual fence.

Once the glue dried I reinforced the shelf with screws.

Next I started making a new fence.  I took 2 scrap pieces of wood and made an L shape out of them.  These pieces will glide on the small shelf I attached and will also act like a T-square for the fence; keeping it straight.

Then I added a melamine bottom to the L shape.  I screwed one screw first and pivoted the bottom of the fence to make it straight.  Then I added additional screws.

Lastly I added the 2 pieces I made from my first fence to the melamine bottom.

This fence is nice and square!

I then cut out a notch from the L to fit a clamp.  This clamp will hold the fence in place tightly while I work.

I still have to make the router side of the fence, but for now it was time to test the fence out.  I made a few cuts in scrap wood and was happy that everything was cut straight and square.

There's relatively little saw dust on the top of the table after the cuts.

...underneath is more saw dust - I may have to make a dust bin for this area.

With the temporary fence done I decided next to make some runners for the 2 drawers underneath the router.

Since melamine is so smooth, I figured this would be best for the runners.

I cut the pieces on the miter saw...

...and made sure it was a tight fit.  Since I really can't easily get any tools inside these areas now, a friction fit will do.

I didn't have enough material to make drawers though, so I figured I'd just play around and cut stuff.  The fence works great.

And the miter gauge works great too.

After playing with the miter gauge, I decided I needed to mount it to the front of the table.

I also mounted a speed square since I use one often at the table saw.

But anyway, I still hadn't gotten material to build the drawers yet, but I was starting to realize that lifting the top with both the circular saw and router attached may damage the top of the table.  So I held my breath and cut the top.

Definite improvement.  Now it's nice and easy to lift the top to make adjustments to the circular saw.

And I can also lift the side with the router should I need to.

This cut lies on the middle of the board that makes up the back wall of the router table section.  So both sides of the top have support when down.  This cut also doesn't affect the fence and the table top is still flat.

At this point I had to stop for the day as I had other things to do.  The next morning I began by revising my fence so that it works with the router.  I took off the side that faces the router  and cut semicircles on that and the bottom.

Then I reattached the side and added supports in the middle.

Next I cut some thin plywood that attaches to the supports.  I cut a hole in the middle of the plywood so my shop vac can fit.  

Now I must make some adjustable sides so I can make the open area of the fence larger...

...or smaller as needed. 

To make these pieces slide I marked some lines on both sides of the opening and drilled some holes on both ends of the lines.

Then I used my jigsaw to cut out those lines.  

These long holes will allow bolts attached to the moving parts to slide back and forth against the fence.  Using washers and wingnuts I can lock the moving parts.

The holes in the front of the moving parts, which hold the bolts, might need to be covered somehow, but for now it's all good.

Now the fence will work for both the table saw and router.

At this point I had realized that I have yet to test out the router.  So I attached a roundover bit...

...and routed out a profile on some scrap wood.

The melamine helped the material glide smoothly as the router did it's thing.

Here's a cool tip - you can buy push blocks, such as the Grr-riper to safely route material.  But a lot of push block such as the Grr-riper cost a lot of money.  I do have a Grr-riper, but I use it primarily on the table saw.  For my router I have recently started using a sanding block I bought for $4.99.

It has a rubber bottom making it ideal as a push block.  Plus you can attach sand paper and sand stuff with it!

Next I decided to use some of the leftover melamine to make a dust bin for the table saw.  I cut the pieces to size on the new table saw...

...and attached it all with screws.

My initial fit was too tight... the back wall of the dust bin was too high to go under the circular saw.

So I took it apart, trimmed the sides, made a space in the back for the circular saw, and put it all back together.  I also used some leftover 1x2 wood as a handle on top.

Now it fits perfectly and will help contain saw dust.

Next I finally decided to work on the drawers.  I was going to buy material for this, but I still have a few pieces of melamine left over, so I thought I'd cut those down to make the sides of each drawer.

I did eventually run out of melamine, so for the remaining sides I used spare plywood.

Like the dust bin, the drawers are just boxes screwed together with some thin plywood glued and nailed to the bottom.

Once both drawers were done and fit well, I added leftover 1x2 strips to the fronts to act as handles.

The top drawer holds my router bits and various router parts.

The bottom drawer has my trim router and my sanding/push block.

With that done I proceeded with cutting up some plywood...for fun.

The dust bin is catching most of the saw dust, but a lot is also escaping through the space between the top of the table and the back of the dust collection box.

A scrap piece of plywood screwed to the back should deflect a lot of this saw dust.

Next I decided to remove the pesky blade cover from the circular saw.  It made it difficult to raise and lower the saw blade.  So I unmounted the saw and removed the guard.

Then I reattached the saw.  With the changes I made earlier, it's a lot easier now to alight the blade to be straight.

At noon on this particular day it was 102 degrees outside (a few degrees warmer in my workshop) and I needed to stop.  So I cleaned up and put everything away until it cools off a bit.

A couple days later I made the bold move to move my old table saw out of the way and clean up that area of my garage.

Then I put the new table saw/router table in it's place.

And it looks great!

I still have a few things to do on this thing, like making a removable throat plate for the saw, and a new cross-cut sled.

But for now it will be my primary table saw.

The next day it was time to cut a 45-degree miter through the table saw top.  Since my circular saw miter gauge is quite accurate and the saw itself is mounter straight on the table, this took only the one cut.

To hold up the table top while making the miter cut I used a piece of PVC pipe.

I drilled 2 holes through the pipe and mounted it to the bottom of my table with some long screws.  Now I have a kickstand for the table top.

I drew 2 lines on the table with marker, noting the location of the blade when at 90 degrees and 45 degrees.  This will make it easy to line up material quickly.

Lastly I decided that I do not need to make a throat plate for this.  I only plan on making 90 degree cuts, with the occasional 45 degree cut.  So these 2 cuts in the top will do.

And after everything, this small pile of melamine is all that is left.  I originally had a lot left over, but adding the extra shelves, drawers and dust bin helped use it all up.

And I believe that is it!  Aside from the cross cut sled I am done with this!

There's still a little saw dust that gets out when I'm working with the saw.  But it's no where as much as the amount that gets out with the other table saw.

The dust bin catches most of it.

I also eventually added some edge banding inside the miter slots to make it easier to move the miter gauge through.

Normally you iron-on edge banding but there was no way to do that in this case.  So I simply glued it in and clamped some wood in the slots until the glue dried.

And I also made a temporary sled using parts from old miter gauges I had.

I connected the gauges to thin pieces of aluminum, which were the runners that fit in the miter slots.  Then I connected them with a piece of hardwood.

It's a simple solution until I build something better.

Sadly, this will be the last we're seeing of this table saw.  Someone has agreed to buy it and the old router table.

But before they take it away, let's do a side-by-side comparison of the 2 table saws.  On the whole, my new table saw is shorter, wider and lighter.  Although I can change the height of the older table saw cart, but since that saw is so incredibly heavy, I have chosen not to do that.  My old table saw has a super-flat cast-iron top.  The miter slots are perfectly straight and parallel to the blade.  And the blade can raise a lot higher than my new table saw can.  This beats my new table saw easily.  Although my new table is nice and flat now, any kind of wood (or plywood, particle board, etc) can expand and contact due to weather.  I've already pointed out my miter slots are not perfect too.

Starting from the left of the blade - the old table saw is not set up to cut left of the blade.  The fence system stops at the blade.  So this saw loses this one.

My new table saw's fence does go left of the blade...

...and without the fence there's about 23 inches.  With my fence in place it can cut around 18 inches, so my new table saw wins there.

My old table saw can cut up to about 23 inches to the right of the blade.

My new table saw can cut about 25.5 inches, so the new saw wins again.

The old saw is about 27 inches wide, which is nice.  But the saw blade is located towards the back of the top.

My new table saw is only 25 inches wide, but the saw is more centered on the table.

The old saw's fence is easily adjustable thanks to the 2 bolts on the top.  It's easy to tighten and loosen the handle, making adjustments quicker and accurate.  In this regard my old table saw's fence is better.

My new fence is not so refined and needs a clamp to lock it in place.  But having storage for my tape measure, a pencil and a screw driver is very convenient.

My old table saw has a space for a throat plate.  This plate easily comes out to change the saw's blade.  My old saw uses a 10 inch blade, whereas my new saw can only use a 7.25 inch blade.  Also, my old saw also can accept dado blades, whereas my new table saw cannot. 

But the truth is I rarely use my dado blades.  In the last year alone I think I must have used them twice.  My new table doesn't have a throat plate, but I already went over all that.  I simply don't need one.  And changing the blade is easy - simply remove the circular saw and replace the blade.

My new table saw also has a router!  My old one does not (but I suppose I could have put one on there).

When it comes to dust, I think my new saw wins.  I definitely contains more dust than my old one.

The back of my new saw table is flat...

...which lets me place is against a wall when not in use.

The old saw's motor and belt stick out...

...leaving almost 10 inches between the back of the saw and the wall.  And as you can see below, the saw sticks out past my garage door opening.

The old saw's blade height adjustment is nice and easy. Turning the old table saw's bevel is an ordeal - you have to crank the handle for a long time, and the insides need to be free of dust before you do so - otherwise dust will clog up the mechanisms that make the blade turn.  I might also add that the gears and other innards of the old saw require lubrication often.  As per the instruction book for this saw, I use motor oil to lubricate.  And once lubricated it collects a ton of saw dust after the saw's first use.  So using the bevel on this saw is quite annoying.

Adjusting both on the new saw is easy thanks to the table top lifting up, and the PVC kick stand holding it up.

My old table saw's back-mounted, belt driven motor - This has pros and cons.  Buying and changing belts is easy and inexpensive, but should I have a problem with the motor I would need to bring it in for servicing.  This table saw and it's motor were made in 1976, and I have a feeling it would be pricey to fix.  I could also go buy a new motor, but that too is pricey.

But the plus side is that this motor and table saw are a helluva lot more quieter than the circular saw on my new table saw.  Now, if I did run into a problem where my circular saw stops working, I can buy another one for around $50 and have it all up and running again in no time.

So all-in-all, I think the new table saw is going to work out great.