Homemade Tools: How to Make a Table Saw

If you want to start a tool collection, but are short on money, try building your own homemade table saw.

| March/April 1982


Build your own convertible table saw. A pair of channel-iron clamps hold the foot in its recess.


The ability to create something useful from little more than a pile of lumber is a talent that grows with practice. Unfortunately, it's hardly possible for the neophyte to build a project if he or she lacks the proper tools. Yet, given the state of our economy, those implements might very well be unaffordable unless some money can be saved as the result of a few successfully executed do-it-yourself undertakings.

There is a way out of this dilemma, though. Thanks to a little bit of "make do" work on the part of researcher Clarence Goosen, we've been able to come up with a sound design for a piece of equipment that's essential to any well-equipped workshop: the table saw. Because the homemade apparatus uses a common hand-held circular saw (a relatively inexpensive tool used in tens of thousands of households across the nation) as the heart of its operation, the cost is a mere fraction of the $200 to $300 purchase price that's typical for an implement like this. Furthermore, the completed project can serve as a dual-purpose tool because the motor-and-blade assembly can be disconnected from the table frame in a matter of minutes and used separately just as you'll likely use it to cut the table saw's frame to size in the first place!

Equipment Needed to Build a Table Saw

To work up your own topsy-turvy trimmer, you'll need to get hold of — in addition to a functioning adjustable circular saw with at least a 1-HP motor and a 7-1/4-inch blade — a 3/4-inch plywood sheet measuring 36-by-48 inches, three pieces of 1-by-8, each 10 feet in length (as an alternative, you can cut up an entire 4-by-8-foot sheet of quality-grade 3/4-inch plywood to satisfy both requirements), 10 feet of 1-by-2, 6 feet of 1-by-4, and a 26 inch length of 2-by-2.
The metal components required are a 4-inch piece of 1/8-by-1/2-by-1-1/4-by-1/2-inch channel iron, a 1/8-by-2-by-2-by-7-inch section of angle iron, a 1/4-by-1-by-18-inch length of bar stock, three 1/4-inch body washers, and a scrap of 7/8-inch round stock 4-1/2 inches long.

Assemble the Table Saw Frame

After you've cut all the parts to the required sizes (a coping saw can be used to complete both the 2-3/4-inch-radius access hole and the 2-1/4-by-8-1/2-inch side opening), you can begin to assemble the frame. Start by fastening the upper and lower side braces to the legs with No. 8 round-head wood screws.

Before drilling the screw holes, though, be sure the legs' edges extend beyond the supports by 1-1/2 inches, in order to allow the corners to be flush when the leg faces are installed. (This is necessary because the 3/4-inch-thick faces are attached to cross braces of equal depth, which are butted against the ends of the side braces.) Also, make certain the legs and supports are flush at their upper edges and that the lower braces are positioned according to the measurements.

Once the two side components are completed, go ahead and fit the upper and lower front and back cross braces in place. The angles at the ends of these boards will have to be trimmed to suit the profile of the leg sides, but if you stuck to the dimensions, the finished uprights will be the correct distance apart and will have the proper "splay."
Before installing the four leg faces, slip the 3/4-by-21-1/2-by-22-inch shelf into place on top of the lower supports (it doesn't have to be secured with screws). With that done, lay the face boards in position and drill through the edge of the leg sides and into the shoulder of the abutting plank. A series of screws can then be used to hold the corners firmly together.

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