Project 1: Combination ripping and crosscut table
This nifty homemade plywood and 2x4 jig is designed to handle both ripping and crosscutting. You'll have to customize it to fit your saw's table. Portable saws are light enough to suspend from the jig. Just lift and turn the saw in the jig to change it from one operation to the other. Notice the plywood inserts (blue and green pieces) that help position the saw for each operation. See Fig. A for details.
Figure A: Rip/Crosscut Table
Figure A: Rip/Crosscut Table Details
Build the jig from pieces of 2x4, 2x6 and 3/4-in. cabinet-grade plywood for about $50 and three hours of your time. Cut the opening width and depth of the plywood cutout to the same dimension as the widest part of the saw table. You may need to remove 1 in. from the right end so you can move the fence fully to the right side of the table when you're using it for ripping long pieces. Be sure you have adequate saw table support when you have it in the side position as shown in “Crosscut Position.”
The saw table must sit on the support carriage at least 1 in. on each side. We cut our carriage supports 4-1/2 in. wide from pieces of 2x6. Note: Before using this cutting jig, be sure to clamp it to each sawhorse and then weight the far horse with a sandbag or a full pail for added stability as shown.
Note: Figure A can be downloaded and printed from Addtional Information below.
Figure B: Crosscut Fence
Build this fence from 2x4 lumber and two 3-in. C-clamps. Just cut the slots as shown and drill a 5/8-in. hole 3/8 in. deep to keep the clamp from drifting as you tighten it to the table. Note: Insert the clamp before gluing and screwing the T-square end of the fence.
Note: Figure B can be downloaded and printed from Additional Information below.
Project 2: Super-stable plywood base
A “must do” with any new portable table saw (when you're not using a leg set) is to attach a 3/4-in. plywood base with a hole cut in the center. This simple base allows you to clamp or screw the table saw to sawhorses, which provide a wide foundation for added stability. This also raises the saw off the ground to a comfortable working height. The hole in the bottom lets the sawdust fall through and helps keep the saw running cool. But that's not all the base has to offer. Drill a couple of 1/2-in. holes on one side so you can hang the saw from hooks fastened to the workshop or garage wall when you're finished using it.
Cut the plywood base a few inches wider and longer than the base of your saw, and then cut a 1-sq.-ft. hole in the center. Center your saw on the plywood and mark the mounting holes. Drill a 1/8-in. hole through the plywood at each mark. Flip the piece over and drill 1-in. dia. holes about 1/4 in. deep to recess the carriage bolt heads. Next, drill 5/16-in. holes in the center of the recesses. Pound in the carriage bolts, slip the saw over the bolts (use spacers if they come with the saw) and fasten the saw to the base with washers and nuts.
Every table saw user has horror stories about near misses and not-so-near misses. No doubt about it: Table saws can be dangerous. Always approach them with respect. Use your blade guard whenever possible and always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Read your owner's manual and make sure your saw is properly adjusted.
Project 3: Cut-off block
Dangerous kickback can occur when you crosscut directly against a rip fence. Kickback happens when the part of the board between the fence and the blade gets pinched, and the blade, spinning toward you, catches it and hurls it back at you.
You can prevent this hazard with a simple block. Cut and clamp a block to the side of your rip fence and then position the fence the correct distance from the blade (the length of cut plus the thickness of the safety block). Clamp the block so that as the workpiece enters the blade it's no longer in contact with the safety block. This crosscutting method prevents the workpiece from binding between the fence and the spinning blade. Never make a cut that binds against the blade in any way. Think through all your cut setups before you start!
Project 4: Dado guide using standard blade
Cut accurate dadoes without a dado blade by making successive passes over the blade. The tough part here is to get a tight fit (Photo 3). Screw a 1x3 fence extension to your miter gauge and make a saw kerf in it. For a tight fit, trace the thickness of the board onto the homemade miter gauge fence extension (see Photo 1). Then follow the Photos 1 and 2. Try this method on a test piece to get the hang of it.
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Project 5: A simple outfeed jig
Cut long boards confidently with an easy-to-make outfeed jig screwed to your plywood base. Be sure to have the highest point of the jig even with the saw table. The gradual incline of the jig (about 12 degrees) helps guide sagging pieces and slowly bring them up as you push your board through the saw. Ordinary rollerstyle outfeed supports don't work well for long boards because they have a tendency to tip over when the board sags and hits the stand beneath the roller. This jig works especially well for long, thin pieces such as siding, which tends to sag and separate as you cut.
Figure C: Outfeed Jig
Build this simple outfeed jig from ordinary 3/4-in. plywood and 2x4 scraps. Be sure to screw the jig to the plywood base of the saw for stability (your saw base must be screwed or clamped to the sawhorses as well). You won't need anything other than a single 2x4 for the far leg support.
Note: Figure C can be downloaded and printed from Additional Information below.