So now I had the saw and the jointer set up. I went to a local lumberyard (Woodstock Lumber) and bought 14 16-foot 2×12s and 3 sheets of baltic birch plywood. The 2×12s I stickered and left in the middle of the garage.
The plywood was for building three rolling carts, patterned after the ones in Fine Woodworking #190. My intent was to build one cart the exact same height as my saw and use it as an outfeed table. Then build another to hold the planer such that the outfeed for the planer would be the same height. The third cart would be for the drill press.
Here’s what the carts look like. Very simple.
So big moment! First project in the shop. They say that the best way to learn is through your mistakes. Quite true. What an education I had ahead of me! :-)
Ironically, with my beautiful new tablesaw, I still had to get out the sawhorses and my circular saw to cut up the plywood since I couldn’t figure out a safe way to cut a 4×8 sheet on the saw with just one person. So I fired up the circular saw and away I went.
First mistake, first lesson. I had figured out what pieces I needed, but didn’t really think through the set of cuts that would be most efficient. For convenience, and because I didn’t (then) have an 8-foot straightedge, I cut the sheet in half so I had two 4×4 sheets. Later, I realized that I should have made one 8-foot cut so that I ended up with a 30” x 8 foot length then cut that in half to form the top and bottom.
Then I needed three pieces to form the two sides and the center cross-piece. Each of these needed to be 25 7/8” high. Should have cut the sides as one long strip too, but I didn’t. Ah well, next cart. My other errors were not realizing that when cutting with a circular saw, tear-out is minimized on the BOTTOM side of the piece you are cutting. And that a 24-tooth blade is great for cutting 2×4s and the like, but not for plywood – especially 9-ply birch plywood. Result: Lots of lovely tearout. Oh well – it’s an outfeed table, not a dining room table.
So I got all the pieces cut and then assembled the carcass. This turned out to be pretty easy. It was particularly so because of the implicit tip in the article from FWW. If you look at the photo of the guy assembling the carcass you see he is using a right-angle clamp to hold the pieces steady.
As a one-man operation, a third hand like that is invaluable. So after hunting around I found an Irwin clamp online like the one in the picture. And it works a treat. Unlike the article, I didn’t pre-drill anything, just used 2-inch #8 Spax screws and it went together easily and is very strong and stable.
Once it was assembled, I positioned the casters, bored the holes for them, mounted them and then turned it over onto its wheels. Perfect! Except… it turned out to be 1/8” too high. Dammit! How did I mess that up? Turned out that the saw was a 1/16” lower than I thought and the casters were 1/16” taller. Sigh. No biggee. I turned the table over, removed the casters, got out my plunge router and routed 1/8” into the base for each caster-base. Re-assembled and it was good to go.
Next I needed to make some holes to accommodate the table saw’s mobile base and dust collection ports. Since I intended to use the table sideways (30”x48”) for cross-cutting and lengthwise (48”x30”) for ripping, I had to do this on two sides. A little jig-sawing and we were good.
However, there was one gotcha. I should have thought a little more about which end of the table was which. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to matter which end was which, but this turns out not to be the case. On further reflection, AFTER I mounted the casters and cut the holes for the dust, I realized that you want the casters that swivel and have the brake to be on the end away from the saw. It doesn’t matter too much when using the table for crosscutting as you are pivoting it sideways, but when ripping it you want the brake-wheels away from the saw so that when it wheels up to the table, the brake pedal protrudes and is easy to set. Not a big deal but a minor annoyance.
In addition, I realized that the article in FWW has one detail of mounting the casters not quite right. It had the casters being mounted 1/2” from the side of the base, but an inch or so from the end. For the fixed casters, this wasn’t an issue, but for the swiveling casters with the brake, this was too far – the result being that the brake was half hidden most of the time. The right setup turns out to be like this:
With the table butted against the table saw and the wheels locked, it was pretty solid. However, it I use the miter gauge or (once I have built it) the cross-cut sled, there will be a problem because the outfeed table has no slots. Moreover, if I do rout grooves for the miter-guide to follow, getting them to line up every time with the saw could be a pain (see above about casters).
One solution would be to use the back rail of the table saw, which has a series of 12 mm holes in it for no obvious purpose. I assume the back rail on my 36” PCS is the front rail on the contractor saw or something like that to ease manufacturing. Net net, there are these holes, spaced about 8” apart. I could use two about 16” a part and run a 1 1/2” x 3/16” bolt up through it. I could bore two corresponding holes in the table’s edge and I have some registration pins. I’ll use the table a little and see if it is worth it. In the meantime, I marked the grooves for the miter slots, making them a little over-size, routed them out and I was done.
Well, this has run on longer than I intended, so let’s say that simply varnishing (varathane) is an area where I still have much to learn. I put on a coat with the brush I had handy and that turned out to be an error. It was a old nylon brush of dubious quality and, as I had taken longer on the outfeed table than I had expected, I was impatient. Lesson: use a foam brush and go SLOW. Otherwise it is bubble city. But a little extra work with the orbital sander and another coat and it was finally done! Whew. Here’s what it looks like:
So how many lessons did we learn? Let’s see… wrong cut-list, wrong side up during cuts, wrong blade in the saw, 1/8” too high, improper location of the casters, casters on the wrong end, too hasty and wrong brush with varathane. Hmm, 7 errors on a simple cart. Not bad. :-) A good set of lessons! Good news is the new outfeed table works great.
And the second cart (for the planer) was built in half the time, with none of the errors above – amazingly enough. There are more carts a coming (drill press, clamps), but first, I want to get started on the workbench so it’s time to start ripping up those 2×12s.
Next time: The Wall Goes Up!
-- Ric, N. Illinois "Design thrice, measure twice, cut once... slap forehead, start over"