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Starting Woodworking. #4: Starting to build my router table

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Blog entry by Haydar posted 07-14-2009 08:22 PM 3069 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: My trip to Lowes Part 4 of Starting Woodworking. series no next part

I’ve finally started building my router table. But before I could do even do that I had to build myself a couple jigs. Since I don’t have a table saw yet I built a guide for my circular saw so that I could at least cut a straight line.

I’ve heard that the table saw is the most important woodworking tool. But from my reading I’ve made the following observations about table saws:

  1. Table Saws vary a great deal in quality
  2. The difference in quality makes a huge difference in the ease of use and quality of the output
  3. The difference in quality is directly proportional to the price you are willing to spend on a saw

So with this information I don’t want to make the wrong choice and over or under spend on a saw.

The second jig I made was one for creating dado’s using my router. This seems to be something I would use even if I had a table saw. It turned out ok, it’s very rough but it seems to work ok.

With these jigs made. I was able to cut large pieces for the case. I’m making an enclosed case for the table to, hopefully, cut down on the noise and dust that escapes.

The neatest thing so far is that after cutting the dados for the shelf and base they actually fit in the slot properly. I’m now just about ready to glue and screw the case together.

I’ve already learned a bunch and it’s interesting to me how much for quickly I was able to set up the jig for my later dado cuts compared to my first ones. I’m also amazed by how much sawdust I’m producing.

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.



12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112103 posts in 2234 days


#1 posted 07-14-2009 08:35 PM

Congrats on starting you router table. Take a look at Grizzly for a good price and good saw .Read Dons review of his Grizzly table saw.

http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/771

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View bayspt's profile

bayspt

292 posts in 2361 days


#2 posted 07-14-2009 08:37 PM

I like you started with a router and router table (I opted to buy mine)You can do alot with these and a few basic hand tools. I am still a novice by any strech of the imagination, but practice really does make perfect.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View MTBrian's profile

MTBrian

27 posts in 2083 days


#3 posted 07-14-2009 09:11 PM

get some pics up! im just finishing up my table. the enclosed table is great. mine holds all my routers, accessories and bits. i have been getting started with woodworking myself. it seems alot more starting than actual woodworking, but the router table should change all that. pretty impressive though, i cant imagine building that thing without a table saw! good work

View jlsmith5963's profile

jlsmith5963

297 posts in 2005 days


#4 posted 07-14-2009 09:20 PM

If you google ‘how to buy a table saw’ you will find a lot of info that could help you in your decision.
regarding the list of 3 observations on table saws I would offer the following:

1. Table Saws vary a great deal in quality
This is true, but only if you are including the entire price range, if you establish a price point the differences in quality will narrow considerably

2. The difference in quality makes a huge difference in the ease of use and quality of the output

Claiming a huge difference, I think, over states the case, it is quite possible to produce quality cuts even on the cheesiest portable table saws

3. The difference in quality is directly proportional to the price you are willing to spend on a saw
While this is a valid point (in almost any product) I would caution you to not fall into the trap of ‘spending more means I am getting more’ attitude. If you look up any tool review in any of the woodworking magazines it is actually the exception to have the most expensive tool get the best review.

Finally, make sure you get a saw with a good fence or buy a high quality aftermarket fence to replace the poor quality fences that come with a lot of mid-priced table saws (to determine what makes a good fence take a look at this)

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2305 days


#5 posted 07-14-2009 09:28 PM

sounds like you’re making great progress. like you, I started with a router… and was completely taken over by woodworking.

do more research on table saws… quality/price is not always proportionate when comparing machines. there are several Gems in the market that are good performers, and easy on the pocket.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Haydar's profile

Haydar

16 posts in 1956 days


#6 posted 07-14-2009 10:13 PM

Thanks for the responses so far. I guess I should explain the points I tried to make about a table saw.

As far as price is concerned since I’m just starting out I don’t want to spend a lot of money on my shop. So I started looking at the very low end of table saws. but as I started reading reviews it seems that the cheapest saws (primarily the benchtop variety) just don’t have the quality and/or features that a person would typically need. So it seems to make sense to move up.

But since i work with computers I can tell you from personal experience that price often has no correlation to quality. I can immediately think of the example of Monster cables where you’d pay 3 – 10x what they are really worth. Is this true for woodworking items too? Or is the situation more where the quality of materials used and the purpose/audience of the machine legitimately makes a difference in price? I highly regard reviews and the opinions of more experienced voices. I also try to be suspicious of marketing speak. But this isn’t my area of expertise so it’s a bit more daunting.

I don’t think I could justify the expense of a cabinet saw at this point. So my price range is limited by those factors. I’m not even sure I can justify getting a new saw and wouldn’t be opposed to buying something used. But the prospect of purchasing a used machine scares me since I’m not sure what red flags to look for when evaluating them.

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2305 days


#7 posted 07-14-2009 10:45 PM

we’ve all (mostly) been there. woodworking machinery and tools are far from Monster Cables. usually the prices are justified and relate to materials + labor + demand. since there are less sales of woodworking tools then cables, the price needs to be higher to pay for the cost of production. however as I mentioned -there ARE gems in the market that are lower cost, but higher performers. if you are not in a hurry – and thats a good thing, do your research on what features in a table saw are important, where would a table saw make things easier for you, read, ask question, and learn what parts are important, and what parts can be worked around.

my perspective about table saws is that they cut repeatable parts to sum it in one sentence. this means they have to be precise, hold their settings, and be safe!

P.S. I used to install built in home theatre systems and Monster Cables suck – I wouldn’t touch them unless I found them laying on the floor…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dwain's profile

Dwain

323 posts in 2516 days


#8 posted 07-14-2009 11:36 PM

Haydar,

That is exciting news about your jigs! I think you are going about this the right way. Starting with a cir saw will really reinforce the importance of good measurements and lines. Measure twice, and cut once. I think you can find an EXTREMEMLY serviceable table saw for under $200.00 if you look closely. It won’t be perfiect, but it will be something you can begin working with and improve. I would agree that a high quality fence is the most important accessory, then a quality blade. Both of these can grow with you as you move to bigger and better saws. Good luck, keep working and get those pictures up! I for one am excited to see your work.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Haydar's profile

Haydar

16 posts in 1956 days


#9 posted 07-15-2009 09:42 PM

I was asked for some pics. So I took a couple with my phone last night. Sorry about the poor quality but I couldn’t find my normal camera.

This isn’t glued up or anything, just clamped together.
Router Table Box 1 Router Table Box 1

And here is the dado jig I made.
Router Dado Jig

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2305 days


#10 posted 07-15-2009 09:48 PM

nice! I like the jig, and the feet at the bottom of the cabinet – nice touch… and that’s a great signature line… LOL

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View MTBrian's profile

MTBrian

27 posts in 2083 days


#11 posted 07-17-2009 12:21 AM

does that jig work with just a router, or a circular saw too?

View Haydar's profile

Haydar

16 posts in 1956 days


#12 posted 07-17-2009 01:01 AM

the jig only works with my router. the width of the base is dependant on the size of your router base and the size of the straight bit you are using. I suppose it’s possible that it could work but it would be a coincidence.

I created another jig for my circular saw that is simply one half of this jig with the base the width of the saw base to the blade.

-- Danger: Novice Woodworker here.

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