Simple Shop upgrades, Why didn't I do this sooner???

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Blog entry by RockyBlue posted 03-31-2011 02:10 AM 2248 reads 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently made a couple small changes to my trusty table saw and they made a huge difference. I added a strip of sandpaper to my miter gauge and that made all the difference in the world for cross cuts. I had added a 30” piece of extruded aluminum to extend my miter and that was working well except it was difficult to hold pieces still while cutting a 45 deg angle. But with the sandpaper on it I can cut a perfect angle that is straight and glueable for making picture frames. The other upgrade is a zero clearance insert for the saw. This was purchased through Eagle America and is made in the USA by Leecraft. The quality is unbeatable and I am really impressed with the fit. I could have made one myself since I’m a machinist, but someone else has already spent the time to engineer it and make if function right, so its well worth the $25. If you don’t have either one of these upgrades for your table saw, Shut your computer off and DO IT NOW. I am planning on making a small splitter like the one in the last pic to add
to the insert. That is one from Eagle, but I think I will machine mine from aluminum.

On a side note, something funny happened last weekend. My wife is starting in-home childcare at our house and was interviewing a family for an opening. She was going over all her policies and rules and procedures with the couple and thier small child. I was outside with our son while they were talking. The wife was asking questions and then asked her husband if he had any questions or concerns. He said “Yes, Does your husband make all this furniture?”.
Nothing about the childcare, but was more interested in the furniture. I can tell him and I will get along just fine! It feels great to be able to make whatever I want for my home. My wife says she sometimes forgets that not everyone can have things exactly the way they want it, like our baby gates for example. I help people with projects all the time, but I’m so self sufficient no one knows how to return the favor. I can machine anything, make anything out of wood, repair my own vehicles( just put a new engine and tranny in my truck), and do any needed repairs to the house. I think the key is not being scared to try something new and learn a new skill.

-- I haven't had this much fun since hogs ate my little brother.

10 comments so far

View Mark D.'s profile

Mark D.

155 posts in 3796 days

#1 posted 03-31-2011 02:57 AM

A couple zero clearance inserts are definitely in my future… Something about making cuts with the dado stack with no insert at all just seems like I’m going to loose a limb… I am starting a shop clean-up/reorganization phase now that it’s bearable in the garage again… I did things the last two days that I’ve been putting off for years (built a chisel rack for the wall, hung a shelf for planes, muscled machines around to improve layout and workflow).... Sounds like you’ve made some marked improvements…

-- Looking for free wood working plans? Visit us at

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 03-31-2011 03:07 AM

good calls
all of these

not only does it make it safer and easier to do good work

it makes it more fun to do the work too

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#3 posted 03-31-2011 03:44 AM

What grit sandpaper did you use? Does it matter?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View RockyBlue's profile


271 posts in 2722 days

#4 posted 03-31-2011 05:13 AM

Mark D.—Almost every time I’ve cut myself, the whole time I was thinking ” I’m going to cut myself”. And its usually when doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing. So if you are thinking dado cuts without an insert are dangerous than you are probably right and should fix the hazard before you have no hand to fix it with. My dad lost a thumb to a skill saw and it sticks in my mind constantly. Being a machinist and woodworker I have to always think about the safest way to operate. I want to grow old with all my fingers. I have bad spots in my fingers that get cold quick that remind me to be safe. I guess sometimes I have to force my self to slow down and think about what could happen. Safety is the most valuable tool in my box.

GFADVM—I used some 320 and double stick taped it to the miter bar with “carpet tape”. Even if you have a standard miter gauge this would be useful. I picked 320 because it would grip well, but not scratch when sliding a workpiece to the kerf.

-- I haven't had this much fun since hogs ate my little brother.

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2721 days

#5 posted 03-31-2011 06:38 AM

Good job on the TS. Where did you get that extruded aluminum from?

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18292 posts in 3704 days

#6 posted 03-31-2011 08:33 AM

Good list of to dos ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2789 days

#7 posted 03-31-2011 02:36 PM

Good upgrades. I too am a toolmaker and can relate to what you are saying. Having the ability to do just about anything is a blessing, one that I don’t take for granted. It’s cool to look around your house and see the furniture you’ve made. Not that you look for the praise of men, but it’s nice to have someone look at your work and say “that’s a nice piece of furniture”. I have to say this about being able to do many things, sometimes it gives the impression that you can do everything. My kids, for example, have this idea that I can make or fix anything. Perhaps I’ve mislead them. In spite of all that we can do, there are many things that we can’t do. This means, however, that we strive to learn how to do more so that we never grow stagnate in our skills.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View RockyBlue's profile


271 posts in 2722 days

#8 posted 04-02-2011 01:46 AM

Devann The extusion is from a line called “8020” the industrial erector set. Ebay is a good place to look first. Just search 8020 aluminum and lots will come up. This is a good way to get pieces for cheap the maybe someone cut too short or unused pieces. We use this at our machine shop for building guard doors around custom machiniery we build. It would be awesome for woodshop use for building easy stands, tables, jigs and all kinds of crap. There is tons of things you can bolt to this extrusion.

-- I haven't had this much fun since hogs ate my little brother.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18292 posts in 3704 days

#9 posted 04-02-2011 06:45 AM

Does that channel take the standard “T” bolts?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View RockyBlue's profile


271 posts in 2722 days

#10 posted 04-14-2011 06:08 PM

The particular channel I have does not accept the standard 5/16 bolt found on typical “T” bolts. But there are different series of the 8020. The 5/16 t-nut fits in the opening, but the bolt will not. Mine is for 1/4” bolts. The T-nuts they sell along with it come in different shapes and sizes. I am planning on getting a 38” long piece that I can bolt to the top of my accu-fence when I want to add a taller or sacrificial fence, or to add a feather board to hold stock down near the blade. The metric sizes on EBAY may be cheaper and are very close to inch sizes such as 50×100 mm is close enough to 2×4 for my fence plan.

-- I haven't had this much fun since hogs ate my little brother.

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