Since opening the door into the new shop I’ve been without a router table as my old one was built into a bench anchored to the wall that was cut through. I needed to get that replaced and have always liked the idea of building a router table into a table saw wing. So I made plans to upgrade my Ridgid 4511 granite top table saw. The first thing was to upgrade the rails and fence.
The Ridgid fence has a few limitations, but actually works pretty well once its adjusted properly. I’ve been satisfied with it for accuracy and repeatability, particularly when you consider the price of the saw and fence. But, the rails are not long, nor stout enough to support a router table. My plans were to replace the rails with ¼” angle iron and keep the Ridgid guide tube and fence.
Then a local hardware store, with a great tool selection, went into bankruptcy. Thier plan was to liquidate everything in the store, and because of their large inventory it likely was going to take several months. I felt a bit like a vulture hanging around but bought a fair amount of tools, accessories, and hardware for 40%, 50%, 60% and more off by the end. The last day you could buy everything you could fit into a plastic grocery bag for $10. I’d planned to buy the whole Rockler hardware aisle, but that was all gone by the time I got there.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to pick up a set of Biesemeyer rails, guide tube and fence for $149 and now it’s time to install. The first difference noted is that the materials in Bies are far stouter than the Ridgid. Here is a picture of the Ridgid parts in front and the Bies parts behind.
And another comparing the two front rails. The Bies is ¼” while the Ridgid is of 3/16”.
The Bies rails are predrilled for many different saws but unfortunately, none line up with the holes in the Ridgid. And when you hold them up to each other it’s hard to find a spot where they don’t overlap a little bit. Not to worry according to the instructions. Just clamp the rails to the table and drill new holes in the table. But I couldn’t drill holes in granite, I needed to drill new, exactly placed, holes in the Bies rails. That was complicated by the different sizes and dimensions of all the parts.
Fortunately, the Ridgid rails are symmetrical left to right and another LJ’r (Chucker) had done this before and documented it. I’ll try to fill in a few of the pieces. The Bies instructions call for 1/32” accuracy for the height of the front rail, but I think there is some tolerance. Basically, I made a mark on Ridgid rail in line with the saw blade and used it for a template to mark the holes to drill. Put it back to back with the Bies, aligning the bottoms of the two rails. That’s when I found the Bies rail wasn’t as square as expected. Next, to be certain of the alignment of the holes, I used a large twist bit that matched the Ridgid countersink and drilled just enough to create a small dimple. From there, it was a matter of taking it to the drill press progressively moving up to bigger bits and finally countersinking. The steel is soft enough that it drills pretty easily.
The back rail was largely the same process, but the rail cutouts for miter channels left only two bolts holding on the back rail. And the large cutout for a blade guard (Delta I think) made the thing feel flimsy. I ended buying a ¼” 2”x3” angle iron 6’ long for about $20 that once drilled, cleaned, and painted looks and works great. And it was the same size as the front rail which the Bies back rail wasn’t. That made alignment of the router table much easier.
I put the Bies fence on, made a couple test cuts, and a few adjustments and the upgrade is done. It works great.
Tomorrow I’ll try to post how the router table came together.
-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--