|Project by thetinman||posted 05-19-2014 12:34 PM||15868 views||30 times favorited||14 comments|
I bought my new Delta Contractor’s tablesaw a couple of months ago. I wrote an initial and a follow up review. Many of my old jigs/fixtures went with my old Craftsman saw so I’ve been building new ones and posting along the way. This is what I’ve done to the saw so far.
In advance – sorry for the picture/camera quality. This camera’s digital brain is about as smart as mine. Straight lines sometimes show bowed or even wavy, especially if I resized them. The camera does not like overhead fluorescent lighting. It confuses the poor thing. Sometimes the reflected tubes of the lights show up as long scratches. From another angle – no scratches. Sometimes the colors change or appear blotchy. I assure you the lines are straight, no deep scratches exist (yet) and all the colors are even without blotches.
The Rear Cabinet
I solicited the best minds in woodworking and engineering from around the world to determine the optimal size of an out-feed/roller cabinet. After an exhaustive study they came up with the dimensions that exactly fit the scrap material in my shop. An amazing coincidence. The rear cabinet is 17 1/2-inches deep, 28 1/4-inches wide and 36-inches tall. It has 3 shelves where I store tablesaw items on the top shelf and less frequently used tool/items down lower. The cabinet is framed from a bundle of surveyor’s stakes and 1/4-inch ply I had lying around. The oak ply was so old that the veneer was full of cracks and I had to fill – kind of like Bondo on a car repair.
The cabinet is not attached to the saw – it is set about 1/2-inch away from the rear fence rail to clear the rear fence “hook”. The rear of the cabinet (looking from the saw) has a roller. The roller is a 1 1/4-inch closet rod rolling on 3/8-inch bolts and set about 1/4-inch aft of the cabinet. I personally have never been a fan of out-feed tables. They generally take up too much space in my small shop. And why have a table that effectively takes up floor space without having storage underneath? The purpose of the table is to support longer pieces and keep small pieces from falling on the floor behind the saw. But I do like rollers. The cabinet top keeps small pieces from falling on the floor behind the saw. The roller, set at the height of the table, catches longer pieces. I have a floor roller also that catches the very long pieces of lumber. With a roller I can lift my end of a board and control it while I pull it back with the roller taking the weight. I used to complain about everything changing from metal to plastic. Now, the older I get, I complain about more things being made out of heavier plastic. Rollers help.
The Extension Tables
The factory left/right table extensions were sheet steel and both 10-inches wide. The new left table extension is 12 3/4-inches and the right is 20 1/2-inches wide. Both are made from “real” 5-ply 3/4-inch plywood with “real” 1/4-inch oak ply on top of that. I cut a 1 X 1 1/2-inch strip was from a 2 X 4 and then rabbited as a support ledger and edge banding. A friend in the military gave the oak ply to me. It has 1/16-inch oak on top of real ply – not some thin oak coating (sprayed on?) and some kind of filler core. Big orange and big blue have run the local lumberyards out of business where I live. I went to the manager of my local Lowes and asked him to get me some real plywood with real American dimensions. 2-days later he called and said he had some “good stuff” in. Why would he say that? It’s like he knows his other “stuff” is overpriced junk. (My opinion anyway) I looked through several sheets until I found the one with my name on it. Flat with no fish eyes on either side and very few inner layer voids when cutting. I have always preferred ply to the dust of MDF and the weight of chipboard or MDF for the shop.
The fence rail spreader bar determined the length of the right side table. I decided not to remove it but rather incorporate it into the design. I notched the end of the new table extension to sit on the spreader brackets and attach the router on/off switch to the bar. This provides substantial support for the router operations. The maximum rip capacity of this saw is 30-inches. This design choice took the table out to 29 3/8-inches. I can live with a 5/8-inch open space.
Plexiglas Router Plate and Router
The router plate is made from 1/4-inch Plexiglas. From lessons learned I sanded a slight bevel on all edges top and bottom to avoid any edge chipping. The router is a 2 hp Bosch model 1617 that I’ve used trouble free for years. I positioned it so the adjustments are easy to reach under the table without fumbling or deep/prolonged bending. (More on bending later) I can flip the locking lever, press the adjustment lever and move it easily up and down by hand. When close to the height wanted, simply release the adjustment lever and it locks in. Now turn the dial to fine-tune it. A complete turn is 1/16-inch. A very easy to use and very accurate router. With the positioning and adjustment ease of this router I don’t have a need for an additional lift mechanism.
The Router Table, Router Fence and “Off Table” Fence Mount
Box Whisperer and I were chatting one evening and the conversation turned to his chronic bad back, my sometimes bad back and my always bad knees. Of course we talked about tool/bench heights, bending, stooping, etc. We also talked about the differences in the kind of work we did and the way we each worked. One of the topics included that we both use our router tables extensively but also need to use a hand-held router from time to time. I was adding onto my saw and he was preparing to add things to his shop. It was logical that the conversation turned to “what ifs” as part of the design process. The router table, the router fence and the “off table” router fence mount are the results of our collaboration on design ideas. As some of the pictures from some of my past jig posts show, the router table has been completed for some time now. I’ve used it quite a bit and everything Box Whisperer and I came up with works very well for me. He’ll be doing his shop as time permits and I hope all works well for him too.
One of our grounded requirements was no unnecessary bending and absolutely no prolonged bending. If you look at the router table you will see that the slots for the T-bolts are wider at one end. This is so the router fence can be mounted from the top with no bending or fumbling to feed bolts up from the bottom. Just turn the T-bolts to drop in and then turn them to grab and clamp. This works like a champ. In addition to no bending, it’s especially nice because the fence can be on/off in seconds and all of the assembly pieces stay together (bolts/knobs). My small shop dictates that my saw have a router table. So, easy to mount and remove is great. I wish my old saws had this simple design change.
Underneath the router table are 1 X 3/4 cross members and framed around the router. I don’t fear the 1-inch ply is going to sag. But I’ve learned that plywood sometimes has a mind of it’s own and sometimes wants to bow slightly for no apparent reason. The support members, glued and screwed underneath, are to keep that sneaky plywood honest.
Box Whisperer and I both like tall fences and agreed it had to have dust collection and an adjustable split fence. He said he was looking to do some larger chests (don’t even go there) and wanted a sturdy fence. The fence we came up with is 22-inches long, 5 3/4-inches wide and 5-inches tall. It is sturdy and will take any of the wild things he throws at it. I added a 22-1/2-inch X 5 1/2-inch oak fence face, routed for T-bolts. I scavenged the dust collector off an old Vermont American router table my kids bought me years ago. Some of my other jig postings show a wooden dust collector. The point is that there is ample room to add any collection of choosing. The left side of the fence is adjustable – a lot. It can be extended 1 1/2-inches. That is quite a lot for a router fence. Box Whisperer wants to “work the V” with some round projects and use the fence as a stop for half-blind dovetails, etc. With the type of work I do and my creatively challenged mind I’ll just extend it a bit when edging like other mortals. He does beautiful work and knows more tricks than I have ever learned. It’s just a slot – make it long. I’m sure the many talented people here will find other uses for the extended fence.
The “Off Table” fence mount is the result of our conversation about using hand held routers or moving the fence from one surface to another. Normally we all just clamp a piece of wood as a guide, or use a T-square guide, or build a one-off jig for larger projects. Box Whisperer and I were “what ifing” about what if we could use the router table fence? What if “some kind of gismo” was self-storing? What if it was just plain simple to make and simple to use? This is what we came up with.
It is a frame that mounts to a 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 piece cut from a 2 X 4. The frame is 1/2-inch boards glued and screwed square with 1/2-inch dowels for mounting and holes for the router fence to mount. The 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 has dowel holes drilled in 2 sides. One pair of holes is for mounting the frame and the other pair is for storing it.
I set this on the front of my bench as an example. The 1 1/2 X 1/1/2 could be bolted to the back or side of the bench – or another table – and left there. The frame can be mounted in the side holes for storage and placed in the top holes for use. Make as many 1 1/2 X 1 1/2’s as you wish and just move the frame around. Leave both pieces connected and use them wherever you need. The following pics show examples of clamping it in a bench vice or clamping it on a piece of funky ply on saw horses. It always mounts square no matter where you put it.
I don’t have pics of this but I think you can envision it. You can add another layer of 1/2-inch ply temporarily on top of the frame arms you mount the router fence on. Make these boards long enough for your router to ride the fence and the bit to cut them off or into them – a dado for example. Now the fence will sit 1-inch above the work surface and a board – say 12-inches wide – can slide underneath. Now that the bit has cut into these temporary boards you only have to measure and make one mark for where to route a dado, say for a shelf. Move the board under the router, keeping it against the sideboard, and make your line even with the dado cut. Clamp the board down and route.
The finish on the left/right tables and the cabinet are all the same process. Only the color changes. I must first say that my view is that it is a shop and fancy is unwarranted. “Pretty” just don’t cut it when your buds are over. But, my wife liked the Delta blue: “It’s so pretty”. It’s obvious how that exchange went. It took some time for me to get used to the blue when I added the right router table. I felt like I was pimping out my saw. I would never be able to move it in a pickup. I’d have to find a white 1966 Cadillac Eldorado with a leopard skin interior. Well, I’ve gotten used to it and it turns out to be a fun conversation topic.
I used the same finish process (almost – just not as many layers) that I used on her kitchen counters. They’ve held up fine for 7-years so, other than excessive dragging of lumber causing dulling, I’m sure the finish will hold. In reality the paint is underneath the final finish and this system is no different than stain, etc.
The finish is primer, paint, lacquer, and poly. It’s time consuming but it comes out nice and wears well.
I started with sanding, of course, then two coats of Zinsser’s. I’ve had great luck with this primer through the years. I swear it will stick to ice cubes. Sand in between coats. Then paint two coats, sanding the first. I used latex paint because Lowes mixed up a quart of Valspar Delta blue and a quart of gray for $5 for me from the returns bin. That changed my initial plan of using oil base. I had to brush on the paint because my sprayers won’t shoot pudding. I leveled it fairly well with the side of the brush. Like I said – it’s a shop and I can live with it for $5. Because I used latex, I sprayed a coat of lacquer before I sprayed the poly. I don’t know why – maybe one of the finishing experts here knows – but sometimes when I spray poly over latex paint it crinkles up. Not always – but sometimes. Rather than take a chance I learned to spray a coat of lacquer as a barrier coat and that prevents it. Sand the lacquer coat. Spray 3 coats of poly, sanding in between coats. I used Minwax Helmsman high-gloss spar urethane because I worked on boat interiors and have that handy. I think the poly used for floors might hold up better but this stuff is pretty good on its’ own. All of the sanding was done lightly using 320 grit.
Drill holes through the saw’s front fence rail to gain access to the bolts. Use the long hex wrench that came with the saw. There is not enough room to get the bolts out but they can be pulled back enough to slide the table in – at least on mine. If they don’t pull back far enough on your saw you’ll have to cut slots. This is where your fence clamps so make sure you file off all burrs. Touch up with black paint when you’re done.
Don’t try to make the table edging the exact thickness of your ply (or whatever you use). Make it so it sticks up above the sheet slightly. Trim it with an edge bit in your router for an exact fit.
Don’t try to cut the ply with the edging/ledger to exactly fit between your table/fence rails. Make it just a bit oversized. You can trim it down for an exact fit on the saw. Think about the finish thickness. You want the final table to slide in just touching. Your fence rides on these rails. Don’t make it a forced fit.
Be systematic when locating/marking where to drill the bolt holes for mounting the new table extension. If you are not exacting you will have to fix the errors by drilling again or making slots. Not a terrible situation but also not necessary. This is the way I do it. As you will see I don’t know (or care) what any of the measurements are – I just want to locate the holes precisely.
I first removed the sheet steel extension table. Now to find the horizontal location along the edge of my new extension table for each hole. I used a short narrow length of board (a storyboard) placed along the cast iron table and marked (on the storyboard) where the holes were. I transferred these marks to the new extension. I used my square to draw a vertical line on the side of the extension for each hole. Now I repeat this process for the front and back rails, being sure to butt the stick against the cast iron table as a constant reference.
Now I have the horizontal position of each hole marked precisely on my new extension. Now I need to know the height – from the top of the new extension table – to mark across these lines to drill the holes. Remember that the new extension must be level with the top of the cast Iron table – so measure only from that surface. The holes in the cast iron table are easy. I set my adjustable square on top of the cast iron table, found the “depth” for the holes and transferred them to the new extension. Just draw a line across the ones I drew for the horizontal location. That’s where to drill. The holes in the rails must be located “out in space” somewhere from this same surface. I placed a 4-foot level on the cast iron table and placed my adjustable square on top of it. Adjust the blade of the square for each hole and transfer it to the new extension by placing the 4-foot square on top of the new extension and marking. Now all of the hole locations have be precisely located but no actual measurements were taken – or needed. Now drill the holes a bit larger than the bolts and give yourself a little wriggle room.
Then I used a Forstner bit to drill 1-inch recesses in the bottom of the new table extension to make room for the bolts. You can use a spade bit but make sure the point does not drill through the top. Not shown in the pic, I then used a 3/16 straight bit along the ledger for a flat surface for the washers to seat.
Look at the pic. What a lousy job on the router cutout! Between that blasted camera and resizing the pic everything went haywire. Everything is straight, I swear. I made a square box as a router guide to cut it perfectly then finished the corners with the jig saw. The top and bottom of the table look bowed out too. Everything really is straight and square honest. Nothing would fit if it wasn’t. Down right embarrassing photo but I didn’t look at the pic after I resized it and it’s all I’ve got now to show the techniques. Please absorb the techniques and ignore the other parts of the pic.
One last thing, the underside of the tables were primed and painted after all the work was done. I did not spray the lacquer or poly here. In my opinion, the underside should at least be primed.
-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain