|Project by Wolfdrool||posted 02-25-2014 06:20 PM||2356 views||2 times favorited||3 comments|
Before starting, let me apologize for the mess around the table saw center. The project is nearly complete now, but it’s still in progress with just a few more items to complete. After these last steps are finished, it will be time to reorganize and clean the shop around this new center. Dust control is the main task remaining. My saw does a poor job of collecting dust, so I am making a dust control system that isn’t up to snuff yet.
The table saw center works better than I had hoped at this point, but my scrap heap to get to this point is immense.
Before discussing the photos below, I’ll summarize the features. The system uses an Incra fence system as the foundation for infeed and outfeed tables and a dual crosscut sled system. The Incra fence rails make attachments easy because they have generous t-slot capacity. The infeed and outfeed tables include PRIMARY units that are fixed and SECONDARY units that quickly attach and detach for storage. Plus, the secondary tables can slide side to side through a 3 foot range to support different operations at the saw. For very large panels, I made a 6 foot long sled that operates on the right side of the saw blade with an 8 foot long offcut support panel on the left side of the blade. I have 12 feet to the right of the saw blade before you run into shelving. The capacity of the right sled, therefore, is significant.
Using the right sled requires that the fence be removed, though. Since 95% of my panel cutting does not involve crosscutting giant pieces, I made a smaller but still sizeable sled for the left side cutting. There is about 4 feet from my saw blade to the wall on the left. So, I can crosscut about 40 inches deep through a panel whose end is up to 48 inches to the left when using this “smaller” sled.
Both sleds, realistically, are sizeable. But they are easy to use. Also, being single runner sleds like the Incra Miter 5000, the sleds can be half the size of a double runner sled and still get the same capacity. One of the drawbacks of a single runner sled is that there might be no offcut support to support and help push offcuts through the blade. But, I made an auxiliary arm that serves that function pretty good when needed. Without this support, a large panel can split at the back njear the end of a cut. The auxiliary arm includes a support fence for the offcut and is positioned to form a tunnel that travels over the saw blade. A cut is complete when the fence is just a little over halfway through the blade, so the top beam on the auxiliary arm and the saw blade splitter never clash. I have a second, similar extension arm that can mount to the fence on the other side to act as a stop for long pieces up to 96 inches from the saw blade to the right and 48 inches if I’m using the left sled.
When both the secondary infeed and outfeed tables are installed, the system easily supports full size sheet goods for ripping. Or long boards. The 6-foot sled works so effortlessly, though I may build and test a longer sled to handle full size sheets. The system has the capacity for that, but ripping with so much infeed and outfeed support works pretty well, so that may be an option I never tackle.
My sleds use Rockler aluminum extrusions for fences. The main faces have upper and lower t-slots. The top and bottom also have slots. I have a main stop formed from a Rockler right angle bracket. Very stable and easy to position. I use secondary, smaller stops to be able to return the main stop to up to two different locations. They can work like a kerfmaker if you position them to cut a dado of a desired width, for instance. One picture mentioned below shows the smaller stops in the bottom slot of the fence, but they are usually in the top t-slot so they are above the panel being cut.
How did this start? I have a Bosch 4000 table saw. The saw had been good for ripping operations, but the table size in front of the blade is so small, it is too small on its own to handle crosscutting of any significance. Another thing I don’t like about the saw are the miter slots. They are machined wider than is standard. It’s been quite irritating because very few after-market accessories fit the slots without modification. For example, to get a featherboard to lock down, you have to wrap the expanding bars with a couple bands of masking tape. But then I discovered when working on this project that the Rockler ¾ inch t-track is almost a perfect fit for the too-wide miter slots. And the track is very stable and easy to mount in a shallow ¾ inch groove on the sled bases. Mount the track, cover the runners with a single wrap of burnished masking tape, trim the excess and the fit is pretty darn good. You think masking tape won’t last as a bearing surface? My original tape is still on the runners and doesn’t need replacement yet notwithstanding extensive use to build this system and other items along the way. The tape is easy to remove and refresh when the time comes anyway.
In late November, I accidentally crushed the original factory fence over-tightening a tall auxiliary fence. Should I get a new saw that is bigger or opt for an after-market fence and build a work center? I opted for an aftermarket Incra fence with the plan to use the new fence as a foundation for a table saw center that would allow me to more easily handle sheet goods and other operations at the saw. Having used the new Incra fence quite a bit for about two months now, I really like it a lot. The precision is excellent. It was easy to set up, and it helps turn a modest saw into a saw center with some great capabilities. I used a digital angle to level the fence rails to the saw table. Then I used an analog guage to square up the fence and the saw blade to the miter slots. I was amazed at how out of square my saw blade was! With everything square, workpieces move through the system like butter. I really like the Incra fence system a lot. Plus, I notice now that Chris Paolini uses this system in the photos in his great books on cabinet making. The fence does not glide as effortlessly back and forth as would be optimum, but its precision, repeatability, and ease of installation more than make up for this. I would buy it again.
My saw is nearly ten years old now. What if it gasps it’s last breath after all this work? All the components are modular and can be detached and used on a replacement unit if that need arises, which I hope it won’t.
Fig. 1a and 1b: First step in the upgrade was to mount the saw on a support table and then mount the new Incra fence system. I scavenged the table from a panel crosscut station I had.
Fig. 1c and 1d: These show the primary infeed and outfeed tables mounted to the Incra rails. Later, I added support legs to the infeed table. These were not needed until I attached the secondary infeed table, though. Neither of the secondary infeed or outfeed tables had quick connect hardware on them yet for installing the secondary tables as at that point in time I had not contemplated adding more table capacity.
Figs 2a -2d: These show the secondary infeed and outfeed tables mounted to the saw. The larger, right side sled system also is on the saw. In Fig. 2b, you can see how the infeed table is positioned to the left so I can stand on the right and operate the sled. Note the factory saw guard and splitter remain in place. The sled is 6 feet long and can crosscut a panel up to 5.5 feet and still be able to use the Rockler clamp hold downs to secure the panel to the sled. I used Rockler hold downs, as seen in Fig. 2b. These are much better than toggle clamps or Kreg holders, although I really like the Kreg holders for other uses such as creating table vises, holding workpieces down in other situations, etc. Toggle clamps and the Kreg holders, though, tend to pull the workpiece away from the fence and toward the clamp base when clamping. Plus, they exert enough force to pull up on the t-track pretty significantly. The track is held in place with 1/2 inch #6 screws, and even these had to have their projecting tips filed down on the bottom side of the sleds. The Rockler hold downs exert a nice vertical force when you tighten them, and they grip great with moderate tightness, so no worries about pulling the t-track out. Plus, while one end of the hold down pushes down on the workpiece, the heel end pushes down on the track to further minimize the risk of a pullout. In these Figures, I’ve got a mere 1×4 clamped to the fence.
Figs. 3a and 3b: These show the offcut accessory arm that helps to support and push the offcut during crosscutting. This goes a long way toward overcoming a main weakness of a single runner sled. This is not so important for a 1×4, but is desirable when crosscutting larger panels to avoid cracking the panel at the end of a cut. Fig. 3b shows the tunnel that goes over the saw blade. The top beam of the auxiliary arm will not go past the splitter behind the saw blade, but it doesn’t need to. The cut is finished inches before the beam gets near the splitter. IMPORTANT: Before cutting with the auxiliary arm, make sure the top beam clears the saw blade!
Figs. 3c and 3d hint at the capacity of the right side sled. The panel clamped to the sled is four feet long, and I still have more than a foot of cross cut capacity left. How square does it cut? William Ng has an excellent YouTube video on using his 5-cut method to square up sled fences, and that worked like a charm here. I got to 0.002 inches square per 24 inches of cut using Mr. Ng’s method. The long sled cuts more accurately, I’m sure, than I can assemble parts. Fig. 3d shows the main stop and the two small stops. The two small stops should be in the top t-slot, not the bottom one. On the bottom, they can be in the way if cutting a wider panel. The small stops are used mainly to create a memory for locating the main stop. I also store the sleds with small stops against the fence in case storage and transport jostles the fence.
Figs. 4a-4d show how the system is set up for ripping. In Fig. 4a and 4b, I’ve removed the right side sled system. The secondary infeed table is still to the left. In Fig. 4c, I’ve moved the infeed table to the right where it is now positioned optimally for ripping. Fig. 4d shows the capacity for supporting a 2 foot x 8 foot panel to be ripped to 8 inches.
Fig. 5a shows an early PROTOTYPE way to mount inexpensive, adjustable legs. In this early design, I use ½ emt pipe and a single pipe bracket to mount the leg that adjusts up and down. I have a stop collar on the leg, too, for precise replacement if the leg is removed for storage. A single bracket allows the leg to pivot and splay too easily, though. IMPORTANT: Because of this, the final design uses a pair of brackets to mount each leg. Two brackets is much, much sturdier. I used ½ inch PVC caps as feet and caps on the legs. After adding the second bracket, there was not enough room for a top cap. But the PVC caps make great feet and fit on the EMT with a snug friction fit.
Fig. 5b shows a roller assist to help get sheet goods up onto the infeed table. This is not mounted to the table apron directly, but to two pipe brackets. Mounting to the table directly was not strong enough, but using the brackets works great. Plus, I can adjust the roller height up and down such as if I use a sled and need the roller to be higher.
Figs. 5c and 5d show the first prototype quick connect system for mounting the secondary tables to the primary tables. The prototype uses very large pipe brackets. I switched to the smaller ones in Fig. 5a. Also, by using smaller brackets, I could flip the two that function as hands so that the bracket bolts then act as microadjust levelers instead of locking clamps. To lock the table in place, I added a third bracket, oriented a little different, that is spring mounted in a slot to move up and down and in and out. After microadjusting the table level via the hands, tightening the locking bracket holds the table in position securely. The infeed table needed this lock. So far, the outfeed table does not.
Figs. 6a to Figs. 6d show the “smaller” crosscut sled used on the left side of the saw blade. The capacity is still significant. This sled crosscuts up to about 40 inches. The pictures show a 36 inch long panel.