Question about a DIY table saw work station.

John Pollman

Member
Messages
1,105
Location
Rochester Hills, MI
Hi folks!

My condition is continuing to progress but I am fighting it as hard as I can. I have done some woodworking lately and really enjoyed it and been happy with the results. I have a fairly cheap Ryobi table saw that works, but it has an issue that I could probably fix if I wanted to. I'd really love a nice full-size table saw, but cost and mobility are an issue. I could buy a fairly decent smaller saw that would be easy to move around. I have seen many different designs for table saw work stations that you mount a small saw in and it greatly increases the work surface. But I'd really need a bigger fence system.

It doesn't really come down to just cost. I know it would cost to build a work station and buy a fence system. But overall, I really think that I would enjoy the project and have a nice work station that I could move around the shop when needed. Have any of you ever done this? If so, is it worth it?

Thanks for any input you may have!
 

Bill Arnold

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7,896
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Thomasville, GA
When I got more interested in serious woodworking, my first table saw was a Craftsman contractor saw. To mobilize it and give more work surface, I built the cabinet shown below. The extension table folded down when not in use. This worked for me because I had to keep my tools on my half of a two-car garage. Most of the time, the saw was positioned by the garage door and I'd raise the extension to reach past the door opening. The top center area of the cabinet was for dust collection with a hose port in back. Hope this gives you some thoughts.

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Charles Lent

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Central North Carolina
With a smaller table saw, it's usually the fence that gives the most trouble and the desire for a better saw. If the fence is acceptable, then it's the motor size that becomes unacceptable. Recent smaller saws have universal motors, like electric drills, and they scream when used, so the noise becomes a problem. Another issue is the small saw table size, but this is usually the easiest for a woodworker to correct. Now days people want control of the saw dust too.

So, finding and choosing a table saw that meets your needs and budget usually becomes a trade-off. There seems to be no such thing as a perfect table saw, except the better quality and very expensive new models, but in my opinion, I'm not happy with the new ones either. I've owned about 5 different table saws in my life, some with crappy fences, some with very small motors, and one that was far too noisy. I good old fashioned induction type motor and belt drive is the quietest. 1.5 hp and larger is great and good enough for home shop needs. A good T style fence that rides and locks on a solid front rail seems best. A large table is desired too, but this is a relatively easy fix for woodworkers. Then, sawdust control is a consideration, and finally, can you afford it. I was never happy with any of the saws that I've owned, even some of those purchased new, until the one that I bought 15 years ago. It will likely be inherited and used by #2 son and it will likely last his life too.

15 years ago I went with a clean mid 80's Unisaw with a 52" Unifence and side table. It has a 3 hp single phase motor and was in running and cutting condition when I bought it for $450. I replaced the arbor and motor bearings and the belts, for a total of less than $50. Then I cleaned and adjusted it and the fence for accuracy. It came with a pop-up splitter, so I can use it whenever ripping solid wood to reduce the chance of binding the blade and resulting kick-back.

This is the best saw by far that I've ever owned. Since the purchase, I have added a Wixey digital readout, a DIY out feed table, and bought a Uni-T-Fence extrusion from Peachtree woodworking, adding to my saw cost another $340. The original Unifence extrusion is great, since it can be adjusted for length and can be set for a high or low fence, but it has no T slots. The Uni-T-Fence is a rectangular extrusion that has the T slots, and it's possible to switch back and forth with the original fence easily when the benefits of one or the other are desired. I also added two Grrippers to improve the safety of feeding wood to the saw and have a ceiling mounted laser line generator with a wireless remote, also for improved safety. It shows where the blade is on the top of the work, a cut line to keep me from putting my hands there. If my fingers ever have a red line on them, they are in the wrong place. This is great when blind cutting dados, etc., but handy for safety whenever using the saw. I no longer have a desire for a better saw. I can cut a board to width, move the fence away and cut another, and then move the fence back to the width of the first board and make another. When measured with digital calipers, the first board and this last one are within 0.003" of each other in width. In woodworking, I don't have a need for anything better than that. My only wish is that it had better saw dust control, but most of it ends up in the cabinet below the saw, and I get to shovel it out. I have most of a ceiling mounted Brett Guard that I will be adding above the blade, as soon as I can make the missing parts. I've never liked any other blade guard that I've tried using, but the Brett Guard design seems like it will work for me.

I'm not trying to sell you on replacing your present saw, or even buying a new saw. This is only to show that a good saw can be found that does most of everything desired, for less than $1,000, if you are willing to do some work on it. Figure out what you really need and want in your saw, and then look for what has it, or most of it, that is also within your budget or nearly so.

Charley
 

bill kaminski

Member
Messages
92
I have a Grizzly 1023..bought12-15 years ago. Same as C. Lent, does everything I need. Also a new arbor(3yrs ago), and new belts.
I paid $300. Look for something along these lines..you will not be sorry.

Mr. Lent..tell me about the Uni-T fence, I am considering purchase.
 

Darren Wright

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Staff member
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16,798
Location
Kansas City, Missouri
I have a 30+ year old Delta contractors saw that I put pretty much on the same cabinet as Bill's. I don't have a recent pic, but the center drawer section was removed and an angled panel was added to add a dust collection port to the bottom/back of the cabinet. I also added on the router table on the side a few years back. I have a fence extension I can add to the table saw fence for zero clearance inserts and dust collection on the router.
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Charles Lent

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Messages
297
Location
Central North Carolina
Bill,
A Unifence has a carriage that rides along a single front rail and locks in place with one lever. There are adjustment screws on the face of it to calibrate the fence to be parallel with the blade and miter slots. An aluminum extrusion makes up the actual fence and is attached to the carriage via a wide T slot in the back side of the extrusion. A plate with 2 studs slides into this T slot then the studs through holes in the carriage and two wing nuts secures it to the carriage. You can slide the fence forward or back for long or short fence positions, or swap the plate to the opposite sides and turn the fence end for end to use it on the other side of the blade. There is a second wide T slot on the bottom. This lets you lay the fence down and attach it to the carriage the same way. This gives you a low 1/2" high fence option that is quite handy fro some sawing needs.

The big problem with this original fence extrusion is that there are no T slots for attaching Board Buddies, Featherboards, etc easily to this fence, but Peachtree Woodworking sells a Uni-T-Fence extrusion that attaches to the Unifence carriage the same way. It is more of a rectangular end shape and it has T slots on the top as well as the face side. It also has a HDPE plastic rub strip on the facing side to make it easier to slide work along the fence. Peachtree also sells a 16" length of this fence extrusion, so it can be used either as a short fence, or as a stop to use when cutting many pieces to exact length while using a miter gauge. With any of these fences, it's easy to move the extrusion forward or back so the working part of the fence can be any length that you want. I switch my fence extrusions frequently, and use the one that best suits what I'm doing. The fence carriage can be unlocked from the front rail any time by just releasing the lock handle, and then turning the handle slightly. The dog on the end of the lock lever is tapered slightly, so doing this will let it pull out of the slot in the front rail. Move it to the other side of the blade, slide the dog into the slot in the front rail, and it's ready to use, of course, after you have moved the fence extrusion to the opposite side of the Unifence carriage.

I added a Wixey DRO to my Unifence. To do this I added 4" long pieces of 1/2" X 1/2" square tubing cantilevered out from under the Unifence rail. Then attached the Wixey extruded encoder rails to these square pipes. This put the readout module in a perfect position for me to attach a piece of steel to each side of the Unifence carriage so that it magnetically connects the readout module to either side of the Unifence carriage. When using it, I can set it to 1.00" and rip a piece of wood to 1" width. Then move the fence and make several other cuts. Then move the fence back to 1.00" and cut a second piece of wood to 1". When I measure this piece of wood and compare it's width to the first piece using digital calipers, they are within 0.003" of each other in width. I don't need a saw or fence system that is better than this.

What else would you like to know about a Unifence? Oh, they come in 36" or 52" capability with the 2 different front rail lengths and you can't buy them new any more. They are also highly sought after, so a used one in good condition could cost you $200 or more.
Unisaws are no longer being made either. Finding a used Unisaw in good condition with a Unifence already on it, also in good condition is a very rare find, but I got very lucky. New bearings and belts, and a thorough cleaning, plus a plastic side cover for over the motor, and I am no longer looking for a better saw. I found it 15 years ago. My total investment was $850.

Charley
 
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