Last updated: March 23, 2017 at 18:09 pm
When bought, most good slandered tables saws come with an extension wing on its right-hand side. While useful, it can be a good idea to modify your table saw by removing this wing and replacing it with a router table. The main advantages to this is to make your table saw more convenient when used as well as requiring less room when in use or stored away. It’s cheap to create and with a built-in dust control system, the remaining clean up after a work session is much easier.
Measuring the Router table extension is important, you need to ensure that the modification is not too small or too large width wise. This width is an important measurement because it represents the gap between the saw table’s fence rails.
Too large and it won’t fit, too small and it won’t be uniform and it will look shoddy. As for depth, the choice is up to you. Regardless of choice, the overall depth cannot overextend, as this will make the saw table off balanced. Ideally, it should not go beyond 6 inches once the rails stop.
Now it’s time to build the frame using the measurements. Attaching the modification can be tricky, so by creating a frame, you will be able to install the modification much easier. To create this frame, you need to use solid, sturdy wood with the dimensions found earlier on so that the frame will fit in between the rails. Butt-joint the newly created frames with 2 inch screws and yellow glue. Use a wedge to support the top of the frame, the wedge should have a depth the same as the thickness of the bottom layer.
Begin to fit the frame now. The middle and top layers will be resting on the frame, so it is best when installing to have the top of the frame 8/16 inches lower than the cast iron saw surface. Mark where this location is. Once done, mark the locations of all the bolt holes for when you are attaching the frame to the table saw.
Drill each and every hole, ensuring to do so carefully so that the holes are in the right place whilst elongating all the drill holes for later height adjustments when needed.
Begin to bolt the frame to the table saws fence rails. Be aware that you may not be able to re-use the same fasteners that where originally used on the table saw and more may be needed. Once done, leave the frame in place as throughout the modification, you will be making minor adjustments to different components so it is easier to access the fasteners you just put in place.
The bottom layer will be fitted within the frame so measure the dimensions on the internal section of the frame. Once measured, cut and fit the plywood panel into the bottom of the frame. After you have installed it, there is a high change that the plywood will be blocking access to the fasteners installed earlier. Begin to mark all the fasteners that are blocked by the plywood then flip it over.
Then, carefully and gently cut away section of the plywood’s underbelly so that you are able to once again access the fasteners with wrenches onto the bolt heads. Later on, in the modification, the underside of the plywood will be covered with other material for a better finish so don’t worry about the damaged caused here.
Just be sure to not go too far and cause excessive or unsecure damage. When finished with creating access to the fastening, flip over the plywood again and check that the wrench can reach the bolt heads, if not, turn over and remove more. Now we should rout a recess in the top of the plywood to act as an internal dust conveying chamber. Begin to drill a hole for the vacuum connection. The rout should be half an inch deep.
Next, drill a 2-inch diameter vacuum outlet hole using a hole saw tool. The diameter for the bottom opening will depend on the size of your routers collet. Measure the largest diameter of your collet, with these measurements, ensure that your opening in the plywood is slightly larger but not too large, ideally around 1/8 of an inch at the most.
While the frame is still fitted to the saw, start to dry fit the plywood to the frame. The plywood should be flush with the top of the frame. Double check that the vacuum outlet is oriented to the back of the table saw. After you have checked, remove the frame.
The middle layer should be a made of MDF and the top should be a laminated layer. These layers will need to be cut large initially as you will be trimming them down later. Start by measuring the outside dimensions of the frame, then add an inch to the length and width. Doing this will create a small ½ inch overhang on all sides of the frame.
Using contact cement and a roller, start gluing the laminate work surface to the MDF layer. When bonded, use an inch to one and a half inch hole saw and drill a bit opening at the top in the centre. Now you have to glue the layers to the plywood. You must ensure that the top bit opening is aligned with the bottom bit opening.
Mark the position and glue the layers together. Do your best to avoid any glue getting into the vacuum chamber section. Ensure the layers do not slide out of place when clamped together. Once decided, fit the layers into the frame with the vacuum outlet towards the back. When done, glue the layers to the frame and clamp them into position.
When everything has set, begin to strip the layers of laminate and MDF with a flush trip bit, filing any sharp edges that remain. Afterwards, turn the table over and place the router over the bit opening. Now you must decide how you want the router positioned, keep in mind ease of access to the power switch and the motor clamps.
Drill holes that will be used or the router mounting screws. Be careful as you don’t want the holes to go through to the internal chamber and that the router is positioned correctly so the bit opening is still aligned with the top bit opening. Once done, flip the table back over and countersink the holes before fitting the two and a half inch dust port connection.
At this point, the table should fit the spec you measured whilst providing you access to the mounting bolts. When your table is loosely attached, add a straightedge onto the table surface of the table saw. Once done, quickly check that it is level and aligned correctly. Then, begin to bolt your modification into place, check that all bolts are tightly attached to prevent wobbling.