Woodworking With a Portable Table Saw
This weekend I helped a good friend with some renovation work at his rental property and had the need of a table saw. While using my table saw in the middle of my living room temporary workshop, I realized that I have shared very little about important tools for renovation work.
Rather than buying the large garage workshop-sized table saw, my budget only allowed for a smaller model, a portable one from Sears which has served me very well. I’ve used it to build my kitchen cabinets and the box beams for my living and dining rooms as well as with dozens of other projects.
My thoughts and beliefs about woodworking have evolved over time. Although I greatly admire the traditional methods and tools, I would like to believe that quality craftsmanship is still possible with modern tools and what some might call “less-than-desirable” methods. (I have not yet mastered the dovetail joint.)
I hope that what I have done will acknowledge and honor the past traditions while adapting to modern times. My home is not in a historic district, just a small out-of-the-way blue collar neighborhood. Hopefully it shows that someone has loved it.
It’s difficult to get everything that I’d like to say about table saws in one post. Hopefully this will help anyone who is holding back because they don’t have a large garage workshop-sized table saw.
If you buy a portable model, you will probably want to secure it to a portable workbench as well. I screwed a piece of 2×4 to a piece of plywood to make my base. There are hole as well to bolt the table saw to the base. The 2×4 gives the adjustable clamping workbench top something to grip. It’s very secure this way.
You will probably also want to make a table saw sled which is very helpful for crosscutting. It should be constructed specifically to fit your table saw. After I made my base, this was the next thing that I made. After that, most basic jobs could be done rather easily.
There are different jigs that can be built to fit many specialized cutting tasks for a table saw. The most useful jig for me so far has been one for making tapered legs. Three other items that are important for safety: push sticks, eye protection, healthy respect for power tools.
Although many of my tools are modern and electricity-powered rather than muscle-powered, I feel that having a few auxiliary tools worn smooth by decades of use helps me to be grounded in the past. A foxtail shop brush, on long term loan from a friend, has come in very handy for clearing away sawdust.
(The photograph at the top shows my portable table saw bolted to its base and then clamped securely into my portable work bench. The sled for crosscutting is in place and the taper jig is resting on top of it rather than being in it’s proper place. The photograph at the bottom shows my sink cabinets and red oak countertop shortly after final installation. Both were made with the help of my portable table saw. This was the first piece of cabinetry I ever made.)