Monday, May 21, 2012

Convert a circular saw to a table saw

Since writing this update I have made a better and safer table saw

I have seen videos on the web and instructions on how to do so and decided to try this out. Having seen so much on push sticks and feather boards and the dangers of careless use of a table saw, I decided to treat the project with a lot of respect and caution.

I have a skil circular saw. The table is made of one inch block wood.

Step 1 :  Drill holes into the base plate of the saw. The base plate of this saw cannot be removed. Therefore the holes are not symmetric
Four holes drilled at the edges of the base plate 

Step 2. Place the saw on the underside of the wood and mark out these holes. Drill through the wood at these points.

Step 3. Mark the position of the blade.

4. Using a router and many passes, make a long linear hole in the wood.

5. Using a router rout out small counter sink holes on the upper side of the wood.

The table showing routed groove for the blade, holes with routed counter sink holes.

6. Using nuts and bolts fix the table saw on the board.

7. Using a clamp, hold down the switch of the table saw so this can be kept on all the time.

8. Positioning the table saw. The only place that I can position this well enough is the kitchen. Instead of saw horses or a real table I position the plank of wood over two identical bedroom shelves.

The table saw placed on two shelves of identical height

9. Guide. Given that the saw blade is not exactly parallel to the routed groove, the edge guide has to be placed parallel to the blade. To do so just insert a block of wood of the desired thickness and place the edge guide flush with it. I use a small piece of left over wooden decorative beading. I plan to upgrade this to an aluminium piece later
Positioning the guide rail parallel to the blade

10. Push sticks : Though not very pretty these serve the purpose. I never get my fingers anywhere near the blade.

Always use push sticks to feed the wood when near the blade
11. Feather board. I still have not exactly thought about how I would attach it, but I am building a feather board using strips of veneer wood
12. Extension box. The on off switch is near me in case of an emergency. This is the final assembly after I had cut a one inch thick strip of veneer wood.

The table saw with a cut piece of veneer placed  next to the blade

CAUTION  :  Although this is simple to use the design is potentially extremely dangerous. Please use push sticks for feeding the material in and wear appropriate eye protection. There is no blade guard. I plan to add these in due course.
Upadate : June 6th 2012 Although the saw can work in this configuration this is not something I would use at all for routine cutting in its present configuration. Many of the readers have contributed safety necessities in their comments.  I would probably just use it in its present configuration for just a few cuts until I install a proper table fence, splitter and blade guards. I will add updates to this post as the safety features are installed.

My experience with the table saw.
It is very noisy for someone in an apartment. But it cuts so clean. I always thought one had to push the wood with a lot of force. I was surprised as to how easy the blade cuts through wood and very little pressure is needed to feed the wood in. I was delighted to be able to get accurate cuts in thin veneer. I managed to get a five foot piece of veneer just 4 mm wide.  This would have been impossible with the circular saw. Trimming edges is now very easy. I have not tried any serious wood cutting with this as I am still making feather board and will do so after that is installed and I have a better guide rail. Later additions may perhaps be a portable saw horse, blade guards and a table extension. I may also replace the base wood with slightly thinner wood to get a bit of height on the blade. However if used with care I think this will be an alternative to a commercial table saw once all safety features are added. 


  1. Fantastic! Innovation is the key to all things and you have shown an amazing aptitude for the same. Congratulations. This is a simple and elegant solution. My only advice is please invest in a good quality straigh edge. Stanley Tools sell some very good quality edge guides which cost less than 2000 rupees for 36 inches. Look for it and get one. This will not only improve accuracy but will also make your sawing safer. Try to design a splitter or riving knife as it is called. This would greatly add to the safety of your makeshift table saw and prevent kick back. Also, make sure you do not stand just behind the piece of wood you are trying to saw. Best wishes.

  2. Thanks Indranil. I will work on these.

  3. Hey congrats. This should do the give you some more freedom in cutting pieces of wood. Coimbatore has lots of tool manufacturers you should explore the options available there. You could possibly even get one custom manufactured.
    Use manufactured wood to position the guide. MDF and Plywood will give you better tolerances ie on their thickness. Wood expands and contracts so unless you have wood which is stable your positioning of the edge guide may not be parallel to the blade.

    Keep in mind the blade height. The blade should be raised to a point where the top of surface of the wood being cut is halfway between the gullets of the blade. This will enable proper clearance of woods chips while the blade is cutting ensuring safety.
    Absolutely make sure you are wearing shatter proof glasses and
    avoid hanging jewellery long sleeve shirts.

    Also on electrical side cross check if your extension chord is rated for the current consumption of your saw. Indian manufacturers even reputed brands always over rate their products and almost never account for power factor correction. Tape or fix your switch/extension chord so that it does not fall away/go out of reach in a time of emergency.

  4. Thanks for your suggestions Kittu.

  5. You must be joking!!! This is so RIDICULOUSLY DANGEROUS that it should be removed from the web. Where to start? : nothing square to anything else, table top too small, way too low. And push sticks won't help when you didn't even attach the plank/table top to the shelves?!? This is the kind of makeshift contraption that causes most household accidents. So far you have been VERY, VERY LUCKY. Please get some advice on how to make a SAFE, STURDY TABLE for a circular saw. Or better yet, BUY ONE. If not, I hope you can type your next blog entry with 9 fingers - or less!

  6. Thanks for your your concern and pointing out these issues. Building a larger fixed table, and addressing safety features my priority. One has to start somewhere though.

  7. Hi Vinay, Thank you for your review on PROXXON DS 230 E. My. Name is Rafiq Ahmed. Can you please let me know if I can use this scroll Saw for commercial purpose. How long can this machine run continuously. I have all most decided to purchase this machine. Your advice will help me a lot.

    Awaiting your reply at the earliest.

    Best regards
    Rafiq Ahmed

    1. Thanks Rafiq.
      I have had the PROXXON DS 230 E for about a month or so now. I bought the PROXXON as this was the only available one in India. There are cheaper saws abroad.
      I have found that the saw can easily cut through 3-4mm thick wood such as plywood. I tried to cut 12mm thick finger jointed rubber and this was slow and seemed a strain on the machine.
      The machine looks small and feels a little under-powered for wood thicker than about 10 mm.
      I have used it for about an hour at a time.

    2. During the one hour there was no problems.
      My personal opinion is that it is a good machine to use commercially for wood sizes like 3-4 mm, and if you are going in for very delicate, thin work. However if you are planning to cut thicker wood, I am not sure if this is the one to buy. There are more powerful ones available abroad. It may be worth it to import one from amazon (depending on your commercial use).
      Hope this helps.

  8. I love it when people get bent out of shape about the dangers of these sorts of projects. Yes, you can buy really nice table saws that shoot an aluminum block into the blade -- stopping it instantly -- if a finger touches the spinning blade. But people got along reasonably well for hundreds of years before these devices were invented. Push sticks and a non-latching foot switch are probably the two biggest safety gains you can make, and both are extremely cheap.

    Don't drink. Wear eye and ear protection. Use push sticks. Enjoy all your fingers and sensory organs. :-)

  9. Hi,
    MDF board provide for high quality by geenpanelmax.

  10. Wow this is a very helpful guide. Been trying to convert mine. Even my woodworking pro uncle is finding it hard and that's why I've been researching hard. I find this very useful for us.

  11. Wonderful blog..!!!!
    So nicely you manage it..!!Kids Car Beds

  12. Since writing this update I have made a better and safer table saw. I have seen videos on the web and instructions on how to do so and ...

  13. Well, it’s a nice one, I have been looking for. Thanks for sharing such informative stuff.