Excerpt from The Practical Workshop
by Eric Hedberg
Who says that table saws aren’t “hip?” This version of an outfeed table puts a little swing in one of the most useful but problematic tools in my shop, and like Duke Ellington says: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” In my cramped shop, this is especially true. Wall space has premium value, and precious little is available to hang accessories and supplies on. The only thing more precious is my floor space.
My table saw at home is a classic contractor saw. During any rip, the pieces run off the end of the table and drop on the motor. This is not exactly safe, nor good for the components for my projects. I needed a short outfeed table for most of my work, but on the long rips or bigger panels, I needed a table with more space. You can attach an outfeed table to most table saws, whether it’s a contractor saw like mine or a cabinet saw like the one in the Popular Woodworking shop shown here. By combining a few metal brackets, a piano hinge and a handful of nuts and bolts with my own version of a drop leaf table, I came up with my swingin’ new outfeed table that will work on almost any table saw to provide more workspace.
Getting in the Swing of Things
The outfeed table is made up of two pieces. The short table is 12″ x 40″. The swing table is 24″ x 40″. They can be made of any suitable panel material such as Baltic birch plywood or melamine. Cut the tops to size (don’t you wish you had an outfeed table?). A circular saw is fine, as absolute squareness is not necessary for them to function properly.
There are some minor steps to fit the short table to your saw. Part of that will be determined when you attach the mounting hardware to your saw. Each saw will require slightly different adjustments to mount the short table. You may need to leave more or less room between the saw and the short table’s aprons, depending on the mounting procedure. A ¾ ” x ⅛ ” rabbet was necessary to fit the table snug against the saw top on the Powermatic saw shown on page 97. Also, you’ll want to rout a couple of grooves to extend the miter gauge slots into the short table. Otherwise, your miter gauge bar will be blocked by the short table.
When you’ve finished the tabletops, it’s time to cut the parts for the apron pieces. The apron can be made from any suitable soft/ hardwood or even plywood stock you have available.
The legs are 1½ ” x 1½ ” and cut to a length appropriate for your table saw. Leg levelers, available from any hardware store or home center, added to the tips of all four legs allow you to easily make fine adjustments to the table height for a perfect match for your saw’s table.
Putting It All Together
Before assembling the aprons, mount the table saw hardware on the saw according to the directions included with the hardware. Center the front apron piece and mark locations for the brackets and screws. Remember to allow for the ¾ ” top when aligning the apron piece to the saw’s tabletop. Screw the brackets to the apron and tighten the bolts on the table saw. You can make adjustments at this stage to get the height just right without dealing with the completed table.
Now the fun starts. I used my pocket-hole jig and used pocket screws to assemble the small table and apron. Pocket screws are quick and easy to use and sufficiently strong to hold things together. If you like your biscuits, go for it. Just about any table-assembly method will work fine.
The back edge of the large tabletop will overhang the apron by 6″. This gives clearance for the legs of the drop leaf. I screwed the permanent legs to the inside of the apron and attached the folding legs using the folding table leg brackets (Rockler, item #39505, $15.99 per pair, 800-279-4441 or www.rockler.com). The folding legs are staggered to allow them to fold up. You can space them as you choose, but about ½ ” between them is just fine. Install the locking hinges first and then the legs. Make sure they swing in the correct direction.
With everything upside down on your bench, slide the swing part of the outfeed table up to the mating edge on the assembled short table. Install a piano hinge to the underside of the two tables, bridging the gap. Be careful to center the barrel of the hinge on the gap. When the swing table is opened, the hinge will be at a 90° angle.
Now hang the assembly on the saw. This is a good time to tune up the leg lengths and bracket adjustments. Lift the assembly off the saw to make these adjustments.
Hitting the Floor
When everything looks satisfactory, reinstall the assembly on the back of your table saw. Check the assembled outfeed table for operation and seal and finish the table as you choose. Most of the time you will probably, like me, find the short outfeed table sufficient, but when those panels and long pieces show up, your outfeed table will be ready to swing into action at a moment’s notice.