The Incredible Expanding Table Saw

I have mentioned, in the past, my addiction to Craigslist. At this very moment I am waiting to hearing back about a JET pen lathe… but I’ll write about that if the seller calls me back.

This post is about my table saw. I picked it up originally from a Craigslist seller in semi-working condition for a mere $50, figuring it was worth the investment even if all I got was a pastime for a week or two trying to get it into shape.

More recently I noticed someone posting the same saw (well, the Delta version of my Rockwell saw), in much worse condition, without a motor or a fence, and missing its stand, for $300.

This was an absurdly high price, so I just laughed about it. A couple weeks later it was reposted for $200; and then again in a similar amount of time for $150.

At this point I decided to reply to the add, telling the seller about the deal I had gotten and that he would probably need to lower his price to move the saw. His reply: “$50 and it’s yours”.

At first I just laughed about it. I didn’t want the saw, I was just trying to help the guy out. But the more I thought about it, I began to feel like I might actually buy it. My rationale was this: It had its original stamped steel extensions, which I like better than the aluminum ones, and what if I could use the second table top as an extension as well?

The best extension wings you can buy are precision ground cast iron, so why not bolt a precision ground table top to the side of my existing top? Plus there was the chance I might need a replacement part at some point in the future… who knows?

So, I bought it.

It was in pretty rough shape, very rusty, but the wings were still straight.

I started working away at the rust with steel wool, but quickly moved to 150 grit sand paper on my random orbit sander.

I can hear you wincing and judging me. After all, the people on the woodworking forums all say that you’ll screw up your top with anything more than light wet-sanding with 400+ grit sandpaper.

However, on the metalworking forums, they seem to think you have to be very intentional to screw up a cast-iron surface significantly; and I wasn’t about to invest several weeks of elbow grease (yes, elbow grease is measured in time-based increments) in a cast iron top that I had picked up for $50.

I am happy to report that the sandpaper did not do any measurable harm.

The rust on the other hand…

The surface is definitely pitted and etched, but I think that it is acceptable over all: wood moves across it easily and stays flat and stable.

I treated the extension wings to the same process and got the same results.

So I had a usable set of extension wings and a second table for very little money and a few hours of elbow grease.

If you have read my post regarding my New table saw fence then you’ll recall that the space between the flush-mounted front and back fence rails was too narrow to fit my old extension wings. It was also, apparently, too small to fit the new extension wings and the new table top. This is due to my Rockwell table having a small “step” inwards about 1/2″ below the surface.

So even though the actual surface size is identical on the Rockwell and Delta saws, the fence mounts differently. So I removed the fence rails and re-installed them with a couple of washers stacked beneath each mounting bolt. This brought the fence out to the right width and allowed me to install the “new” extra wing and table top after drilling holes that lined up with the mounting holes in my fence rails.

One additional modification was to drill out the threaded mounting holes on the new table top. This was to allow me to pass a bolt through them and into the extension-mounting holes on my saw top (luckily these lined up perfectly)

The end result:

I’ll be making a blank insert to cover the hole for the non-existent insert on the second top. I had also thought about filling the extra miter slots with some aluminum bar stock I have, but I’ll wait and see, I can imagine it being useful to have extra miter slots.

I will be building a plywood cabinet underneath the new table, just to make sure it doesn’t tip over, and I’m thinking this may be a great place to house my shop vac.

So it’s not quite this:

But it’s as close as I’ll get with $100 worth of Craigslist purchases and an aftermarket fence.

Oh, and the guy emailed me back about the JET pen lathe: he already sold it to someone else. (I should have been checking Craigslist more frequently)

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5 thoughts on “The Incredible Expanding Table Saw

  1. Pingback: Table Saw: Support and Storage « GarageSandals

  2. Pingback: Table Saw Extension: Plugging the Hole « GarageSandals

  3. Pingback: DIY Moxon Vise « GarageSandals

  4. Pingback: ‘They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To’ « GarageSandals

  5. FWIW, if the plywood cabinet didn’t work out, you could get a cheap table with folding legs from an office supply store (or Craigslist) and remove one of the folding leg segments to support the new table.

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