A Tiny Custom Table Saw


If you’re working with small parts, even the smallest table saw available at Home Depot or Lowes is generally overkill. For cutting up small pieces of wood, metal, and copper-clad board, a micro table saw is a great investment. They’re actually pretty inexpensive, but why just buy one when you can make one that is better than any model on the market?

The bed is constructed out of 1/4″ aluminum plate with a 1/15 horsepower motor bolted to the underside. The fence clamps on to the table with a pair of delrin brackets, while the angle guide is made of delrin and a brass bar that fits into a slot in the table.

The actual blades came from a Proxxon micro table saw (a very good brand from our experience), but comparing this homemade saw to the commercial one provides a few surprises: The Proxxon has a more powerful motor, but the homebrew version has four times the cutting capacity. You can check out this saw cutting a 1/4″ aluminum bar in the video after the break.

Thanks [Hubert] for sending this one in.


33 thoughts on “A Tiny Custom Table Saw

    1. I remember colbert talking about it in relation to that saw-stop invention, so I looked up the data:

      “The most recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicated that 66,900 people receive emergency room treatment each year for table saw and bench-top related injuries at a cost of $2.3 billion. The annual injury total includes about 3,500 amputations.”

      That’s about 9.5 amputation per day in the US, although that’s offset by the 350 million people and countless table-saws of course. (And that 2.3 billion amount mentioned is offset by the crazy prices for healthcare in the US.)

      But these numbers are about table saws with most all having guards over them.

      1. “with most all having guards over them.”

        I don’t have any firm numbers, but you might be surprised how many of those I’ve seen with the guard intentionally removed. I’m under the impression that this is a common thing among contractors so that it doesn’t slow them down when they want to do something where the guard would, otherwise, get in the way.

        1. We have a table saw at home that I’ve removed the guard from. I used the table saw in the high-school shop class with no guard, and when we got our own here I found material would constantly get caught on the guard, so you’d have to reach over to the guard and lift it up just to get the material to move.

          1. I’m a contractor and furniture builder and the first thing I do with a new saw is remove the guard. Most tablesaws with functional blade guards up top actually serve more as dust collection than safety. The riving knife has replaced the blade guard as the industry standard.

            All that said, I’m very intentional about safety since I have no insurance and any accident would likely ruin my livelihood. With proper support from feather boards and push sticks or blocks one can have a healthy and productive career using potentially dangerous saws. With one slip-up or stupid mistake all the safety gear in the world can amount for nothing.

            And he should use two hands. That’s what camera tripods are for.

        2. The guard is a lot like the safety on a gun. By no means does it prevent you from doing something stupid. It’s mean to protect you against casual failure /some/ of the time, but the thing’s still damned dangerous. The Saw Stop is a lot better of a system except that its false positive rate is a little too high for some people since it’s $70 per auto-stop.

        3. I work for a PBS television station, and there are several woodworking shows that we air regularly. One in particular, where they are downright pendantic about safety (a 26 minute show, 4 minutes of intro and credits, and probably 10 minutes of “wear safety glasses”, “wear this”, etc), and their table saw has no gaurd, nor ever a mention of one. Granted, they always use push sticks, featherboards, etc; and mention their safe use.

          I personally think blade guards wouldn’t even come standard on new saws if they were not mandated by law.

          1. Probably more useful than a guard is a “riving knife” positioned behind the blade (where it rises from the table surface). I’ve seen one good video of the effects of slightly rotating a piece of wood on a table saw with no riving knife – the wood is caught and flung violently upwards towards the operator. The knife looks to be no more than a sturdy piece of sheet steel, the same thickness as the saw blade kerf.

          2. Is that ol, Norm at new yankee workshop? My wife always cracks jokes about the safety lectures preceding any new project, then she says she would totally leave me for him :(

  1. Nice work, but it would be so much hassle and costly from my perspective just getting the parts, let alone having the skill and precision to get a nice final product like this.
    Plus I don’t trust myself with table saws, which brings me to the question why is there no protective guard on this one? There is on the proxxon used as example
    And while I mention protection: NEVER use such overly long sleeves while operating tools, that’s just basic..

  2. Cool! Now he needs to make a miniature saw-stop system for it. I’d probably use a bit stronger motor though, not that I really know anything about the hp ratio it would need or whatever, but just that it sounds like it slowed down q fair bit to cut that metal, but it works great as is.

    Another thing, he should 3d print a shield for above the blade, that would be cool.

  3. Great little saw. Maybe a little underpowered, but hey, you’re cutting 1/4″ thick aluminium with a tiny saw blade!

    As for protection – I really don’t think you’ll do yourself much accidental damage with something this small.

    1. You must be very controlled because I can harm myself with things much tamer and smaller.
      And maybe the builder is very deft too.
      And it’s up to the person building it how safe he wants to be anyway really, I give you that.

    1. May be bad, but asbestos? I’m not sure I’d compare it to that.

      And you specify the copper I notice, who the hell came up with the idea copper is so bad? I’ve seen others go for that and I think there is some source that spreads some scare stories about copper that seems to grab people.
      I once saw somebody go quite panicky about copper used as a pan, and it was so weird, I mean most plumbing is copper and they sell copper pans in every country on the world, but he was convinced it was certain death. Maybe confusing it with lead? Or in fact aluminum, which is not advised to be used to cook in since it damages the brain with ingestion I understand. But I’m not sure aluminium is that bad to inhale (although all small particles are bad in some way to inhale, but I mean significantly more bad that normal).
      But no copper isn’t mercury.

        1. Azbestos particles are fibers similiar to fiberglass, just smaller. So I would imagine breathing fiberglass dust isn’t healthy.

          BTW, on cellular level copper is also considered heavy metal like lead and is toxic – copper ions are used as biocide in watercooling setups.

  4. I stuck a finger in a running tablesaw blade once about 20 yr ago. Once. And while I was doing it my brain was saying, “Why are you doing that?” Then my motor control function caught up and yanked out the finger before really serious damage (it removed a chunk and hurt enough, but healed up fine).
    There is nothing like that kind of experience to wake up the “Be Careful” mode when using power tools.
    On a table saw I have discovered that if you NEVER take your (one remaining) eye off a spinning blade you will be OK. That means you have your work positioned, junk cleared away, and the workpiece held properly before you turn on the saw and then your eyes stay on the blade until it stops spinning. My experience (a lot, I build furniture and cabinets and such) suggests this is an excellent way to keep your body parts out of harm’s way. Train your peripheral vision to see stuff around, but do not stop looking at that spinning blade. And use a push stick or something like that.

    1. It’s easy to get too relaxed with such things, and then it becomes tricky for a good part of the population. But I think there are people who just have a natural sense of their limbs at all times who are OK, but I know I’m not that kind of person myself though.
      And when dealing with crowds it’s best to assume at least half need some good safety measures to be present at some point.

  5. Interesting things Circular saws. They include some counter intuitive features, like you are more likely to have an accident with the blade only partially exposed, although a fully exposed blade may cause more damage. If the blade is partially exposed and catches, the blade exerts force horizontally, against you, and chances are, you will loose. A fully exposed blade on the other hand fights against the table, and the table wins. No easy choices, but I tend to go with a fully exposed blade.

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