Circular Saw To Table Saw Conversion

Corded circular saws are a dime-a-dozen at any old thrift store, yet table saws are a bit more of a costly investment — have you ever wondered if you could just make one out of a circular saw? [Matthias Wandel] did, and he just so happens to be very good at woodworking! He makes a lot of great woodworking videos to share on YouTube, and in his latest blog post, he shows us a rather elaborate way to convert a plain old circular saw, into a functional table saw.

While the concept seems simple, unless you do a lot of woodworking, you’ll probably marvel at how easily making things comes to [Matthias] — we know we did. By the end of the video he has a fully functional table saw that can raise and lower in height, and cut at different angles.

If you’re interested in making one yourself, he does a very thorough job explaining the process in his video — check it out after the break!

Does his voice sound familiar? This is the guy that brought us an extremely loud wooden air raid siren — remember that? In fact, we covered a lot of his projects, including a fascinating interview with him!

[Thanks Ryoku!]

90 thoughts on “Circular Saw To Table Saw Conversion

    1. When it comes to table saws I always say when and not if you cut something off. I think they are the most dangerous tool ever made. I know people who have cut off fingers or thumbs on chop saw and even a portable 7 inch circular saw and those are not as dangerous as a table saw. I can make almost any cut without a table saw so I almost never use a table saw and if I have to I use a table saw I use a 4 foot long push stick that I made to keep my hands at least 2 feet from the saw blade. I never put my hand over the table at all when the saw is on. In high school woodshop we had to get 100% on the safety test or were not allowed to use the table saw. The end of the first month a student cut a finger off on the table saw. I know a lot of people who lost fingers to a table saw. One cabinet maker lost three fingers on one hand and another cabinet maker had his big toe removed and put in place of the thumb he lost to the saw. My cousin is very dangerous and never follows any safety rules with the saw and said he use one all his life and never had a problem. I asked him if he knows anyone who has had a problem. He said his son lost a finger a few years ago (doing what his dad his did I think). A picture framer I know had a glove on that got caught in the blade and pulled his thumb in. Before that happened, I tried to get this picture framer to make me a special push stick and we could get them to people we know who use table saws. He said he was too busy and would not even make me one or for himself. Even after this he still is not interested in working with me to make a set of push sticks. Another fellow had turned off his chop saw and it was still slowing down when his grandchild ran up behind him and distracted him. When he turned around his thumb hit the blade and cut his thumb off. A construction carpenter had his table saw sitting on the ground with the red safety switch hanging out by the wires. I told him we should fix that and set it up as I thought it was dangerous that way. He said he had use it that way for a long time and did not have time to fix it. I would not have charged him to help him fix it. The next time I talked to him he had cut off a finger in the saw. This is only a short list of the people I know and who have rejected any help from me or my ideas on how to use a table saw. I am 65 years old and still have all my fingers and toes.

  1. My dad turned his circle saw into a table saw when I was a kid. He built a table, routed an openingfor the saw, laid the circular saw blade up in the opening. No blade prprotection, but most table saws did in the 60s. You could pick the saw up out of the preening to adjust the blade height. He used black tape to hold down the trigger, and wired up a switchable outlet attached to the table.

      1. my thought in submitting is a regulating step/kick plate to actuate this hazard. I had the shop teacher in HS with three fingers on one hand. I’ve always used a push bar but some people can’t be convinced unless there is a precedence, a required step in the tutorial of admissibility.

        while its useful to some its dangerous to all. I could imagine a few setups but I though in the spirit of the hack it should be left up to the community to cobble together the solution to the rest of the problem, primarily safety.

        if there where similar hacks for a router or a scroll saw, how would you solve the safety issue? what makes an industrial piece of equipment safer than a hand tool? answer that and come up with a solution from the outlet!

        1. I am in awe, complete and absolute awe. Not sure but there’s a good chance my mouth hung open through entire video (did have to close it at the end). The detail was beautiful. Extremely detailed mind at work. Just beautiful. I want THOSE thought processes.


    1. Interesting video. I assume it works by detecting the conductive path to activate a shutdown. Could be an issue in a damp construction environment but the website does show a contractor model. Wonder why it is not more popular on all table saws or is it a liability or marketing issue? Like admitting your other regular offerings are not as safe as they could be???

          1. The inventor of the SawStop is a patent attorney who lobbied for legislation to make his encumbered technology mandatory in all table saws sold in California. Since the bill died in the California Senate, he’s turned to the federal government. Background:


            Table saws are one of the most dangerous tools in a woodworking shop, but it’s not right to rig an entire form of craft to line this guy’s pockets IMO.

          2. Might not be right to have a law support a patentholder, but seeing half the bills past the last 20 to 50 years are to benefit some rich guys or companies, often to support failed/outdated business models, with no benefit for any regular citizen, it would make a nice change to have something passed that also benefited joe average by keeping him from getting maimed perhaps.

          3. Hindsight is 20/20 and if a SawStop prevented a serious injury then the system would be well worth it. But if is a mighty big word. What is more sure is what the SawStop costs up front. That is a significant financial barrier to many people too. Most average Joes would not have to worry about getting hurt by power tools because they would never be able to afford to purchase one in the first place. Go on their website, go learn all about a SawStop. Read their user’s manual. I found page 65 extremely interesting myself. Titled, “What to do if the SawStop® Safety System Activates”.

            Yeah, get out your check book because this one’s gonna cost you kiddo!

          4. When I was in high school, the Woodshop instructor would open each safety lecture on a machine with, “watch in amazement as my fingers never leave the hand…”

            It’s a nice little piece of engineering that will add $800+ to the cost of a table saw. Don’t forget the $150-$200 to replace the SawStop “break” and the saw blade each time that it activates. There’s a Youtube slow-motion video showing the brake in action when triggered, very neat. Nice to have feature in the few cases of accidents where operator error, a poor work environment, or other preventable causes could not have resulted in a safer outcome.

            I find that thinking through what I’m about to do is a lot better than reinforcing a bad habit of not taking proper precautions (because the machine will protect me from harm). Use a riving knife, an overarm blade guard, and a properly adjusted rip fence to minimize the risk of running your hand through the running blade when you rip a long board from the side of the machine and reach across to grab your beer… or take up stamp collecting. As it so happens, I have a patented device for protecting you from the hazards of licking stamps…

        1. “The company that sells them refuses to license their technology.”

          You have this backwards. Every major player in the table saw industry refused to license the technology, so the inventor had to found a company, Saw Stop, to market the safety system.

          See Wikipedia for details. []

      1. There is another ‘safe saw’ out there. I think it is Bosch. But both SawStop and Bosch are pretty pricy. Comparatively few woodworkers can afford them. But they are shipping and making money.

      1. If you’re cutting damp or otherwise conductive materials, you can disable the safety.

        We have one at the local hackerspace. We’ve discovered a few things that will trigger the brake, including mirrored acrylic and laser-cut plywood.

        We haven’t, as far as I’m aware, had the brake triggered by anyone’s body parts, but I don’t think anyone regrets having spend a few hundred dollars on replacement brakes, because the day that someone’s hand DOES end up somewhere it shouldn’t, they’ll come out of it with a little cut instead of being maimed.

        1. Well you keep spending your money but keep your grubby little paws out of my pockets. Because I’ve been using power tools with no serious injury for many years now. At this stage of my life if I lose a few fingers I’m not even sure how much I’d really care.

          1. I have a friend that passed a couple of years ago. He was missing about 2.5 fingers as part of woodworking and teaching shop for 40ish years. He was careful, and things still happen. He liked working in his shop to the end.

            Saw Stop et al are a good idea, but I do like that SawStop lost its lawsuits requiring all table saws in the USA to carry finger saving technology. I would have one if I could afford even their contractors version, but my budget doesn’t allow it, so I will be ‘safe’ and put my digits ‘at risk’ by using non-nanny state versions of table saws.

      2. I bought my table saw on clearance at Sears for $99 about 3 years ago. A $69 accessory will cost $120 retail minimum.

        The sawstop is kind of after the fact. I mean you have to cut yourself a little for it to work, and it will hurt like heck.

        Naw, I think I’ll be careful and avoid expensive accessories, and avoid getting cut!

      3. In addition to what loans said (which is all true) the Sawstop machines also allow you to turn on the safety mechanism without turning on the spinning blade. At that point, if you raise the blade above table level and touch whatever piece of material you want to cut to the blade, the warning light on the control box will turn red if it would otherwise trip the emergency system in normal use.

    2. I was extremely impressed by this solution and the startling fact is that ANYone can achieve it with a 3d printed part and some non-intrusive electronic, so long as they acknowledge its expected to fail. during normal operation it can withstand a 110lbs force but in conference with sensors it magnificently fails with only so much as a paper cut.

      I applaud this development for such a minor part that would need to be replaced, currently its cheaper than cloning a finger (if its even and ever possible) so a buck twenty recyclable piece of milled ore is more satisfactory than losing a freaking digit. thank you for publishing that in the comments. This is where I like comments to go!

    3. I have always wonder if having the device disconnect the AC saw motor & giving it a shot of DC to stop the motor would increase the injury received because of the extra time it would take to stop the blade? DC seems to stop a motor right now, but shutting of the AC& turning on the DC is bound to take some time. How much risk there is of damaging the machine there is I don’t know. I farted around doing this with a scrap motor and a DPDT switch

    4. Saw Stop is a total scam. I heard they’re going to be required on new machines. I guess someone is going to get paid on that deal! When Saw Stop gets activated you’re out a blade, and the mechanism as well, as both are completely destroyed in the event.

      1. I wouldn’t call it a total scam. I’m speaking as someone who had a fairly minor accident with a router – I only lost a little bit of thumb and nail, but it did require an ER visit and a few weeks of recovery – I’d gladly have paid $180 (cost of a SawStop cartridge + good blade) to have avoided even that accident. For losing a significant part of a digit, an occasional false trigger would be a pain in the ass, but still worth it. If I ever graduate to a professional table saw (any of which cost a couple of grand) I’d definitely consider a SawStop unit.

        I’ve seen it used live in a demo, and first off, it’s a very good saw with a good fence. At the end of the demo (which was about making shop jigs), the guy (not a shill for SawStop – he does regular demos on all aspects of woodworking) put in a sacrificial blade and demo cartridge and did the hot dog trick. Pretty impressive in real life.

        He did stress that the SawStop mechanism is like a seatbelt. You want to treat the saw just like you would any other saw, and not do anything risky. Also, I do think if you’re a contractor doing construction who might be using it in wetter conditions or with incompletely dried wood, then the false positives probably would be prohibitive. But for woodworking (cabinets, tables, etc) you should always be working with wood with a pretty low moisture level; usually stuff that’s been drying in your shop for a couple of weeks.

        1. My biggest problem is the added expense. Most folks are hard pressed as it is to come up with the cash for tools. This just raises the bar and puts it out of reach of even more people. SawStop’s bottom of the line contractor saw costs as much as a decent cabinet saw. If SawStops were standard equipment the world would be a different place than it is today, not necessarily a better one either. Sure, more people would be walking around with all their fingers, but there’d just be a lot less table saws in the world too.

          I probably wouldn’t have a table saw, let alone the two that I already own.

          Seat belts suck too. How about we just try not to get into accidents? I spent most of my life traveling in cars not wearing seat belts and it never hurt me.

          1. This isn’t like a seatbelt, seatbelts reset themselves for free. This is more like an airbag. Would you buy a car for $100 less if they took that out for you?

            Airbags can also be falsly tripped sometimes, it’s a pretty good analogy for the sawstop.

            After your airbag saved you from bodily injury would you not consider replacing it?

          2. I’ve never been in an automobile accident that lead to injury. Probably because I can drive. It is a shame that all those that don’t get saved by airbags so they can cause even more accidents though.

      1. That isnt a good analogy. My comment was in reference Jame’s statement of “Corded circular saws are a dime-a-dozen at any old thrift store, yet table saws are a bit more of a costly investment…”

          1. I want to know what thrift store you’re going to that has any quality tools for sale in it at all. Because I’ve hit quite a number of thrift stores and I just don’t see good tools in them generally myself. I know how thrift stores work, so I know why that is the case too.

            I do manage to purchase quite a lot of quality tools at other venues myself though. I have my best luck at yard, or garage sales, followed closely by flea markets. From there I’ve managed to build quite a nice table saw for about $53. I’d put it up against anything less than a 3HP cabinet saw.

    1. The cost of this project would depend on what materials must to be purchased. If you have lots of stuff already–wood cutoffs, old door hardware, etc.–the cost could be near zero. If you like making things, though, cost has little to do with it. This project is cool because Matthias made something to be used to make other things. Man as tool maker.

  2. A technician I worked with at GE built himself a “Maytag” table saw. He mounted the circular saw beneath the lid of an old washer, which allowed him to simply lift the lid for access to the saw. He used it to cut sawmill slabs into chunks for his woodstove.

  3. I’ve got a commercial table in the shop that mounts a circular saw, router or sabre saw. They’re great for casual use, but for more than that you need a real table saw.

    There have been a lot of these sold over the years. Mine uses a 16 gauge steel plate to mount the power tool. This avoids the loss of cutting depth that plywood implies and lets you use the normal circular saw depth and angle adjustments. It’s a bit inconvenient, but not so much that I can see doing something as elaborate as this build.

    As mentioned already portable table saws are cheap, so the real value in this is if you have very limited space and limited need for a table saw. A plate with a slot, some pieces of all thread and 1″ conduit will do a nice job of mounting a plate to a workmate or similar and take vanishingly little space when not in use.

    1. i’m interested in finding something like you say… but i couldn’t find anything with a quick google search. a brand name? or even better a link to what you’re talking about? that’s be super cool… otherwise i’m stuck making my own. not too hard.

    1. . . .The wood [table] turns the circular saw into a table saw. . . That’s what the wood does that the saw shoe doesn’t do.

      Basically, there’s a reason both table saws and circular saws exist, and a reason many people own both. Circular saws are sort of the portable, half-retarded cousins of table saws; they’re great for breaking down large sheets of material and for various simple cuts around a construction site or home improvement project. They even have adjustable cut depth and angle, just like a table saw, and so they can be used for some of the same cuts.

      However, there are about a thousand things you can do with a table saw, but can’t do with a circular saw. The biggest difference between the two is simply precision; the table saw has a much larger bearing surface on the table to keep workpieces flat, the fence allows for long, straight cuts, the slots hold specialized jigs and sleds, and all your cuts are highly repeatable. With an angled fence you can cut clean tapers, and even cut coves into flat parts.

      While this doesn’t have the power of a proper table saw, it still allows for a level of precision and repeatability you just can’t get with a circular saw.

      1. I don’t think you understood what I was asking. I have enough table saws, and circular saws to know what they do. What I want to know is why they didn’t just screw the saw shoe to the underside of the plywood as opposed to that trunnion they made. Because that extra they made does not seem to do any more than what adjustments on circular saws already do.

        1. I have a B&D table that does exactly this. or you can mount a router.
          2 downsides to his mod. First he is limited to about a 1″ depth of cut. Second, He just lost all his cooling by covering up the saw vents with his wooden trunion.

  4. There are plenty of other methods for getting cutting up long strips of wood, a plunge saw is the latest thing, it’s just an aluminium rail with a circular saw, or how about something like a kreg rip-cut jig? It’s little more than a T square with a circular saw with an adjustable width. both of these can take up almost zero space and don’t require you to make anything.

    ps. Mathias is fantastic at woodwork

  5. I don’t know why, but circular saws scare me, don’t get me wrong, I’ll use them, but not happily.

    Which is odd considering I’ll quite happily play with drills, electic hedge trimmers (which are probably just as much if not more dangerous in some regards), sharp chisels, band saws, reactive/toxic chemicals, and whole host of things which are dangerous if care isn’t taken during use.

    Might be something to do with the spinning blade of death.

    1. The spinning blade of death + the ‘I’ll whip it out of your hand and embed it in your stomach in a heartbeat if you haven’t got a riving knife and twist the blade slightly’ syndrome.

    2. Circular saws are a bit scary, but for me the real terror is with band saws. You can see it in that video, even. Four or five inches blade, and you pretty much have to put your fingers near it, since you’re probably not cutting a straight line. Sure you can put a guard on it, but people almost never do.

    3. I’m with you. Circular saws and table saws are scary, but I’m pretty sure it’s legitimate. All the other items you mentioned have the power and the potential to cause equally gruesome injuries if misused, but they’re all very polite about it. None of them will grab the workpiece out of your hands and throw it back at you, or jump out of the workpiece and make a drive for your stomach. The spinning blades on table and circular saws do those things with gusto.

      A bandsaw will cut your finger off just as quickly as a table saw, but it won’t make the first move or try to grab for the second and third fingers. You can safely operate a bandsaw with your fingers an inch from the blade, whereas most table saw techniques aim for a couple feet, and that’s not always enough.

  6. Shocked & Annoyed issues a good challenge. Incorporate a DIY SawStop into the DIY tablesaw.

    Looking at the SawStop review by NewWoodworker dot com, we can see quite a few details about it. I’m guessing it senses increased capacitance to close a gate which in turn dumps enough current to melt the retaining wire. The motor and blade are mounted on a swing arm that is separate from the adjustment arm and held in constant compression by the retaining wire. The rotational energy of the blade is absorbed by the sacrificial aluminum bracket creating an almost instantaneous stop.
    I would start by salvaging the electronics out of one of those touch lamps. Then connecting that to a high current gate, say an IGBT, then finding a quick melting wire to connect the IGBT to ground. If you couldn’t find a fast melting wire that had enough strength to hold the arm under tension, some sort of trigger cam could be devised, but that would increase the response time.
    Seeing how you will probably have to build a circuit board for it, you might as well add in an audible alarm so that your co-workers or wife knows to bring the first aid kit.

  7. This isn’t even a hack. Many circular saws have the provisions to be mounted upside down through a plywood board exactly for the purpose of making them ad-hoc table saws. Some of them even have the possibility for angle and height adjustment. He’s just going through the extra trouble of making a nice box around it.

  8. That Makita looks easily customizable for dropping into an inset and fastening to the inside of a slot in the table so that its skid plate is flush. He’s throwing away a lot of blade travel. That being said, I always love watching his videos.

  9. this has been done since hand saws were invented, just screw the sole plate to a board and the board to sawhorses, voile!.. i did my first one with a router on the same board and just clamped a straight piece of oak for a fence, works great! Not sure why he is reinventing the wheel.

  10. I made something like this years ago. I took a crappy electric jigsaw and pop riveted it to the slightly bent case lid off a tower PC (the old type where you took both sides and top off in one part) with the blade sticking through a hole I drilled. The wall switch controlled the on and off.

    It was crap. The only useful thing was for large thin sheets it worked quite well for chopping them down. That, and making you think “If I tripped, it’d gut me horribly!”

  11. A have a home made table saw but it is completely different as I feel very attached to my fingers and I want to keep it that way.

    The guard is there for a reason but is often missing with this type of table saw.

    I went one step further and I have the saw ‘above’ the table and the guard fitted so there is no way of getting your fingers into the blade.

    I’m not into the idea of valuing ease of construction over safety.

    As for the table saw shone here … All I can say is … Never put remaining fingers into saw.

    1. If a saw can cut wood then it can cut you. I’m not quite sure why guards are put on blades, they just seem like a nuisance to me. But I’d never rely on an inanimate blade guard for my safety. My safety is my responsibility, and I’ll never keep a guard on a machine to hide that fact from me.

      1. The guards don’t protect against purposeful intrusion.

        The guard is there in case you just happen to stumble while the blade is running and that was where you instinctively grabbed to catch yourself. Yes, accidents happens, and when you’re reaching out to catch yourself from falling, you don’t think about what you are grabbing, you just grab. It’s the very mindless thing we all do under such circumstances.

        Then there are those unfortunate kickbacks that happen every so often.
        A guard with ratchet style teeth on the bottom will grab into the wood and prevent kickbacks.

        A separator installed after the blade will prevent the wood from pinching the blade and cause a kickback.

        Yeah, maybe they are a bit inconvenient, and maybe on first glance they don’t seem to do much. But on chance that something unexpected happens, you’ll be glad the guards are there.

          1. I agree with pcf11. I have a Jet table saw and I think the guard was on it for all of 2 hours before I had to do a non-through cut. The guard takes forever to take on & off – it’s a really crappy design that doesn’t even have a proper width riving knife built into it. I’ve been using it pretty much weekly for 3 years and I’ve never come close to having an issue or situation where I may have gotten cut. Use common sense and if you’re tired or distracted, leave the machines to be used another time. Works for me anyway.

          2. Words of wisdom there. Accidents happen when you’re tired, or distracted. Well, accidents that can be traced to operator error. I suppose the random freak accident can happen too. But anyone that worries about that might as well go live in a plastic bubble.

  12. Hands with fingers to hand without fingers conversion.
    I have often contemplated this, but found a portable tale saw for $10 at a yard sale.
    And I almost always pin up the guard on my skilsaw, and ALWAYS place it upside down after a cut. The guard will eventually stick and dig in the floor or run over your foot, so pretend it’s not there and use the saw safely. I used to frame houses and production demanded speed and safety.

    1. Has a workman’s comp insurance company inspector see you using a saw with a defeated guard? I can’t see why you would have to defeat the guard to be able to set the saw on the floor upside down. I had experienced what you describe, to no ill effect. Now I just look to see if the guard is down. just habit like brushing the back of an outdoor electrical box with the back of my hand is before grabbing it to open it. finding a few hot ones helps reinforce that habit.

      1. I have one with a broken spring on the guard. Works fine most of the time, but if you cut deep, it’ll hang open. I have the habit of looking to make sure the guard is closed every time before I set it down. I do need to get that spring replaced. I hope I’ll still have that habit of looking.

  13. Two major problems I see with this, there is no E-stop and the fence could easily be not parallel to the blade. As someone who works in a shop on a daily basis I can say that if I saw anyone using a set up like this, I’d tell them to stop. Immediately.
    The most dangerous piece of equipment is the one that you are using.Most equipment can be turned on with a finger and shut off with an elbow. Think about it.

      1. stuff happens =p at least you guys mill threw the comments to notice the valid gripes so thanks for posting the tip and being part of the conversation about them! HAD is my daily nerd candy and you dispelled any doubts I had about the change in management changing the community of the site. keep up the good work!

  14. What this so offers that I haven’t seen on other commercial hand power saw to bench top power saw is much easier blade adjustment, and a decent miter guide. Matthias isn’t done yet, I imagine it’s going to get a decent rip fence as well. My dad had a Makita circular saw. I hated it, it handled awful, this would seem like a good use for that saw. No matter how you do it this is going to be a poor substitute even for a Craftsman table saw. When I was growing up at the rear of M, PS, MI magazines there where ads for inexpensive power tools. I wonder if there is anything similar these days? I know many who consider the shaper to be the most dangerous machine in the shop. A sharp fast spinning blade often hidden from view by the work piece.

    1. You have somewhat different views on matters than I do. I happen to own two vintage Craftsman table saws and they’re fine by me. I also hold Makita power tools in the highest regard as well. They’re not my favorite, but I respect their quality.

  15. I did a half-assed build like this years ago. Cheap circular saw, drilled a few holes through its plate, bolted it to a sheet of MDF. Turn on saw, plunge-cut the groove. Plopped it on a table frame. Made a fence to slide along the outside edges of the MDF. Make sure that the far side of the fence is *at least* the same distance from the blade as the front side, preferably one mm more.

    Tie wrap around the trigger, and a switchable extension cord to turn it off and on (with my knee if necessary).

    Worked a treat, but I exercised caution and assumed it was going to try to kill me if it could on all occasions.

    1. #1Ditto. I needed a router table so mounted a router below a small sheet of MDF and sorted a simple fence. Then I realised I could also fix a circular saw and just drop it through the MDF. A very cheap functional router table AND table saw. The 1mm difference at the far end of the fence is important – it will stop kickbacks. I also only raise the blade enough to just cut through the material I am cutting. Common sense and caution is the key. Incidentally I also have a Triton Workcentre MK3 but prefer my original system.
      #2Why does Matthias remove the sole plate and hinge from the saw and then fabricate a replacement?
      #3 Sawstop = 65 dollar hotdog!

      1. The 1mm thing might help stop kickback. When the internal stresses in the wood cause the kerf to close on the blade, then it won’t stop kickback. White wood such as 2×4’s are cheap and they’re sometimes dangerous that way…

  16. I’ve been following Matthias’ YouTube channel for a while … and he has some great video’s about woodworking and making the tools he needs. The latter being more common in the old crafts than in, let’s say electronics.

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