Circular Saw + Innovative Fence = Unique DIY Table Saw

A table saw is often the first machine the aspiring woodworker wants for the shop. But even a lightweight contractor’s saw is not cheap, and a really good cabinet saw is both expensive and incredibly heavy. And any table saw is an intimidating machine that can liberate your fingers from your hand in a trice. Looking for a solution to all of these problems, [Seumas] has come up with a unique table saw conversion for a circular saw that improves safety and lowers the barrier to table saw ownership.

Flipping a low-cost circular saw upside down and attaching it to a table is old hat – we’ve seen plenty of examples of that before, including this recent post. Where [Seumas]’s idea shines is in the integration of the fence and the table. A typical fence needs to stay perfectly parallel to the blade while being dead square to the table, but still needs to be moved to adjust the width of cut. In [Seumas]’s design, the fence is fixed to the table, and the whole table slides left and right on high-pressure laminate rails. In theory, the fence will never go out of true, and the width of cut can be a lot wider than the typical table saw – an impressive 3 feet to the right of the blade.

As for safety, [Seumas] shows off quite a selection of DIY attachments in the video after the break. He builds his own Lexan blade guard, anti-kickback pawls, and stock hold-downs. Add in the little touches like shop-made clamps for locking the table, extending outfeed support, and built-in dust collection, and you can make yourself a pretty capable machine at the fraction of the cost of buying.

26 thoughts on “Circular Saw + Innovative Fence = Unique DIY Table Saw

        1. For me, cheaping out on power tools means buying Ridgid instead of Milwaukee or Hilti.

          These tools are dangerous, and humans are not yet able to regenerate severed limbs. Money can be re-earned, limbs don’t re-grow. I’ve had far too many close calls in my past due to substandard gear to risk my body for the sake of a few dollars.

          Power tools should be reliable and predictable, not cheap and flimsy. Sharp blades, clean, oiled, maintained, etc.

        2. I basically have to agree. I have used a lot of cheap tools, and some were decent, but when I got a Craftsman EX (or whatever their high grade was called back then) 19.2V tool set, I realized why people pay more for tools.

          I spent like $70 or 80 on new batteries last year when we needed to do a full bathroom remodel instead of buying new cheap tools. Even the little 4″ circular saw and sawzall work great, they just don’t work for long because of their power demands.
          (I don’t know what happened to the old packs… should have saved them and tried to replace the 1 or 2 bad cells in them)

          Heck, I often clamp large drywall square on plywood to use as a guide for the circular saw to make quick cuts.

          that said, I do have a lot of various Harbor Freight tools….
          The 10″ laser compound miter saw was like $75 on sale so I took a chance. I would like a better one because the base and clamps are pretty bad, but it gets the job done.

          Bought a 7″ tile saw because it was cheaper than renting one. It’s not rocket science to build a rotating diamond blade that flings water from a tray, so it was another no-brainer.

          for some reason though, the cordless tools from HF I have used just aren’t very good. I’d rather go buy on old corded all metal drill or circular saw from an estate sale if I was going to do a project.

      1. Brian is right. Those Harbor Freight things barely qualify as tools. You have to accept everything they sell is a throwaway item. One time use kind of thing.

        I still have my father’s home built table saw fabricated from angle iron that dims the lights everytime you turn it on. That thing will happily grab your fingers in an attempt to eat your arm and I feel safer with it than I do the Harbor Freight junk.

        If you want one time use, join a wood working club, a hacker space, or just flat out rent the tool from a rental shop. At least at those places, you’ll get decent directions from someone who isn’t drooling on their shirt.

      2. I have that saw and love it!

        But.. you have to now what it is and is not good for.

        I mostly use mine with the diamond blade that came with it for cutting PCBs and it really excels at that. It slices right through them like butter and with the help of a builders square as a straight edge it’s easy to do so in a straight line. Plus.. I haven’t tested this theory but I think it would be pretty hard to remove a finger with it!

        Pretty much everything else I have ever tried to cut… no luck. But.. PCBs were the problem I bought it to solve and it solves that problem really really well. I’m not even limited to cutting straight lines with it. I’ve found I can even shape the board a bit by easing it sideways against the blade if I need to make room for it to go around something.

    1. My experience with HF tools is basically that their hand tools and such are pretty good for how cheap they are, depending on the tool (I’ve used their impact sockets on my Snap-On air gun with no issues), most of their air tools and power tools are junk, I had a butterfly impact gun that I had to take back 3 times before I got one that worked, their ratchets are mostly junk too. Kinda luck of the draw I guess, I’ve bought stuff from there that was broken coming out of the box, and I have tools that I bought from there 10+ years ago that have seen heavy use without trouble.

  1. I have seen times using YouTube as a slide show presentation that worked out fairly well, respectfully this isn’t one of those time. I never did see clear indication as to where to pause the video. After restarting thee times I lost interest. Not one comment that actually concerned this build, so I guess I didn’t miss much from clicking away from the video.

  2. With all the time, effort and cost of base materials, I’d rather just buy a proper tool. That “anti-kickback” device is going to do squat as well. The riving fence will help, but without it the saw would still rip the wood right out from under that flimsy little clamp.

  3. Woodworker here.

    The heavy mass of a cast iron table saw reduces blade chatter.
    The heavy bearings and trunion of a contractors or cabinet saw reduce blade wobble.
    The stiff fence of a cabinet saw increases accuracy and safety due to not flexing and allowing kickback (as easily).
    The heavy induction motor of a contractors or cabinet saw runs MUCH quieter, and is more powerful for cutting thick stock.
    The only redeeming feature of a lightweight tool is portability to a jobsite for trim carpentry or flooring work.

    Other notes:
    * Can’t tell, but does his crosscut “sled” run against pegs? Needs a proper miter slot for a proper miter gauge or crosscut sled. This one will not be accurate.
    * Try finding a dado stack to fit this saw or a quality rip blade. You might be able to find a good crosscut blade (marketed as a “finishing blade”), because circ saws are normally used for cross-cutting. A dado stack won’t fit that shaft, so nevermind.
    * One reason you keep the blade in a fixed position is to be able to fit a proper splitter. This is a necessary safety device. Can’t tell what he’s got going on there.
    * The reason you don’t need a 3 foot width of cut is that you can flip the stock over.

    But the worst is that he’s standing in the “Danger Zone” right behind the blade. He should be standing to the left to control the cut-piece and the off-cut (Try doing that with a 3 foot wide cut).

    In short, I can find nothing redeeming about this build.

  4. Here’s a question?
    What’s up with Hackaday editors infatuation with home made table saws? There seems to be at least a few stories a year. Pretty much everyone just post comments about how stupid and dangerous it is to make your own table saw every time. If these stories inspired people to make their own table saw hack, they sure don’t seem to be coming back and posting. Go figure. That might have something to do with needing fingers to type on a keyboard.

    I’m just going to throw in there that unless you build the whole thing out of free reclaimed wood from shipping pallets or something, the material cost (and your time, not that it matters on HaD) are going to cost WAY more than the $150 it costs to get a real table saw which probably won’t try to fly apart and kill you.

  5. Despite the complaints, I do find reading the comments amusing and even entertaining.

    The only major issues I can see with this build is the fact that the table top isn’t nearly stiff enough for serious work and the liability issues. Table saws are expensive because of things like insurance and lawyers. If this does remove a finger, insurance may not cover your medical bills because the lawyers can’t sue the manufacturer of the circular saw.

    Just in my own experience, a cast iron table top is a requirement. It won’t deflect under normal working conditions the way an aluminum/wood table can. Believe me when I say that table flexing is a very real way to create a kickback condition. My first saw was a crapsman portable with an aluminum table. My second is a Jet ProShop with a full cast iron table and it’s been much safer and more accurate in my experience.

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