Building A Real Wooden Table Saw

A table saw is one of those tools that aren’t strictly necessary to have, but immensely helpful if you do happen to have one around. The folks at [I Build It] have made a three part series that features a homemade table saw build, so you can finally get around to adding one to your makerspace.

The build uses a real table saw arbor and is made from Baltic birch plywood and solid wood, with some plastic sheets for the trunnions and top. The blade is housed in a blade lift made out wooden panels with a pivot point and slot for the lift mechanism. Bearings allow the blade the freedom of movement, while a curved cutout allows it to stay flat against the wall of the slot while the blade lift mechanism moves.

Meanwhile a reused motor from a previous table saw is dusted, cleaned, and rewired to run in reverse. While most table saws only need two trunnions, a third is used for supporting the motor, since it has to move with the lift and tilt. Once the lift/tilt mechanism is complete, the frame for the table saw is more straightforward, with many steps involving clamping, measuring, cutting, fitting, and painting the assembly. For the final few steps, a switched is mounted outside the table saw in a small box that connected to the power supply and motor, as well as a shop vac for handling dust collection from the saw. While the enclosure isn’t a metal box, as long as the connections are secured properly the wires shouldn’t come loose.

If you want to see other examples of homemade table saws, check out this teeny tiny saw and this kid-friendly table saw build.

43 thoughts on “Building A Real Wooden Table Saw

      1. You would be a bit defensive too if every time you posted a woodworking video, the Internet Safety Police flocked in by the thousands to tell you how your actions will lead to the end of the human race.

        1. To be fair that’s how the internet works, if you cant deal with that then being a youtuber is the wrong profession. Believe me I get tons of both rude and constructive comments. I take what I find useful and ignore the rest.

          1. It gets very hard to deal with over time — to the point where I’ve seriously considered finding other places to post. The abuse is insane on a good day, and frankly besides the COPPA crap we have to deal with now, this is probably one of the biggest things Google needs to fix. Source: I run a YouTube channel on retrocomputing and have to slog through the comments daily.

    1. I’ve watched nearly all of John’s videos over the years and it’s true that while he can be a bit… let’s say… opinionated, he goes to great lengths to emphasize that what he does in his shop is not necessarily a prescription for what everyone should do. He’s been using table saws his whole life and is very familiar with their inherent dangers. He knows how to avoid those dangers. He is comfortable using his saw without the now-standard safety features but is not complacent. If you (the rhetorical “you”) don’t feel safe operating a table saw without a riving knife or blade guard, then you shouldn’t. The nice thing about building your own table saw is that you can modify it to add whatever safety features you like.

      1. But for DIY…!?!? This is irresponsible and foolish to demonstrate to this target audience. Sure he may be comfortable using the tablesaw without these safety precautions but the inexperienced who go ahead with this project are in genuine risk of serious injury or worse.

        Bad design tablesaw. Dangerous. Waste of time.

        Only idiots would venture down this path.

        1. If you don’t know how to operate a table saw safely, (using your own comfort level as a guide), then don’t use one. This man, like me, doesn’t choose to have a riving knife or a blade guard, leave him alone and appreciate his skills as a builder.
          Next we will demand people wear helmets to the bathroom.

        2. Anyone who is going to build a wooden table saw to his specs is obviously not a beginner. You could demonstrate how to build a nuclear power plant on YouTube, it’s up to the viewer to decide what to do with the information. In reality, to build a wooden table saw of this quality, you would need a full woodshop and have a strong background in engineering. Even if it is backyard engineering. Let the man be. And if you don’t like his videos, or attitude, or safety precautions, don’t watch his channel. No need to call him a narcissist or attack him for not adding a riving knife. Alternatively you could design, build, and film your own version with a riving knife and make your own YouTube channel.

        3. Irresponsible and foolish? Can’t a guy build something and post how he did it? You are basically campaigning for censorship.

          Watch some “how to” videos from India, Poland, Russia etc. then your extreme online safety concerns will either lax a bit or possibly send you into a coma. Who knows.

          I just don’t expect everyone to be an all out expert and that all safety concerns have been accounted for. In my opinion whenever you type “www” any information gathered is “at your own risk.”

    2. Pfff, as long as you say something macho at least once every 5 seconds, Deity will love and protect you from injury.

      Just like when you splash a chemical in your eyes; if you say something macho about not needing safety glasses fast enough, then Deity will forgive you and your eyes will be allowed to heal.

      It also works for inhaling carcinogens. That’s why only the wimpy welders have a reduced lifespan, and the Real Men all live to 108.

    1. But if he didn’t ignore safety, how would he feel like a Manly Man?!

      And oh yeah, insert cross reference here to one of the people saying that you don’t need a guard if you know how to use the tool correctly! ;)

      Of course, if I knew how to use the tool correctly, the guard wouldn’t even be in the way…

      1. It’s not about being a manly man, it is about balancing safety and efficiency. People aren’t taking the guards off their tools for no good reason, they are taking them off because they get in the way. There is no way to increase safety to 100% and still get things done. So where does one choose to set the balance between safety and productivity? John Heisz has been doing construction for something like 30 years and has the skill and comfort around these tools to be *demonstrably* safe. His practices do not translate to someone walking up to a table-saw for the first time and only a fool would think they do.

  1. To all of the trolls out there…..
    I have been using tablesaws for 30 years now and Blade gaurds I have no use for. Riving blades, Yes. Injuries…2. It will happen regardless of all of the measures you put in place. Introduce me to a woodworker who has never been injured???

    1. Had a fellow maker space person, who put together a folding table saw for work sites. He put the blade guard and anti kick back mechanism on backwards. Much fun was ensued upon that day.

    2. Macho beliefs always weigh more than injury statistics. Always.

      If you have the macho belief, no number of saved hands and fingers and heads will hold any weight for you, and your macho belief will always pat itself on the back.

      It may be that if you’re woodworking for 30 years and are macho, then you repeat all the macho stuff that woodworkers you respect said before you. And if you’re not a macho cheesehead, then you avoid the conversation entirely in the first place.

  2. Never injured myself. You’re just lucky so far. And very ignorant to the physics behind a tablesaw. And it’s machining, not woodworking. You have no clue. Only 2 accidents… Lol. 2 is 2 more than you should. You have lost your right to give advice on safety. You failed.

    1. They’re probably quite shocked to learn that I’ve always left the guards in place, and I’ve never injured myself on a saw either.

      The way to avoid injury with tools, IME, is to research proper use of the tool before beginning, and to be scared of tools. And to remain scared of them even after you’re comfortable and confident that you can use them successfully.

      It is very similar to driving. I don’t look at my phone while driving, because I’m scared of cars. Including while I’m using one to get somewhere.

      These macho guys, if they were scared I guess they’d hide under the bed, so they have to give up the protective benefit of caution just to get anything done.

      When if instead of shouting, “^%&# saw *@#%in safety equipment!” they just said, “This is frustrating, what am I doing wrong?” Maybe they’d leave the safety equipment in place, and still learn how to use the tool effectively?

      The macho guys are absolutely certain that anybody with experience must agree with them, and yet there are lots of woodworkers in the world who output high quality products and aare still using all the guards. But they can’t see those woodworkers, because unless you’re sufficiently macho, you’re not a True Scotsman.

        1. You don’t if you have half a brain.

          Cutting coves on a table saw is extraordinarily dangerous.

          The correct tool for that sort of job is a router, though most home shops won’t have a router large enough to cut a nice big cove.

          That’s why coving is typically a custom order piece.

          Amateurs who try to cut coves with their table saws are very likely to end up in the hospital with one of any number of serious injuries.

  3. As a YouTuber I believe John should at least show how to add the safety devices to his saw. Especially if he is selling plans. A recent video I commented on was from a famous European YouTuber that made a foot operated garbage can out of an old “empty” propane cylinder but only said “Don’t worry. It’s empty”
    A propane tank is never considered empty until its been purged and there are only certain ways to purge a cylinder.
    Fortunately an even more recent video from an Australian YouTuber mentions purging a cylinder and shows one way to safely do it.
    Just beware though because a “purged” cylinder sold at retailers means the air is removed and it’s ready to be filled with propane.

    John making claims that he builds for himself and he is aware of safety etc. etc. is only a cop out and as I mentioned above, especially if he sells plans.

  4. Wow! Don’t you folks got something better to do than scold everyone who doesn’t follow your referred methodology?
    I’ve been a carpenter for over 40 yrs. In the field form, frame and finish. I still peg my skilsaw gaurd and use a 28oz rigging axe. I have a 22oz California framer. I remove the sprjng on the trigger of my Hitachi framing gun. Never tie off stacking, hanging fascia or laying down sheeting.
    I don’t have rivving blades or blade guard on my table saw or a 12″ compound miter saw. The miter saw blade is exposed. And i have been injuried once. And only once. Recently and it was my fault I’ll admit. I tell my guys not to follow my example.
    It ain’t cut out for everyone.
    Point being, get a life. Make you own safety video.
    Live your own life bro.. you got too much free time in your hands nit picking haters. Build and work to your own abilities. If a persin gets hurts doing stupid things (myself included) so be it. Call it trade and Darwinism. So what if another dhmbass gets injured. One less competitor .
    Go to work fellas!!

    1. Right, but why are you scolding people who don’t follow your preferred methodology?

      Are you sure you really believe in that, or are you just mad that lots of people have a different conclusion?

      It is like, you can’t decide if it is OK to not follow the instructions, or if everybody is absolutely required to follow YOUR preferred rule that contradicts the experts. (Safety experts. Guys with clipboards who know math and have access to data.)

  5. Great video. Love the knowledge that you shared with making this video. I think it is something that I would like to build myself, just the way you have built it. As far as the negativity about the guards not being in place, I feel that you are aware of what you are doing. Keep doing great videos just like this.

  6. Seriously, I’ve heard better conversation in school yards. Why are you even bothering to comment. Provide constructive criticism. You will at least sound humanoid.

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