Tag Archives: outfeed table

What I Screwed Up this Week, October 29, 2010

This is the last installment for the outfeed table.  I’m not sure what it says about my woodworking skills that I got three different screw-up articles from one project, but at least you get to learn from my mistakes.

The Problem:


The outfeed table was intended to push up flush against the back of the tablesaw, but, as the photo shows, the leg of the table lined up perfectly with the slightly-splayed leg of the saw and prevented a flush fit.  Tthe table’s overhang is kept back from the edge of the saw top about two inches.  This isn’t enough to cause problems, but is not what I intended.

The Solution:

At this point, there really isn’t one.  If I had recognized this problem sooner, I could have left the overhang of the outfeed table longer, so it could reach over the rail all the way to the table.  As it is, I’ll just have to live with it.

Lesson Learned:

Never forget to consider how your piece will interact with its surroundings.  While you can’t predict everything, repeated checks and test fittings before important glue-ups or other one-way steps will greatly reduce your grief.

That’s it for this project, but plenty more are on the way in the near future, so stay tuned to find out What I Screwed Up.


Outfeed Table – Part 3

Well, it looks like the new top is going to behave itself, so the project can proceed. Quality pays.

I had originally planned on equipping the table with a retractable caster system but, upon pricing components, got to thinking. This is an outfeed table, intimately associated with the tablesaw in the middle of my shop. Even though my saw has a mobile base, I haven’t really moved it since it got here. Was it really worth the considerable dollars to add mobility to something I’ll probably never need to move? I decided to skip the casters and save the money.

Outfeed Table - Part 3 1The next step was the construction of the legs. Each leg was to be constructed of 5″ wide strips of plywood glued and pocket screwed together in an “L” shape. The question was, how long? Take the distance from the saw top to the floor, subtract the thickness of the top, and throw in a little for clearance. Simple, right?

Not so simple. I had adjusted my saw to be perfectly level when I installed it, and so it was. However, the auxiliary table end was over 1/2″ closer to the ground than the left hand end of the saw. This was caused, I presume, from an unlevel floor, and left me with a quandary. Should I adjust the perfectly level saw to be parallel to the floor, or cut the outfeed table legs to match the slope of the saw? After all the time I spent getting that saw level, there’s no way I was doing that again. I started measuring for my cuts.

Outfeed Table - Part 3 2The leg pieces were glued and pocket-screwed together, then attached to the top with glue and drywall screws. This was followed with 4″ plywood stretchers to stiffen things up. At this point, I decided on a test fit. Hmm, pretty good. The only problem is that the front middle leg lines up exactly with the leg of the saw, and holds the table back a little further than I wanted. Oh well, it’ll still work.Outfeed Table - Part 3 3

I had wanted a little more clearance so I could add a replaceable hardboard surface, but I’m so happy with this fit that I’m not going to try to shorten the legs that little bit. Besides, I really like the look of that light maple surface – shops get dark enough as it is. I guess that if the top gets really torn up, I can just replace the whole thing. The pocket screws should make that just as easy as putting on a new piece of hardboard.

Outfeed Table - Part 3 4Outfeed Table - Part 3 5And here you see the nearly completed table in its final location. The miter slot grooves have been routed, and the bulk of the finish has been applied. I used a simple boiled linseed oil for the base, and two coats of shellac rubbed out with steel wool and paste wax to make things slide easily. Not an exciting finish, but simple and functional. I’ll probably end up putting some storage underneath, but that’s another project for another day.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertpridgen/5112808290/&#8221; title=”Outfeed Table – Part 3 2 by TheGravedigger, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1411/5112808290_830bcd0321.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”Outfeed Table – Part 3 2″ /></a>

What I Screwed Up This Week – October 20, 2010

I mentioned that the outfeed table should provide plenty of food for thought for this column, and this proved true. The first problem occurred while assembling the plywood frame for the table top.
The Problem:
As I drove the first pocket screw to assemble the frame, it went through the bottom of the hole, and split the end of the plywood apart.  I was puzzled – the screw had worked just fine when I did some test joints in pine.  Obviously the torque setting was too heavy for plywood, and had spilt the plys apart rather than stopping when the screw bottomed out..
The Solution:
I backed the screw out, glued and clamped the split plys back together again, and redrove the screw with a correct torque setting.
Lesson Learned:

Always make a test run of joinery techniques using scraps of the same material as your project.  This will ensure that everything works correctly, and you don’t get surprised on that first connection like I did.

The second problem was noticed the morning after I had attached the frame to the top.

The Problem:

The plywood top had developed a pronounced bow during the night.  This was despite the fact that the support frame had been screwed into place. 

I had tried to save some money by using a B-C exterior plywood. I reasoned that only the legs would be visible, an the frame would provide plenty of rigidity.  I was wrong – the plywood was not stable enough for this type of light support, and bowed 3/4″ in the middle.

The Solution:

There was only one thing to do – replace the plywood top.  Accordingly, I went back to the lumberyard and got a sheet of cabinet-grade maple.  This stayed obligingly flat and allowed the project to continue.

Lesson Learned:

Construction plywood is for just that – construction.  It rarely has the degree of flatness required for furniture.  In construction, a certain amount of warp is acceptable since the plywood sheets will be firmly nailed to a sturdy frame such as a stud wall or roof rafters.  In furniture, rather than being attached to a structure, plywood often IS the structure and flatness and stability are paramount.  A sheet of cabinet-grade maple was only $11 more.  Spend it.

That’s it for this episode.  Stay tuned for more goodies in the future.

Outfeed Table – Part 2

As the first chapter closed, I was preparing to rip one plywood sheet into 4″ and 5″ wide strips to make the framework and legs of the outfeed table.  Following that, I cut the pieces for the support frame, and assembled it with pocket screws.

For the record, pocket screws are boring.  Of course, that’s because they’re so drop-dead easy to use!  The tedium arose from the fact that I didn’t buy one of Kreg’s ViseGrip-type clamps to hold the little Jr. jig in place, and so had to clamp with an F-clamp instead.  Before my next project, I WILL get one of their clamps.  That aside, once the holes were bored, installation went quicker than I imagined.  Pocket screw joints themselves aren’t that secure.  They are, after all, butt joints.  But,  when attached to a supporting surface such as a face-frame to a cabinet, or a set of stiffening rails to a tabletop, they are more than adequate, and certainly the equal of biscuits.  In this case, they made attachment of the frame to the top a simple matter of a few minutes work driving screws.  Don’t forget – the top is plywood, not solid wood.

Outfeed Table Part 2 1As you can see above, the frame has an unusual shape.  As I mentioned in the first part, the frame needed to clear the motor mounts for my saw, and the recess allows the motor to clear in its highest position.  I could have made the gap narrower, but I wanted to be sure that my miter gauge grooves wouldn’t intersect any of the screws.  I didn’t think a router bit hitting metal was a good idea.  The holes to attach the frame to the top are clearly visible.  Once this was done, I attached the top and trimmed it to size.  This was a good point to call it a night, and attack the legs next.

Outfeed Table Part 2 2Two days later, when I returned I had a problem – the top had warped.  I had used a BC exterior plywood, since I planned to cover it with hardboard, and didn’t want to pay for a sheet of cabinet-grade birch.  Big mistake.  In other applications, this bowing wouldn’t be a problem, as you’re attaching it to a truly solid structure.  However, with a frame made of plywood strips, the forces of nature win every time.  As you can see, the deflection is almost 3/4″ in the middle – far more than acceptable in an application such as this.  The only thing to do is remove the frame before it takes a permanent set and go get a sheet of the good stuff.

(sigh) Off to the lumberyard.

Outfeed Table – Part 1

Now that the sauce packet bin is out of the way, it’s time to turn to more pressing matters.  Ever since I got a tablesaw for my birthday, the need for an outfeed table has been obvious.  I’ve seen many plans online but, as usual, decided to go my own way in this matter.  Additionally, since mine is a contractor saw with a 52″ fence and a motor hanging out the back in the way, things are a little more complicated.  I’m sure we’ll have plenty of material for the next episode of What I Screwed Up This Week.

I decided on a variation of a work table I saw Norm Abrams do, complete with foot levelers and a retractable caster system.  This design will, I believe, work better than using locking casters, and be more stable when in place.  This sent me to the lumberyard for two sheets of 3/4” exterior B/C plywood and one sheet of 1/4” tempered Masonite.  I may need some more plywood for braces, but I believe I’ve got enough scrap (excuse me, little good pieces) to finish out the rest.  If not, you can ALWAYS use more plywood!

Outfeed Table Part 1 1This project would also give me the chance to try something else new:  pocket hole joinery.  I have never used it before, and truthfully believe it to be of rather limited use.  However, with lots of butt joints and a plywood top attached to rails, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test it out.  Accordingly, I ordered a Kreg R3 Jr. kit from Amazon, along with an assortment pack of screws.  Granted, Kreg makes nicer kits, but this one seemed perfect for my needs since I wasn’t doing any sort of production work.  In any event, the price was right for a starter kit.

Outfeed Table Part 1 2The table will be 80” long, and about 44” wide.  Why 44 instead of 48?  That width gave me better options as far as utilization of my plywood sheet.  Rails and leg pieces will be cut from the same plywood, so I’ll get closer to 100% this way.  The biggest problem is that I’ve got to make a “notch” in the frame to allow for clearance for the motor mount.  This will make the structure more complicated, but should be simple enough with the pocket screws.

Now, I have to rip one plywood sheet into 4” and 5” strips to make the rail and leg components, then cut to length and drill for the pocket screws.  We’ll pick up there next time.