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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A new outfeed table...

Outfeed support: essential for crosscuts
For some time now, it's been clear that my over-stuffed studio needs a re-design.  Among the many changes due is the building of outfeed tables for my table saws (we have a 10" 1.75HP contractor saw and a 12" 5HP cabinet saw).  Outfeed tables are important for certain table saw operations, most notably ripping long stock, and crosscutting wide stock.  The inability to crosscut 4' x 8' plywood sheets has forced me to use my circular saw...never a good option for furniture building, even when using Festool's over-hyped guide rails (which I do use, reluctantly). 

But life goes on, and making an income has taken the front seat and put my improvement project on hold.  To that end, I have been making aquarium stands for the local aquarium installer/retailer. 

But when one of my stand went horribly wrong, I got a chance to take a step in the right direction and install an outfeed table for my 12" cabinet saw. 

What went wrong?  Well, in an effort to build the stand quickly (and without buying new tools), I decided to use Festool's Domino floating tenon joinery system to construct the case.  When It came time to clue up my panels, I confronted one of the big limitations of the Domino: you can't try and glue up too many Domino tenons at once, especially if those tenons span more than one frame component.  3/4 of the way through my glue-up, as I pulled the top side of the last panel tight, I cracked the bottom side of the panel, right at the tongue-and-groove joint between one stile and the bottom rail.  Then, when I pulled the frame tight on the bottom, one of the Domino tenons punched through the back of the stile. 

This kind of damage made the stand unusable for the intended application: supporting some 2,500 pounds of rock and salt water. 

A matching outfeed miter slot is critical
But the weakened stand was still good for general table-top use.  So I ripped a bit from the top and bottom rails (using my Festool TS-75 circular saw and guide rail...happily this time), bringing the height of the table in line with the table saw.  Next, I put on a slab of 5/8" MDF, and fastened blocks to the underside to hold it in place on top of the stand's frame.  Finally, I laid out a fence along the path of the saw's right miter slot, and ran a router bit of the same diameter through the MDF top, creating a continuation of the miter slot.  This important feature allows me to use a deep crosscut sled on the table, with full travel past the blade.

Clamps restrain the two tables
One important feature of the out feed table is the clamping underneath the table top, drawing together the outfeed table and the table saw's table.  The clamps helped to stabilize the table on my uneven floor, and keep the two miter slots aligned.

So I guess it wasn't a total wash.  I still have to build another 120 gallon aquarium stand...but it'll be easier to do it with my new outfeed table. :)

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