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Building an economy saw table and sawdust evacuator for $100.

If you've ever been inside a state-of-the-art woodworking shop, you've probably noticed an unusual lack of airborne sawdust. That's because the large shops spend thousands of dollars on elaborate ventilation systems that remove sawdust from the indoor environment. With clean air filtered in and fine dust particles filtered out, these systems allow workers to breathe easier knowing that there's one less on-the-job health risk. For those of us who work at home or in the garage, it just hasn't been practical to install our own ventilation system ... until now.

While it may not be economically feasible to install a sawdust-control system for the entire garage, we can assemble a self-contained sawdust evacuator for one of the greatest contributors of sawdust in the shop: the table saw. And while prices will vary at lumberyards around the country, $60 should be enough for the wood, hardware, glue and paint needed for this project, give or take a few bucks. Throw in at five-gallon, 1.5-horsepower Shop Vac[R] for around $40, and a dust-free garage is easily worth the price.

Our table saw is located in an end-of-the-garage workshop where space is very limited (it's no more than 5' x 12'). After acquiring a basic no-frills table saw, I decided I needed a saw table that would meet several requirements. First, it had to be comfortable for my 6' 4" height. I also wanted it to be easy to move and fairly easy to dismantle for convenient storage. Most importantly, however, the table had to have a built-in sawdust evacuation system because the people in my household are allergic to sawdust. In the end I was unable to find a commercially made saw table that met all of these requirements, so I decided to build my own.

The Table Top and Base

The saw table is 34 1/2" tall. It has out-slanting legs with skids connecting each pair on their lower ends. The table surface measures 25" x 30" with an 11"-square drop hole cut in its center. The sawdust evacuation system consists of a boxlike sawdust collector attached to the underside of the table directly under the drop hole, with its outlet spout connected to a 2-horsepower shop vacuum cleaner that draws the sawdust out of it.

Both the saw table and sawdust collector are constructed mostly of wood, and the whole structure is mounted on skids to make it movable yet still stable. The legs, braces, Sawdust collector and saw are also detachable for easy storage.

After you cut the 25" x 30" saw table top from a 1"-thick sheet of marine-grade plywood, round its corners and cut an 11"-square drop hole in its center, you'll want to build a base for it. This base acts as additional support and provides sturdy mountings for the legs.

The front and rear faces of the base run almost the length of the table at 24 1/4" long--the last 5" on both ends of these faces should be strengthened (or widened) by adding 2" x 5" pieces of Douglas fir and expanding the width of the ends to 5 1/2". Reinforce by backing each of them with pieces of 1"-thick pine measuring 5" x 5 1/2". These expanded and reinforced ends can be assembled using 1 1/2" long #5, flat-headed wood screws and 3"-long, 2d box nails.

Angle the entire length of the base by sawing out a 1/2"-wide triangular section so that when installed under the tabletop it will give an outward slope of about 15 [degrees]. This gives the legs a wider stance once they're attached, and makes the table more stable when you're feeding material backward and forward through the saw. Secure these canted faces to the underside of the table with 12 3"-long, #8, flat-headed wood screws (six per face) and carpenter's glue.

Cut the two sides of the base to 21 3/4" lengths from 2x4 Douglas fir stud stock and attach to the underside of the 25" width of the table top at a 90 [degrees] angle using 3"-long, #8, flat-headed wood screws (four per side) and carpenter's glue. Also, attach the sides to the front and rear faces of the base with 3"-long, 3/16" lag screws (two for each end).

Legs, Braces and Skids

The leg, brace and skid assembly consists of four legs (each 33 1/2" long) four braces (one for each side, front and rear) and two skids. The front and rear braces are both 24 1/2" long and are permanently attached to the legs with 2 1/2"-long, 3/8" lag screws (four per brace), resulting in two pairs of legs and braces. As for the skids, they measure 32 1/2" long and are attached to the bottom ends of each pair of front and rear legs using 3"-long, 8d finishing nails.

Join the legs and side braces with carriage bolts, wing nuts and cap screws so they can be easily dismantled without using a wrench. Attach the legs to their mounting points on the saw table base with removable 4"-long, 1/4" cap screws, wing nuts and flat washers (four per pair of legs). All of the cap screws should be 3/8" in diameter with sleeves. Then angle the ends of the side braces to match the outward slant of the legs (lengths on the top and bottom surfaces should be 25 3/4" and 27 1/2", respectively) and attach the side braces to the legs on bolts projecting from the brace supports.

To permanently mount the brace supports on the backs of the legs (one per leg), use two 3 1/2"-long, 3/16" diameter lag screws for each support. If you cut the braces at an angle to match the outward slope of the legs, their upper and lower edge lengths should be 3" and 4 1/2", respectively. Fit the supports with two 3 1/2"-long, 7/16"-diameter carriage bolts inserted from behind through holes and sealed with epoxy cement. Mount the slide braces by sliding them into place through their 7/16"-diameter, sleeve-lined mounting holes and hold in place with wing nuts and flat washers. The sleeves used to line the mounting holes come from brass shim stock. Simply shape the brass around the appropriate diameter bolts (either 3/16" or 3/8" diameter) and secure their respective holes with epoxy cement. Substitute copper tubing if needed.

The Funnel Dust Collector

With the exception of its outlet spout, the sawdust collector is entirely constructed of wood and shaped to funnel sawdust down into the Shop Vac[R] beneath the table. The entire unit consists of five pieces and two cleats. Join the four side--cut from 1/2" plywood--with 2d finishing nails and carpenter's glue and secure parts labeled A1 and A2 inside of B1 and B2. Pieces A1 and A2 should measure 8 3/8" long and angle (at 45 [degrees]) from a 12 1/2" width at one end to a 1 1/8" width on the other. B1 and B2 should measure 8 1/16" long and angle (at 45 [degrees]) from a 12 1/2" width to 2 1/2" (see illustration). Attach the cleats--cut from 1x6 pine stock--to the upper outside of B1 and B2. To accommodate your Shop Vac[R] hose fitting, bore an appropriately sized hole in a 1" plywood plug measuring 2 1/2" square. Be sure to attach the plug to the construction and let the glue dry before boring your hole.

The next step finding a tube that has a 1 1/8" outside diameter (the size required for a spout that would fit snugly inside the intake hose on a Shop Vac[R])--proved to be a challenge when I was building my own sawdust collector. I ended up using two old medical prescription containers that could be made into tubes by cutting the ends off. One had an outside diameter of exactly 1 1/8", and the other one fit tightly inside the first. After epoxying the two together I finished with a very strong spout. If you don't do it this way, make sure to leave 1 1/2" of the tube projecting outside.

When you're finished, attach the sawdust collector to the underside of the saw table with 2"-long, 1/2"-diameter carriage bolts that are epoxied in place to the saw table (this is the same technique used in setting carriage bolts in the side brace supports on the table). Attach the carriage bolts to the sawdust collector by thrusting their ends through the holes in the collector's 1" lip that is formed by the 1x6 pine cleats. The sawdust collector should be positioned directly under the drop hole in the tabletop.

I have used this saw table with its sawdust evacuation system for a little over a year and found it to be quite satisfactory for my purposes. After some research (weighing sawdust collected in the Shop Vac[R] and swept up from the floor outside the system), I concluded that it removed between 75% and 85% of the sawdust generated by the saw.




CUT: 1 piece of 1" marine plywood to a 25"x30" dimension with an 11" sq. drop hole in its center.


4 pieces of Douglas fir 2x4 stud stock (2 to a 21 3/4" length and 2 to a 24 1/4" length).

4 pieces of Douglas fir stud stock to 2" x 5" dimensions.

4 pieces of 1x6 pine stock to 5" lengths.


CUT: (4) 33 1/2" lengths of Douglas fir 2x4 stud stock.


CUT: (2) 24 1/2" lengths of Douglas fir 2x4 stud stock.


CUT: 2 lengths of Douglas fir 2x4 stud stock to lengths with angled ends (this angle matches the leg angle). The top edge measures 25 3/4". The lower edge measures 27 1/2".


CUT: 4 pieces of Douglas fir 2x4 to lengths with one angled end (this angle matches the leg angle), The top edge measures 3". The lower edge measures 4 1/2".


CUT: (2) 34" lengths of Douglas fir 2x4 stud stock.


CUT: 2 pieces of 1/2" marine plywood to a 8 3/8 length that tapers at a 45 [degrees] angle from a 12 1/2" width at one end to a 1 1/8" width on the other.

2 pieces of 1/2" marine plywood to an 83/8" length that tapers at a 45 [degrees] angle from a 12 1/2" width at one end to a 2 1/2" width on its other.

2 pieces of 1"x6" pine stock to a 12 1/2 length, angled at both ends to 45 [degrees].

1 piece of 1" plywood to a 2 1/2" square.


No. 1 CUT: (1) 24 1/2" length for the front brace; (1) 27 1/2" length for a side brace; (1) 33 1/2" length for one leg; and (2) 4 1/2" lengths for two brace supports.

No. 2 CUT: (1) 24 1/2" length for the rear brace; (1) 27 1/2" length for the other side brace; (1) 33 1/2" length for a leg; and (2) 4 1/4" lengths for the other two brace supports.

No. 3 CUT: (1)33 1/2" length for one leg; (1) 24 1/2" length for the rear face of the table top's base; (2) 4 3/4" lengths for two 2"x 5" expansions of the ends of the rear face; and (1) 21 3/4" length for one side of the saw table top's base.

No. 4 CUT: (1) 33 1/2" length for one leg; (1) 24 1/4" length for the front face of the table top's base; (1) 21 3/4" length for the remaining side of the above base.

No. 5 CUT: (2) 34" lengths for two skids.



(5) 8'-long Douglas fir 2x4 studs

(1) 5' length of 1"x6" pine (finished 3/4 x 5 1/2")

(1) 30"x 25" piece of 1"-thick marine-grade plywood

(1) 11"x10 3/4" piece of 1"-thick marine-grade plywood


Cap screws: (8) 1/4"x 4 1/4" each with a wing nut and 2 flat washers

Carriage bolts: (8) 3/8" x 3 1/2" each with a wing nut and 2 flat washers; (4) 1/4" x 2" each with a wing nut and 2 flat washers; (4) 1/4" x 1 1/4" each with a wing nut and 2 flat washers

Lag screws: (8) 3/8" x 1 1/2"; (8) 3/16" x 3 1/2"

Flat-headed wood screws: (16) #5 x 1 1/2; 8) #8 x 3"

Nails: (16) 2d, 3" box nails; (8) 8d, 3" box nails; (24) 2d, 1 1/2" finishing nails


(1) 7 5/8 oz. bottle of Elmer's Carpenter's Glue or equivalent

(1) set of epoxy cement (preferably 2-ton strength)


(1) pint of gloss enamel

(1) quart of latex flat paint


24 sq. inches (or 2' of tubing)

(*) Note: Copper tubing can only be substituted if available in suitable sizes.

Want more DO-IT-YOURSELF projects and ideas?
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Title Annotation:building a saw table
Author:Greene, Bill
Publication:Mother Earth News
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Next Article:THE EASY CHAIR.

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