Folding Outfeed Table System

Folding Outfeed Table System

For some time, I had been using my workbench router table and a piece of 1/2″ MDF as an outfeed solution when ripping or cutting larger materials. This was quite effective as a temporary solution, but hindered use of the workbench and/or router table for their intended purposes and requires constant “cleaning” when switching back between cutting and assembly operations.
Larry Jenkins, a fellow woodworker I know from the WOOD ONLINE discussion groups, recently sent me a plan for his outfeed solution. That got me thinking about a more permanent solution for my own outfeed needs. Key to my design would be the ability to fold the majority of the table down when not in use to conserve space while adding about 12″ of permanent table area behind the blade. Since my saw is on a mobile stand, the unit could not touch the floor when folded.

The materials used for this project include 3/4″ birch plywood for the frame, plastic laminate for the work surface and either 3/4″ birch plywood or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) for the table surface substrate. Glue and screws complete the assembly.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….The fixed table portion is completed
The fixed section of this outfeed solution is 12″ deep and 48″ wide. It sets on the rear fence rail of a Biesemeyer-style rip fence, such as the Xacta-Fence on my Jet cabinet saw. (The design will require minor adjustments to accommodate a contractors’ style saw due to the support needs of the fixed portion of the table) This is where one of the variable dimensions comes into play–you will need to carefully measure the distance between the top of the saw table and the top of the rear fence rail and adjust the thickness of the frame member accordingly.

This dimension on my particular saw was 1 1/16″; however, I had to adjust the rear rail ever-so-slightly during assembly to insure that the new auxiliary table is just below or even with the saw top. Channels are routed into the top to provide relieve for the table saw’s miter slots as appropriate to the saw. These are about 7/16″ deep and 1 1/8″ wide and should span the entire depth of the fixed portion of the table. If you use sleds that have extra long miter bars, you should use them with the folding section in the down position or route the slots longer into the folding section to accomodate their length. Remember, you need to be able to push your sled completely through the widest cut without binding.

The angled supports also require careful fitting for your particular saw. In my case, I mounted the aluminum angle 16″ below the bottom of the cast iron table on my saw. This resulted in a brace 20 1/2″ long with 35 degree angles. If you choose to build this outfeed table project, measure for your supports by supporting the fixed portion of the table with temporary legs and make a cardboard template. This fit must be exact as it will be carrying the entire weight of the outfeed system when the larger portion is folded.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….The folding table section completes the project
The 30″ x 48″ folding section is supported by two or three reclaimed door hinges (piano hinge can also be used) at the back of the fixed portion of the system and two 1 3/4″ square legs that fold using commonly available hardware from Rockler and other suppliers. 5/16″ bolts in tee-nuts are provided on the bottom of the legs to enable exact adjustment for floor contact. A relief hole is drilled up into the leg to provide space for the bolt to retract as necessary. Please note that the length of these legs should be made to be about 1 1/2″ less than the distance from the bottom of the table surface to the floor. This distance will vary depending on the height of your particular saw and mobile stand, if there is one.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….This was an easy project to develop and build and quite inexpensive. The best part is that it can be sized exactly to one’s needs. While I made mine to be 42″ deep by 48″ wide when fully open, you can make it narrower and/or deeper as you prefer. If you choose deeper, you will need to make your change to the dimensions of the fixed portion as the 30″ folding section is just about at the limit it can be to fold down without hitting the floor on a 35″ tall saw. Another note: I built this project in two parts, completing the fixed section first and then adding the folding section. Based on my experience, I recomment you build both sections simultaniously to ease the hinge alignment process and insure that your top is completely level in all directions.

If you have any questions about this project, please feel free to contact me…and remember, the plan is just a guide. It is your responsibility to insure that the dimensions are correct for your saw and shop situation.

Update: One woodworker commented that this outfeed solution made alignment of his Dewalt 746 saw an awkward experience. Apparently, it interferes with one person accessing the trunion adjustments. I suspect this may also be the case on a contractors’ style saw, so do your alignment before attaching the fixed section of the table. You may also want to make it easily removable if you have one of these saws for future maintenance access.…

Dewalt DW618K Router Kit

Dewalt’s latest router entry first caught my eye at the IWF show in Atlanta in late 2002…so much so that I spent close to 40 minutes speaking with one of the engineers that designed it, going over all the features that this tool has to offer And features are what sets this router system apart from its competitors.

Like similar kits from other manufacturers, the DW618K includes the router motor and both a fixed and plunge base. Accessories include a spindle wrench, 1/4″ and 1/2″ collets, two sub-bases (one for use with “standard” guide bushings) and a convenient centering guide to insure that your sub-base is installed concentric with the collet. All this comes in a sturdy plastic carrying case for convenient storage and transportation. Dewalt also offers the kit with its new fixed speed DW616 motor with all the same accessories. Both motors are available with a D-handle base, as well as just with a standard fixed-based.

The DW618 motor offers 12 amps of power, soft start and electronic variable speed with a range of 8-24K rpm. The DW616 motor offers 11 amps of power at 24.5K rpm. Both motors have a fine height adjustment but are unique in that the motor, itself, stays oriented in the base–the motor does not spin when you make height adjustments like many other similar tools do. Removing the motor from the base is quick and easy. Just release the height lock lever, push in two latches with one hand and lift the motor out with the other hand. Reinserting the router motor does not change the height setting unless you have changed the cutter.

Also convenient, the DW618 and DW616 routers feature a removable power cord. This eliminates tangled cords when changing bits as well as makes for more convenient storage. It also makes the D-handle base more convenient to use since it can use a short cord to the motor and accommodate the original cord from the base, itself.

The fixed base offers a compact package for easy routing when stability is a must, such as with a dovetail jig or when routing hinge mortises. The handles are comfortable and height adjustment is a breeze. Just release the height locking latch, rotate the ring to the desired depth and re-lock the latch. The plunge base is reminiscent of the well-liked DW621 plunge router, complete with integral dust collection. Height adjustment is versatile and can be incremented in precise amounts. The action is smoother as compared to a Porter Cable plunge router that I own.

So how does it work?

I purchased the DW618K in early 2003 to provide a much-needed fixed base router to my shop as well as insure I had more than one hand-held router available for certain projects. I had considered several other choices, but decided on the Dewalt product based on my impressions with the tool from the shows and some reviews by others.

Most of my work to-date with this tool has been with the fixed base; particularly for dovetails and other incidental routing. The router is noticeably quieter than fixed-speed routers I’ve used in the past, although hearing protection is still necessary! Motor start is smooth, but it ramps up fairly quickly. Like any soft-start router, you do need to wait a second or three for it to spin up before you start your cut. But you’ll also enjoy a less stressful experience with the tool as a result.

The cut quality with this tool is smooth and clean. It easily did anything I’ve asked of it so far in a variety of materials. The flexibility of the DW618’s variable speed make for easy adjustment for both cutter and material, especially on difficult grain or wood with tendency to burn. The weight of the unit is comfortable to use and well balanced, although the plunge configuration is noticeably more top-heavy than the fixed base setup. That is expected, however, and one of the reasons that having both bases is a plus…you can use the one best for the job at hand.

Setup is particularly easy with the convenience of the removable power cord, easy motor-base separation, single wrench collet adjustment and the included sub-base centering tool. What would I change? The power switch “flicks” in the opposite direction than I would prefer when holding the tool in two hands. Additionally, I’d prefer that you could lock the spindle when changing the bit or collet so you can grip the tool more securely with the non-wrench laden hand. Overall, however, this is one sweet router and I recommend it highly.…

Grizzly G0500 8″ Long Bed Jointer

Grizzly G0500 8″ Long Bed Jointer

The “Grizzly” GO500 Jointer is a massive machine. Even though it adds only two inches of additional capacity over a 6″ jointer, the machine itself is significantly larger.
This jointer weighs 461 pounds so unloading it and setting it up is not a one-man job. It is delivered in two cartons and one crate–a large cardboard box contains the base with the motor already mounted and the switch enclosed in a smaller box. The jointer bed, hardware and fence are in an OSB crate. The base and motor weigh about 100 pounds and you can separate the fence and two extension wings that are used to lengthen the bed. I estimate the bed and cutter head to be about 225 pounds. The packaging did its job and everything arrived intact and undamaged.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….The set up begins on the base with the switch installation and motor wiring. The switch attaches with a couple of screws that come in the switch box. They come with washers and nuts even though the jointer base is threaded. The nuts and washers are probably because the same switch is provided with other Grizzly tools. It does cause a moment of confusion until you realize these are the only screws that will work. I figured since I once worked as an auto mechanic and can install small screws by feel that I could wire the motor without removing the mounting bolts and rotating it for better visibility. I finally gave up. I would have spent less time if I followed the directions. (Isn’t that always the case?)

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….The next step is to lift the jointer on to the base and install the mounting bolts. First remove the fence to lighten the jointer and then place the jointer bed on the stand. I obtained the help of a friend and everything lined up and bolted with ease. The two drive belts are installed and the motor and jointer head pulleys are aligned. There is no room for a straight edge to check the pulley alignment so I used a small square to check and set the belts square to the stand. Grizzly should provide a slot in the base to accommodate a straight edge between the two pulleys. The belts are tensioned with the motor’s weight and the slot bolts in the motor mounting plate are tightened. The shipping wax was easily removed with lacquer thinner, care was taken to make sure the painted surfaces were not contacted and my exhaust fans were all going.

Next the in-feed and out-feed extension wings are bolted in place. The in-feed wing was exactly flat with the in-feed table. This was actually surprising because I don’t think extension wings are usually match milled in the same operation. They are most likely manufactured and milled in a separate operation so are seldom perfectly square to one another. The Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….out-feed extension wing was what I call “wing up”. This means when bolted in place the end of the wing is higher than the table. This was very slight and created about a .004 gap at the mating joint when checked with a straight edge. I corrected this by shimming the top of the mating flange on the wing with “Scotch” tape. Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….When bolted in place this brings the end of the wing down. If you have “wing down” then the tape goes on the bottom of the mating flange. This technique works equally well with table saw wings. I have used it successfully on both my Jet and Delta saws.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….The bed and fence were checked for warp and the bed for coplanar. The bed is flat to .004 and perfectly coplanar. The fence has a small dip about .012 but it is not very wide and it occurs after the cutter head. I had the same amount of warp in my Unisaw table and when I called Delta’s customer service because I was alarmed they told me it was within their tolerance of .015. So the Grizzly fence was within Delta’s specifications. Since the fence is flat in front of the cutter head and that is where I would push against with any feather boards I am not going to complain about this variation. The knives were checked for height and parallelism. The factory settings were dead on. I mean really dead on. Checked with my dial indicator I did not find more than .001 variation in any of these measurements. The chrome plated and painted hand wheels were installed and the out-feed table was adjusted to be the same as the knife height.

Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window….Next the fence was installed. A flip stop is used against an adjustment screw to set the fence at 90°. Again the factory setting was perfect.

The machine comes with a 4” dust collection chute it matched the threaded holes on the base perfectly. A user provided electrical plug must be installed before use.

I face and edge planed a 5’ long, 7.5” wide piece of white oak. The surface was smooth and clean with no noticeable mill marks. The 2hp motor sounds almost as happy as I am. I am very pleased with this purchase and would not hesitate for a second to recommend the Grizzly G0500 jointer to anyone. I waited almost 5 months for this piece of equipment, I am glad I did.…

Wagner HVLP Conversion Gun

Wagner HVLP Conversion Gun

While many projects are admirably handled with hand-applied finishes, there are times when spraying is both desirable and preferred. My woodworking activities are no exception to that, so in early 2002, I went looking for a quality spray gun at a reasonable price. What I found was a highly recommended product from Wagner that met both requirements.
There are a lot of choices available to the woodworker when it comes to spraying finishes. In addition to the “lowly” spray can for small projects, spray guns run the gamut from quick and dirty (and very inexpensive) products like the “Critter” all the way to high-end combined gun and delivery systems that sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Some of these products use your air compressor and some include their own air source, such as a turbine system. Both air delivery systems work well in the woodworking shop and your choice is dictated by budget and preference. Please note that “airless” spray systems are not normally applicable to woodworking activities, but are perfect for application of heavy, thick latex house paint if that is your need.

High Volume, Low Pressure (HVLP) turbine systems are “self-contained” and can be convenient when portability is important…but stay away from inexpensive ones as they just don’t perform, according to experts. A typical quality turbine package be a three-stage system and can deliver enough air to spray most finishes that woodworkers will use. The down-side to these systems is cost–they are not inexpensive when you buy a good one. Some folks also claim that the warm air coming from the turbine compressor may affect finish application, but this is one of those things that opinions are not clear.

For most of us, the best choice for applying spray finishes may be a HVLP “conversion gun”, so called because they have the same characteristics as the guns used with the self-contained turbine systems, but can connect to your existing air compressor. Although there are very expensive ($450+ US) guns in this category available, such as the Binks and Sata, there are also some excellent choices available in the $100-250 range, including the object of this review…the Wagner HVLP Conversion Gun which sells for $129 from Gleem Paint. The next step up (and not a small one) would be something like the Asturo BRI/A guns offered by Homestead Finishing Products for about $350. If you are a really, really serious finisher, the latter type of gun or it’s more expensive brethren would probably be a better choice, but the Wagner was the right choice for me as a part-time woodworker.

The Wagner gun includes everything you need in the box with the exception of the optional nozzle wrench…which in my opinion, is not optional when it comes to cleaning the tool. This wrench is also included in the optional maintenance kit which includes two additional nozzle sizes to accommodate a wider variety of finishes. However, the #3 “projector set” included with the gun is usable for most finishes in the woodworking shop.

What I like about this gun is how it feels in my hand. That’s quite important as you need to be able to control a spray gun’s motion easily for best results. This gun is well-balances and lets even a rank armature spray finisher, like me, get a nice even coat of finish on the work piece without runs and sags. The spray pattern is very easy to adjust and can be set to suit any situation you may have. As of the date of this review, I’ve sprayed water-based lacquer, water-based acrylic and oil-based anti-rust paint with great results. The gun is easy to clean, too, as like most, it disassembles for easy access to areas where finishing materials may collect.

Negatives? Not really. Like any spray gun of this configuration, the cup can get in the way in tight spaces. However there are two solutions available…a remote 2 quart pot and a remote large pressure pot for large jobs. Frankly, I plan on investing in the former and Nathan Davis at Gleem Paint tells me that you can use either the local cup or the remote cup with a few minutes of conversion time if things are set up right. (You can buy the gun with the remote 2-quart cup already in lieu of the 1-quart directly attached cup if you prefer)

I like this gun and recommend it highly for anyone new to spray finishing or anyone who wants to step up to a good quality and reasonably priced HVLP conversion gun. This one is a winner in both respects. Gleem Paint is also a winner and I recommend you buy this gun from them. Nathan knows this gun intimately and is more than willing to help you get started or explore your options.…

Festool PS-300 EQ Barrel Grip Jigsaw

Festool PS-300 EQ Barrel Grip Jigsaw

For many years I fought with an inexpensive Black and Decker jigsaw when I needed to make some form of scrolling cut that could not be accomplished with the band saw or other tools at my disposal. The cuts were often disappointing and almost never “true”. So you can imagine my interest in a number of postings in online discussion groups about the Festool jigsaw where users talked about how accurate and powerful it was, even when cutting thick material. I had been considering another brand of machine that was highly thought of, but the combination of a sales promotion and the willingness of Bob Marino, an east-coast Festool rep, to come to my shop so I could try out all the toys sealed the deal.


Festool has been in the tool business since 1925 and although not a household name in the USA, they are very highly regarded worldwide. The key to their offerings is understanding that they sell “systems” rather than just tools. Every tool is made to work together with certain components, such as guides, vacs and their elegant stacking storage system called Systainer. The tools and other products are made to extreme quality standards and afford an unprecedented 3-year warranty as well as a 30-day Money Back Guarantee…if you are not satisfied with it, return it, no questions asked within that 30 day window. Also of note is the fact that virtually all the tools are designed to provide excellent dust control when used with the Festool Cleantec dust extraction system. Trust me…it works. Really well.

Although some retailers are starting to pick up the line, buying through a local rep, such as Bob, affords you a level of personal service that you rarely get from other sources.…

Mini Max FS-350 Jointer/Planer

Mini Max FS-350 Jointer/Planer

Many more serious hobbyist woodworkers are investing in much more capable equipment these days. Cabinet saws are pretty much standard and many people have moved up to 8″ jointers and 13-15″ planers. These three workstations make up the “work triangle”–the most basic power tool combination necessary for milling lumber in preparation for quality joinery. But when you think of it, why would you not want to be able to flatten the same wide board with your jointer that will easily fit in your planer? Yes, you can rip a board narrower so it will fit on your 6-8″ jointer, but that could very well affect a beautiful figure in an adverse way. Fortunately, there are European-designed machines avialable today that can alleviate this problem for about the same investment as individual tools from a reputable manufacturer of similar capacities.

The Mini Max FS-350 (now available as the FS-35 Smart with additional features) fills this need nicely for my shop…and it’s been a pleasure to use. I like working with wide boards and only rip them down when the board itself dictates it to be necessary. Both the jointer and planer functions have a 14″ capacity and the long, 71″ bed length insures that you can flatten and straighten longer stock with ease. The 3.6hp motor powers through wide stock without even breathing heavy and changing over between functions takes less than a minute. But more on the machine in a moment…first, about the company.

Mini Max USA

Mini Max USA is part of the SCM Group based in Italy and has been in the machinery business for a very long time. (There is a complete history on their web site) The people who run the company and interface with the customers are a pleasure to work with and certainly have the customer in mind when it comes to service and consideration. My first exposure to them was at the IWF show in Atlanta Georgia back in August 2002. The equipment really caught my eye and the rep I spoke with there, Michael Kahn, stayed in touch despite the fact that I was not a buyer. Given that the company is attending many of the touring woodworking shows for both the professional marketplace and the hobbyist space, I had the opportunity to further evaulate their offerings and speak with Michael and Erik Delaney from time to time in person. Apparently, they recognized my interest and in early October 2003 Jim Strain, President of Mini Max USA gave me a call and made an offer on the FS-350 show display that I couldn’t refuse…and didn’t. Since taking delivery in November, they have answered my questions quickly and responded to my suggestions sincerly. One can’t ask for any more than that!…

“Backyard” Lumber Milling

“Backyard” Lumber Milling

Those of you who had been following the Saga of “Saws ’N Dust” on the WOOD ONLINE discussion groups a few years ago will recall that we ended up with a large pile of logs when a new septic system was installed on the property.

The best location for the drain field happened to be towards the northwest (rear) corner of the land and required that several trees be removed. Being that they were mature Yellow Poplar trees 60-100′ tall, it made sense to consider milling them into lumber for future shop use. Additionally, there were several mature Black Walnut trees that were encroaching on the area we planned for our organic raised bed garden and the future deck off my office. The pictorial below is the record of the lumber milling process.

Finding a Sawyer

If you want to mill trees into lumber, you have several choices: 1) do it yourself with hand-held equipment, like an Alaskan Mill or RipSaw ($1,000-2,500 investment required), 2) do it yourself with a bandmill, such as the Woodmizer ($5,000-25,000 investment required), 3) send the logs to a sawmill for processing (requires cost of transportation to/from the mill plus milling costs) or 4) hire a sawyer with a portable bandmill, such as the Woodmizer (hourly cost, including travel time). I chose the latter and found a local sawyer through the Woodmizer web site. Gene Hamilton (215-822-6890 for those of you near Doylestown PA) agreed to spend a Saturday in July here at “the ranch” and I have to say, I have never seen anyone work so hard, so steadily, for so long–10 1/2 hours. My friend Wendell and I were ready to keel over halfway through the job, but Gene just kept sawing and sawing. I recommend him highly!…

Projects You Can Build: Shaker Style Student Sized Desk

Projects You Can Build: Shaker Style Student Sized Desk

One of the delightful aspects of Shaker style furniture is that it’s simplicity of design makes for approachable projects, even by new woodworkers. When my brother’s youngest girl asked for a desk for her room, I decided to use this style to create a functional, yet attractive piece that would fit her needs for years to come. Hopefully, she’ll have it for a lifetime!

This desk is sized as a student desk, but will work well as a hall table or other similar need with little or no modification. It includes a center-mounted drawer and the construction technique I chose is designed to minimize any disruption of the wood’s figure through the front apron and drawer front. Traditional methods are used for joinery, including mortise and tenon for the tapered leg to apron connection and dovetails for the drawer. I built this project out of poplar, but it’s adaptable to any species you have available. The design can also be altered slightly to emulate Arts & Craft or other styles if you prefer. A dimensioned drawing is available for this project–if you use it, be sure to adjust your measurements carefully as many details are left to you.

I built the top for this project first using multiple boards glued up to the proper width. Be very careful in choosing your boards so you have both a good color and grain match…this can make a huge difference in the end result you get, especially with such a large, visible surface. Glue and clamp your top using the methodology you prefer, being sure to properly edge-joint and orient your boards so the glue joints become as invisible as possible. Be sure that the top is clamped flat and set it aside to cure. I did not use biscuits, but there is no harm in doing so if you prefer them.

The legs are milled to 1 3/4″ square before tapering. It’s a good idea to take the legs from the edge of a straight-grained thick board where the grain will end up diagonal across the section of the leg. This will provide four essentially identical faces and make for a strong component. If you do need to include flat-sawn material, be sure to orient all four legs identically. Carefully mark the legs for the two mortises each receive and cut those mortises with the method you prefer. I used traditional square mortise and tenon joinery, but you can also choose to use loose tenons if you prefer and mill your mortises with a router and a shop-built jig.

After you have your mortises cut, carefully mark the sides that are to be tapered. These will be the same inside faces that you previously mortised. Using your table saw or band saw, cut the tapers on each leg. I used a simple shop-built jig for this purpose, but you can use a commercial jig if you prefer or even free-hand the cut on the band saw. (You cannot safely make a freehand cut on the table saw, however) Clean up the tapers using your jointer or a sharp hand plane and scrapers.…

First Look REVIEW: Festool OF 1400 EQ Plus Router

First Look REVIEW:  Festool OF 1400 EQ Plus Router

What do you get when you take all the great things about Festool’s OF 1010 EQ router, scale things up a little and add some other niceties, such as 1/2″ collet capacity? An almost must-buy machine for the serious hobbyist or pro woodworker!

Thanks to the generous consideration of Christian Oltzscher, CEO of Festool USA, and Bob Marino, I had the opportunity to spend some time with this beauty in the shop on a balmy October weekend…this was Christian’s personal router, by the way, and it was very kind of him to lend it for review and so some other woodworking friends could get a look at the same time. After all, he couldn’t use it while we had it! That truly must have been a sacrifice.

Festool USA

Festool has been in the tool business since 1925 and although not a household name in the USA, they are very highly regarded worldwide. The key to their offerings is understanding that they sell “systems” rather than just tools. Every tool is made to work together with certain components, such as guides, vacs and their elegant stacking storage system called Systainer. The tools and other products are made to extreme quality standards and afford an unprecedented 3-year warranty as well as a 30-day Money Back Guarantee…if you are not satisfied with it, return it, no questions asked within that 30 day window. Also of note is the fact that virtually all the tools are designed to provide excellent dust control when used with the Festool Cleantec dust extraction system. Trust me…it works. Really well.

Although some retailers are starting to pick up the line, buying through a local rep, such as Bob, affords you a level of personal service that you rarely get from other sources.…