June 4


No Table Saw? No Worries! Make a Portable Cutting Table and Use Your Circular Saw

By Rob

There is nothing better than  turning a pile of wood into sawdust and, occasionally, furniture. 

I consider myself an inexperienced woodworker who has slowly built up a tool collection as my skills have improved over the years.

I still don't have a table saw, but that hasn't stopped me from making tables, bookcases, cabinets, and beds.

I made this portable cutting table to use with my circular saw to rip and cut plywood sheets.

I believe this is easier to use than a table saw in some ways.

Have you ever tried feeding a 3/4-inch-thick 4x8-inch sheet of plywood into a table saw?

It can be downright frightening unless you have another person to assist you, as well as a heavy stand and an out-feed table.

The cutting table is unaffected. Simply place the plywood on the table, clamp a straight edge, adjust the cutting depth on your saw, put on your safety glasses, and let the sawing begin.

Cutting into the table isn't a problem. It's for that purpose.

portable cutting table for a table saw

Step 1: Tools and Materials

The tools you will need.

  • Saw. I used my miter saw but any saw could work. 
  • Drill. Corded or cordless. Use it to drill and drive the screws.

Material needed.

  • 5 pieces (or about 40 feet) of 1x4 pine, poplar, or plywood strips.
  • Melamine shelving. 2 pieces of 8x36 and 1 piece of 12x36
  • Folding table legs
  • Screws and glue

Step 2: Build the Table Frame

I built this table a few years ago and failed to take any pictures of the process. It's just a simple rectangular frame that I built out of scrap plywood.

It's simple to make out of 1x4 dimensional pine or poplar.

I cut the plywood into 3 1/2 inch strips and used them to construct the table's outer perimeter. 

The corners were simply butt joined and screwed/glued. 

The table measures approximately 37 inches wide by 78 inches long.

Step 3: Add Some Wood to the Top

I'm not sure if you can call it wood. Melamine is a word I can't even pronounce.

Because it was cheap and I was feeling lazy that day, I used 8x36 inch melamine shelving for the ends and a 12x36 inch piece for the middle.

I simply screwed into the sides of the shelves through the frame.

This reinforces the frame and ensures that the corners are square.

To make an approximate grid of 12 inch open squares, I added a few more cross supports.

Step 4: Give the thing some legs

At the local big box store, I purchased some folding table legs.

I believe the pair cost around $25.

These were screwed to the frame's support pieces/open grid parts.

Step 5: Make Some Sawdust!

Unlike sawhorses, which can cause the wood to sag in the middle, the table supports the entire sheet.

Do you have some boards that are too wide for your miter saw to cross cut? It's no problem.

A straight edge/board is screwed directly to the table.

Then screw another board to the straight edge at a right angle (or whatever angle you need).

The saw blade will cut through your board and into the table after you make your first cross cut.

Simply align your next board with the table's cut. It's that simple.

When using a jig saw to cut a hole in or notch a piece of wood, the open grid is ideal. It also works well as a portable work table.

Step 6: Sweep the Floor and Fold It Up

When folded, the table takes up very little space.

This was critical because it enabled my wife to park her SUV in the garage.

A happy wife means a happy life!

I initially wished I had built it larger, but after using it, I have discovered that it is the perfect size.

It's simple to transport, carry, and store. I want to get a table saw eventually, but in the meantime, I'll keep cutting grooves into my cutting table.

Don't forget to wear your PPE.

And remember lumber on and live the wood life.

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