I have an extraordinarily cheap table saw that I'm trying to use to cut out a bookcase. The table is too small (I only have about 11" between the fence and the blade), the fence is nearly useless (it takes about 10 minutes to get it and verify that it's square) and I don't even want to think about the guide. I don't really want to toss it in the trash and get a better one (mostly because I'm renting the house and I don't have the space). I'd like to retrofit this one so that it's actually usable. Does anybody have any practical ideas of what I can do, or even better, plans, to make this saw usable?
You can check out this youtube video. This guy makes some great improvements to the saw but does not include a riving knife in his design. That's very dangerous, but I'm sure it would be helpful as you attempt to refurbish the table-saw.
Some improvements that can be made to any table saw to improve its performance:
- Create a cross-cut sled. As long as the miter slot is parallel with the saw blade, you will get dead-on 90 degree cuts which are going to be more precise than you'd get with a miter saw.
Build a table-saw wing. This will significantly add to your ripping capacity and it will add weight to the saw, making it less prone to vibration (and topping over).
Build an outfeed table. This prevents the workpiece from falling after its been cut, which is a whole lot more safe.
Buy or build an after-market fence.
Make a zero-clearance insert to prevent chip-out, improve dust collection, and prevent pieces from falling into the dust chute.
In addition to that, you can always add jigs to make your saw more versatile (e.g., box joint jig, tenon jig, jointer jig).
You don't indicate what brand of table saw you have, but you might look into a replacement fence to give you more accuracy. The first three examples from a Google search on replacement/replacing fences.
Depending on your skills and space, you may also be able to attach some extensions to the table to give yourself some more work room.