As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Mobile Tablesaw Workstand


PLEASE NOTE, the youtube video is meant as a companion to the following article, not a replacement. In particular, it is NOT a build video!




I am always on the lookout for ways to improve the layout and usefulness of my shop. One area where I have a particular need is storage. I have a basement shop, so the size of the shop is one thing that I cannot (easily) change. So, I need to find better ways to make use of the limited space that I do have.

My table saw is the centrepiece of my shop. I use it a lot. But it is also fairly large, occupying a large amount of space. In my quest for more and better storage, I have long dreamt about all the empty "wasted" space that is under and around my table saw.

One option would be to build a rolling cart that occupies the space under the wing of the saw. That would be a good solution if my table saw stayed in one place. However, in my compact shop everything is on wheels, and gets moved regularly. Therefore, every time I move the saw I would also have to move an under-wing cabinet.

Over the years I have seen several designs of table saw workstations, where people actually transform the table saw into a movable cabinet. These designs always involve removing the legs/base of the saw and mounting the top onto a rolling cabinet. (Try a google search for "mobile tablesaw cabinet" or "tablesaw workstation" or similar to see what I mean.)

The problem I have with those designs is that you are committing yourself to the specific table saw that you are custom fitting into the cabinet. I like my saw, but I do hope to someday replace it with a better model. A cabinet saw, for instance, would not work with most designs.

So instead I have came up with this design for a more modular Tablesaw workstation. It would incorporate a rolling platform that the table saw would sit upon. As well there would be cabinets that would fit on that platform sitting under and beside the saw. The entire unit would be mobile, and could come apart in sections in case I ever needed to move, or decided to upgrade or replace a section of it. The table saw itself could be removed from the platform and replaced with another one, with (hopefully!) a minimum amount of fuss, should I ever upgrade my saw.

At the time of writing, I have now had this workstation for two years and am still very happy with it. Unfortunately, I did not take photos during the construction, but I do have numerous photos showing the different features of it, as well as a 3D SketchUp model with all the dimensions and details.

If you want to build yourself a version of this, the first step is to break out your tape measure and take several measurements off of YOUR saw. My saw is pretty standard, but there still might be variations between mine and yours.

Start with the overall width of your saw. In my case, I only want o make use of the existing space under my saw, I don't want it to take up any more floor space. Next, measure the footprint of your saw. This ells you the minimum space you need to allow for the base/feet. Finally, measure the space under the left and right wings of your saw.

Note: My tablesaw is a left-tilt unit. This means that the blade-tilt control wheel is on the right side of the saw, so I have to leave space for easy access to that wheel. To accommodate that, in my design I have a short and a tall cabinet on the right side.

My tablesaw weighs 300lbs. I have no idea how much the cabinets weigh.

So, this was the design that I came up with. It consists of four modules that fit together to form my tablesaw workstation.

First there is the mobile base. It supports the whole unit, and is designed to be low to the ground. Next I have a large cabinet on the right. Beside it there is a shorter central cabinet, to allow space around the blade-tilt wheel. Finally, on the left side of the saw I also fit in a tall/narrow bank of drawers.

The end result is a huge amount of storage packed into a small, mobile(!) footprint. Yes, I could have gained a touch more space by dismantling the saw and removing the legs, but really, not that much.

In the rest of this document I will take a look at the individual modules that make up the workstation.

The base unit is a four-wheeled wooden platform with a few critical features. The platform has been lowered, to keep the table saw as close as possible to it's original height. My shop has a fairly smooth floor, so the base is designed with just 1/2” of floor clearance.

Pictured here is a similar mobile base design that I have used for many years to support my six-inch jointer. (This was inspired by a design I found online years ago.) It has worked very well in that role. It is stable, and raises the tool only a little bit over it's original height. So, I thought to use this design as the base for my tablesaw workstation, scaling it up in size as needed. The bottom is a simple sheet of 3/4” plywood. The sides are a pair of 2x4s arranged in an L-shape. As you can see, the top section of 2x4 sticks out at either end, to allow room for the castors to swivel freely.

The first step is to obtain your castors. You need to have these before you finalize your plans, let alone cut any wood. The overall height of your castors will affect the height of your side rails, which determines your floor clearance.

I purchased four double-locking swivel castors, rated at 100kg (220lb) each, which should provide plenty of support – a total of 400kg or 880 pounds. I strongly recommend using four swivelling castors, as opposed to using two fixed and two swivelling. In a small shop, having all four wheels swivel will make it much easier to move and spin and reposition your tool stand.

Note that after two years of use I have had about 1/8" of sag on one side of the base. I think that one of my 2x4s was either just a bit week, or possibly it is because the grain was flat sawn, which is weaker. You might want to use hardwood for the top-rail of the base, or at least make sure your 2x4 has vertical grain. This does not affect the usability of my workstation, I just want to be completely transparent.

Here is the base shortly after it was built. I immediately slid the saw into position to make sure it worked, and then used the saw in that position as I built the rest of the modules and fitted them around the saw.

The right-hand cabinet sits at the far right-hand side of the stand, and is the largest of the cabinets. I prefer drawers for my storage, but this could very easily be built as a cabinet with doors and shelves, or perhaps with doors and roll-out shelves. It is also the most “ordinary” of the three cabinets.
The body of the cabinet is a simple open front box. The sides are 3/4” plywood, for strength. Half-inch plywood would probably work as well, but the 3/4” thickness provides just a bit more thickness to accommodate the screws which support the drawer slides. There is no need for a full bottom on this, as it just sits on the torsion box section of the base. A pair of crosspieces are all you need.
Here is a photo of the right-hand cabinet in use. I have opened the bottom drawer fully, and partially opened the others. These are large drawers, twenty-four inches deep, by nineteen inches wide, and they provide a lot of storage.

As mentioned at the top of this page, I have a left- tilt tablesaw. This means that the blade-tilting wheel is located on the right-hand side of the saw. The presence of that wheel means that I needed to leave some space around it. If you have a right-tilt tablesaw, then you will NOT have a handwheel in that spot. As such, you might not even need this cabinet. You could instead build a wider version of the right-hand cabinet.

However, I should also mention that this cabinet also serves as the place to store the fence when I dismount it from the saw for crosscutting operations.

The middle cabinet is fairly narrow, and not very tall, so I designed it to be one large drawer. This provides a place to store all my saw blades close at hand. In order to maximize the space in this narrow cabinet, the drawer slides are omitted. Instead, the drawer bottom is made wider than the drawer itself, and rides in dados cut into the side of the cabinet.
Here is a photo of the centre-cabinet drawer on top of my saw, fully loaded with saw blades and a dado set.
The previous photo doesn't show it well, so here is a sketch showing the inside of that drawer. There is a divider in the back, and in the front a pair of notched boards to hold several sawblades in a stair-step fashion. This makes it safer for my fingers when trying to access a blade!

On my saw, the space on the left is very narrow -- only nine inches wide. Still, it is very deep, so there was also room for a cabinet there. I considered making this a cabinet with doors that opened to the left side. That would be a viable alternative. In the end, I preferred drawers for my storage.

In order to maximize the space in the drawers, I again opted to forgo drawer slides. I followed the same approach with the middle cabinet, using dados in the side of the cabinet where the drawer bottoms slide.

All the drawer boxes in the workstation are built the same way. I used simple butt joints. However I used pocket-hole screws to hold them together. This makes for a quick, strong, and hidden joint. The pocket holes are on the outside ends. So at the front, they are hidden behind the drawer faces. At the rear, they just aren't seen.
Here's a photo showing the drawers extended. They may be skinny, but they are LONG. This still provides a lot of storage.

...And that is a tour of my tablesaw workstation.

Someone is probably curious, so here is the back side view of it all.



Thanks for reading!