JimD's Extension tables (with miter gauge slots)


  • JimD's Extension tables (with miter gauge slots)

    One of the key disadvantages to the BT3000 and BT3100 is the very small surface areas to support wood being cut. This is obvious to anybody looking at these saws and probably contributes a lot to the fact that they did not sell at the volume their quality deserves. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to address this weakness - make yourself extension tables to increase the table size to whatever you need.

    I have used this construction method to make three tables so far. The first example was the largest and was made when I added the extended rails. It measures about 40 3/4 inches by 22 1/8 inches. This one extension table more than doubles the table area of the BT3100 (it is over 6 square feet and the total of the original tables is less than 4 square feet). If you do not have extension rails, you could still make the smaller left hand table like mine (it is 11 5/8 x 22 1/8) and right hand table (6x22 1/8) and add about 30% more area. Actually you could make the right hand table wider and add even more. The SMT is not flat to the other tables on the stock saw and I have had trouble getting consistent accuracy from it so I replaced it with the left hand table with a miter gauge slot and put a second miter gauge slot in the right hand table so I can see if I like using a sled better. Both the left hand and right hand tables have adjustment screws so you can get the miter gauge slot parallel to the blade.

    On my largest table, the upright plywood pieces are of 1/2 inch plywood and the pieces which space the uprights a little away from the rails (so the rip fence will work) are nominally 1/4 plywood. On the two littler tables, I used 1/4 plywood for the uprights. The top surface of all three extension tables is 3/4 melamine covered particle board. I like this material because it is stable, resists damage, and quite slick when waxed.
    These two pictures show what I call "sandwiches" of the three materials before and after glueup and some refinement. These are what hold the melamine at the correct height.

    The key advantage of my extension tables is they can be removed and replaced and will be level to the top of the saw with very little if any adjustment. This comes from the thin piece on each upright that rides in the opening on the inside of the front and back rails. I think this is much superior to the metal supports I got with the extension rails because I do not have to mess with adjusting the height.

    Construction is easy and many of you will not need much beyond the photographs. I start with a 3 1/2 inch wide piece of 1/4 or 1/2 inch plywood (thicker for bigger tables is my theory but it may not be necessary). This will later be trimmed to the real width (or height) you need. The other dimension of this piece is the width of the table you want (6 inches, 11 5/8 inches, or 40 3/4 inches in my tables). I would actually make it a little long and trim after glue-up. Laminated to the 3 1/2 inch wide piece are a piece 2 inches wide for the back rail and 1 1/2 inches wide for the front rail. This is the spacer for rip fence operation. 1/8 thick would probably work but I've used nominally 1/4 plywood for mine. It is also the length the table will be wide (6, 12, or whatever). It is glued flush to the bottom of the 3 1/2 inch wide piece on the side that will face the rail. The third piece of this buildup is 3/4 inches wide and needs to be about 1/16 thick. I used 1/8 hardboard for my last two tables and thinned it on the BT3100 after glueup. This is to go into the slot of the rail which is really about 13/16 wide. I deliberately made it a little smaller to allow for some adjustment. This piece must be about 1/4 up from the bottom of the piece for the front rail and 7/16 from the bottom for the piece for the back rail. I glued up all three pieces and used a couple 23 gauge pins to hold the pieces aligned during glue-up. If you use the stock rail nuts from Ryobi, you will have to drill 1/2 inch holes with a forstner bit for clearance. The center should be about 1/32 above the center of the 3/4 strips. The hole goes only through the 3/4 wide piece.

    The key to getting the tables at the right height is the next couple steps. After the glue sets and the 3/4 strip is trimmed to final thickness (if necessary) and the clearance hole drilled (if necessary), I clamp the little plywood sandwiches to the rails (using t-nuts and 3/4 inch long 5/16 bolts). I then lay a straight-edge across the BT3100 table(s) and mark a line that represents the top of the table (there is a picture of this). I then trim to barely leave this line (using the BT3100). The next step is to cut the melamine to the right width to go between the plywood sandwiches (mark and/or measure while they are clamped in position) and then glue the plywood sandwiches to the malamine. If you were careful, very little adjustment will be necessary to have the extension table be at the same height as the BT3100 tables.

    This picture shows my 18 inch ruler laying across the main BT3100 table and the accessory table so I can draw a line on the back "sandwich". I did the same thing do draw a line on the front "sandwich". The next picture shows the sandwiches with the lines to show where they need to be cut.

    If you want miter slots, I recommend putting another piece of melamine or 3/4 plywood under the miter gauge slot in the melamine. I cut about 1/16 off the underside of the melamine so I can glue on the plywood. I then used a dado jig to make the miter slot but another easy way to get the slot pretty close to parallel to the blade is to use the rip fence to guide the router. I put an adjustment screw into the edge of the melamine on the corner that needs to move away from the BT3100 for final adjustment to parallel. That lets me set the screw such that I can slide the tables on and off and be aligned. As you can see in the pictures, I did better with the alignment of the miter gauge slot on the right than on the left. Using the rip fence might have worked out better than my technique on the left, at least. It still works fine, however.

    I put tape on the melamine on top and put 4 or 5 coats of wipe on poly to the plywood. I don't think it makes the tables any more functional but it looks better.

    Good luck and enjoy your BT3100. It is far more accurate than most believe, fully as accurate as a cabinet saw. It just needs a little help from you to get some reasonable sized table surfaces.

    The rest of these pictures are various shots of the little tables I just finished today.

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