There are many accessories that you can acquire for your table saw in order to make it more versatile, safe, powerful, accurate, or convenient. One such accessory is the table saw extension. What this accomplishes is, as you might imagine from the name, extends the capability of your saw. Specifically, it extends the real estate on the table surface allowing you to work with larger pieces of stock. More specifically, this is an aid when crosscutting lumber or sawing sheets of plywood or similar material.
Store-bought or Home made
There are many commercial table saw extensions available on the market today. Some of these are made for specific models from specific manufacturers while others try to satisfy the configurations of many different models. There are expensive ones and cheap ones.
On the other hand there is the type of home hobbyist who delights in not only designing but building all his own jigs for his wood shop. Building an extension for his table saw is just one more challenge to be savored. A quick search through the internet will locate many, many personal pages where these craftsmen (and craftswomen) display their home made extensions complete with high resolution pictures and step by step instructions.
Requirements for Extensions
As with all power tools, the number one concern is safety. All design and usage considerations must be made with safety at the forefront. But aside from that there are several other requirements. Let’s look at a few of them.
- Configuration. The extension must be configured so that it mates up with well, and securely attaches to, your particular table saw. In addition, you a good table saw extension is designed to install and uninstall quickly so you can get about your business and not spend all your time on set up.
Minimum vibration. It is important to keep all vibration to a minimum to ensure that you get the most accurate cut possible, especially when doing finish work. This is one of the marks of a pro. Also, any mistakes on a project will compound as it proceeds to completion. Start off well and keep it that way.
Level. The extension should be level with the surface of your table saw in order to get an accurate cut, with respect to the degree of the angle of the cut. Also, if there are any level deviations between your table saw and its extension, there will be a tendency for you blade to bind. The consequences of this might be safety issues, burn marks on your wood, and shortened blade life.
Diversity. Not strictly a requirement, the more you can diversify your tools and equipment, the more productive and less cluttered your wood shop will be. This is especially important in smaller shops where space comes at a premium. As an example, one common adaptation is to make your extension double as a router table.
There is one alternative that can offer a degree of versatility although it requires some careful set up. You can buy rollers on stands that have a height adjustment. There are many situations where this is all you need and they can be much faster than setting up your extension.
A good table saw extension is not specifically a must have item but it certainly makes your project work more productive, accurate, and fun. If you do not have one yet you should give it some thought. Whether you buy a commercial one or you enjoy making your own jigs and like a challenge, it is just another toy and we can’t have too many of those.