Adding a table saw extension wing

I have a list of “to do” items for the shop that seems to be getting longer daily. One of which is to make some extension wings for my table saw. Eventually they will be used as router tables. I decided I wouldn’t cut any holes in the tops until I made up my mind for what to put in them. So lets walk through making a wing real quick for this saw.

First thing is finding materials. While visiting the in-laws during Christmas I was able to snag a few boards out of the loft of their barn. For a surface I wanted to go with laminate but didn’t want to spend any money on a new piece when It dawned on me…there is a local lumber yard that does custom Formica countertops. Every kitchen today comes with a double bowl sink which is slightly larger than the size of most extension wings. Score! I asked if they had any free sink hole cutouts and was able to leave with a piece of Ebony Granite Formica that matches the Porter-Cable saw great as well as a few other matching scraps I could use to make a fence down the road. So now I had my materials for free, reclaimed red oak and a free piece of cut off laminate.

table saw extension wing (1)

I knew surfacing the oak was going to be a pain in the butt as it has been sitting for years and years collecting dust. The first thing I did was cut off a usable section to to start milling it down for my frame. As you can see the dirt and grime is relatively deep.

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I used a cheepo bench plane to remove most of the junk material before I ran It through my planer. I definitely would have chosen a different method but the plane used was a $10 HF plane. I can assure you the plane is in better shape after seeing this board than it was the day I got it.

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15 minutes or so of elbow grease later I was left with a chunk of oak with some pretty decent grain.

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Next I ran it through my plainer to clean up the faces. The resulting board was slightly under 6/4. My original plan was to rip my frame pieces out of this but after looking at the stamped steel wing I knew the pieces needed to be closer to 2” for bolting area. I decided to re-saw the entire board in half. I made the cut on the table saw in several passes to reduce pressure on the blade. My cut was slightly off center so my resulting boards were about 5/8 and 1/2.

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This is some great lumber. The barn in which I got the boards was put up by the Amish about 80 years ago. Its a shame I had to cut off so much junk to get to usable lumber.

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These pieces were then ripped to 2-1/4” wide. That dimension will be the height of my extension.

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Next I ripped my formica piece to an approximate width and squared one edge perpendicular. I did not want to cut it down to final length as I was still unsure at this stage how I would actually assemble the frame.

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Time to remove the steel wing. The wing is attached to the saw with 3 bolts and to the rails with one bolt on front and back. A 17mm socket is needed for the saw bolts and a 13mm socket for the rails.

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Making a frame for this could have been a lot easier. If I were to redo the entire process I would have built the box completely first then drilled out the mounting locations. However, I built the frame in place as the top would interfere with the 3 bolts to the saw. The 3 bolts to the saw were one height and the front and back rails were another height. To save some measuring I clamped the old wing to the new frame piece to mark the holes to drill. A 1/2” drill bit will be used for these holes. I’m not sure the actual thread size of these bolts but a 1/2” hole will allow about 1mm of adjustment once the bolts are inserted. This is plenty of movement to get it perfect with the top of the saw.

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After drilling the holes in the first frame piece I tried to slip it into place and test for fit when I noticed a lip in the front rail preventing me from putting it in. 1-5/8” down from the table surface is a lip that is used to register the front rail to the saw top during initial installation. Just cut a notch into this frame piece. I later cut a groove in the front frame piece just the same as one would cut a drawer bottom slot.

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Here is the first piece fitted into place. Luckily the 3 bolts to the table are about 1/2” longer than necessary for the stamped steel wing. I suppose they did this on purpose for you to add a wing of your own later. The extra length of the bolts are perfect for this.

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The next pieces were simply cut to fit and drilled for rail bolts. I had some extra miter bolts from a counter top job I did a few months ago. These bolts have flat bar washers that are used to clamp miter joints in counter tops. They are way too long for the job but I figured I would use them and not spend any money on hardware. Although, any hardware can be used here.

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Having the frame clamped in place I was able to get final measurements for the formica insert. I cut this on the other side of my blade with my panel sled. With the formica cut I slipped it in place with it resting on the bolt heads. I was then able to mark from the underside where I needed to rout out some room for the bolt heads.

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I used a large tip marker to make sure I had enough material marked for removal.

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Time to brush up on some freehand routing skills. It was right about here that I decided to use pocket hole screws to attach the top to the frame. With all the pieces pre-drilled and ready to go I removed the remaining pieces off the saw and assembled the wing on my bench.

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The only 1” pocket hole screws I had on hand were coarse thread. Course threads and oak surely do not mix. Just dab the treads in some paste wax and nothing will crack. I used 20-30 screws and had not one split or crack. When attaching the top to the frame I shot 2 brads on either side of the screw from the rail into the top and then screwed it in place. The brads will prevent the screws from lifting the adjacent piece as pocket hole screws are prone to doing without being properly clamped.

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From there I just bolted the entire unit in place as any wing would be installed. I am quite happy with the finished product. I have a few errors on my part but they are in non important areas thankfully. I had one gap in my frame pieces. Not sure how that happened but oh well. As you can see I more than doubled the wing size. It was a great build and will serve a good purpose. I am definitely putting a router in but am undecided on if I want to build a router lift or buy one. The other side of the saw has less room for a router due to the motor being on that side. It does however have just enough room to do the same for a dedicated laminate router with a 1/4” round over bit. All in all, very worthy upgrade. Especially for the price…FREE! Check your local counter top shops for sink hole cutouts!

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16 Comments

  1. Tom Richardson

    This might be a silly question, but what holds the extension up? Looks like you attached some angle iron to the back of the saw, and the extension is bolted to the angle iron as well as the saw’s cast surface. Is the fence rail (an add-on?) also supporting the extension?

    This is my next shop-improvement project, and will be followed up with a router lift, just as you mention here. Really appreciate all you’ve posted and any follow-up you can offer. Thanks Jay!

    1. Jay Bates

      The wing is bolted to the stock angle iron in back, the extension mounts on the saw itself, and the front fence rail. It’s a great improvement for any table saw.

  2. Chad Ashton

    Excellent. Do you think that the counter top is heavy enough material? I know a lot of extensions are cast iron so I just wondered if thought the light countertop material would hold up and work as well as something more heavy duty. It looks great and I plan to do something like this when I finally get my first table saw. Thanks and great job on the site and videos!

    1. Jay Bates

      An extension table or wing is supposed to support material for safer use with the table saw. It does that just fine. I use it for a light duty work surface as well. For heavier duty work I would use a workbench. If your just getting started in woodworking the best advice I would give is to not get wrapped up into the “I NEED this tool or I won’t do a good job” thing. The best advise I was ever given is this: Remember that it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.

      1. Joseph Garza

        Hey Jay, I know it’s two years later, but this is an awesome post, but this reply you left was what I needed to hear.

        I’m just getting my woodshop setup and I keep pushing off projects because I think I don’t have the right tools.

        I don’t know why your post hit home, but it does. I’m starting an overdue project tomorrow.

        Always going to remember it’s the Indian, not the arrow.

  3. Roger Miller

    Hey Jay. The table extension looks great. My problem is finding a new rail and fence long enough to do this.I have a Bosch Job Site Table Saw, but only use it in my shop. I want to be able to cross cut 4 x 8 sheets of plywood in half. That means I’d need at least 48″ to right of blades. Any ideas ? I’d appreciate it.

  4. christopher Suttles

    I had a sink cut out that I had planned to use as a router table top but before I got around to using it, it bowed up like a Halloween cat. Maybe yours won’t with the addition of the oak.

  5. dirk

    Hi Jay. Great looking extension. At first I thought it was a concrete form but the counter top material works and looks great. I think I need to change my extension a bit. Using stainless steel and a solid work frame with a router extension. Unfortunately I have the same issue of trying to find a suitable fence locking rail so have had to make one. It works but just not sturdy enough for broad stock sheets.
    Has anyone got deas as to where I could find one?

  6. Edward

    What i used was a simple table saw. But now i am going to buy router table top as well. As cutting the osk is really problematic and giving smooth shape to the wood is a great challenge. i think this device can make my work more easy and fast. thanks for sharing this!

  7. Marshall Hackworth

    I came to read the article , ended up investigating where the rogue audio sources ( 2) were coming from and commenting about them.. Just bought your router lift plans, nice job putting that together.. I was going to build it w/o them but i wanted to support your efforts.. Thanks..

  8. Frank Allen

    Hello jay.
    I have a Porter Cable table saw. It looks like one in your video.
    It will only cut to around 31 inches.
    But I need to cut 38-51. How can I altere my saw to do this.
    Frank

    1. Jeffrey Beardsley

      You’ll need longer fence rails in order to have a wider cut to the right of the blade.

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