Amp-up Your Table Saw with Top Accessories
Top Accessories to improve the performance, accuracy, and dust collection of your tablesaw
Even an old beater can perform like a high-performance machine if you trick it out properly.
For most woodworkers, the shop revolves around the tablesaw. So it makes sense to pump up that machine to be the best it can be. Sometimes, achieving peak performance with this vital tool requires upgrading factory parts with aftermarket add-ons. But with hundreds—if not thousands—of catalog and Web pages devoted to tablesaw accessories, finding the right ones can be a crapshoot. To help you out, we shop-tested dozens of today's greatest tablesaw add-ons and winnowed the list down to these items most deserving a spot in your shop. (Prices shown do not include shipping, where applicable.)
Incra 1000SE miter gauge
Factory-supplied tablesaw miter gauges have a reputation for being inadequate and inaccurate. That's why replacement miter gauges—some souped-up with length stops, adjustable-width miter bars, and positive stops every degree (or even down to .1°)—are all the rage among woodworkers. Incra's 1000SE proved superior to the others in a test of 14 models, and offers the best length stop on the market, with precise 1⁄32 " repeatability and a microadjuster for length.
Most serious tablesaw accidents result from kickback (when the rising teeth at the rear of the spinning blade lift and launch the workpiece back at the operator). Splitters prevent kickback, but if you put your factory guard on the shelf, you're robbing yourself of the protection provided by its splitter. MJ Splitters mount on a zero-clearance throat-plate insert you buy or make yourself. The slightly off-center mounting pins allowed us to rotate the splitter 180° to actually press the workpiece against the fence. It's like having a tiny feather board for the "keeper" behind the cut. Use the green splitters with your full-kerf blades; use yellow splitters with thin-kerf blades.
We balked, too, when we saw the price tag. But we had to use the GRR-Ripper system only once to realize its value far exceeds its price tag. The "tunnels" created by the fixed outside legs and repositionable middle leg allow the GRR-Ripper to pass over the blade without damage, while keeping your hand well away. Just as important, those grippy legs provide equal pressure on both pieces as you feed, further reducing the likelihood of kickback. For ripping stock less than 3" wide, we lowered the black outrigger to tabletop level, as shown, and handled narrow workpieces—even as narrow as 1⁄4 "—with safety and confidence.
HTC Outfeed Rollers
We've had HTC's 37"-wide Outfeed Rollers on the cabinet saws in our shop forever. They provide at least 48" of stone-solid workpiece support behind the blade, making it safer and easier to rip long and wide pieces, such as sheet goods. Yet, they add only about 10" to the back of the saw when folded down—no tools needed—when we need to open up more floor space.
Biesemeyer Commercial Fence (52" rails)
In recent years, tablesaw manufacturers have really stepped up their games when it comes to rip fences. Many factory fences now equal or exceed aftermarket models. But we've never found a fence we like better than a Biesemeyer. Simple and solid, with super-flat faces, it doesn't provide fancy microadjusters or T-slots for mounting jigs or feather boards. But it does its job supremely well and never has let us down in many years of use.
Ridgid Flip-Top Portable Work Support
If you don't have a cabinet saw, Ridgid's Flip-Top stand makes a great extra hand in the shop. We found that its tilting top gently guides a sagging workpiece up to tablesaw-top level, so we could set it up a few feet behind the saw for outfeed support without fear of knocking it over. We tried. Repeatedly. (The large 21×25" footprint helps, too.) This inexpensive support is stingy on storage space, folding to only 31⁄2 " flat.
PALS (Precision Alignment and Locking System)
Own a contractor-style tablesaw? PALS may be the best 20 bucks you'll ever spend. After a quick 10-minute installation (PALS replaces your saw's rear trunnion bolts), you simply turn a screw to align the blade parallel to your saw's miter slots. The process is much more civilized—not to mention accurate and cleaner—than lying on the floor whacking your trunnions with a mallet.
Power Twist Link Belt
If your contractor-style saw sits idle much of the time, its drive belt will stiffen into an oblong shape. That can make your saw as jittery as a chihuahua chugging espresso. A Power Twist Link Belt tames the vibrating beast because it conforms to the drive pulleys like a bike chain to a sprocket, so it never sets into that oblong shape. Also, like a bike chain, you can loosen or tighten the belt by adding or removing links.
HTC Universal Mobile Base
HTC has made smooth-rolling mobile bases for many years, and now they've added foot-operated wheel locks on the fixed casters, making it unnecessary to stoop over to tighten knobs. What we found really handy, though, is the foot-pedal locks that lift the swivel-caster end to keep the machine from shimmying while we worked. (That lock also retrofits some older HTC bases, if you want to upgrade.) We've listed just one base for pricing purposes, but you'll find these orange pedals on HTC's full line of universal and custom-fit bases.
WoodRiver Retracting Casters for Contractor-style Table Saws
For less money than a full-blown mobile base, you can add wheels and stoop-free locking to a contractor-style saw (or virtually any other machine with splayed steel legs). Stepping on the spring-loaded lock lever on each WoodRiver Retracting Caster lifts the saw's leg about 1⁄8 " off the ground; step on it again, and the saw rests on its own feet for a rock-solid foundation. Our favorite part: The ball casters swivel 360°, so we could move the saw any direction without having to jockey it into its parking space.
ProGold PG2000 Penetrating Lubricant
We used to recommend white lithium grease for lubricating the gears that control the blade tilt and elevation mechanisms. For the past several years, though, we've been lubing the saws in the WOOD magazine shop with PG2000. Unlike heavy-bodied grease that turns sawdust into a gummy paste, PG2000 sprays on like water and bonds with the metal to create a low-friction barrier between parts. Dust doesn't stick to it, so it won't cling to bevel stops, where it can render them inaccurate.
MultiGate Dust-collection Switch System
You'll be more likely to use your dust collector for every cut if you don't have to walk across the room to turn it on and off. Opening any blast gate on the MultiGate system sends a signal to the collector via low-voltage wiring and turns it on. Closing the gate turns it off. Once you buy the start-up kit (including one gate, the controller, and 100' of wire), you can add as many gates as you like for other machines. You'll never hunt for the remote control again.
Table Saw Dust-collection Guard
As the blade cuts, gravity and momentum carry much of the sawdust down inside the saw; the debris either drops to the floor or gets sucked away by your dust collector. But invariably, some of the chips escape and are flung back at you. An overarm blade guard/dust-collection port, like this one from Penn State Industries, grabs those errant particles and sucks them away through the hollow arm. Meanwhile, the clear acrylic guard adds safety without restricting visibility.
FazLok Quick Disconnect Fittings
Many of us don't own a central dust collection system, so we drag a DC hose around from one tool to the next. To make the job faster and easier, FazLok Quick Disconnect Fittings were made. To connect, we just inserted the hose fitting into a mating fitting on the collector or tool and twisted it about 1⁄4 ". The hose locked and was ready for action. Because the parts are transparent, we could see when a clog developed at either end of the hose. FazLok fittings come in both 4" and 2-1/2" versions to fit standard-size dust-collection or vacuum hoses.
Wixey Digital Angle Gauge
To check or set your blade's bevel angle, first set the Digital Angle Gauge on your tablesaw top and "zero" it. Now stick it onto the side of your blade, and tilt the blade. The LCD digital display shows the precise tilt of the blade, accurate to 0.1°. Your tablesaw doesn't even have to be level for it to work: The gauge simply shows how the angle differs from the surface you zeroed it to. We're not sure how Wixey can offer this handy and remarkably accurate accessory at this price, but we're not complaining.
Wixey Digital Fractional Caliper
For measurements such as workpiece thickness or dado depth or width, we formerly relied on a dial caliper. It was accurate to .001", but hard to read. Then came digital decimal calipers that were easier to read, but still unintuitive. (Quick! Is .630" more or less than 5⁄8 ") Now comes this digital caliper that reads in decimal inches, as well as fractional inches (such as 13⁄32 " or 15⁄16 "), so we don't have to get out a calculator. Our fave feature: It shows dimensions to the nearest 1⁄64 ", while at the same time showing decimal inches without switching modes.