July 30, 2010

The beauty of a table saw is the way the blade can be adjusted for depth and angle cuts. When my cousin Dennis Hagen built his own, he didn’t have the metal tooling needed to adjust the blade, so he fashioned an adjustable worktable.

A farmer that he was doing carpentry work for helped him with the limited amount of metal work needed, while his banker donated a heavy wooden desk he was replacing at the time. The table, legs, frame and various other pieces were recycled from the desk.

The saw has six legs. Two sets of uprights are for horizontal sawing, and a third set is fixed at a 45 degree angle for added support when the tabletop tilts to that angle. Curved arms hold the tabletop in the desired position with notches for quickly setting the top at 30 degree and 45 degree cutting angles.

To raise and lower the saw, as well as to draw the blade into the wood as one does with a radial arm saw, Dennis devised a special blade carriage that rides on an inner frame. A hand lever moves the carriage up and down, and a foot pedal draws the blade forward into the wood being cut and back out.

When he was finished, Dennis made sets of shelves for both the farmer and the banker in appreciation for their help. As he once told me, “The saw worked fine for the shelves and for many jobs since.”

There was a time when an apprentice made the tools of his trade as he learned it. When he had learned all that his master could teach him, he was a craftsman. One could tell the quality of the craftsman by the quality of his tools.

Looking at Dennis’ hand crafted table saw, the quality of his craft is evident.

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