The base is done, so I decided to work on making the table top today. I might be going a bit overboard, but I want the top to be strong and sturdy. I opted for a 3/4″ sheet of particle board glued and screwed to a 3/4″ sheet of birch plywood. Both sheets are heavy by themselves, so I will need help moving them after they are laminated together.
3/4″ particle board over 3/4″ birch
Before cutting the sheets down to size, I check them for square, then clamp them together, making sure to line up two adjacent edges perfectly flush.
Lined up and checked for square
Next I broke out a new tool, that I bought specifically, to cut this table top. I need the edges to be dead straight and flush together, and I can’t shove them through the table saw together. They are way too heavy. Instead I bought the Grizzly track saw. After doing some research, I determined that it is not quite as nice as the Festool or Dewalt track saws, but it will cut straight lines accurately, and that is what I need. According to the reviews, the quality level can be hit or miss. The only place where I saw poor quality control was in the track clamps. One of them went into the track, but would barely move, the other one wouldn’t even go all the way in.
Clamps don’t fit
The problem was easily remedied though, I clamped them up and filed down the top of the clamp, just a bit. the clamp was cast, so it just needed a little flattening.
A small adjustment
They both slid into place freely after some minor adjustment, and I was back in business.
Much better fit
I measured and located the track, then clamped it down, making sure the waste end was supported for the cut.
Guide clamped down
After setting the track in place, I checked to make sure it was lined up square before tightening down the clamps.
Making sure it is square
The saw has a dust collection port. I didn’t feel like dragging my big Shop-Vac over and figuring how to connect the 2″ hose to a 1″ port, so I disconnected the baby Shop-Vac that is nested in the big one. This is why I bought this vacuum. The little one uses the same motor that runs the big vac, but has a separate filter and a 1″ hose. It is a lot more portable.
With everything all set up, I made my first cut.
First cut with my new Grizzly track saw
The guide has a piece of rubber on the edge that acts as a zero-clearance guard to prevent tear-out. The saw also has a riving knife to help prevent the board from binding on the blade. I was impressed at the cut through the two boards. Dead straight and smooth as a 48-tooth blade can get. For less than half the price of the Festool and Dewalt saws, it sure seems to perform well.
Leaves a nice clean edge
Absolutely no tear-out, just a few fuzzies that can be easily sanded away.
A little fuzzy, but no tear-out
The dust collection got about 85% of the dust, but some of the reviews I read, offered the suggestion of taping over the blade window, to improve suction. I applied a piece of packaging tape to each side of the window, so there was no sticky side available to attract dust.
Enhancing the dust collection
The next cut proved to be a bit cleaner. The vacuum seemed to get about 95% of the dust. The only dust I saw, came out the bottom of the cut. I can deal with that.
Cutting the long side with the doubled up track
Coating the plywood with glue
With the first set of tops cut out, I applied wood glue to the sheet of birch plywood and set the particle board on top of it.
Counter-sinking the middle of the board
I drilled and counter-sunk eight holes down the middle and on the sides. I placed some wood screws in them to hold the two boards tightly together, so they can dry. I also added clamps all the way around the perimeter.
Glued and clamped together
While the first set of tops was drying, my son and I brought in the second set of boards and I repeated the process. The second sheet of particle board was not quite square, so I lined up the long side, and clamped the two sheets together and ran my flush trim bit along the edge to flush the two boards up.
Routing the top flush to the bottom sheet
I cut the second set of tops down the same way, then screwed and glued them as well.
Second table top cut out
Applying glue to the side trim
After the first top was dry enough to pull the clamps, I laid out my edge trim and started applying glue to it.
Pinning it in place for the clamps
I set it against the sheets and pinned it in place, flush to the top, to hold it there long enough to get the clamps on.
Trim clamped in place
When the sides were attached, I marked and cut the end piece to fit between the sides. Since I am not sure how well the edge trim will hold to the edge of the two sheets, I added some Miller Dowels to give extra holding power. I will cut away the excess trim and the ends of the dowels tomorrow, when all the glue has had a chance to cure a bit.
Adding Miller Dowels for extra holding power
First top glued and doweled
I repeated the glueing and doweling on the second top half and called it a day.
Second top glued and doweled
Past midnight again, but I made a lot of progress. Since I am off work this week, I will be at it again tomorrow. I should be able to get the Formica top on and trimmed, maybe even start the finishing. If all goes well, I might be able to deliver it this weekend…