Originally Posted by ambesolman
Got a little done so far. I used the table saw to trim the mdf pieces and a couple of small pieces for the top to flank the stone. Seems I should've given HD more room for error cuz one of the mdf pieces is about 1/8" short, but I can glue a shim in if I need it I guess.
The table saw does ok but the edge guide doesn't stay straight so I have to try and measure at the front and back of the blade to make sure it's not angled which is a PITA. I ended up free handing some of the cuts without the guide that turned out ok.
Since the table saw is inconsistent, as are my free hand cuts, should I just use the router with a straight edge and flush bit to trim the rest of my pieces? Should I use painters tape when I do so? The veneer on this stuff is no more than 1/16" thick so I'm worried about f-ing up the edges.
I hope this doesn't come off elitist as I was at your level of tools one day...back when I was in college. Buying a cheap table saw from Sears was one of the worst tool purchases I ever made. I couldn't get anything straight and I guess its amazing that I'm a hobbyist woodworker now because I was really discouraged at the time. Unfortunately, since I had been through that before I had a pretty strong feeling you'd run into the same issue...which is why I wrote that humongous post about how to assemble your box with the fewest accurate cuts needed. So yes, I would review my steps and see if they would help you assemble the box using the router to flush panels.
I know you aren't likely to do this anytime soon since your budget is probably going to your stereo system (as it should
) but if you want to get a better saw later, I'd recommend a track saw like this Dewalt (http://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DWS520K...ords=track+saw
). I have a Festool track saw and it is hands down the best tool purchase I ever made. If you made me choose between my table saw with an aftermarket sliding table or the Festool track saw...I'd have a tough decision but I'm pretty sure I take the Festool track saw.
But tool purchases are nice but real woodworkers solve problems using the tools they have...in that case I'm not a real woodworker, more like a hobbyist woodworker but pro tool collector.
But what I was going to say is, we can potentially get your current table saw to work more accurately.
1. Take the fence off, hold it by the end, lean way back, and chuck it as far as you can.
2. Put a piece of tape on a saw tooth.
3. Find a piece of wood with a perfectly (close) straight edge (maybe the edge of your mdf as those are normally real straight). This will become your fence.
4. Get a pair of clamps so you can clamp the straight edge to the table front and table back.
5. Position the straight edge to roughly the correct dimension and clamp the front.
6. Move the saw blade tooth with the piece of tape to the front of the cutting slot and right next to the table.
7. Measure from the taped tooth to the straight edge fence and adjust until accurate, which would mean loosening and then tightening the front clamp.
8. Take the taped tooth and move it to the rear of the cutting slot and repeat the measurement to the straight edge fence. Once you get that accurate, tighten the rear clamp. Note, you don't want to pinch the blade so you might want to make the rear measurement just a slight bit more (like 1 mm more). You definitely don't want the rear of the fence closer to the blade than the front...bad juju.
9. Remeasure and make sure your front measurement is still accurate and the rear measurement is the same as the front plus a little extra so you aren't pinching the blade.
10. See if you can cut accurately. It is possible that the arbor supporting the spinning saw blade has too much runout, which means it won't cut very straight.
11. Also, make sure you are pushing forward and towards the fence. DO NOT STAND BEHIND THE TABLE SAW. Obviously you need to keep your fingers away from the blade so I'd strongly recommend using a blade guard. But what most people don't understand about the table saw is that kick back is very dangerous too. The blade is spending toward you and could easily grab a piece of wood (remember me mentioning the fence and pinching wood) and throw it back towards you at a high rate of speed. Do a search on it and you'll learn how dangerous kick back truly is on a table saw.
Hope this helps some. Be safe and build well.