A unique approach to making a full-function work center
As a young carpenter living in an apartment and specializing in residential remodeling, I have to wear a lot of hats—and make them all fit into a truck and small trailer. That is why I always look for tools and techniques that combine multiple tasks into smaller packages, especially when it comes to table saws and table saw stands. To start with, I’ve always wanted one that would fit in my truck, but that’s just for starters.
For several years, I’ve considered buying a Rousseau table saw stand, after all, they get good grades from finish carpenters for being versatile and flexible, and I’ve heard from several remodelers that they can take a beating on a framing job, too. But other needs stopped me from taking the plunge.
As my career and skills have grown, I’ve found myself doing more and more quality built-ins, furniture and cabinetry. Not only do I use a table saw a lot on jobsites—for ripping stiles and rails, plywood and lumber, but for much of that joinery, I also use a Kreg pocket hole jig and their line of pocket hole accessories—which requires a decent-sized worktable. Plus, for the work I’ve been doing, I need a router table, too, something portable and easy to setup, for beading edges, rabbets, and dadoes.
Too many tables
Anyone with similar experience can see where I’m heading—that’s too many tables for a pickup truck. Ultimately, I’ve found the answer in a Rousseau table saw stand modified to incorporate a number of Kreg and Rousseau brand accessories, including Kreg Klamp Traks, Kreg Bench Klamps, and Rousseau’s new router plate and router fence.
The heart of my workstation is the Rousseau 2745 table saw stand. [photo 20] This stand was designed specifically to accommodate the DeWalt 745 table saw, which I chose due to its lightweight, portability and cutting performance. The stand itself is welded and powder coated steel—it’s durable and folds flat, making it easy to carry and store in my truck. I also use the Rousseau outfeed table—a critical accessory which hooks onto the rear tube of the stand, and provides an additional 45”of out feed support. I found that the out feed table also provides additional work surface when assembling frames. In a nutshell, this stand allows me to combine the mobility of a bench top table saw with a stable workstation and table-saw fence system that rivals most contractor-style saws.
Lessons learned the hard way
I experimented building several iterations of this workstation and learned many valuable lessons. No doubt you’ll notice that I’m working with different materials in some of the photos. Let’s just call that ‘experimentation.’ In this article, I’ll try to share the lessons I learned.
One of the first mistakes I made was to mount my t-track too far from the router plate, which meant my feather boards were mounted too far away to press narrow stock against the router fence. I recommend you first determine where you will locate your router plate, from there locate your t-track so your feather boards will reach the center of the router plate.
I also found that while the Kreg Klamp Traks have proven themselves to be an invaluable part of the setup, they are also by far the most tedious and labor-intensive part of the assembly process. The Kreg Klamp Traks attach to the extension table surface with an endless number of 1/4” hex bolts, spaced roughly 2” on center. The close spacing is troublesome but necessary: spaced too widely apart, the pressure exerted by the Kreg Bench Klamps will cause even the heavy-duty Klamp Traks to flex.
Because the bolts do not slide very well through the Klamp Trak, it’s also important to drill the holes for the bolts in a perfectly straight line, so that the bolts are positioned in the Klamp Trak when you drop it down. Otherwise, it’s difficult to fine-tune the position of the Trak on the table surface.
Another trick I discovered with the Trak was to hold them back slightly from the table saw side. This allows the user to insert Bench Klamps from either side, speeding some applications. Also, if you want to incorporate a T-track into your table surface make sure to leave a space in the Klamp Traks so you can slide accessories into the T-track.
If the Rousseau table saw stand is the skeleton of my workstation, then the Kreg Bench Klamps and Klamp Traks are the muscles.
The Kreg Bench Klamps are available in two different sizes. The smaller size works well on my small extension table, but if I had a larger workstation I would get a pair of the 9-in. clamps, too. Kreg recently updated their line of pocket-hole face clamps and bench clamps with a number of desirable improvements. All of the Kreg clamps are now available with comfortable rubberized grips, and the Bench Klamps have replaced the rear-mounted knurled thumb screw with a small rotating handle. This small handle is a great feature, as it allows the user to make rapid changes for different materials and fine tune clamping pressure. To set the clamping pressure, I push the clamp down to the work surface, turn the handle until tight, then release the clamp, and tighten another one quarter or one half turn, which is usually just enough pressure to secure the work without damaging the clamp or the track.
Building the Workstation
A big mistake. Trust me. It’s better to use glue or contact cement, so when you’re cutting the hole for the router plate, you don’t hit a screw.
Kreg Klamp Trak
I experimented with a variety of methods for cutting the Kreg Klamp Trak., including a jigsaw fitted with a non-ferrous metal blade, and a cross cutting sled on a table saw. I found the easiest method that produced the cleanest cuts was using my Kapex miter saw fitted with an aluminum cutting blade. While not delivering 100% effectiveness, the dust extraction on the Kapex was a welcome feature when cutting the aluminum, collecting the majority of the aluminum shavings and easing cleanup. I took several safety precautions, including using the fast-acting hold-down clamp, keeping my fingers well clear of the blade, reducing the saw’s speed to the “3” setting, and of course wearing hearing and eye protection! I found it safest to cross-cut pieces longer than twelve inches. Trying to shave a little off aluminum is not possible. I made sure to have the full width of the blade in contact with the work, with a little extra on the waste side.
To mount my router in the extension table, I used a Rousseau router plate. Rousseau offers a installation kit, which greatly simplifies the whole process. The kit includes a template and a two-piece guide bushing, with the end-user supplying a 1/2” router bit to match the corner radius of the router plate.
To adjust the router plate perfectly flush with the table, Rousseau supplies several threaded brass sleeves that mount into the lip. While this procedure was very quick and easy, I think it is better suited to a router table that lives in a shop, rather than one that’s going to bang around the back of a truck or van. Due to the thickness of my table, the plastic leveling screws had to be countersunk into the underside of the table, which is difficult given the proximity of the holes to the edge of the lip. Also, the corner snuggers supplied with the router plate seem nice, but I was looking for something that would give me a rock-solid installation for transportation, too.
After some research, I decided to use Kreg’s Router Insert Plate Levelers. These plastic plates are screwed to the underside of your router table, and feature a threaded post that allows precise adjustment for flushing the router plate to the table surface, as well as a threaded insert for fastening the router plate to the Leveler with a machine screw.
To accommodate the Kreg Levelers, I had to adjust the router plate opening so the screw holes of the plate and levelers would align. For this task, the Rousseau template wouldn’t work. Instead, I used Festool’s MFS template guide kit, with one template guide for the lip, and another for underside lip. In order to allow the tapped screw holes in the Kreg Levelers to align with the corresponding countersunk mounting holes in the router plate, I had to make the through-hole opening larger than the hole routed with the Rousseau template. Using the Festool MFS for this purpose was a little more tedious than using the Rousseau template, mostly because of the math involved in transferring imperial measurements to metric.
To make the conversion easier, I used a FastCap tape measure with dual scales on the blade. In addition to enlarging the through-hole, I routed a lip on the underside of the table to allow the leveling screws to reach the underside of the router plate.
The dust collection provided by the Festool router and template guide kept my work area clean, even while routing MDF. The template mounted securely using either Festool screw clamps or Kreg’s face clamps. As you’ll notice, I decided to center the router plate in the extension table.
Mounting the router
The Rousseau router plate did not come with holes predrilled for a router, which is nice because otherwise plates can end up looking like Swiss cheese.
Until I had my router mounted in the table, I’d never used the upper table adjustments. I was disappointed to learn that the small handle supplied with the router takes over thirty revolutions to go from the lowest position to the uppermost position. Not an acceptable long-term system. To make coarse adjustments, I purchased a “speed wrench” from a local auto parts store and attached a 10mm hex drive socket to the end. Now I use the small knob just for fine-tuning the bit depth and for locking the spindle.
Safety and craftsmanship go hand in hand. When routing, I make every effort to work safely. I use feather boards whenever possible; I use a bit guard; and I use a quality push stick.
One of the greatest selling points of the Rousseau table saw stand is its portability. I added a cubby slot to the drawers in my truck which accommodates the stand, but sometimes when I fill that space with other gear, it’s easy to tuck the stand behind the bench seat of my truck—a space otherwise wasted.
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Please don’t try anything you see in THISisCarpentry, or anywhere else for that matter, unless you’re completely certain that you can do it safely.
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Tom Gensmer lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota and has been a carpenter for nine years. He’s in the process of being certified by NARI as a Certified Lead Carpenter and is emplyed by Roncor Custom Rebuilders, where he works as a Lead Carpenter. Tom lives with his wife Beth and spends a great deal of his free time researching his craft through workshops, trade shows, online articles and forums.