Playing with my new Dewalt Track Saw

Well it’s official.  I outgrew my portable table saw.  But I lack the space for a serious upgrade right now, so instead of building a new shop I decided to go a different route: I bought a DEWALT DWS520CK 6-1/2-Inch 12-AMP TrackSaw. I also picked up a set of  TrackSaw Track Clamps and a Router Adapter to go with it.

I was sold on the particular model that I bought based on this this video from The Wood Whisperer. As usual he didn’t steer me wrong.  This saw is amazing.  I’m not cutting sheet stock like nobody’s business.  My only complaint is that on the back edge of the cut I did see a little bit of tear-out, but it’s pretty minimal and an be eliminated by making sure that the work piece is stabilized on both sides of the cut.

After I ripped and crosscut a piece for my bookshelf and verified just how damned accurate the cut was (hint: way more accurate than my previous solution using a circular saw and a jointed piece of MDF), I decided I wanted to play with the router guide. It was incredibly easy to attach to my router, though you can see from the silly video below I’m still getting the hang of setting it up for accurate cuts.  It’s difficult for me to see exactly where the router blade will fall, but that problem has more to do with my inexperience with setting up a router than anything to do with the track or router guide.  Enjoy the video below!

Playing with my Dewalt Track Saw

A Reclaimed Slab Bench

These are my confessions…

I’m a hoarder. Okay, not so much a hoarder as just one frugal son of a bitch: I can’t stand to see things get thrown away when they’ve got potential left in them to be awesome or at least functional.  So when my friend Steve showed me this giant slab of oak from his granddad’s basement that he was going to cut up for firewood I intervened.  Let me make a “thing” out of it!

I decided to make it into a bench to sit at my firepit.  My first attempt was pretty terrible.  I decided to let it look rustic. Which in my mind meant let it look like it’s been in a damp basement being consumed by bugs.  I hastily cut two legs out of some similarly rough-looking thick oak I found in my own basement, pegged them into the slap, and BAM! Bench.

Then my dad sat on it. And then he fell.

Cleaning up the Slab

So I set out to take another stab at the bench.  The slap measure about 20 inches across and about three inches thick.  I drug it into the shop, ripped the edges back to solid wood, and four hours of hand planing and sanding later it looked about half decent.

Reinforcing the Legs

The legs were still a problem.  I decided to hell with joinery: I’m just not all that good at it yet. So I enforced the legs by drilling from above them into the bench and installing some long wood screws.  I hid the screws with a few pieces of dowel rod, glued in and sanded flush with the bench.

The Runner

The legs were vertically stable but if the bench was rocked in either direction I felt they might twist and give into the pressure.  So I grabbed a long fir 4×4 off my junk pile that had been ripped out of the house, planed it smooth, then ripped it to the same length as the bench.  I broke out the plunge router and cut matching 4×4 holes in either leg, then cut two 1 1/2″ x 3/4″ holes at either end of the runner that I could use to install legs which locked it tight against the legs. I cut out four pegs out of some other scrapped and rounded them off with the orbital sander.

The Finish

After everything was cleaned up and I ensured a tight fit with all the pieces, I disassembled and stained it.  I stained the bench and legs with Minwax red oak, the runner with Early American, and the pegs with jacobeen. It was a gamble but they ended up looking nice together.

The Ants… Oh God, the Ants!

I knew there were ants in the wood and I tried to remove them with an air hose and the Shop-Vac.  But after I stained everything… my god. They were everywhere.  The next morning I found a colony of them dying in a circle.  And after each coat of polyeurethane I found find a more crawling around.  Luckily none of them made it into the finished product!

The end result ended up looking  just too damned nice to leave outside.  It’s oak.  Even with several coats of polyeurethane I know on account of how irregular I left it water would eventually pool in the crevices and ruin it.  So it resides in my living room now.