Polishing up the Table Saw

Ok, put your hand up if you use your table saw as a workbench.
Hmm, how about put your hand up if you use your table saw as a glue up bench.
Alrighty last one, hands up if you use your table saw as a painting station.

Is your hand up? Of course it is.*

I’ve used my saw as a bench top since I first got it. It is stained, greasy, painted, grimy, and worst of all, scratched. It really doesn’t look like a 12 month old saw, and it hasn’t been used enough to justify it looking the way it does. I’ve wanted to clean it up for the longest time, but laziness and a lack of know-how, got in the way.

Last week I watched one of Laney’s videos about cleaning cast iron benchtops, the transformation on his ones were nothing short of astounding. So I thought I’d give it a shot. Here’s my results, I’m pretty happy with it, my saw looks far better now than it did when it was brand new. Which sadly isn’t saying much for how it looked when I got it…

Here it is how I started. Blobs of glue everywhere, paint on it, and rough scratches from I don’t what. I must have pushed some wood through that had a nail or screw head sticking out, but I don’t remember doing so. The first step here was scraping all that crud off, I used an old paint scraper to do so.

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After the bulk of the crud was removed, I used my orbital sander with a 120 grit pad on it. I went over the whole top, slowly and deliberately, making sure I covered every part of it. Then I took the sanding disc off and wrapped it around a plywood offcut. Lots of elbow grease was spent sanding the mitre tracks to remove the roughness the saw shipped with from the factory.

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Then it was time to drench it in WD-40. Absolutely drench it. I took a clean 120 grit pad and the plywood offcut and hand sanded everywhere. You can use a power sander here if you like, but the slurry will just be thrown everywhere, it’s just easier to go by hand. Once I was done, I wiped up all the slime with paper towels and admired the already much nicer cast iron top.

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At this stage, I’ll be honest, it was looking really nice and I was tempted to call it a day. It was shiny, smooth and had a consistent sheen. But I thought it would be nicer if I took it further.

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I fitted a 240grit disc to the sander and went at it again, dry sanding the top. I went slower again with this pass, really making sure I wasn’t missing any areas and that I couldn’t feel any sort of bump or ridge with my fingertips, no matter how slight. You can see just how gunked up the disc got by the end, this was a brand new one a little while earlier. I used up two new discs on it for this pass alone.

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I don’t have any protective wax to seal the top with yet, but looking online I saw that a lot of guys simply use WD-40, now I’m one of them. I drenched the top once more and with clean paper towels, buffed it out.

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I think it came out an absolute treat. It is heaps better than when I brought it home from the shop in the first place.
It’s extremely smooth to the touch, with no bumps, rough spots, or beginnings of rust. The mitre slots are cleaned and polished, jigs slide through them like they are on bearings.

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This is very much one of those jobs where you think to yourself, ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’. I really recommend giving it a shot, it’s easy, fast and the results are fantastic.

The only problem is that I’m still without a work bench, so it has no chance of staying this clean! I’ll be gluing up on it this weekend. At least I know how to clean it now!

 

*Or you’re a dirty rotten liar.