Oct 09 2012

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Table Saw Cart: Inlet Plug

The cord on my table saw is always getting in the way. Since it comes out underneath the left side of the saw and I usually plug the table saw in on the front right side, the cord is lying at my feet when I’m using the saw — a real workshop hazard. Also since the saw is mobile, when I unplug the saw and move it, I end up running over the cord or stepping on the plug.

I was planning on incorporating some sort of cord management in my new table saw cart, but then one day while I was puttering around in my shop,an idea hit me: why have a cord at all, why not just have an inlet plug like you see on tools like an electric weed whacker? When I want to plug in the saw, I would just plug an extension cord into it.

Now, inlet plugs are available from some retailers online, but they are expensive. Plus, since this is a portable table saw, I wanted to keep the cord intact (in hindsight how often do you ever use a portable table saw without an extension cord?) After browsing a few hardware stores I figured out how to make an inlet plug which could also be used as a standard cord.

My first idea was to stick a round plug into some sort of PVC or metal fitting mounted to an electrical box attached the table saw cart. Then I’d simply plug the saw into that box and hide the cord under the saw. After staring at my table saw cart for a while, I realized that I had no place to stick the box that wouldn’t interfere with the dust collection drawer under the saw. Then it hit me, why not just mount the inlet plug right in the plastic body of the table saw. So I searched several hardware stores for a plug and some PVC fittings that would work. I ended up using a 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ PVC threaded adapter. The round plug I picked up was exactly the same size as the inner threads of the PVC adapter so I could just screw the plug into the adapter.

To mount the inlet, I cut a hole in the side of the saw and pushed the adapter through from the inside. That hole was slightly too big for the lip of the adapter, so I made a wooden washer out of plywood. Then I screwed a 1-1/2″ PVC nut I cut from another fitting onto the adapter from the outside of the saw. I cut off the old plug and replaced it with the round plug and screwed the round plug into the adapter. After testing, I found that repeated plug/unplug cycles would dislodge the plug, so I drilled a small hole in the adapter and drove in a set screw to hold the plug into place. After that the plug was solid.

Finally after I was satisfied, I used some cable management clips to route and store the rest of the saw’s cord underneath the saw.


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