Here's an idea for an alternative rail system to the 520. My main table saw is a Craftsman 22811, which is modeled after the Ryobi BT3100. As many of you probably know, the Ryobi BT3000/3100 has a pretty loyal following.
I had some extra rails I purchased years ago for an extended table and never used, and a lightbulb went off one afternoon that they may be able to be used on the Shopsmith. While I like the Shopsmith for many things, the table saw was never one of its strong suits to me. If you're using just the main table, then fine, but as soon as you start getting into floating tables, extra rails, the system to me just doesn't work well. I spend more time trying to align the fence or get tables level, than I do cutting wood. If you need to do a fine adjustment, then everything starts over again. I'm not sure if the 520 rail system allows better table alignment, but the 510 leaves a lot to be desired IMO.
I thought if I could mount the Ryobi rails on the Shopsmith it would perhaps make up some of the shortcomings of the saw. Some measurements between the craftsman and shopsmith revealed there was only a half inch difference between the rails. That meant if I shimmed out the Shopsmith a quarter inch on each side, the rails from the Ryobi should work fine. I did a little mock up with some MDF, and it seemed to work out just fine with just a few modifications.
The parts that I ordered were some aluminum stock, 1/4"x2.5"x36" 6011 grade. You can get a piece of this for under seven dollars on Amazon. I then ordered four of the quick clamps off of eBay for the Ryobi BT3000 (under $20). There was probably another miscellaneous $15 in hardware. The rails I had on hand, but if you had to buy new they are about $40 or so for a set. Extra tables are in the $50 range, but adapting one of the Shopsmith floating tables is not difficult. I also found I could use my Incra LS positioner, if I later wanted to add a router table.
I would say the hardest part of the build was making a notch in the aluminum for the rear rail. The back of the fence hits the shim, so 3/16 of an inch needs to be removed from the spacer. I took very light (1/64") passes on the router table, and then did a final sand with some 150 grit sandpaper to remove the mill marks.
I would say the most critical thing with this build is very precise measurements. I use one of the Incra marking gauges that use a 5mm drafting pencil. You need to be spot on with the measurements. I also center punched all of the holes, and drilled 1/16 diameter pilot holes to keep the drill bits on track. I also was certain my drill bits were spinning true, and were or as close as possible to the work to avoid runout. I used a half inch countersink bit for the machine screws. Those need to be absolutely flush in the rear spacer or the fence will hit. There is more room in the front.
So, how does it work? In a word, fantastic! The fence glides absolutely smooth, and locks down positive. I will add a measuring tape to the front. Depending on how you configure the rails you can get about 24 inches or rip capacity. One thing I really like is you can use the SS extension tables to support long pieces for crosscut. I also have the ryobi outfeed brackets. Those mount in the aluminum extrusion on the underside of the rails, and allow you to flip up an outfeed table. With the adjustable leg from shopsmith, you can have a pretty nice outfeed table.
I'm way happier with this system than I am with the stock 510. I now have a table saw that's actually useful, instead of one that's an exercise in frustration. Still need to fine-tune Shopsmith's rather mediocre dust collection, but already have some ideas for that.
Hopefully somebody will find this useful.
I'll close by saying after I built this, I did a little search and found that my idea was not original. As long as Shopsmith has been around I'm not surprised somebody else beat me to the punch. I can say I came up with the idea on my own.
Here's some pics to tell the rest of the story. Enjoy!
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