Adding Dust Collection to My Vintage Craftsman Table Saw

When I decided to get into woodworking, I had the unbelievable opportunity to add this beautiful old Craftsman contractor saw to my arsenal.

My old Craftsman table saw

This thing is an absolute gem that dates back to the 1960s or even the 50s. But, there’s no dust collection built in and it makes a heck of a mess.

Making a mess

So today, I’m going to try to fix that.


  • 1/2 inch MDF
  • Jigsaw
  • Old Craftsman Table Saw
  • Cordless Drill

There’s a lot of places where dust can sneak out of this thing, but I’m just going to start by focusing on the two biggest: The back and bottom. First, I’ll try to fit a piece of MDF to slide over the opening in the back. The body of the saw has a curve to it, so a straight piece of MDF isn’t going to create an airtight seal. Since there are other openings I’m not going to fill in with this effort, an airtight seal isn’t going to happen anyway. So I’m ok with just blocking it off.

The back and bottom of the saw are wide open

I started by cutting a piece of 1/2 inch MDF to the width and height I need to cover up the opening. Then I slid it into place as far as I could and marked where the motor supports will intersect with it. My plan was to cut a slot for the supports from the right side, so that I can slide the piece into place from the left.

Marking Motor Supports

I was also going to have to contend with the belt, which I figured would call for another slot. I used a piece of paper to make a super rough template for the opening. Then I cranked up the blade as hight as it goes to account for the maximum belt movement.

Making Template for Belt

With my template roughed out, I transferred it to the MDF backer and pulled out my trusty jigsaw to cut it out.

Transferred Template to MDF

Since the supports are big rods, the end of the support slot can be curved for a snug fit. So I marked the center point and used a Forstner bit to drill the hole that will become the end of the slot.

Drilling End of Slot

With the hole drilled, I set up a straight edge for my jigsaw to register against and cut the slot from the hole outward. This took a little fidgeting because I first cut it a little too snug and had to come back and open it up a bit further.

Cutting Slot

The first obstacle I ran into was when I noticed that the motor support bracket slides in as the motor raises. Which means it dug into the backer piece and left a handy mark for me to see. I used my jigsaw to cut a slot for it to have a little wiggle room.

I also noticed that the belt was uncomfortably close to the top of the opening when raised the blade all the way up. I used my chisel to angle the slot and make some more room for the belt.

I slid the backer in place and turned it on. Perfect fit. Nailed it!

Backer In Place

The next obstacle I ran into was that the hook on the back side of the rip fence bumped into the top of the backer. Thankfully, the hook wasn’t deep enough to have to cut a slot all the way through to accommodate. I marked where to put a rabbit cut and used my dado stack to hog out some room.

The Rip Fence Hook Bumping into the Backer

With the backer out of the way, I turned my attention to the bottom. The bottom of the saw is wide open and allows the dust to fall right through. My father-in-law had helped me build the rolling table the saw sits on and we cut an opening with the plan of building a box on the underside to catch the dust and let my dust collector whisk it away. Time got the better of us that day, so I my plan was to run with the box idea.

The Table Saw Rolling Stand

I took some measurements and came up with a rough model in my mind. Then I got to work cutting the MDF to build it.

I then traced around my dust collection hose and used my jigsaw to cut the opening. I pretty much suck at cutting holes with the jigsaw, apparently, but it turned out well enough to provide a reasonably snug fit for the hose.

Cutting the Dust Hose Opening

Next, I drilled some pocket holes into the sides to attach the box to the underside of the table. I then predrilled and screwed the box together. I could have used a third hand here, but my kids were in bed at this point and I had to make do.

Here’s the finished box. All I needed to do now was attach it.

The Completed Box

In classic me fashion, I didn’t factor in getting the box through the table opening to actually mount it. And, of course, the box was too big. After debating the level of effort of removing the saw from the table so I could just flip the table over, I finally decided it was less work to just dismantle part of the box, slide it through, then put it back together. Then I had my daughter help me hold it in place while I struggled to screw in the pocket hole screws.

The Mounted Dust Box

Considering that I don’t have it perfectly sealed, I’m very happy with how it works. I still get sawdust that comes across the top and through some of the other openings, but this drastically cuts down on the messes I make with this saw. I’ll still have to do regular manual dust collection inside the saw periodically to gather the sawdust that doesn’t make it to the dust collector, but I’m ok with that.

The Completed Dust Collection Modifications

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