If you make your own table, get your mounting plate first so you can cut the opening to an exact size. Make the table 2 layers of Baltic Birch ply that's very flat, The top layer can be half an inch thick, the second 3/4 ply would be cut half an inch smaller and the plate will sit on this. You must put in some leveling screws in the corners (2 per corner), and these are installed through the bottom, tip up. I found that Kreg has a set of leveling screws for $20 that are pretty easy to install.
T tracks or no T tracks? If you watch the Sommerfeld videos you see that having two tracks a little less than the width of the fence makes it easy to adjust the fence. My table has a T track across the front, but I never use it. You can purchase T track extruded aluminum pretty cheap from many sources, Kreg, Rockler, Woodcraft for example. It is pretty easy to install.
On your table saw, many will start working much better if you take the time to tune it up carefully. This is pretty much the sequence: Make sure the miter slots are parallel to the blade. Check the runout (wobble) of the blade after aligning them, by marking one tooth of a new blade and measuring from the miter slot to that tooth first with the marked tooth at the closest to you, then the same tooth at the back of the insert opening. They should be identical or really close 2-3 thousandths at most. Once that is done, you then align the fence to the slot, with the far end maybe 3-4 thousandths further away than the front end of the fence. Don't set the fence so the far is closer to the slot than the near end, you'll get kickback and burning. Finally, get a Wixey electronic angel finder and set the blade to full height. Adjust the blade so it is exactly 90 degrees to the table. That simple Wixey completely altered the quality of my projects.
If you can't get your saw in tune, or it won't stay in tune, consider it time to get a good saw. For portables, the Bosch 4100 model gets high marks for a portable saw. There are several brands and models of table saws that folks here like. Some like Saw Stop, but it is pricey. I have a Laguna Fusion I love, but Grizzly and a couple of other makers have similar saws for less. Personally, I would use credit to get the best saw I could afford instead of buying cheaper and then having to trade up as my skills increased. My first table saw was an older model 1hp Delta I got new on clearance for $300 at Lowes. It did nice work, but often stalled or burned while making cuts. Get really good quality blades!
I know you didn't ask about the saw, but it is really the centerpiece of the shop, and I think you are interested in making furniture where precision cutting is important.
Don't forget to get a nice, high quality block plane, it will be a favored tool for precision fitting you just can't do with a saw. Try Wood River V3, or Veritas for the plane, the stanley 92 model gets mixed reviews. You will likely have to tune up your plane (YouTube videos), but the better quality plane needs less work.
I think your dad will enjoy watching you go to town with woodworking. My wife really likes having me around in the shop, but not under foot. Make things for your wife, she'll come to appreciate your woodworking more that way.
The more I do, the less I accomplish.
Last edited by DesertRatTom; 12-19-2016 at 11:42 AM.