When it comes to woodworking, table saws are one of the more primary machines you’ll come to know. However, they can be very dangerous; so you’ll want to make sure you know all the basics before you start operating them. Hence, we’re going to be delving into how to use a table saw in this article!
Parts of a Table Saw
Before we dive into the details of working the machine, let’s learn about the parts of a table saw!
Pretty self explanatory this part! Your table saw will arrive with the table, and you’ll assemble everything on to this table. All the other parts will have their own sections to fit into, allowing you to work comfortably!
There are a few different types of blades you can use. However, that mostly depends on what type of work you want to do. Firstly though, you’ll want to get acquainted with the blade and see how it all works!
These are mainly holes that are used to help swap blades. There are different types of blade inserts with different levels of clearance, helping you make different cuts. We’ll get into that later down the line.
Blade Adjustment Wheel
This wheel is located behind/under the blade, and helps you adjust the height of the blade. This comes in handy when you’re changing from one cut to another cut.
When you’re making cuts with your table saw, you’ll want to be able keep yourself away from the blade. This is where a push stick comes in to be very helpful. You can use this push stick to push the wood through the saw, when you’re at the end of your cutting.
Table saw fences are mainly used to help you maintain a distance from the blade when you’re trying to make a rip cut. As you can see from the picture above, it’s a long parallel guide.
The fence dog is a lever that works with the fence to lock it into place. Lifting the lever disengages the fence, and you can move it. And on the contrary, releasing the lever allows you to lock the fence in place
A miter gauge will always arrive with your table saw. The miter gauge will help you to mark out precise angles on the wood you want to cut, ensuring that each cut is accurate.
You’ll find that different table saws have different types of power switches. While the normal on and off switch are easy to figure out, we’ve put an image of a table saw with a variant to the normal power switches. The red paddle that you see in the image above, is the power switch, and you can pull it out to power the table saw on. And to shut it down, push it back down.
Types of Cuts
You can take inspiration from the picture above, and figure out the different types of cuts we’ll be talking about now. You can make all of these with your table saw!
A rip cut is a simple cut that goes against the width of the piece of wood you have. Using your table saw, you’ll have your fence to make sure you have a proper line against the wood while maintaining distance, and then you can make a nice clean rip cut.
Cross cuts are the cuts that go against the length of the wood you’re making a cut on. The key thing to ensure is that you are always square to the blade. So to make the cross cut, get your miter gauge out, and be sure to have the miter gauge to 90 degrees against the blade.
Now, if you’re trying to be fancy with the cuts you make, you can change the miter angle on your miter gauge to your preferred angles, and make the miter cut along that angle.
For your table saw to be able to make bevel cuts, you’ll need to tilt your blade. How? Well, you’ll find a bevel gauge near the height adjustment wheel of your table saw. Change it to your desired angle and then make your bevel cut!
From the picture above, you can notice that the dado cut is very different compared to the rest of these cuts. That’s because dado cuts are used for making joints and fitting in pieces of wood. For this cut, you’ll need to be using your miter gauge or fence.
How to Use a Table Saw
Now that we are familiar with the parts that make up a table saw and the cuts we’ll be making, let’s find out how to make use of this saw for these cuts!
Making A Rip Cut
We’ve already discussed what a rip cut is, but how do you make one?
First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve made the mark on your piece of wood, and know where you want to make the cut. Make sure to have your blade’s height adjusted so that it pops up until it’s just above the wood. Then, place your fence or rip fence parallel to the blade and at the perfect distance from the blade to allow you to hold the wood in place as you’re cutting.
After you’ve done all the preparation, gently nudge the piece of wood into the blade, and allow the balde to do the work. When your hand is getting too close to the blade, use the push stick that arrives with your table saw. This push stick will allow you to push the wood down the blade without you having to endanger yourself.
And that’s it! Following this procedure will let you end up with a nice clean rip cut!
Making a Cross Cut
When it comes to making a cross cut, you’ll find that the processes are quite the same, except for a few details. For one, you’re going to need a miter gauge here. SInce these won’t be rip cuts, make your rip fence be moved far away from the blade and you!
Set the miter gauge on the table and have it set at 90 degrees, so that it is square against the blade of your table saw. Once you’ve done this, set your piece of wood at 90 degrees (place it against the back of your miter gauge if you’re having trouble), and then slide it gently across the blade.
There you go, there’s your cross cut!
Making a Miter Cut
When you’re making a miter cut using a table saw, you’ll have basically the same process as when making a cross cut. Then what’s the difference? Well, the difference is you’ll have a specific angle at which you’ll make the cut. You’ll have to do well to make sure you have the correct angle, but once you do; a miter cut is a piece of cake!
Making a Bevel Cut
There’s only a few differences between miter cuts and bevel cuts. It’s simple once you know it, really. When you’re making a bevel cut, you won’t be bothering with the miter gauge anymore. Rather, you’ll handle the bevel gauge and tilt your blade to the angle you need.
The picture provided shows the blade tilted at an angle of 45 degrees. As such, you’ll tilt your blade and make the bevel cuts you want!
Making a Dado Cut
Now dado cutting may seem a bit more difficult, but once you’ve come to grips with the concept of a dado cut, you’ll find that they’re pretty simple. Let’s not forget that they’re also really useful in building loads of wooden objects!
To make dado cuts, you’ll need your dado set, which arrives with numerous types of blades which you’ll use based on the types of dado cuts you want to make.
Once you have the thickness you want for the dado joint ready and marked on your piece of wood, you’ll need to make sure the piece of wood is square to the blade! One slight error in making your marks here, and you’ll end up ruining your piece, so be careful. Do the same process and gently nudge the piece of wood through the blade and you’ll have successfully used your table saw to make a dado cut or joint!
Safety and Tips
Now that you have learned how to use a table saw to make various types of cuts, we need to make sure you’re up to date on some tips and the safety of using this machine!
- When operating table saws, always make sure to have all types of protection for your body; gloves, safety goggles, ear protection and a blade guard!
- A rip fence isn’t just a feature to help you make cuts, but it also ensures your safety when making rip cuts. Never underestimate it’s value!
- Besides the blade guard, table saws will have a splitter right behind the blade insert. You should always keep that splitter on because it will ensure your blade does not kick back even one piece of wood back towards you. If you remove this, the piece might rotate inwards when it’s behind the blade, and the blade might get stuck on the wood, pushing it all back towards you.
- A push stick is a great feature to help you with your cuts, but mainly it’s there to provide you safety. Always use your push stick and keep your fingers away from the blade.
- A great tip for you when using a miter gauge to make cross cuts or miter cuts, is to attach a sacrificial piece of wood behind it. This wood will help you keep your hand level when you’re making a cut, ensuring that the cut is perfect. This also helps the back end of your wood from getting a chip, as the cut follows through on to the sacrificial piece. Not to mention, it also provides you a marker for future cuts.
- When making a dado cut, a useful tip to remember is that both the outside blades will have a specific side. One for the left side and another for the right side. You can remember these sides by acknowledging that the logo of the company will be on the outside of the blade!
Phew, that’s a lot of information on a table saw isn’t it? Well, you wanted to learn how to use a table saw, and we wanted to deliver! We hope this article enlightened you on the types of cuts you can make on a table saw, and how to follow through with them! Always remember to use this machine with caution though!
Hey there, my name’s Braden Smith and all my lifeI’ve been passionate about woodworking. As such, I spent more time learning about and experimenting with power tools. Over time, I learned to help spread my knowledge by articulating my words thanks to my academic knowledge in the English Language as well.