Learning how to use a table saw correctly is important, if you want to get the most out of this very useful tool. This is a circular saw that’s mounted under a table and part of the blade protrudes above the surface. The height of the blade can be adjusted to cut through varying widths of wood.
This may seem like a simple tool, but it gives a woodworker a lot of consistency when large amounts of wood need to be processed. Maintaining accuracy across a number of cuts makes, milling, assembly and other processes much easier.
It’s important to learn how to use a table saw safely because this can be a dangerous tool if it’s not used properly.
How to use a Table Saw Safely
A table saw is large and the blade is unforgiving if it’s misused. When you’re learning how to use a table saw, there are seven safety tips that should be followed:
Tip #1. Check the Blade Height of the Table Saw
The table saw blade height should be set to the correct height for the cuts that you need to make. As a rule of thumb, don’t project the blade more than 6mm above the cutting height. This will guarantee the quality of the cut and offer extra protection for your fingers if your hand slips during cutting.
Tip #2. Clear the Tabletop Before Using the Saw
The top of the table saw must be clear of obstacles to make cutting easier and safer. When the tabletop is dirty, it may be necessary to place extra force on the wood piece to push it through the blade. This places you at an increased risk of losing control of the piece and/or slipping as you operate the table saw which is very dangerous.
Tip #3. Respect the Table Saw
Many power tool accidents are caused when the user becomes overly familiar with their tools. It’s important to understand how the table saw works to get the most out of this useful power tool. But, always approach the table saw with caution when you set it up and use it and this will give you extra protection against potential injuries.
Tip #4. Use the Blade Guard on the Saw at all times
The manufacturer of your table saw should have fitted a blade guard or splitter to promote safety. Some people remove these safety features to make cutting easier and this is a mistake. The only exception may be the removal of the riving knife to make concealed cuts. But, as soon as this cut is made, it’s important to reattach it, and this should prevent the work-piece from kicking back and causing an injury.
Tip #5. Wear PPE When using any Power Tools
It’s tempting to avoid using proper PPE when cutting, but this can be a significant health risk. The dust created during cutting can enter the lungs leading to a number of health problems that are avoidable. This material can also enter the eyes and cause significant injuries. So, before you hit the start button make sure all your PPE is worn.
Tip #6. Always Use Push Sticks to Push the wood through the Saw
The best pro table table saws come with a push stick or this may be a critical aftermarket purchase. Learning how to use a table saw safely requires the use of push sticks to keep the hands away from the saw blade which can spin at 3,000 rpm.
Tip #7. Read the Owner’s Manual Before Getting Stated with the Table Saw
The table saw should come with an owner’s manual that should be read and understood before this power tool is used. Any specific safety and care instructions from the manufacturer should be followed to keep the operator safe and to protect the table saw.
What Are The Hazards Of A Table Saw?
There are three major hazards to consider when you’re learning how to use a table saw safely. First, the table saw blade teeth can cut wood and sever fingers rapidly. Second, the high blade rotation speeds can grab a work-piece and hurl it back at the operator, which is known as a kickback.
Finally, the saw will eject saw dust particles which may include metal fragments that could be embedded in the wood and/or broken pieces of the blade.
Step By Step How To Use A Table Saw To Make Cross Cuts
When making crosscuts on the table saw, there is no need to use a rip fence as a guide. The fence is desirable when cutting long lengths of wood, but crosscuts are narrower. Insufficient material is removed to fit the wood along the rip fence and this can cause kickbacks.
To avoid this problem, use a miter gauge which has a built-in guide fence to stabilize the work piece, and a bar that slots into a deep groove on the table saw surface. This helps you to control the cutting and you can select angles by adjusting and tightening a control knob. The miter gauge supplied with many table saws could be considered to be lightweight and not suitable for a lot of crosscutting.
So, you may want to invest in a better miter gauge if you expect crosscutting to be a major factor.
Let’s take a look at seven simple steps to follow if you want to make safe and accurate crosscuts on your table saw:
- Unplug the table saw from the power supply, insert the crosscut blade and remove the rip fence.
- Position the miter gauge and use the protractor guide to make straight or angled crosscuts as needed.
- Position the woodwork piece on the saw and clamp it in place to prevent kickbacks.
- Restore power to the table saw, turn it on, but don’t let the blade touch the wood until the saw blade is spinning at the maximum speed.
- Slide the miter gauge forward slowly to cut the material in a methodical and careful manner.
- Turn off the table saw to remove the cut parts near the blade.
- Use a meter sled to give the work piece extra support when crosscutting. Some woodworkers make their own miter sleds and it’s easy to find good plans online.
How to Use a Table Saw to Make Rip Cuts
Ripping with a table saw is simple. The rip fence is designed to adjust to the cutting width, and it’s a useful guide that offers extra control. Here are five steps to make accurate and safe rip cuts:
Turn off the table saw power, fit the rip blade and adjust the blade height to no more than 6mm (¼ inch) above the material thickness. The process is simple: take the arbor nut wrench, loosen the nut that holds the saw blade in place and position the rip blade so that the teeth face the front of the saw. Then tighten the arbor nut and you’re ready to make rip cuts.
Place the rip fence into the correct position by releasing, moving, and locking the lever into the desired place. The inner edge of the ripping fence should match the width of the cut and the table saw ruler can help you to position the fence accurately. To improve accuracy, use a tape measure to find the distance from the closest saw blade tooth edge to the ripping fence.
Restore power to the table saw, place the work-piece in place and align it with the ripping fence. Don’t start cutting until the saw reaches full speed to avoid dangerous kickbacks.
The material should be guided slowly along the rip fence with one or two hands to maintain control. Larger and thicker boards will require both hands near the start and then a switch can be made to one hand away from the blade before the end.
If the material extends beyond the table it’s important to use a table extension to keep the work-piece flat and supported. The material must be held flat through the cutting process to reduce the risk of kickbacks.
The push stick should be used to keep your fingers away from the saw blade. This tool is designed to guide material where narrow rips are required that could place your fingers too close to the spinning blade. If you are in any doubt, use the push stick to keep your fingers safe.
How to Use a Table Saw-FAQ’s
How do you cut wood with a table saw?
A push stick should be used to push the work-piece through the final foot of cutting. This keeps the hands away from the blade which is especially important when you’re working with narrow work pieces. Some woodworkers make their own push stick or you can purchase a model that meets your needs.
What should you not cut on a table saw?
Let’s take a look at seven cuts that should not be make on a table saw:
- PVC pipes.
- Freehand tapered cutting.
- Backward cuts.
- Curved cuts.
- Angled cuts without any bevel capability.
- Ferrous metal cutting.
What is a table saw good for?
The table saw is an ideal power tool if you need to make three accurate wood cuts: crosscuts, dado cuts and ripping cuts. A crosscut is made against the grain and a ripping cut goes along the entire length of the workpiece. A dado cut is a groove that woodworkers use when they want to join two pieces of wood together in a specific way.
How do you keep wood straight on a table saw?
A feather board has wooden fingers that keep the wood tight against the table saw fence.
What two parts of the table saw should never be used together?
The miter gauge and ripping fence are not designed to be used together.
What causes table saw kickback?
A kickback may occur when the saw blade teeth apply force to the work piece that makes it move in an unexpected and violent manner. The direction of travel tends to be back towards the saw blade operator and the blade may make contact with the fingers. Following the safety tips in this article will help you to reduce the risk of kickbacks.
Can you cut wet wood with a table saw?
Green or wet wood should be dried for at least one day before it’s cut on a table saw. It is possible to cut conductive materials and wet pressure treated wood if the table saw is placed into bypass mode. This deactivates the safety system and extra care should be taken if you don’t have sufficient time to dry the materials fully.
How to Use a Table Saw- In Conclusion:
We hope that our guide on how to use a table saw for beginners has helped you to understand how to use a table saw to make precise cuts. But, it’s important to exercise care when you work with this powerful power tool. Safety should always be a priority to prevent cutting injuries, kickbacks, and other potential hazards.
I’m Thomas Steven with more than 12 years of experience in woodworking. It has always been my passion to become a successful woodworker. I have completed hundreds of successful projects. This blog is a way of sharing my woodworking experiences and what tools get the best results. I write about woodworking while being an associate with Amazon and I earn a little commission from every qualifying purchase.