How to Use a Table Saw: A Complete Guide

If you spend a huge chunk of your time working on wood or plastic then you know how essential a tool is from start to the finished product. Skill obviously plays a huge role but knowing how to use a table saw does give you an upper hand in the process. So, if you are cutting and shaping, a good saw mechanism is fundamental to achieving that. 

Table saws come in different designs and models but all of them have basic similarities in their functionality. The basic set up of a table saw gives you a circular saw blade run by an electric motor mounted on an arbor. You can get them in varying sizes depending on what you need to work on

Table saws are also potentially dangerous so it’s important to observe all safety procedures throughout the process of using a table saw.

Parts of The Saw Blade

The design of a typical saw blade is as basic and functional as a power tool should be. Here are the main parts that make up a standard table saw.

  • Blade- This is the saw and the cutting part 
  • Table- The horizontal structure for holding your wood.
  • Fence- An adjustable guide that moves side to side and helps keep the length of the piece you are working on in check.
  • Fence lock- A lever that is used to adjust the length allowance of the fence
  • Blade adjustment wheel- This is used to adjust the height of the blade.
  • Blade angle adjustment lever- This lever helps you make angled cuts on your pieces.

So let’s explore how to use a table saw.

Safety

Safety should always come first. This is especially true if you are handling a power tool. A table saw’s main part is the circular saw blade which is a dangerous rotating mechanism that can chop off fingers and leave deep wounds. To prevent this, always pay attention when you are using it and cover the blade up once you are done.

Usually, the saw designs allow the retraction of the blade. Retracting the blade once you are done is a good safety practice and should help in case a person trips and lands on it.

Safety glasses always come in handy when crafting wood so get yourself a pair to protect your eyes. Gloves for your hands can prevent wood splinters and minor injuries on your wrists and hands.

Push sticks and blocks are used to move the pieces being cut along their full length. You use these to prevent direct contact with the blade and your hands when pushing the piece.

Setting Up The Blade Height and Angle

The blade height determines whether you want to prevent tearing of the wood or for safety reasons. 

The first way to set the height is having it slightly raised above the top of the material that you are working with. Let’s say about ⅛ inches above. This height is also far much safer because less blade is exposed. The problem is that you can get tear-out on the bottom of the piece you are working on.

The second way to play around with the height is to have it well above the board. Using this height gives you a smoother base as there won’t be tear-out to wrestle with. This, however, means that it is a bit riskier since a larger profile of the blade is exposed. Be a lot more cautious when working with this height.

When you are setting up the angle of cut, the blade angle adjustment lever should come in handy. You have the option of making two types of angled cuts: relative to the plane of the blade or relative to the table.

To make a cut relative to the blade you just have to proceed normally as you would with any other crosscut. The angle adjustment lever will do the trick if the angle of the cut is relative to the table and if you need a specific measurement.

If you need a more accurate angle you can use a protractor and adjust the blade along the lines of the specified angle. A protractor will also gauge the accuracy of the angle so it is helpful to have when using a table saw.

Check Your Wood For Any Metal

Always make sure that the wood you are working on doesn’t have any metal within its structure that can come into contact with the blade. Metal parts damage the teeth on the blade and can get in the way of making that seamless cut.

If you are working with recycled wood it’s more than advisable to make sure none of it has lodged metal or nails inside. 

Adjust The Length

To saw a piece of wood or plastic on a table saw you have to make the dimensions clear. This means keeping in mind the length and angle of your cut. We looked at setting up the angle so now we will check out how to use a table saw and make sure the length is just right.

The fence helps to cut a piece lengthwise. With it, you set just how long you would like the piece to be and do so accurately. There’s usually a lever that controls the movement of the fence. This lever is called the fence dog. Raising it allows for movement from side to side while lowering it firmly puts it in place on the table saw.

Making The Cut

To make the cut you first have to align the piece you’re working on with the blade, miter gauge, and the fence. Use push sticks and blocks when pushing a piece towards the saw blade.

Maintenance

A table saw does not require that much maintenance apart from the obvious basics. This includes vacuuming the sawdust off of the table. So remember to do this from time to time. Do check the sawdust catchment bin regularly to make sure it isn’t too full. 

Good maintenance will also make it easier for you in knowing how to use a table saw to its maximum capability. It will also help prevent an accident. Also, keep tabs with the user’s manual before operating it as there may be more features and tips.

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