November 15, 2021

What are Table Saws Used for?

Table saws are versatile tools that run multiple cuts. These are curved, straight inlaid, and crosscut. Follow some tips and techniques to execute the saw cuts well. Below is a detailed explanation of how to run the cuts using a table saw. 

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Making curved cuts in wood

When making curved cuts using a table saw, the saw cut should have the depth to keep the ply together. The saw cut starts from the side tangential to the arc, and it has to continue across the workpiece in a perfect arc. Be cautious of flying plywood since that causes serious injuries. It happens when you take off the splitter behind the blade and the piece twists.

Draw a good, curved solid line to follow. Set your table saw so, and make sure the blade extends just below the wood. Be patient when working on the cut, and be gentle to keep the saw blade to the line. 

The blade has to be in contact with the wood. Make sure the saw does not start bogging down or smoking, and if it does, switch it off. Use a sharp blade and good technique and wear hearing protection and goggles.

Making straight cuts in wood

Sketch out the cut and cut along the grain. Carefully measure and cut the wood from 1/2″ plywood. Make sure to keep cuts straight and even. It is ideal for cabinet making, and the blade does not wander much when you are cutting wood using a table saw. 

Measure and mark where you want to cut, for marking which side you are cutting on. Use clamps to secure your wood to a workbench or other stable surface. 

You can cut without guides, but you should be careful full-on following the line with your cut notch on your table saw. For an easy way to get perfect, straight cuts set up a fence. A fence is a straight tool used to guide the plate of your table saw. 

It is easy to set up. Measure the distance from the teeth of the saw blade to the edge of the plate. Set your fence to this distance away from your cut.

Making inlaid cuts in wood

Work on cutting the width first and get it to fit perfectly. Do not forget to install a zero clearance insert plate so the wood does not fall into your saw. Use a scrap board for testing. As soon as you have your rip fence set, put your board in a resaw position and cut partially through the board. 

Use a feather board to keep pressure against the board and use push sticks. You are allowed to resaw all the way through, and that gives you more control over the workpiece. Depending on how narrow your inlay is, you can make two passes and flip the board around on the second pass. 

Cut out the strips to their thicknesses. The inlay has to be a bit thicker than the depth of the grooves. Set up a stop block on the left side of the blade. Avoid cutting the strips between the blade and the fence.

Choose a method that spares you from having to make a resaw cut with the board on its edge. 

It involves cutting the thicknesses first by ripping strips from the edge of the board. It also has to be slightly thicker than the depth of the grooves. However, you have to rip these thin inlay strips to their exact widths without much material to hold on to. Make sure you support both sides of the strips, either with a push block or a sacrificial board. 

Making cross cuts in wood

Crosscutting is a cutting process used to cut wood to length. The name derives from the process that involves cutting your material across the grain of the wood. Crosscutting is the direct opposite of ripping. For a successful procedure, make use of a sliding crosscut table guide.

Sometimes the project requires an angled or miter cut. You will need to use your table saw’s adjustable miter gauge. Adjust it to the required angle, double-check with an angle measure, and hold the workpiece firmly against the fence as you feed it through the blade.

Square the miter gauge handle. Do not trust the angle indicators on the gauge because they are sloppy. Screw the fence to the miter gauge with the right side projecting a few inches past the saw blade. 

Align the board with the fence, mark the board for length and align the mark with the end of the extension fence. Start cutting longboards with support. On thick lumber, raise the blade to cut over halfway through the post. Make one pass, flip the post over and align the saw kerf with the end of the fence and run the cut.

Attach a stop block to the fence by cutting a board to the exact length, align one end with the fence end and clamp an angled stop block. Push each board against the stop block and cut. 

For matching items such as cabinet doors, cut the first board at the right length and then use it to create a stop block to cut all the others. Never use the table saw rip fence as a guide for cutting wood to length because the wood becomes trapped between the fence and the saw blade, resulting in a kickback.

Ripping

A table saw cuts larger boards into smaller pieces, making the material easier to work with. Ripping refers to cutting wood to width and try working parallel to the wood’s grain. Run the board directly against the rip fence and never freehand because the saw tool is dangerous. 

Keep your hand away from the saw machine and make use of the fence and miter gauge. That prevents the risk of twisting the board and jamming your saw.

Making bevel cuts

Table saws change the blade angle. By doing so, it allows for bevel cuts. Tilt the saw blade to the required angle, and double-check its accuracy with an angle measure. Before you power on your saw, you should be ready to feed your material for rips or crosscuts at a consistent angle.

To cut a bevel cut, you need to make your fence if the table saw does not have it. Set up the rip fence alongside the wood to be cut, either by clamping or with heavy-duty double-sided tape. Position your work so that the cut-off portion falls away from the wood. 

Cutting joints

A table saw also creates a wide variety of joint cuts outside of rabbets and grooves. These joints sometimes require removing the blade guard and riving knife. Be extra careful while cutting joints in these circumstances because you can easily cut yourself. 

Outfit your table saw with a zero-clearance throat plate made of scrap. Install a wide dado blade in the saw and clamp the rip fence over the throat plate to hold it securely. The rip fence should be clear of the saw blade. 

Find the correct blade height. Cut the test scrap in two and fit the rabbets together. Adjust the rip fence until the outer edge of the workpiece lines up with the outside edge of the dado blade and lock the rip fence. Slip the joint parts together and check their fit. 

David D. Hughes
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