A table saw is useful for DIY enthusiasts or professionals who want to make quick and precise woodworking tasks. If you’ve never used a table saw before, the noise of the material can be deafening. So, what’s the best way to use a table saw and avoid injuries? Here is our comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to use a table saw.
How To Use A Table Saw
01. Safty First
If you don’t know how to use a saw, you may become a victim of an expected injury. Besides taking common-sense precautions, a woodworker should wear appropriate safety equipment. The first precautionary measure is to protect the eyes and ears.
You can buy disposable earplugs to protect your hearing. If you’re not careful, the incredibly loud noise could damage your eardrum. Keep in mind that a hearing problem could creep up without a warning. Sometimes, there are no symptoms, and it could be too late to reverse the process.
Secondly, you should invest in a good pair of goggles. Safety goggles will prevent debris from flying onto your face.
That’s not all- you should get rid of any loose-fitting clothing. You never know, it may get caught in the blade, and when you realize it could be too late to react. The same applies to neckties and jewelry. Also, if you have long hair, make sure you tie it before you begin the job.
How about the safety of your hands? A general rule of thumb is to avoid using gloves. This is because you may lose the grip and your fingers may get into contact with the rotating blade.
Your table saw should have anti-kickback pawls, riving knife, and saw blade guard. They should be adjusted appropriately before you power the device.
Use a push stick, splitter, or push shoe when cutting boards
When cutting in boards, you may not have enough clearance between the side fence and blade. With this in mind, you should use a notched shred or push stick to guide the wood through the cut. You’ll find these pushing devices in the hardware store, or you can make yours.
The push blocks also do a remarkable job. Besides protecting your hands, they give you complete control over the workpiece. Plus, you’ll get accurate and cleaner cuts. It’s worth mentioning that push sticks and push blocks ensure your hands are at a safe distance from the table saw.
Use zero clearance inserts
If you’re working on thin boards, you should ensure your fingers are not too close to the blade. And this is what zero clearance inserts are meant to do. They create a buffer zone when working on thin pieces of wood. Other than that, they prevent thin slices of wood from jamming in between the blade. Zero clearance inserts can also be a great substitute for a throat plate.
Install the blade guard
This is what prevents the debris from kicking back. If you have a longer guard than what you need, you should reinstall the one that came with the table saw.
Locate the emergency button
Most table saws come with an emergency button. It should be located at a strategic place such that it can be hit by leg if the hands are occupied.
Read the instructions manual
For proper use and installation, you should read the manual that came with the table saw. This information will help you know where each part of the saw is located and what it does.
02. How To Make A Ripping Cut With A Table Saw
Woodworkersrely on a table saw to make three cuts: ripping, dado, and cross-cutting. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a table saw when making the cuts.
Adjust the height of the saw blade
A ripping cut requires that you adjust the blade such that it’s higher than the thickness of the wood. More specifically, it should be 0.25 inches higher than the wood you intend to cut. If you want to use a blade with different teeth, you should first unplug the unit. Then, you should adjust the blade height to avoid the risk of kickback.
Adjust the fence
To ensure you get the desired width of the cut, you should measure and mark the cut line. A tape measure will help you calculate the distance between the saw blade and the fence. For instance, if you want to cut a 2-feet wide board, you should ensure there’s a distance of 61cm from the saw blade and fence.
Prepare the saw to make the cut
Now that you’ve adjusted the fence and blade height, you should lower the blade guard. Once you plug on the unit, you should ensure the blade achieves full cutting speed.
Push the wood through the saw
Place the wood against the table and align it with the fence. Then, carefully place the hand behind the wood and hold it firmly against the blade. Next, guide it against along the rip fence firmly without exerting excessive force. Any DIY enthusiast who knows how to use a table saw will tell you that you should ensure there are 6 inches between your hands and the blade.
Switch off the saw
Before you remove the cut wood, you should flip the switch on the table saw to turn it off. Make sure the board has the intended dimensions. Also, you should avoid using excessive force on the workpiece as this could cause inaccurate cuts.
03. How To Make A Cross-Cut With A Table Saw
When making cross cuts, you should never use the rip fence guide. This is because it stabilizes longer cuts, and this shouldn’t be the case when making crosscuts. Since the material may not fit on the rip fence, you increase the risk of dangerous kickbacks.
So, what should you use? A miter gauge will ensure the material fits into the deep grooves such that you can control the cut. It also comes with a protractor-like guide that can be adjusted by loosening the knob and then selecting the correct angle before you tighten it. If you want to do a lot of crosscutting, you should invest in an aftermarket miter gauge.
Adjust the thickness of the blade
You should adjust the saw blade such that it’s 0.25 above the board. If you set it too low, you could split the wood. Similarly, if you set it too high, the saw may not cut all the way through.
Set the miter gauge
If you don’t have a miter gauge, you should set one on the slot. This is usually on the left-hand side of the table saw. If your unit didn’t come with a miter gauge, you can buy from the local hardware.
Prepare the table saw for cutting
Use a ruler and pencil to measure and mark the wood. To ensure you achieve a straight cut, you should set the guide to the desired measurement. After that, you should align the workpiece on the front edge of the miter saw.
If you want to achieve the perfect cut, you must align the miter gauge with the saw blade. Always ensure that both sides of the triangle are at a 90-degree angle. Moreover, you should tighten the handle on the gauge to hold it in place.
Hold the board against the meter fence
Use the right hand to set the miter gauge and the left one to hold the board on the edge of the miter gauge. Always ensure the fingers are a few inches from the blade.
Making the cut
Slowly push the workpiece with your hand. As you cut the board, you should push the miter gauge forward. After you’ve cut through the piece of wood, you can pull the board back into the starting position. Now you can turn off the table saw- you’ve just made a cross-cut.
04. How To Make Dado Cuts With A Table Saw
Dado cuts refer to making slots into a wood where another piece of wood fits in.
Set the saw to the correct height
Depending on the thickness of your board, you can go for ¼-inch dados or more. As you do this, make sure the saw is unplugged.
Use the push sticks on the table saw
They will help keep your fingers off the saw. You can now make the first pass and create a dado. Keep in mind that the rip fence should be at the correct distance from the blade.
Test the board against the rip fence and set it correctly. After that, make the second pass. If you want to make symmetrical joints, you should make cuts on each side of the board before moving the rip fence.
For narrower panels, you should use a cross-cut shed. This limits the amount of material each saw can cut and eliminates the risk of a kickback.
05. How To Make Angle Cuts With A Table Saw
When done correctly, angled cuts can take your woodwork project to the next level.
Unplug the saw
If you want to keep accidents at bay, you should disconnect the saw from the power source.
Measure the cut
Determine the length and width of your project. First, you should figure out the angle you want to make and then measure the width. Mark the spots with a pencil and double-check them. Then, use a tape measure and other carpentry tools to set the angle. A framing square or tape measure can help you do the job.
Outline the cuts
Connect the lines you marked before by holding the ruler over the board and make thick lines. Now that you’ve confirmed the line is accurate, you don’t have to measure the second time.
Adjusting the saw height
One way of making adjustments is by lowering or raising the blade. First, you should mark 0.64cm and then raise the saw until it meets the line. As you increase the height, the saw will get into contact with the wood.
A miter gauge is a handy device when making angled cuts. It has a series of markings that correspond to the angles. Once you place the gauge to the desired angle, you’re good to go. Another way of making angled cuts is tilting the wood over the blade.
06. Changing Table Saw Blade and Inserts
Your table saw will inevitably dull and may need a replacement. Since every model is different, you should first understand the type of blade on your table saw.
A standard blade is 1/8-inches wide and 8” in diameter. The best blades come with carbide teeth and hold sharpness for longer.
Another common type of blade is the dado. It’s commonly used by woodworkers who want to make smooth and precise trenches on the workpiece. Still, you can use a wobble blade. It’s ideal when you want to make slanted cuts. Here is how you should change a table saw blade.
Disconnect the power
As with other power tools, table saws can be dangerous if you don’t take precautions. Having checked that, you should remove the throat blade and the blade guard.
Raise the blade
Raise the blade to the maximum height such that you get easy access as you remove it.
Loosen the arbor nut
The blade of a table saw is held in place with an arbor nut. You may want to use a wrench for this purpose. One should hold the blade in place while the other should turn the nut.
Once you loosen the arbor nut, you can unscrew it with your fingers.
Remove the blade and replace with a new one
As you install a new blade, make sure the teeth are pointing towards you – not far away. Finally, replace the washer and nut, and tighten firmly. Don’t forget to replace the blade guard and throat blade.
There are three different types of inserts. The standard insert comes with a table saw and is used for operations like rip cuts. You can also go for wide gap inserts to make trench cuts. Lastly, the zero clearance inserts are useful when you want to make vertical crosscuts. To switch the inserts, you just lift the rear of the table saw.
That’s it – now you know how to use a table saw. If you want to make accurate and precise cuts, you must follow the right techniques. Besides following the above instructions, you should wear the right gear and perform regular maintenance.
You can now make your woodworking sessions an enjoyable experience.