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Table Saw 101

Updated on April 14, 2012


The table saw is a useful woodworking tool that no serious woodworker should be without. While a table saw is commonly used to rip materials to the proper width, it can be used for so much more such as tapering table legs or making dado cuts for a cabinet drawer face. Use your table saw efficiently by using these tricks and tips and you can be sure you’re going to get the most out of one of the most used tools in your workshop—the table saw.

  • As with any woodworking workshop equipment, it’s important to wear the correct safety gear for protection. Always wear eye and ear protection when working with a table saw. Wear tight fitting clothes, take off any jewelry and don’t wear gloves to prevent injury when using a table saw.
  • Before powering up the saw, check to be sure the blade is set to the proper depth and angle for your cut. Make certain the blade slot is free and clear from any obstructions. Allow the saw blade to come to full power before cutting any material. Be sure your footing is solid and your stance feels comfortable before beginning your cut.
  • Make certain you never position your body in front of the blade. If kickback occurs with your materials, it can easily fly backwards at incredible speeds and cause serious injuries.
  • Use a push stick when cutting materials if your hand needs to get close to the blade. Keep your hands away from the blade at least 6” to keep fingers safe.
  • Always use a stop block when cross cutting short lengths of materials. Attach the stop block to the fence with a clamp so that cutoff pieces don’t get jammed between the fence and the blade.
  • Never reach behind a table saw blade unless it has been turned off and has stopped spinning. Serious injury can happen in a split second if a portion of your clothing or hands accidently go into a table saw blade backwards.
  • If you need to remove the blade on your table saw, be sure the cord is unplugged before attempting any maintenance on your table saw.
  • Keep the back of your fence kicked out about 1/32” slightly away from the materials to prevent binding of your table saw blade.
  • Install zero clearance throat plates in your table saw to prevent loose pieces of stock from falling into the table saw blade and cause binding.
  • Always be sure the throat plate, blade guards, splitters and anti-kickback fingers are installed prior to using the table saw. Never make adjustments to the fence or blade while the table saw is in operation.
  • Use either the fence or the miter gauge to when cutting stock. Never combine the two at the same time and never cut your stock free hand without either safety feature in place.
  • Ensure your materials are pushed completely through the saw blade while cutting. Never stop or attempt to back out of a cut while the table saw blade is in motion to prevent dangerous kickbacks.

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