What it isA table saw is basically a circular saw mounted below a table which is used to support the material being cut.
The depth of the cut is selected by moving the blade up or down. The angle of the blade can be adjusted too. This is a great tool for ripping French cleats.
There are 4 basic types of table saw (see Wikipedia page for more info).
The most common is the benchtop table saw.
I have one of these on a stand. I find it to be very adequate for cutting boards and smaller sections of mdf sheet. It doesn’t provide a large enough surface to cut full size sheets of mdf or plywood, but I think I will built this ripping and cross-cut table so I can use my fabulous (love it!) table saw to cut my mdf sheets!
Table Saw DeconstructedI’ll use my saw to illustrate the parts and functions of the standard table saw.
Rip fence: The fence is a guide allowing the user to accurately cut to a specific width.
Splitter: a “fin” behind the blade that prevents the workpiece from rotating. In conjunction with pawls (hold downs with teeth), they help prevent kickback.
Elevation wheel: raises and lowers blade and adjusts blade angle. I can raise the blade into a workpiece to cut a narrow groove or cut through a board when I don’t want to feed it through the blade.
My power switch comes with a lock (just remove the yellow piece) – a very good thing when your 3 year old is obsessed with Mommy’s tools…
Featherboards: are used to keep the wood against the rip fence. I plan to make my own using this how-to.
SafetyKickback happens when the work being cut is caught by the blade and violently and unexpectedly thrown back toward the operator (that’s you) and can be fatal. It is usually caused by the wood being pinched between the blade and the rip fence. Never stand in direct line between the blade and fence. And never set the rear of the rip fence closer to the blade than the front – it will cause the piece to get cut too wide and get pinched between the blade and fence.
I’ve had one of my pieces kickback. It was like an explosion went off; the piece of mdf went shooting like a bullet to bounce off the wall behind me. I am always careful where I stand in relation to my work.
If you use a table saw or plan to, read this article by Rick Christopherson, a great explanation of all the forms of kickback, what causes them and how to avoid it!!
Always use a table saw carefully, using a push stick for small or narrow pieces, follow safety directions, and wear protective equipment. The table saw is one of the most dangerous of workshop power tools.
ShoppingBuy the best saw you can afford while keeping in mind what you will be using it for.
Will you cut small boards to make birdhouses, or large sheets of mdf to build bookcases? Does it need to be portable? Then read this how-to select a table saw.
BuildingI am currently building some bookcases (built-ins) for our dining area. It will be a few weeks likely, but I’ll happily show you what I’m working on as I build.
I whipped up a pair of fabulous adjustable-height storage sawhorses!! As soon as I write up the blueprints for these I’ll share with you… these sawhorses are awesome – I love them!
Thanks for humoring my power tool obsession again…