The table saw is the probably the most used tool in the shop. We can use it to make ripping cuts, cross cuts, miter cuts, rabbets and dadoes. It is also one of the most dangerous. It is extremely important that you know what you are doing on this machine before you use it. The only tool that you will use more in this class is a ruler and pencil.
Safety Rules for the Table Saw
Wear safety glasses.
Never make a freehand cut. Use the fence of miter gauge.
Keep the working face against the table.
Keep the working edge against the fence or miter gauge.
Make sure your are using the correct blade. Few, big teeth is ripping. Alot of small, fine teeth equals cross cutting.
Do not remove the guards.
The blade should only be 1/4" higher than the work piece.
Do not use the fence and miter gauge at the same time. Only exceptions is when making dado cuts.
Do not stand directly behind the saw. You will get hit if a kickback occurs.
Use push sticks and feather boards whenever possible.
Do not reach over the blade.
Have a partner to help catch the work piece as it comes through the saw.
Make sure to completely push the wood clear of the blade before stopping.
Do not lose your concentration when operating the saw. Stay focused.
Maintain of 4" margin of safety.
Never remove wood scraps while the blade is moving or the saw is running.
Parts of the Table Saw
Know the parts and function of the table saw. It is to your benefit.
1. On/Off Switch turns the machine off and on.
2. The guard protects the operator from the blade.
3. The table supports the work that is being cut. The working face should always be against the table.
4. The blade angle adjustment allows the operator to tilt the blade at an angle up to 45 degrees. Always check to make sure the blade is square to the table before beginning.
5. The blade height adjustment lowers and raises the blade. The blade should be no more than 1/4" above the wood being cut.
6. The fence is used during ripping operations only. Ripping is cutting with the grain of the wood.
7. The fence lock is used to hold the fence securely in place while ripping a board. It is unlocked to make adjustments. This is always done with the saw off. Always double check the fence before ripping to make sure is is secure.
8. The miter gauge is only used when cross cutting. There are two slots in the table top of the saw. The miter gauge rides in these slots. Get in the habit of checking them for square.
9. The taper jig is used to cut long tapers. Just recognize it. We will not be using it.
10. The feather board is used to hold your work piece against the fence. Use these as much as possible. They are real finger savers.
11. Push sticks are used to keep your hands away from the blade. Use them on small pieces of wood.
12. The tenoning jig is used to make half of the mortis and tenon joint.
How to use the Table Saw
I will describe the two main techniques used on the table, ripping and cross cutting.
Ripping is the process of cutting a piece of wood with the grain. Basically you are reducing the width of the board. To do this on a table saw you need to use a ripping blade. In our case, these are red in color and we will assume that it is installed on the saw. The first thing is to check to see if the blade is square to the table. If yes, set the blade height to 1/4" above your piece of wood. About the thickness of a pencil. Set the fence to the correct width. Allow 1/16" greater for a finish jointer pass. Put the feather board into the miter slot and apply slight pressure to the work piece. Remember the feather board is going to help hold the wood against the fence. Your working face should be down and the working edge should be against the fence. Turn on the saw. Make sure that the wood is not touching the blade. With your left hand apply firm and steady pressure downwards. This hand holds the work piece flat on the table. Your right hand will feed the wood through the blade. Your left hand should not approach the feather board. Your right hand must continue to feed the wood through the blade. (If it is a small work piece a push stick must be used. ) It is extremely important at this point that the operator continue to feed the board all the way through the cutting operation. Many table saw accidents occur because the operator stops short and the wood pinches between the fence and the blade and a kick back occurs. You should also have a catcher to help control the piece of wood as it finishes it pass through the saw. The operator should never reach across the blade and over extend him or herself while performing the ripping procedure. The operator must never stand directly in line with the wood being sawn. They need to stand slightly to one side or the other in case a kickback does occur. The last thing to remember is that you should never try to remove the wood scraps while the saw is running. Wait until it comes to a complete stop before reaching in to remove scraps.
Cross cutting is the procedure of making a piece of wood shorter. Once again we must make sure that a cross cutting blade is installed on the table saw. Assuming that it is, we will check the blade to make sure that it is square to the table and then set the blade to the correct cutting height. We will unlock the fence and slide it completely out of the way. Install the miter gauge into the miter slot on top of the table saw. Make sure the miter gauge is square to the slot. Now align your length mark with the inside of the blade. It should not be touching the blade. Squeeze the work piece between your fingers and the miter gauge. Make sure that your fingers are not all spread out. Keep them close together. Turn on the saw and feed the wood through the saw blade. Keep firm pressure on the work piece and miter gauge at all times. Once your piece has cleared the blade. Turn the saw off and wait until the blade stops. Do not back through the moving blade. Clean area and put miter gauge away.