For most woodworking projects, a table saw is king. This is because it is the backbone of any workshop as it is used to chop and trim different stocks to size.
That said, the tool can be used to make different types of cuts and joints, but its main function is to make crosscuts and rip cuts.
What is a Table Saw Used For?
To understand what a table saw excels at, we need to look at its design first.
The tool consists of a wide table, which allows you to place large workpieces on the surface, and a circular blade in the middle.
The blade can be raised or lowered and the larger it is, the deeper it can cut.
This design gives you easy support when cutting large and heavy pieces and therefore, the table saw is ideal for cutting boards, like the ones used in tabletops, and the thick stocks that makeup frame structures.
That said, with these workpieces, this is what you can do:
1) Making Straight Cuts
As stated earlier, the primary function of a table saw is to make rip cuts and crosscuts, which fall under the category of straight cuts.
Rip cuts are made along the length of the workpiece and go along the wood grain. On the other hand, crosscuts are made along the width of the workpiece (at 90˚) and they cut across the wood grain.
It is easier to make a crosscut because the width is shorter and for this, you need a fence to help guide the workpiece straight to the blade.
With a rip cut, however, you need a rip fence for guidance.
Apart from cutting pieces to size, these straight cuts can help you to straighten crooked or curved boards.
2) Making Angled Cuts
Using a miter fence or a taper jig with the rip fence, you can easily make angled cuts along the width or length of the board respectively.
These tools are adjustable and have angle scales to help you set the precise cutting angle.
Other than that, some tables allow the blade to tilt up to 45˚ to the left or right, which enables you to make bevel cuts.
However, you need a way to measure this angle because these saws don’t have built-in measuring scales.
One of the things you can use is a digital gauge, which attaches to the blade to gives you the angle in real-time as you tilt.
Some table saws have a long arbor and a wide groove on the table insert that can fit the width of a dado blade.
With such, you can create different types of joints such as dado, rabbet, half-lap, finger, tongue-and-groove and tenon and mortise.
5 Safety Tips When Using a Table Saw
- Wear goggles and earplugs but no gloves. With a table saw, you need a sense of touch and good gripping power, which is not possible when wearing gloves. Additionally, gloves can be easily grabbed by the blade.
- Stand comfortably in a well-balanced position at all times to maintain stability.
- Use a push stick to protect your hands when cutting narrow stock that is 6” or less in width.
- Keep the table smooth and clean for easy feeding of the stock. Additionally, always have the throat insert installed to prevent the wood from falling inside.
- Always feed the stock using either the rip or miter fence, depending on the type of cut you are making. Free-hand cuts will most likely result in crooked edges.
It is important to note that the two (rip and miter fence) should not be used together because this may result in kickback.
All in all, table saws are very versatile tools. Even though their main task is making straight cuts, after some time in use.
You will discover their value in your workshop as the true workhorse.