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Table saw is a multi-purpose tool
Feb 18, 2005

When building cabinets or constructing a fine piece of furniture, the home handy person will find that a table saw is without equal when it comes to ease of use and accuracy. 

Even a novice can turn out professional looking workmanship using a table saw. 

Professional carpenters invariably use a floor model. They are heavy and difficult for one person to move and require a lot of space. 

A “table-top” model is a half to a quarter the cost of a floor model and will sit on the work bench or a small wood base constructed for that purpose. 

Table saws can be used for ripping, cross-cutting or mitring wood. It can also be used for grooves, dados, and rabbets or making precision lap joints. 

Ripping is cutting with the grain. For example, if you wanted to make two one-by-fours from a one-by-eight board, you would rip it in two. On the other hand, cross-cutting is across the grain. If you wanted to make two six-inch pieces of wood from a one-foot, two-by-four, you would cut it in two across the grain. 

For the best results, use a cross-cutting blade when cross-cutting and a ripping blade when ripping. There are “combination” blades but a specialty blade makes a cleaner cut. 

A table saw is ideally suited for “specialty” cutting. The blade of the saw can be raised or lowered, or angled sideways for mitred or beveled cuts. There are usually two separate cranks for these procedures, one to raise and lower the blade and one to angle it. There are also mitre guides on the table or the saw enabling you to make combination mitre cuts. 

All cutting should be done with a guide. When ripping or cross-cutting a “rip fence” is used. This is an adjustable guide mounted on two rails on either side of the table saw. The rip fence is set the required distance from the blade to produce the width of lumber or plywood that you want to produce. A removable rip fence and mitre gauge keep the work aligned. 

The proper choices of saw blades are important. Besides the cross and ripping blade you would choose a finishing or plywood blade, sometimes called a planner blade. This type of blade has fine, short teeth with a special pitch to the teeth and is used for quality work. 

A “dado head” is not your neighbour trying to help you, but rather a special blade to make a groove in solid wood. There are adjustable dado saws that can vary the width of the groove. The depth of the groove is governed by the height of the top of the blade from the table. 

Now, for some very important safety tips when using a table saw. When care is not exercised, you could cause yourself very serious injury. 

For safety, a table saw has a blade guard, a splitter and a anti-kickback mechanism.The guard shields the users hands from the blade and face from flying chips. 

Before using your table saw, thoroughly familiarize yourself with how it works. 

Read the owner’s manual carefully and follow the instructions for installing and adjusting the machine. Align the table, mitre gauge, rip fence, and blade-tilt mechanism properly before making a cut. Use only sharp, clean blades to ensure safe accurate work. 

• When operating the table saw, feed the work into the blade against the direction it is turning. 

• Use the blade guard for all through cuts. 

• Never work freehand. Always hold the stock against the mitre gauge or rip fence and use push sticks, clamps or jigs whenever your hands will come within six inches of the blade. 

• Keep hands out of the direct line of the blade. 

• Stand to one side of the blade when sawing, not in front of it. Never reach across the blade. 

• When you finish the cut, turn off the motor. Don’t touch the blade until it stops completely. 

• Never clear away scraps with your fingers; do it with a stick that is at least two feet long. 

• Avoid cutting warped or knotty wood. 

• Turn the saw off and unplug it before making adjustments or changing blades. 

• Before restarting the saw, tighten all clamps and levers and remove any tools from the table.