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Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

If you have ever used a table saw you know that they can be some pretty handy tools for carpenters and woodworkers everywhere. However if you haven’t used a table saw too many times or are simply inexperienced at carpentry, you may be wondering what exactly a table saw can do.

A table saw is of course for cutting wood, but the fact of the matter is that it can make various different cuts and be used in some different ways. Let’s talk about all of the different uses that a table saw has so you can know everything you need to know to be a better wood worker.

Making Long Square Cuts

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

One of the most common uses for a table saw is to cut along the length of the board in a straight manner, thus reducing its size to reduce the width. This is the most common type of cut to make with a table saw, and in all reality, it is also the easiest type of cut to make.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when making these cuts is to keep the fence aligned properly. The fence of the table saw should be perfectly parallel with the saw blade to ensure a perfectly straight cut along the whole length of the board.

You can check to see if the fence is parallel with the saw blade by using the markings on the fence, a t-square, or even with a piece of wood that has been straightened. Whatever your method of verifying that the blade and fence are parallel is, if you want a straight cut, you need to do it right.

The next step is to set the fence at the proper distance from the blade. You can follow one of two methods to do this. You can either set the fence so that the distance from the bade to the fence is exactly the amount of wood that you want to cut off, or you can set the distance from the fence to the blade to be the amount of wood which you want to be left with in the end.

Whichever method you use, make sure that you have measured correctly. Remember, always measure twice and cut once.

Now to make the cut, simply place the length of the wood against the fence and feed it through the blade. Make sure to use a push stick when you do this to keep your fingers away from the blade as far as possible. Another thing to keep in mind here is the length of the board that you are cutting.

If the boards are excessive in length you will want to build a leveling table past the end of the table saw itself, because you don’t want the board to limp down past the edge of the table, something that will make cutting much harder and require you to push down on the board.

Simply create a table using some scrap wood which is the same height as the table of the table saw. This is also known as an out feed jig. Place this past the end of the table saw so that the excess length of wood has something to rest on once it has been cut.

Making Square Cross Cuts

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Something that you can do with a table saw is to make cross cuts. Simply put, making a cross cut involves cutting off a certain length of the board or piece of wood in question to make it shorter while keeping the end of the board at a perfect 90-degree angle.

The trick here is to use the miter guage in order to make sure that your wood is cut at a perfect 90-degree angle. You want to set the miter guage at 90 degrees (or 0 degrees, depending on the markings on your particular table saw).

This means that the end of the miter guage and the blade should form a perfect 90-degree angle with the blade being perpendicular to the miter guage and the wood you are cutting, thus resulting in perfectly square cuts.

Generally speaking, the miter gauges on table saws can be inaccurate. Therefore you want to go to your local hardware store and grab a drafting triangle. Use the triangle to make sure that the miter guage and the blade form a 90-degree angle and make adjustments accordingly.

When your miter guage is at a perfect 90-degree angle, there should be no spaces between the drafting triangle and the miter guage or between the triangle and the saw blade.

Before you begin cutting, you want to cut away the board just a few inches longer than it is intended to be in the end; do this with a miter or circular saw, then use the table saw to make the final cross cut. This is because making cross cuts on a very long board with a table saw can be kind of hard, if not nearly impossible.

With the length of the board resting against the miter guage, which is now perfectly aligned, push the board through the blade, and you will have a perfect cross cut. Always make sure to use a pencil to make markings on your wood first and also make sure that the blade is aligned with your markings before you begin.

Making Angled Cross Cuts

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Making angled cross cuts is much the same as making perpendicular cross cuts with your table saw, and in terms of using the miter guage, the process is more or less the same, except you won’t be setting the miter guage at a 90-degree angle.

For example, if you want to make a 45 degree cut on the end of your piece of wood, you need to set the angle of the miter guage to 45 degrees.

Once again, you will want to use a drafting triangle to make sure that the miter guage is accurately set at 45 degrees, because miter gauges on table saws can be a little off sometimes. Make the appropriate markings on your piece of wood so you know where to cut.

Place the board against the angled miter guage. Keep in mind that when making angled cuts, the board may slip around and move due to the movement of the saw blade, thus it is wise to clamp the piece of wood to the miter guage to prevent movement. Now simply move the miter guage and the piece of wood forward so that the wood passes through the table saw blade.

Length Cut – Angled

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Another very common use for a table saw is to make angled cuts along the length of a board. For instance, you may want to create a corner for something like a cabinet, in which case you will need 2 boards that each have a 45-degree angle along the length.

This cut is actually pretty easy to make. All you need to do is to mark the proper angle on your board using a proper measuring device such as a triangle. Then you need to adjust the table saw blade to be the same angle as what you have just measured on the board.

Next you should measure the distance between the furthest edge of the blade and the fence (according to how wide the wood is), and set the fence to the appropriate distance.

This will ensure that you can feed the wood through the blade while it is resting against the fence, thus resulting in a perfectly straight cut. Once again, you should also be using a push stick to keep your fingers away from the blade.

Straightening Crooked Wood

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Yet another use for a table saw involves straightening out crooked or bent wood. We all know that buying wood from a lumber yard or even from a hardware store can be frustrating because none of the boards ever seem to be straight. Luckily you can use a table saw to straighten crooked pieces of wood. This is also a fairly easy thing to do.

The easiest way to straighten out a crooked width or length of a board is to use a piece of carrier wood. Carrier wood or a carrier board is one that has already been straightened or is naturally straight.

You can clamp the piece of crooked wood onto the carrier board, making sure that all of the bent wood past the point of your preferred straight line is exposed past the carrier board. In other words, simply cut away everything that is exposed past the carrier board to get a straight line.

You can also use the manual method to do this, which is simply by measuring a straight line along the length of the board to cut away anything that is crooked in order to result in a straight line. Simply measure both ends as well as the middle of the board along its length to make sure that you draw a straight line, then simply cut off the excess.

If you are using a carrier board, place the end that is away from the blade on the fence, and if you aren’t using a fence, just place the length of the piece of wood you are cutting along the fence. Remember that using the fence is the easiest way to ensure that you end up with a straight cut. Also remember to use a push stick to keep your fingers safe.

Making A Rabbet Cut

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Another type of cut that you can make with a table saw is a rabbet cut. A rabbet cut is one of the more difficult cuts to make, mostly because it involves a lot of precise measurement. The first thing that you need to do here is to measure the cut on the board itself.

Technically speaking, when this cut is made at the edge of the board it is referred to as a rabbet, and when made in the middle of a board it is called a dado.

You need to accurately measure how far into both the width and the length of the board that you are going to cut, making sure that both measurements meet at the desired point in the board and that they form a 90-degree angle. Make sure to use the proper measuring tools to do this.

Now, in order to make the cut, you can use one of two methods, or to be exact, one of two tools. First, you can use a dado saw blade set, which is a set of two blades that will allow you to make the cut in one pass.

Dados & Rabbets – Dado Blade Set

Simply set the height of the saw blades so that the top of the blades coincides with the height of the desired cut regarding the depth at which the rabbet needs to be in the wood. At the same time, set the distance of the blades to be apart from each other according to the width which you want the rabbet to be.

This will allow you cut a rabbet in one pass and it can be done either in the middle of a board or at the edge too.

Also remember to measure the distance from the fence to the closest blade to ensure that you can rest the board on the fence while you feed the wood through the blade in order to get a straight cut. Adjust the fence accordingly so that you can rest the wood on the fence while you make the cut.

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Dados & Single Blade Setup

The other option, in case you don’t have a dado blade set, is to use the standard single blade set up. This involves a couple more steps than if you were to use a dado saw blade set.

To make a rabbet with a single blade set up in the middle of a piece of wood, you need to measure the rabbet you are looking to make and you will need to make two passes through the blade to make the outer edges of the rabbet.

Remember to not set the blade height any higher than the top of where the rabbet should be, or else you will cut too deep, or even cut the wood right in half. Also remember to measure the wood regarding the distance from the saw blade to the fence so that you can rest the wood on the fence to get a straight cut.

Rabbets & Single Blade Setup

If you want to make a rabbet at the edge of a piece of wood, set the saw blade height at the corresponding depth of the cut at which the rabbet is supposed to be. Lay the wood face down on the table, and using the fence, make sure that it is aligned straight with the blade. Now pass the wood through the saw blade.

Now you will need to stand the wood up on its side to make the other cut. Once again, set the height of the blade corresponding to the desired depth of the cut, making sure not to overshoot or cut too deep. Make sure that you rest the wood along the fence while doing this in order to get a straight cut that results in a 90-degree angle.

Understanding Different Table Saw Uses

Different Table Saw Uses: Conclusion

Whatever the case may be and whichever cut you are looking to make, always make sure that you measure twice and cut once. Having accurate measurements is the most important part of any project, and that goes for the angle of the miter guage, the angle of the fence, the distance from the fence to the blade, and of course the measurements on the board itself.

When necessary, make sure to use a push stick to keep your fingers safe, and always remember to wear safety goggles too. There are a great number of different cuts that you can make with a table saw, and as long as you follow the steps outlined above you should not have any problems.