Welcome to this lesson on table saws. Start by watching this video introduction and reading the summary below it.
Video Summary: The table saw is thought by many to be the center of a woodworking shop. Some estimates suggest that 80-90% of all woodworking projects call for the use of a table saw for at least one step in any project. However, as useful as this tool is to the user, any woodworker must approach the use of this tool with a thorough knowledge of its use and a very healthy dose of respect for the potential of serious injuries that can happen if it is misused.
— What You Will Need to Know —
To use a table saw well and safely, complete this lesson, pass the quiz, and earn your Table Saw Information Badge, you will need to know the following things:
- What table saws are, their major parts, and how they work.
- The difference between cross cuts, rip cuts, mitre cuts, bevel cuts, dado cuts, and curve cuts.
- The purpose of the following table saw accessories and how to identify them when you see them:
- blade guard
- rip fence
- miter gauge
- try square
- push stick
- table extensions
- outfeed table
- insert plate
- featherboard, and
- The different kinds of blades commonly used in table saws for different purposes.
- How high the blade should be set in comparison to the wood being cut.
- How to change table saw blades, and
- What “kickback” is, what causes it, and how to avoid it.
As you move ahead, use the information in the text, diagrams, videos, and interactions to learn these things.
Why Table Saws Are Important
The table saw is a powerful, versatile tool that can save lots of time and can produce very precise cuts. Watch the eight minute video below by Steve Ramsey’s Youtube Channel, “Woodworking for Mere Mortals,” entitled “Seven Things to Get You Started Using a Table Saw.” It gives a great overview on using this tool and using it safely. As you watch this video, learn Steve’s two basic safety rules for the table saw, and how to change table saw blades. Also, learn what kickback is and how a riving knife, or “splitters” can help, and how you can keep your fingers away from the blade, even when cutting small pieces. The section on using “stop blocks” is also good to remember.
That was a lot to remember, and it went by very quickly. Don’t worry, we’ll review all of this information before you move on.
Types of Table Saws
Watch this one minute video to learn about the different types and brands of table saws.
How Table Saws Work
What goes on inside a table saw? How does it work? How fast does the blade spin? Watch this video to find out.
Wow. The saw blade is spins around about 100 times per second (when it’s not cutting wood). If it’s spinning a 50 tooth blade, that’s 5,000 saw teeth past the wood (and the woodworker) every second. That’s real cutting power, and that’s why you need to respect the table saw and learn about table saw safety.
The Blade Guard, Splitter and Pawls
This next video explains the purpose and operation of three important safety devices, the blade guard, the splitter and the pawls. As you watch this five minute video, learn what each is and how it works, and learn about “kickback,” a dangerous event that can be avoided.
Table Saw Accessories
The next video will help you understand several of the most important table saw accessories — all designed to make your work safer, easier, and more precise. As you watch this video, learn the roles of the saw’s table, table extensions, outfeed tables, and rip fences, and how they work.
Rabbets and Mitres and Dados – Oh my!
In this next video, we explain mitre gauges, mitre cuts, cross cuts, rabbets and dados. We realize that might sound like we are speaking a whole different language, but, like professionals in many other professions, woodworkers have developed specialized tools and methods, and some interesting terms to label and describe them. As you watch, you’ll learn about accessories, new types of cuts and joints, and how the table saw makes building solid products easy.
Types of Cuts
Table saws are used to cut material, usually wood, into various lengths and shapes, to form component pieces for planned projects. The following six types of cuts most common.
A rip cut, is performed when the user cuts along the length of a piece of stock, or with the grain, using a fence to help to guide the cut, to form two or more narrow pieces.
A cross cut is performed when the user cuts across a piece of stock or against the grain, in order to form two or more shorter pieces.
|A miter cut is formed when the user guides a piece of stock at an angle and against the grain, to form two or more pieces to be joined.|
|A bevel cut is similar to a miter cut in that it is for the purpose of forming an angle. However, a miter cut is formed by guiding stock at an angle into a blade that is perpendicular to the table. A bevel cut is formed when stock is guided into a blade that is placed at an angle to the table. A bevel cut can also be made both with the grain, as well as against the grain.|
|A dado cut is formed when the user wishes to cut a channel in a piece of stock. A dado can be performed by either making multiple guided passes, using a single blade or by using a set of stacked blades, in a single pass. Most dados are cuts made across the grain.|
|A rabbet cut is formed in a similar manner to that of a dado in that the user can choose to use a single blade and make multiple, guided passes or by using a set of stacked blades, making a single pass. A rabbet cut differs from a dado because a rabbet forms a channel on the edges of a piece of stock, rather than through the stock. A rabbet cut can be made both with the grain, as well as against the grain.|
Know your cuts!
Drag the photos on the left below to match their labels on the right.
(Follow with an interaction using H5P.)
How to Use a Table Saw
- You’ll find a good review of table saw use in this six minute video by WoodworkWeb.
- A text-based review can be found on, this web page on Table Saw Specifications by “Woodworking for Dummies”
- Here’s a good video on choosing table saw blades
- Watch this video on the five most common cuts and the tools best suited to make them.
- Study this diagram, and
- Take this test on Table Saw Safety, and when you get a passing score, either:
- take a screenshot of you results screen and submit it, or
- submit a copy of the email you will receive showing you your passing score.