How to Use a Table Saw

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Do you need help with how to use a table saw? Even if you look at saws and think that they are pretty easy to handle, it can be quite challenging especially when you haven't tried using one before. It’s important that you first know what are the safety tips in using it.

Table saws are simple tools, but they can be very powerful and dangerous when mishandled. If you do not have enough knowledge in using a saw it can cause you serious injuries and sometimes even your life. Which is why it is important that you know what are the things you need to be aware of.

Whenever you use the table saw, you have to wear a pair of safety glasses. Look at what you will be doing with the machine and always make the machine seriously. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to be scared when you use the table saw. Just always be careful in handling it and be aware of what you are working on.

Ensure that the working area is always clean. Don’t leave any stock, excess sawdust or cutoffs nearby. These things can easily get in the way of your work, or it can even impair your chances in working safely. Things like a loose piece of stock can also be dangerous as it can be projectile when the table moves.

Also, try to check the safety features before you start any task. See that the safety features are set and that it is functioning as it should be. Things like the anti-kickback, riving knife and blade guard have been created to protect the user so you need to adjust them beforehand.

In case you are cutting large stock pieces, like a full sheet of plywood, you should position an outfeed table or even a stand for support. These can make the pieces that you are cutting be more stable. You can also cut through them easier without having to worry about the materials being unbalanced.

Parts Of a Table Saw And Their Uses

  • Table - this is where you place your working material and balance it while you start cutting through it.
  • Blade - this is the part that cuts the wood and you can find various types of it. it is also important that you are aware of the kinds of blades which you will be working on.
  • Blade insert - it is an insert which will fill the hole utilized to swap the blades. You can find one that has a 1/8th-inch measured gap on the each sides of the blade, while there are also others that have zero clearance type of insert used for cutting thinner strips.
  • Fence - it is a pretty long guide that is parallel with the blade which is utilized to make sure that the work is at a certain distance away from the said blade. This is so because you would not want the blade nearby when doing your ripping cut.
  • Fence dog - it is a level that helps lock the fence into its right place. If you wish to start moving the fence, you can lift the hand. If you want to lock the fence in, you should be firmly pressing it down.
  • Power button - the power button for table saws are hinged types for the push pull buttons. If you pull out the on the button, it turns the tool on. When you push the button towards the machine, then it turns the tool off.
  • Blade height adjustable wheel - it is the part of the table saw which is responsible for adjusting the heights of the blades when needed.
  • Blade angle adjustable lever - it is the wheel that is responsible for changing the angles of the blades which is relative towards the table. You can find that the blade’s angle indicator is located on front of your table saw and behind the height adjustable wheel.

Steps In Effectively Using a Table Saw

Step 1: Safely Ripping Boards

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Make sure that you know the right way to make the rip cuts. A lot of table saw injuries are caused by improper handling of the saw as well as bad ripping techniques. If you know what do avoid when working on rip cuts then you can steer clear away from danger.

There are ways that you can make skinny rips. Long rips, and even rips safer for you work on especially when straightening a crooked board. Install the blade guard that comes with your saw. Use a push stick to give more protection to your fingers.

You can support long rips using an outfeed table and you can start thin rips safely as well. Start to lower the blade to the wood. Make sure that you have adjusted the blade height. This is done to achieve the effects that the bottom of the saw blade gullet is at even height with the top of the wood you need to rip.

Standard equipment of every table saw would include a blade guard assembly complete with a splitter and an anti-kickback pawl. When you’re going to work with your table saw, it helps when you can reinstall it.

Always make sure that the safety equipment is on your saw and that it should be in good working condition at all times. The plastic guards can help keep your fingers ware from the blade and also helps in deflecting flying debris.

The splitter, on the other hand, helps keep the board from pinching the blade and it also prevents the board to kick back at you. Simply adjust the blade height and use as less blade exposed as you can just to be safer.

Step 2: Keeping Your Fingers Safe With a Push Stick

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First off, you should hook your thumb behind the board. Keep your little finger in close contact with the fence in ripping boards around six inches and even wider. Make sure that you concentrate on keeping the edge of your boards in contact with the fence while pushing it through the blade.

Start pushing the board safely past the kickback pawl and past the table. After which, switch off the saw and be careful in staying out of the blade’s path since the ripped board or cut out piece can catch in the blade and kick back.

Step 3: Setting Up The Outfeed Table

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The rip boards that you're working on that are narrower than six inches can use the same technique like that of wider boards. Once your right-hand reaches the edge of the saw table, take the push shoe and hook it on the back edge of your board.

Make sure that you don’t stand directly behind the blade, but at the side of it. Use a table or any other outfeed support so that it can hold the board as it starts leaving the saw. It can be tricky ripping boards because they fall off the back side of your table at times.

Step 4: Knowing More Safety Precautions

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In order to avoid getting hit by the board as it kicks back, you need to stand beside the table while cutting. Also, don’t allow onlookers nearby when watching because it can endanger them as well. Make sure that the windows, doors and the walkways are far and not in the path of the blade.

After using the saw, make sure that you have unplugged it. Things such as changing the adjustments are also dangerous and would require the saw to be turned off. You don’t want your fingers to be sawed off since it will be close to the blade.

In case you reset a circuit breaker, it also helps that you turn off the saw. When you need to replace fuse, you should also turn it off. It would be common sense to turn off the saw in case you are doing adjustments on it, even if they are really minor so don’t take the risk.

Step 5: Using Extensions For Thin Rips

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You can do this by clamping the L-shaped plywood extension to the fence. Then adjust the fence so that you get the ripping width that you need. Start to rip the thin strip as you guide the board along the way of the plywood fence extension.

When you are cutting thin strips of wood or those for edging, lattice, or jamb extension, a table saw would be the best tool of choice. Sometimes, space wouldn’t be enough but you can always customize the fence extension to your liking.


Did you enjoy reading the simple tutorial? Did it address some of the questions that you have when using table saws? Were there any more things that you would have wanted to now? Did you agree with the safety tips that we put up on the article?

Using a table saw depend on the project that you’re working on as well as the skill of the person who is using it. One thing is for sure and that is, you should always be safe when handling these kinds of tools. Never underestimate table saws as they are very powerful and can harm you when handled wrongly.

We would like to hear from you so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Share with us any experiences that you have while using a table saw. You may have more ideas that you would like to share with us. Hit like and share with your friends as well.


  • October 14, 2017
  • DIY