While I typically turn to my miter saw when I have crosscuts to make, if I am cutting smaller pieces or I have to get really accurate, I use my table saw. There are several types of table saw blades, so as you are learning to use the table saw, you will want to be sure you choose one that is appropriate to the kind of cutting you are doing.
Make sure you have at least one in your hand at all times as you are pushing the wood through your table saw blade. Just be sure to hold onto the lumber behind the saw, so that you are not tempted to reach through the blade and grab it.
With your blade set, and fence set to proper height, lay down your wood on top of the fence. Move the wood slowly towards the blade, pushing gently until you have finished cutting. Continue pushing that wood through the blade, finishing the whole cut with your push rod.
Using the push sticks and pads, move your hands away from the blade once you begin cutting. To keep your hands from getting too close to the blade, you may want to use a push stick if making a tighter cut. Keep both hands on the wood until you are close to the finish, using the push sticks if necessary to keep fingers off of the blade.
For the first part of your whole cutting, you may have to use your hands to help direct the wood to the blade. Hand cutting has no supports, and it is easy to jam wood onto the blade, or pull stock out of your hands while working.
To safely cut longer or larger pieces, you need to support the end of the stock when it comes off the back of the saw. When you are about 12 inches from the end of a piece of wood, use a tool provided with your saw to push the board back down so that your fingers are not in danger. If your stock is tight, a good thing to do is to use a sanding block to hold your piece up against the bit fence and against the sawtable.
Set a single edge of your stock up against the rip fence, run your saw, then feed your work up against the spinning blade with the pushrod. It is important to check to make sure that the fence is aligned with the saw blade, because that alignment will ensure safe, accurate cuts. Rip fences are parallel to the blade, and they can be adjusted left and right, which allows the user to place the piece of wood precisely where they want it while the blade cuts. When it comes to performing the rip cuts, a table saws saw-fence is adjusted to give guidance when feeding lumber through the blade.
When making a rip cut, look at the rip fence from the side rather than from the blade to make sure that you are making a straight cut. To make several rip cuts the same length, tape a scrap of wood over the rip fence, and adjust the spacing of the scrap and blade to your desired length. When stripping wood, set the distance between the rip fence face and the edges of the saw blade teeth closest to the fence to the desired cutting width (your fence should already be adjusted to run almost parallel to the saw blade, with only a little space left on the blades rear edge).
Using a custom rip fence jig, which guides stock over the top of the saw blade at an angle, hollow shapes for shaping and trimming can be carved. The blade can be raised and lowered using the hand crank on the front of my saw, which allows for cutting different thicknesses of wood. Feeding the wood through these types of blades will be similar, but you want to remember that the surface of the wood will be exposed to the blades most when placed at an angle.
If your job starts to smoke or catch the blade, the best thing to do is to immediately shut down your saw, pull out your board, and either re-cut it, or change to another piece of wood. Regardless of what kind of cutting you are doing, always turn off the saw before pulling your cutting piece from the table. When you are done cutting, turn that saw off, and then pull up the pieces.
Never run the saw when the piece you are cutting touches the blade. Make sure nothing is sitting on the table to block the blade, and turn on the switch. In other words, turn the blade a few times with no power on, just to be sure no debris or tools are touching the blade.
Tuck your fingers in, and always have an eye on both you and the blade. Make sure to keep your boards tight to the fence and watch out for your blade being up that high. Check your saws performance before using – check that any moving parts on your saw are moving freely.
Most people think immediately to using the Miter Saw to do crosscuts and angled cuts. As I explained in my previous post on the PT101, the table saw is a great tool to have on hand when you have a large piece of lumber (like plywood) that needs to be cut down or long pieces into tight strips. When used properly, you can rely on the table saw to provide precise precision for many different cuts, regardless of the amount of work pieces you have lined up to cut.
This is because many table saws will need the blade guard removed and riving knives removed in order to perform these precise cuts. This characteristic makes a table saw an affordable tool for larger woodworking projects where you need multiple boards ripped or cut in a similar manner.