Written by Marloes

Advice on table saws

A table saw (or sawbench, whatever you want to call it) is used to saw planks or sheet material in the direction of the grain or cross cutting. You can think of it as an upside-down circular saw, with the saw blade protruding through the worktop. A big advantage of a table saw is that you control the material, and not the saw. That means you work in a very controlled and safe way. Table saws can differ in terms of power, cutting depth, or included accessories. I've made a list of other things to keep in mind when it comes to table saws.

1. What will you be cutting?

What can you cut with a table saw?

A table saw is used to cut, for instance, laminate flooring, panels, sheet material, or wooden planks. It's important that the table saw's worktop should be broad and/or long enough to support the material you're cutting. That's why it may be a good idea to choose a table saw with table extension. That gives you a little more space and also allows you to safely work on larger workpieces.

2. Want to make straight cuts?

Straight cuts with a table saw

In order to create straight cuts, you'll need to use a parallel guide. You push the workpiece along the guide and you'll know for sure that the plank, laminate flooring, or sheet material will be cut perfectly straight. Particularly when cutting narrow workpieces lengthwise, such as baseboards or window frames, a parallel guide is an essential accessory. Even the most experienced handyman can't make perfectly straight cuts freehand.

3. Want to cut at an angle?

Cutting at an angle with a table saw

Cutting a workpiece at an angle, or with a miter guide, can be done perfectly well with a table saw. You do this when working on floorboards, baseboards, or drywall, for instance. You will need a miter guide, though. That's an aid that you can set to the desired angle (often up to 45º). You then put the wood tightly against it. That way, you can very accurately saw boards at the desired angle, so they fit together perfectly in the corner of the room.

4. Want to cut a workpiece at an incline?

Inclined cutting with a table saw

If the table saw has a tiltable saw blade, you can cut the wood in such a way that you get perfect wood joints. This is also referred to as miter sawing, but there is a difference between cutting using a miter guide or cutting a board at an incline by tilting the saw blade. If you want to cut baseboards, window frames, or a door frame exactly to size, you can use both ways to do it. Some table saws let you tilt the saw blade in both directions. That's convenient for larger workpieces since you won't have to move them around every time.

5. How high should the workbench be?

Table saw workbench height

Table saws are available with and without underframes. If you have 1 with an underframe, its height is usually adjustable to your own height. That way, you won't suffer from back problems after an afternoon of cutting! Some underframes have a set of wheels, making it easier to move the table saw. One downside to an underframe is that it isn't always collapsible, so the table saw will take up a lot of space.

6. Which saw blades should you use?

Table saw blades

A table saw is similar to a circular saw in some respects. You should use a circular saw blade with the right diameter for your table saw. It's also important to consider the arbor hole diameter. That said, there are circular saw blades available that have a reduction ring. That means you can adjust the arbor hole's diameter as needed. Depending on the saw blade material, you can saw wood, laminate, metal, or aluminum.

7. Mind your fingers!

Working with a table saw doesn't have to be dangerous at all. The most important thing is to keep your fingers away from the saw blade. Your fingers would never win that battle. That's why you should always use a push stick to push the last part of a board against the saw blade. That way, you can avoid any nasty accidents. A pair of safety glasses is definitely recommended too when using a table saw.


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