Woodworking Essentials: Table Saws


A Better Way to Work: Part 7
By Marc Adams
Pages: 45-51

From the October 2008 issue #171
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It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of all woodworking requires some type of sawing. The power, accuracy and control of the table saw has made the process of sawing wood a lot more productive and a lot less physical. It’s arguable as to who first invented the circular saw, but one thing is certain – it has revolutionized our craft. I’ve often wondered if plywood as we know it today would have ever been invented if we didn’t have a way to productively cut it. I also think about the skill shifts of the traditional apprenticeships. At one time it took years of practice and great skill to handsaw wood accurately. The table saw changed that process to an almost rudimentary procedure.

Table saws can make myriad cuts including rip cuts, crosscuts, coves, mouldings, dados, kerfs, rabbets, miters and bevels. It is a precision-cutting tool that requires that the machine be set up accurately, maintained properly and be used competently. Small problems can have huge consequences. R.J. DeCristoforo summarized using a table saw better than anyone when he said, “measure twice, saw once” and “think twice before sawing.”

My goal with this article is not to review the different types of saws available today, or discuss their characteristics. I’m not going to explain the difference between blades or how to make fixtures to cut tapers or tips and tricks or troubleshooting or maintenance schedules, and I don’t want to compare European to American saws. All that information already exists in myriad books and articles.

I have decided to stay away from the topic of dust control because we all know the dangers of dust and the importance of controlling it and, again, there are volumes of books and magazine articles on the subject. My intentions with this article are to focus on the techniques, methods and mechanics of safely using the table saw. After all, it is very well documented that more accidents occur on table saws than any other machine in the shop.

Online Extra

For more about table saw safety rules, click here.


From the October 2008 issue #171
Buy this issue now