Table saw gets its name from the table it sits upon. If your cutting task is repetitive and requires clinical precision, then a table saw is the ideal tool for you. Even though the table saw is statistically very safe but anyplace where a blade and hand meet, injuries are hard to avoid.
For this reason, we need to know the safest way of operating a table saw. Before we know how to operate one table saw, we need to know what exactly is a table saw, the history behind it, and the way it operates.
In this article, we will not only get to know how to use your newly acquired table saw but also how to get jobs done with it without any fatal injury.
What is a table saw?
When you decide to venture into the world of woodworking, it’s tempting to get your hand on any handheld saw to begin with.
Handheld saws are cheap and will get you through almost anything in your rookie years. But handheld saws lack stability and cannot ensure clean and accurate cuts every time. That’s why having a mounted saw can increase your productivity in a huge way.
At first glance, the table saw may look like another mounted saw as a band saw or a scroll saw. But a table saw gets its name due to the fact that it actually uses a table like setup. Instead of having a table as support like other saws, a table saws blade is mounted inside a table.
There is a slit in the middle of the table from where a rotating blade protrudes to make a cut. The rotary blade stays stationary while the user needs to feed the blade wood in order to make the cut. This method allows full control of the user.
A table saw comes with many settings to fix the lumber into certain angles and lock it into place. The rotary blade can be lowered or heightened using an adjustment lever.
From the first look, the table saw may not look that much but in truth, it can give almost robot level consistent accuracy. Due to the strong rotary blade mounted into the table, the table saw provides unprecedented accuracy every time.
The table saw comes with a cast iron table and the majority of the table saws are of a stationary type but there are portable variants also in the market.
What kind of accidents may occur?
There are many safety features installed within the table saw; like a blade guard when you’re not using the machine in order to protect you and your machine.
It also comes with a push stick so you can push the material into the blade without involving your fingers. Despite all these measures, accidents can still occur and may cause fatal injuries.
According to a survey, it was seen that most of the accidents involving the table saw happened due to a lack of proper familiarity with the tool itself.
The major reason behind this lack of knowledge is that people are reluctant to get themselves familiar with their tools. Getting to know your machine should not take much time nor effort.
Before operating any machinery, it’s really helpful if you go through the instructions which came out of the box. Not only does it say how to optimally use the machine, but it also includes safety warnings and prevention techniques.
Most of us ignore this and due to the lack of proper knowledge, we end up injuring ourselves and also reducing the lifespan of our expensive saw.
The survey also showed that even the veteran users sometimes injure themselves due to wrong techniques which they practice for a long term.
Bad posture, improper grip are just a few examples of bad habits formed while working with the machine for a long time.
It should come as common sense that you should keep your hands as far away as possible from the saw blade. But even many experienced users of the table saw make this mistake of getting too close to the saw. This poses a serious threat of a fatal injury.
You can use different kinds of push devices to push the block of wood towards the rotating saw blade. These devices are widely available in both stores and online shops. You can also make one of these sticks yourself.
The higher-end table saws sometimes come equipped with a pushing handle which provides more control when pushing material towards the blade. These handles are sturdier and definitely much safer than the cheaper push sticks.
But whatever pushing tool you choose, don’t ever use your hands to move objects toward the spinning blade.
How not to cut yourself?
There are plenty of ways that you can follow to protect yourself from mortal peril.
- Read the manual that came with the box see what the manufacturer is saying about the machine’s safety.
- Keep your hands away from the blade while cutting any materials. Use the attached pushing handle or a pushing stick to push material towards the cutting board.
- As you cut through materials, the splinter may fly around and get into eye-damaging it severally. Wear protective goggles while sawing using the table saw. You can find them at your local hardware store or order them online from amazon.
- Remember to use the fence while rip cutting.
- For crosscuts, use the miter gauge instead of the fence as it does not provide adequate support for these types of cuts.
- Ensure the cutting material is completely flat while cutting. This will prevent any unexpected hiccups during the procedure.
- Make sure the saw is unplugged while setting up the board for cutting.
How to Safely Operate the Table Saw While Complying With All The Safety Regulations?
Now that we know quite a bit about the table saw and the safety hazards it involves, we can move to how to operate it efficiently and safely. You can make different kinds of cuts using the table saw but, in this article, we will focus on rip cuts and crosscuts.
Making Rip Cuts Using a Table Saw
Rip cut is the process of ripping or cutting the board into the desired width. This is one of the basic cuts made using a table saw.
Thanks to the rip fence you can adjust it to the width of the board to make specific cuts. Follow these instructions step-by-step to make perfect rip cuts using the table saw.
At first, you need to equip the rip blade into the blade slot, which is also called the blade arbor. After equipping the blade, we must set it at the right angle. The blade height must not be higher than a quarter of an inch above the material that is going to cut.
Suppose we are going to slice out long pieces of wood from a half-inch ply, then we have to fix the blade up to a maximum of three-quarters of an inch from the tabletop.
Now, it’s time to install the blade for rip cut. To install the blade, you need to loosen the arbor not using an arbor nut wrench. Then you need to place the blade into the table saw.
Remember that the teeth of the blade should face front towards the user as it will move towards the front to make the cut. After placing the blade in place, you need to tighten the arbor not.
Release the locking lever on your table saw which will let you position the fence into the desired place and lock it. Place the fence in such a way so the inside edges match with your board’s width.
You can use the ruler that comes with your fence to find the accurate position of the fence. To reassure that the distance between the fence and the nearest edge of the saw teeth use may use a precision tape. This is done because the teeth in the saw blade are positioned alternatingly.
This means one blade will be on the left and the next will be on the right. By determining this distance, we can derive at the kerf. Kerf means how much wood the table saw will cut away during the cutting procedure.
Place the cutting material on the table and align it with the fence of the table saw. Be careful not to contact the blade and the cutting material before the blade is turned on and reaches maximum speed.
If your blade touches the cutting material before this time, then when the machine starts to run you will get plenty of kickback. This increases the chance of severe eye injury.
Hold the cutting material firmly with a glide it steadily with both hands. Make sure that the board is place flatly on the surface and it is well aligned with the fence. This will ensure more control while cutting.
You will start with two hands during the beginning of the cutting process and gradually as it progresses, you can release one hand when the cutting job is almost nearing the finishing point.
But in case you are dealing with a board longer than the length of your table, then you must use either a table extension or ask someone to hold the material to help keep it flat during the entire process.
Don’t try to do it yourself by letting go of the board and moving to the rear of the machine. This will make the board fly off and create a huge amount of kickback.
When the cutting process nears the finish line you may need to use a push stick to push the board’s ending towards the board without putting your precious hands at risk. Push sticks are great when feeding narrow ends of any board to the blade.
Making Crosscuts Using a Table Saw
Crosscuts refer to cutting a wooden lengthwise. Crosscut is completely different than rip cut. This means the blade that we used during rip sawing won’t work when making crosscuts.
Rip sawing is done on lengthier material while crosscuts are done mostly on narrower material.
Using a rip fence for crosscuts is not recommended as it increases the chance of kickbacks significantly. You must use the miter gauge when making crosscuts.
To provide stability to the cutting material a miter gauge is used and there are also few bars that are designed to fit into grooves on the worktable.
After placing the bar which fits inside one of those groves, the miter gauge moves to the back, so it becomes easier to easier. The miter gauge has an adjustable knob that lets you loosen and tighten the blade.
At first, you must power off the device and fit a crosscut blade into the power saw.
The protractor guide on the miter saw lets you decide whether to make straight or an angled a.k.a crosscuts.
Place the board and align it with the front of the miter gauge with clamps.
Plug the table saw to power and turn it on. Wait till the blade reaches maximum speed. Do not feed wood to the blade until the blade reaches maximum speed.
Slowly and steadily slide the miter gauge forward and glide the cutting material through the blade.
Before retrieving the cut material out of the table saw, ensure that it is powered off to ensure any unexpected injuries.
After getting hold of your table saw it’s really necessary to know how to operate it efficiently and safely. This does not only help to get the most out of this amazingly versatile machine but it will also save you from some really fatal injuries.
You can do plenty of things with the table saw but, in the article, we focused on only two of the most popular cuts made using it.
Now, that you are aware of the working hazards and how to minimize the risks while ripsawing and crosscuts,
I hope you will put these tips and tricks into action and make the most of the table saw that you have.