A table saw, also known as a saw bench, is among the most useful woodworking tools. While it’s also among the more expensive mid-sized power tools, its wide range of applications means that it will pay for itself, so to speak, within a year or less.
Understanding the Basic Design
Knowing what a table saw can do starts with an understanding of its basic design. A circular saw (i.e., blade), which ranges in size from 5 to 12 inches and with teeth ranging in number from 24 to 80, is mounted on an arbor. The blade itself protrudes from the table’s surface that, in turn, provides the flat and level support for the wood, plastic or metal material being worked on.
Keep in mind that a modern table saw is powered by an electric motor, which drives the rotation of the circular saw. The electric motor in most portable table saws is 15 amps and 120 volts, while cabinet and contractor saws usually have more powerful motors for heavy-duty use and at 240 volts. The circular saw blade, by the way, can be driven either directly by the electric motor or by gears or by belt.
The electric motor ensures that the material will be cut at a consistent speed resulting in a clean, uniform and precise cut. In contrast, material cut using a handsaw will likely have burrs and jagged edges, as well as be less than accurate.
The depth of the cut itself can be varied depending on the height of the blade. The higher the blade’s height from the table’s surface, the deeper the cut will be on the material. The angle of the cut can also be varied by adjusting the blade’s angle.
Cutting isn’t the Only Task
Of course, modern table saws are designed for cutting through wood, plastic and aluminum although wood is the most common cut material. Depending on the diameter, number of teeth, and number of revolutions of the blade, it can cut through soft and hard woods within seconds.
Table saws are best for making long, straight and continuous cuts with the results seen in a significantly shorter time than with handheld saws. These can be used on several different types of wood from sheet boards (i.e., plywood) to lumber (2×2) for cutting them down to their desired sizes and shapes.
Indeed, the table saw is the most versatile tool in a woodworker’s shop. You can use it in making rips and crosscuts on boards, cutting panels in the desired sizes, installing rabbets and dados, and even making shapes at the edges of wood stock.
You may also use it for cutting at a 45-degree angle with the use of a miter jig. But if you’re looking for a faster and easier job at it, you should use a miter saw because it’s specifically designed for it.
Suffice it to say that if you’re thinking of buying a new power tool to add to your workshop collection, a table saw is your best bet, if you still don’t have one. We recommend the likes of Craftsman Evolv, DeWalt DW745, and DeWalt DW7490X, all of which have 15-amp motors and 10-inch carbide-tipped blades.
Using it Safely
Table saws may be among the most useful power tools but it’s also among the most dangerous. The large sharp blade spinning at 4400 revolutions per minute (rpm) can easily and quickly cut through flesh and bone, even as it cuts through hardwood and metal. The following safety measures should always be adopted whenever you’re operating a table saw no matter its size and cutting capacity.
- Never operate it when you’re under the influence of recreational drugs or alcohol, especially when the medications you’re taking affect your cognitive function and physical reactions (i.e., drowsiness). You must always be physically and mentally alert when operating heavy machinery
- Wear your safety gear. You should have your safety goggles, work boots, and appropriate work clothes on when using a table saw, especially as the splinters can become projectiles. You should also avoid wearing rings, necklaces, and ties as well as tie loose hair and apron strings at the back – the less things that blade can become caught in, the less risks you will be exposed to
- Watch for the kickback, which occurs when the spinning blade catches the wood before flinging it back at you. You should always stand just to the side of the work piece (i.e., never directly behind it) and always hold the piece while it’s still in contact with the spinning blade. You must only guide the piece through the blade instead of forcing it through – and if you’re doing it, the blade may either be too dull or too binding.
And as a good carpenter, you must measure twice and cut once. You should, in fact, double check your measurements from the fence to the blade since the ruler may not be as precise as you expect it to be.
While there are many things that you can do with a table saw, the more important thing is that you actually know the safe and effective methods for doing so. You must practice your skills as often as possible on scrap wood before making your first home improvement project on it.