Know All About The Table Saw 

 January 21, 2020

By  Lisa Hanel

The table saw is the lifeline of most woodworking shops. Therefore, owning a table saw is one of the most important investments a woodworker can make. Learn all about the table saw here.

The table saw is one of the key components in any woodworking workshop. It is a powerful machine that is capable of making a wide variety of clean and accurate cuts. It rips boards to width, cuts them to very accurate length, and produces a variety of angled cuts. It is also capable of cutting joinery, with a bit of help.

Added accessories like a dado set makes it is able to cut dadoes, box joints, and rabbets. A table saw is a great addition to a workshop or job site because of its ability to produce straight cuts, groove cuts and joint cuts, providing flexibility to handle many different projects.

The blade position is fixed. The operator pushes the workpieces through the blade to produce cuts. A table saw produces long. Straight, rip cuts with wood grain and repeated crosscuts across wood grain, at a faster and accurate rate than handheld circular saws. It also has capability to produce milter and angled bevel cuts.

Table Saw Standard Components

Standard components of a table saw include:

  • Miter gauge: a guide for producing cuts at specific angles; can be adjusted to move the workpiece past the blade.
  • Bevel system: allows tilting of blade to produce bevel cuts.
  • Rip fence: works as a guide for a workpiece as it moves past the saw blade.

A range of highly portable table saws are available, allowing framing and deckbuilding, or can be used in shops with limited space. Stationery models are placed in one location as a permanent feature, with larger table and more features. When using a table saw, follow the device’s manufacturer’s recommendations for compatible extensions such as extension cords.


Table saw is a key tool in woodworking; it is the most versatile and most commonly used tool. You will want and need some of the key wood working tools in your wood workshop, especially if you are running a business. A table saw is no exception; it is essential for speed, accuracy, and the cleanliness of cuts that only it can produce.

There are enormous selections of saw blades available, and choosing the right one for your specific need can be confusing. The choices are varied that you won’t have to cut back on groceries to get the blades you need.

Learning how to use table saw productively and safely is an absolute must for all, not just beginners, including professionals.

The accuracy and ease of cut on a table saw is only as good as the surface of the table, which is usually made out of cast-iron and should be absolutely flat.

Table Saw Types

There are two main types of table saws—the cabinet and the contractor. Cabinet saws have an enclosed “cabinet” base, thus are quieter and easier to use dust collection on. Contractor saws are lighter and cheaper, often made to be portable.

Compared to contract saws, cabinet saws typically have larger table size and are more precise, but are expensive.

Contract Saws

Contract saws are heavier, weighing up to 250lb, typically accompanied with 1-1/2 horsepower motors that run on either 115-volts or 230-volt current. They cost between $600 to about $1,000. Contract saws have larger cast iron tops, and possible cast wings, which aid in dampening vibration.

Fences are generally sturdier. Contract saws typically rest on open frames, which is advantageous in keeping the weight and cost down, but complicate dust collection.


Contractor saws are the most affordable solution for home shop, and are convenient for small cabinetry projects, carpentry, basic furniture making, and trim work. Today, contractor table saws are equipped with high quality fence systems.

When using blade designed for specific type of cut and of best quality, you enhance the performance of a contractor saw and bring it up to speed for many advanced woodworking projects.

Stability is improved when equipped with solid cast iron extension, and helps alienate the impact of vibration on the saw’s less substantial trunnions and gearing.

Cabinet Saws

Cabinet saws have fully-enclosed cabinets; weigh 400 lb. accompanied with 3-hp or 5-hp motors that use 230-volt current and multiple drive belts. It is sold at about $1,200. Cabinet saws are not designed to be portable, so cannot be moved around, especially when equipped with out-feed tables.


But their weight accommodates for less vibration and produces very accurate cuts. Its motor is able to power blades through thick hardwood; ensure miter gauges and fences are sturdy and accurate.

Several features make cabinet table saw unique. The motor is enclosed inside the cabinet base, making it quieter, and the fully enclosed base makes dust collection convenient. The motor and arbor are fixed in position using heavy-duty trunnions attaching to the cabinet base, instead of the table, making aligning the saw blade with the miter slot and fence easier.


Hybrid table saws arose when tool manufacturers began to recognize the need for a different type other than the affordable contractor saw and professional-class cabinet saws. Hybrid table saw infuses some of the most valuable cabinet saw features at a price that’s still in range for the hobbyist.

Some are designed in a cabinet saw-style base while others come with a shorter enclosed base and legs. In both cases, the base is fully enclosed, with the motor mounted inside. Hybrid saws are unique in that they are equipped with more advanced drive belt system, a better gearing than most contract saws, and more substantial trunnions and arbor bearings.

Furthermore, the trunnions of most hybrid saws are fixed to the base, allowing for easier precise alignment of the blade with the miter slot and the blade.

Actually, hybrid table saw is a scaled down model of cabinet saw. They are lighter, and are fixed with motors in the range 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 horsepower. This means they can be used with standard 110 volt. The hybrid is the trend setter for home use environment—it is sturdy and well-constructed, and offers various advantages for the serious hobbyist.

Portable Table Saw

It is made to be easy to lift and move around, thus is great for use by carpenters and others who spend most of their time on the job site. Portable table saw functionality is the same basic as that of larger table saw, but on a smaller scale. It uses lightweight universal motor instead of the heavy induction motor found on other classes’ table saws.

Thus, it lacks a little in muscle power and is fairly loud. Because of the portability factor, portable table saw is made with aluminum top, instead of cast iron. These factors contribute to the saw producing more vibration and feeling less stable to operate.


Benchtop Table Saw

According to a https://whatthewhiz.com// blog, a benchtop table saw is a slight improvement up from a circular saw. They are made to rest on your bench top and are light and portable, giving you more accuracy than your circular saw alone. The limitation is you won’t be able to work on large pieces of wood, nor will you be able to break finely sheets of wood.

A bench top table saw is driven directly from a universal motor. It is made light so it can be lifted by one person and carried to the job position. Lightness and compactness is achieved by being made of aluminum, plastic and steel parts.

Benchtop table saw is the least expensive and least capable of the three major types of table saws, but they provide enough room and precision for doing many tasks. The universal motor equipped inside is not as quiet as a brushless AC motor, and durable, but provides more power relative to its size and weight.

The top is narrower in comparison with those of cabinet and contractor saws; reducing the width of stock that can be ripped. The top is smaller from the front of the tabletop to the rear, resulting in a shorter rip fence, which makes it harder to produce a neat, straight cut when ripping.

Micro Table Saw

Micro table saw is generally designed to be used by model builders and hobbyists. It is much smaller than a normal table saw, measuring less than 4 inch, making it much easier to carry and transport.

The small size is advantageous in that it makes it significantly safer to user when cutting very small pieces. It uses blades that have a smaller kerf for cutting width, resulting in less material loss and avoids the possibility of kickback.

Safety Tips

A table saw can be a dangerous tool. 67000 table saw-related injuries occur every year yet common sense, proven practice and tried techniques will prevent this from happening. The table saw can be dangerous if not used properly. That table saws rank high as the cause of many woodworking accidents is not surprising since every woodworker has one.

One of the recommended safety measures is using a splitter or riving knife whenever possible, to prevent violent kickback, and push sticks to hold hands away from the exposed blade.


Always be on guard around or when working with a table saw. The following are safety precautions for using a table saw.

Perform A Checklist Before Sawing

Form a habit of beginning with a checklist to follow before sawing. Observe a code of safe practice as a guide in your sawing. The following are some checklist to follow before doing any cutting with your table saw:

  • Remove any scrap material, fasteners, tools, and other debris from the saw table. Clear a 2’ perimeter space around saw, especially where you will be standing if ripping long stock.
  • Select a blade to use that best suits the job; don’t use a cross blade for ripping or vice versa. Make sure the blade is sharp. Check for tightness in the arbor nut and the blade itself for chipped teeth, cracks and other defects. Perform the checks with the machine unplugged.
  • Check your entire table saw safety devices, including splitter, the blade guard, and anti-kickback device, if available. The blade guard must move down and up freely to cater for different wood thickness.
  • When you are tired never run your table saw as fatigue leads to errors in judgement and mistakes. Also, if you are on medication or have been drinking alcohol, avoid running a table saw.
  • Always be on the watch out for kickback when ripping stock. Observe safety measures to reduce damage from it to you or the workpiece. For example, avoid standing directly in line with the blade, but stand off to the side of it.
  • Hook the small and ring fingers of your pushing hand over the fence to slide with the wood to ensure your pushing hand won’t accidentally run into the blade.
  • When ripping boards longer than 3’, get someone to help you support the wood after it passes through the blade, or use an off-feed table or roller.
  • Pass all the cuts through the fence or the miter gauge. Never attempt to saw freehand. Even slightly turning the stock on the blade will cause it to bind in the wood and kick back. Avoid using the fence and the miter gauge together. Never try to crosscut with the miter gauge using the fence as a stop; the trapped cutoff piece by the blade may fly back at you.
  • Ensure you have a push stick on standby for any cuts that require your hand to pass within 6’’ of the blade.


Kickback is the least understood and one of the most dangerous accident on a table saw. Though kickbacks are several types and have several causes, they all link into the same issue: the workpiece is driven backward unexpectedly by the saw.

Underpowered Saw

When the saw has sufficient power to keep running when an obstruction or bind is encountered, it will not kickback. Kickback usually occurs on an underpowered table saw as the saw blade slows down, clasps, and then grips the workpiece.


The sheer power of the saw plays a bigger role, also its physical weight. If the motor’s rotor, and saw arbor are heavy, their momentum will keep the blade spinning even during a sudden impact.

Straight Line Kickback

Most woodworkers think of kickback as the result of ripping operation coming to a sudden and dramatic stop, and the workpiece driven back by the rotation of the blade. Well, there are two connected causes of straight line kickback: blade height and underpowered saw.

When the blade is set low, it causes the overall force of the teeth on the workpiece to be in the forward direction. When the blade is higher, the force direction is downward. Low blade height also cause motor drag due to more teeth coming in contact with the wood at any one time, and each tooth cuts a longer path through the wood.

There is buildup of heat and drag on the motor when the blade height is low. This increases chances of kickback since the blade is already being slowed, and the motor is operating closer to its stall rate than necessary.

Table Saw Accessories

There are some saw accessories that need to be a bit more explained.


Sure, your table saw blade cuts, but is it costing you needless aggravation and added machining? If all the time you spend fixing poorly fitting joints and cleaning up rough, burned cuts and tear out, then the problem is probably you are using the wrong kind of blade. There are many selections of table saw blades available you can use to maximize your cutting.

There are four basic blade types, grouped according to their shape, or grind, of their teeth: combination (ATBR), alternate top bevel (ATB), triple-chip grind (TCG), and flat top grind (FTG).

FTG blade cut the wood much like a chisel chopping out the ends of a mortise; its teeth edges are square to the saw plate. FTG blade is fast cutting and durable, but lack in producing a clean surface. Combination blade teeth are arranged in sets of five.


It is considered an all-purpose blade. TCG blade teeth alternate between a raker tooth and chamfered tooth. TCG blade is meant for sawing dense materials; the chamfered tooth roughs out the cut, while the following tooth cleans it up. FTG blade is good for ripping because it cuts through even thick hardwoods quickly. To minimize exit tear-out when sawing wood across the grain, employ crosscutting blades with ATB teeth. The more teeth, the cleaner the cut, which is why most crosscutting blades have 60 to 100 ATB teeth.

Type of blade to use for sawing sheet depends on the material. For example, plywood being prone to tear-out, especially when sawing across face veneer, ATB blade best suits the job.


Fence determines smoothness and accuracy of the cut. Fence is the part where you put the side of the wood against when running it through the blade. It runs parallel to the blade and swings sideways, varying its distance from the blade.


A splitter works like a rudder, preventing boards from sliding sideways, or squeezing in on the back edge of the blade. Such an occurrence usually results to burnt edges, or dangerous kickback.

Unfortunately, most woodworkers remove splitter in that they are hard to adjust and irritant to remove when making cuts that are not completely through.


Gauge helps when it is tough cutting miters accurately when the bar wiggles in its slot, or the degrees imprinted on the head are 2" thick. It features a miter bar with expansion disks to prevent any side-to-side play in your table saw miter slot.


Link Belt

Over time, manufacturer V-belt stiffens and develops bumps. This leads to the saw running underpowered, or producing ragging-looking cuts, even though carefully tuned. In worst case scenario, your saw may start bouncing around.

Safety Power Switch

Safety power switch comes in handy when the board starts to stick between the blade and fence; you need a way to quickly turn off the saw, without moving your attention from the cut, or letting go of your stock.

Safety power switch makes it easy turning off table saw with just a bump. Furthermore, the ability to keep your hands on your stock as the blade comes to a stop produces better-looking cuts.


When it comes to the handiest tool for woodworking, the table saw ranks at the top. If you are going to buy the first handy power tool for your wood shop, a table saw is the one to go for. It is among the most versatile and most commonly used tool in woodworking.

Eventually, you will need some of the large wood working tools in your woodshop, especially if you are running a business. It is essential that you get the speed, accuracy, and the cleanliness of cuts that only a table saw can give you. It is perfect for cutting, ripping, repetitive cuts and making joins.

If most of the time in your wood shop you spend making small cabinetry and craft projects, a cabinet saw might be nice to have, but a little more than you need. A low end contractor model will probably slow you down if you are looking for a table saw that can comfortably and reliably run for hours at a time.


Hybrid saws are balanced; providing a good middle ground for serious hobbyists, and even proves suitable for certain small-scale professional operations.

As important as the type of saw you choose are the individual features of the saw.

For example, some contractor table saws provide many of the same features that you’d expect to find on a top-quality cabinet saw.

Have a closer look at the quality of the individual components of a table saw, including stance of the trunnions, grind and finish of the top and extension wings, the mass, and fence system.

Acquiring a table saw is a big investment, and worth careful consideration. To better have a clue which table saw will best suit your job... read some reviews, compare specs and features etc.

Lisa Hanel

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