Mastering the Tablesaw
There's a way to be safe in every cutting situation
Synopsis: Mark Duginske explains the fundamentals of ripping and crosscutting on the tablesaw and offers tips on more complicated maneuvers. He starts with discussing the rip fence, how to rip, how to test for parallelism, and how to saw rabbets. He talks about safe techniques for ripping and various push-stick designs, and using auxiliary fences. He covers crosscutting with the miter gauge. Side information explains how to set up and align your miter gauge and rip fence.
The tablesaw is the heart of most woodworking shops. With a standard blade, you can make virtually any straight cut, and when fitted with a dado head, the tablesaw is the tool of choice for cutting grooves, dadoes and rabbets. When equipped with shopmade jigs, the tablesaw is the most efficient tool for finger joints, tenons and even dovetails.
Although undeniably versatile, the tablesaw also has its dark side. It is probably responsible for more injuries than any other woodworking tool. Many of those injuries could be avoided if woodworkers used blade guards and splitters and if they took the time properly to set up and to align the rip fence and miter gauge. But above all, for safe operation of a tablesaw, you must understand the fundamentals of ripping and crosscutting.
Using the rip fence
The rip fence is a straight edge aligned parallel to the blade that slides along a bar at the front of the saw table. When the fence is locked to the bar, the distance between the blade and the fence determines the width of cut. To rip safely and accurately, the workpiece must lie flat on the table with a straight edge against the rip fence. If the edge is not straight, joint it straight before making the cut or make a jig to hold the wood…