A Tablesaw Primer: Ripping and Crosscutting
Proper techniques to help you make accurate and safe cuts
Synopsis: Though the tablesaw can be used to make many different cuts, it’s used mostly to make boards shorter or narrower. This article covers the essentials of ripping and crosscutting, as well as how good work habits produce smooth and accurate cuts safely and easily. From details on proper table setup and safety guards to preparing stock, the author makes these basic skills appealing. He gives multiple tips on avoiding kickback and ejection, as well as step-by-step directions on positioning boards and using fences and stop blocks for safety and efficiency.
With its flat, circular spinning blade doing the hard work, the tablesaw can make all sorts of cuts, among them grooves, dadoes, rabbets, and a variety of other woodworking joints. However, the tablesaw most commonly is called upon to do just two basic tasks: make wide boards narrower, a process called ripping, and make long boards shorter, a process called crosscutting. When ripping, the rip fence is used to guide the stock. Crosscutting is done with the aid of the miter gauge.
Because so much tablesaw run time is spent ripping and crosscutting, it’s especially important to have good work habits while making these two fundamental cuts. After all, when used properly, a good tablesaw can produce remarkably smooth and accurate cuts safely and with little effort.
The saw must be set up properly for best results A tablesaw won’t cut easily, accurately, or safely if it’s improperly set up. So before making any rip- or crosscut, make sure the saw is in good working order and properly adjusted. Also, the table of the saw should be flat, with any deviation limited to no more than 0.010 in. The same goes for any extension tables. And when assembled, those tables all should be flush. Then, too, the…