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Beginner's Guide on How to Use a Table Saw

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 14th Jan 2021

This Toolstop guide will show you exactly how to use a table saw and perform all the most popular types of cut. The ideal guide for beginners, we will show you how to use a table saw to cut angles as well as how to adjust the blade height

How to use a table saw

How to Use a Table Saw

This is the ultimate Toolstop guide for beginners on how to use a table saw. Whether you are thinking of buying one, or already have but aren’t 100% sure on how to work it, this is the guide for you. If you are swaying between whether or not you really need a table saw, you can check out our blog post on why you should own a table saw.

Table saws are a great piece of kit. To quickly recap, they:

  • Can perform crosscut, rip, mitre, and bevel cuts
  • Are stationary
  • You can see the cut as you make it
  • Can be mounted on your workbench

Parts of the Table Saw

First off, let’s take a look at a standard table saw model so you can familiarise yourself with the parts. We have listed some of the most important parts below and explained what their purpose is.

Rip Fence: The rip fence is essentially a cutting guide when the table saw is in use. Its main job is to protect you. It will typically extend to the full length of the table saw, allowing you to cut bigger pieces of material, and is usually mounted to the right side of the blade.

Blade Guard: An important safety feature that prevents wood falling onto the spinning blade whilst providing some finger protection.

Riving knife: Extremely important part of a table saw which prevents kickback. It travels up and down with the blade when the height is adjusted.

Mitre Gauge: Allows you to make mitre cuts and other cuts at various angles.

Blade Angle & Height Adjustment: Allows you to fully customise the blade to your desired cutting height and angle (of course within the specification of the model you have). It’s typically found in the form of a ‘wheel’ that you can turn and move to adjust the height of the blade for thicker work pieces, or the angle of the blade for bevel cuts.

Now that we know all the main parts of a table saw, let us tell you how to work them.

parts of a table saw

How to adjust the blade height on a table saw

The most essential step is knowing how to adjust the height of the blade. What use is a table saw if you can't get it to the height and angle you need it to be at? Luckily, this step is easy, and we kind of touched on it above. Always start off by unplugging/switching off your saw - safety is a key priority when working with sharp, spinning blades. Then it’s as simple as spinning the wheel at the front in the direction you want the blade to go (usually anti clockwise to lower, clockwise to raise). You can use a combination square to make sure the blade is at the exact height you want it to be at for the desired size cut, though we suggest you only ever want the blade height to be about a tooth size above the cutting material. This will ensure the cleanest, safest cut.


How to change the blade on a table saw

Our Toolstop video guide shows you exactly how to change the blade on the Dewalt DW745 (now superseded by the DWE7485). However, most other table saws work in the exact same/similar ways.

Simply remove the table insert, adjust the height of the blade (as discussed above) to its highest point so that the nut is visible and then all that's left to do is use the spanner/wrench that came with your table saw to unscrew the nut. The blade should easily slide out.

Just do these steps in reverse to reinsert a saw blade.


How to make a mitre cut with a table saw

Making a mitre cut with table saw is relatively simple. You can watch our quick video from Eric at Bosch which will show you exactly how to use a table saw to cut angles in a few simple steps.

A mitre cut is used when you want to join two piece of wood together, so the cut is typically made at an angle, say 45° in this instance.  

To make a mitre cut with a table saw, all you have to do is set the mitre guide/gauge to the angle you want to cut at (45°) and adjust your blade height. Our video shows this step by step so you can see exactly how to adjust the guide and perform the cut.

Always move the wood slowly and gently towards the blade and push it through until the cut is complete. If you are making a narrow cut, you may want to use push sticks to stop your hands getting too close to the blade.


How to make a rip cut with a table saw

Table saws don't just make mitre cuts, they can also do rip cuts. We have another video on our YouTube channel which shows you how to make a rip cut with a table saw.

You should now be able to operate your table saw easily and safely if you have followed the above steps. Remember to always take care when working with power tools and If you find yourself needing any more assistance, we will be happy to help.


How to use a table saw safely

Table saws are large power tools, and we know that all power tools can be dangerous if not used correctly, so we have listed some top tips below for you to follow when operating them:

  • Make sure the blade is set at the proper height for the cut you’re about to make. The blade should never be more than 6mm above the height of the piece you’re cutting. Doing so not only guarantees the blade will make the best possible cut but it also serves to protect your digits should your hand slip near the blade
  • Make sure the tabletop is clear of obstacles. A dirty or rough tabletop will require you to push harder on your workpiece as you cut, putting you at risk.
  • Over-familiarity with power tools is a regular cause of injury. The more experienced you may believe you are with your tools, it’s likely the more casual you’ll be when setting up and using them. Always use your table saw with caution
  • Good quality professional table saws are supplied with push sticks. Be sure to use yours as this will keep your hands away from the tables saw’s most dangerous area; the blade. A saw blade spinning at over 3000rpm is designed to quickly and easily cut wood. It will, quite literally, make mincemeat of your flesh. If your table saw doesn't come supplied with one, you can find them online
  • The blade guard, splitter and/or riving knife are fitted by the manufacturer for a reason; to keep table saw operator’s safe. So don’t remove them, unless you’re removing the riving knife to perform a concealed cut. But once you’ve made the cut, reattach it. It’s there to prevent your workpiece kicking back and it also protects you from the rear of the blade
  • Before hitting the start button on your safety saw, make sure you have the correct PPE in place

Please follow all of the safety instructions provided with your table saw and comply with all Health and Safety guidelines, rules and regulations at work when using any power tool. It is your responsibility to use your power tools safely.


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