Table Saws


Table Saws

Buying Used

This is probably a woodworkers first major purchase, there are several basic categories of table saws on the market, bench or jobsite, contractor's and cabinet. Though they all are sold with blade guards and guides there are custom products available that offer advantages over the stock parts. There are also many attachments and jigs that can be made for more accurate cuts.

Table Saw Termonology

Base - This is basically a shell that contains the working parts of the saw, the trunnions, arbor, adjusting mechanisms and sometimes the motor. The base may extend to the floor as it does with cabinet saws or it may have an open base that sits on legs as a contractor saw or on a bench as a benchtop.

Table and Wings - The table may be cast iron, aluminium or granite, it is a flat surface with miter slots machined into it on both sides of the blade. The wings are extensions attached to the table, these may be cast iron, sheet metal or aluminium.

Rip Fence and Rails - The rip fence guides the material as it is being ripped, (cut along it's length) and is made to slide across the saw table and be locked on place. The rails are what the fence rides on as it is moved across the table, the longer the rails the wider the material that can be ripped.

Miter Gauge - The miter gauge is an adjustable head fastened to a metal bar that sides in the miter slots to guide the material when crosscutting. The head is marked in degrees to allow accurate angled cuts.

Arbor - This is the threaded shaft that the blade is mounted in, full size saws have a long enough stub that a standard dado head may be installed, lower powered saws will have a shorter stub so only narrower dados can be cut. The arbor is mounted in an assembly that allows it the be raised or lowered and tilted.

Trunnions - The trunnions are semi circular yokes that hold the arbor assembly at each end allowing it to be tilted. They are fastened to the base on cabinet saws and to the under side of the table on most other styles.

Motor - This will be from 1- 5 HP, the lower HP models will run on 110 Volt residential circuits, any above 3 HP will require a 220 volt power source. A common problem with running on 110 volt circuits is line loss from running a cord that is too small or too long. The arbor mat be connected directly to the motor shaft or driven by a belt arrangement.

Buying A Table Saw

Preventing Table Saw Kickback

Replacing Arbor Bearings In A Craftsman Contractor Saw

Saw Blades 101

Bench Top or Portable Saw

A small portable saw, will have a direct drive motor, $500.00 range. There have been great improvements made in these saws in recent years, they are no longer an entry level handyman saw.


Portable, reasonable price.


Small work surface, underpowered for some jobs, not as accurate as contractor or cabinet saws. Arbor usually too short for dado blades.

Contractor's Saw

This is the most common type of table saw, it has most of the features of a cabinet saw. Some are direct drive, most are belt driven. Prices range form $500.00 to $1000.00.


Large work surface, more powerful and accurate than bench top.


Not as powerful as cabinet saws.

Hybrid Saw

This is a combination of a contractor saw and a cabinet saw

Prices range from $900.00 to $1500


Large work surface, heavy base, powerful motor, very accurate.


Not as heavily built as a good cabinet saw.

Cabinet Saw

These are for the professional or hardcore woodworker, they are belt driven by large horsepower motors. Prices range from $900.00 to over $2000.00.


Large work surface, heavy base, powerful motor, very accurate.




Sawstop Table Saw

SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw

One cut through a thick piece of hard maple is all it takes to feel the massive power of the SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw. That said, it's amazing to think that it literally wouldn't harm a hot dog, or your finger, if the worst were to happen. With the utmost in precision and heavy-duty construction, plus the revolutionary safety feature that’s made SawStop famous and a dust collection system that’s second-to-none, it is, simply put, the finest SawStop table saw ever made.

More info from


Check For Recalls

Wear Safety glasses or face shield, avoid loose fitting clothing.

Always use a push stick when cutting narrow or short stock.

Use the proper blade for the job, make sure it is sharp and properly set so you don't have to exert extreme force to make the cut.

Make sure guards are in place and in good working condition.

Set blade height to 1/8" (3mm.) above thickness of material being cut.

Ensure fence has been locked into position after setting it.

Hold material down and against the fence when making a cut.

Never use a fence for a cross-cut stop guide.

Never push material with hands in line with the blade, stand to one side in case of kick-back.

Provide adequate support when cutting long or wide material, use extension wings or roller stands.

If a person is helping you make sure they understand to only hold the material and follow your lead as to the movement of the material.

Keep saw and area around it clutter free.

Unplug saw when changing blades or doing maintenance.

Don't reach across or around a running saw blade.

Never leave a running saw unattended, shut it off when leaving the area.

13 X 19 Shop Poster

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Table saw safety rules on 1941 Unisaw
original patent drawing background.

Printed Copies Also Available


With SawStop's® legendary safety system, uncompromising quality and industry-leading dust collection, the 110V Professional Contractor Saw is engineered to be the cornerstone of a home shop.

More Details from Rockler

Production Stock Feeder
This superior system assures positive feeding of all types of materials. Fully-Adjustable Support columns. Feeders come equipped with sturdy vertical and horizontal support columns and universal joints that feature either "T" or "L" locking mechanisms for securing feeders into horizontal, vertical or angled-feeding positions. Large handwheels move feeders horizontally or vertically along columns. Four bolts hold vertical support column to table surface.

DELTA 36-850 Production Stock Feeder

DELTA 36-851 Production Stock Feeder





Delta Unisaw 1941 Patent Drawing

Original USPTO patent drawing available as a
10 X 13 print on parchment paper.

Order from Vintage Internet Patents

Simple Push Stick


A push stick can be made from a short length of 1 1/2" X 3/8" stock, make two of them, use one

to push the stock through the saw and the other to hold the stock against the fence. As a safety precaution

push sticks with a handle similar to a handsaw that trap your hand should not be used.


Dado Blades

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  • Stacking

This style has two outside blades with chipper blades that fill in between them to determine the width of the cut. These are more expensive than the wobbly style but do a cleaner job.


  • Wobbly

This style has one blade that is tilted by adjusting rings in the hub so that it wobbles as it spins. Not a fine woodworking piece of equipment, but works well on a radial arm saw for carpentry work, and is much cheaper to buy.

What is a "Horned Dado"?

When using stacked dado heads the outside blades will cut deeper than the chipper blades to prevent tearing, producing a "Horned Dado". Some brands are more pronounced than others and is usually not noticeable in the finished product. They have two advantages, providing a channel for excess glue to escape and clearance for the sharp corners of the material being inserted. If you have a problem with excess horns mention it to your sharpener and get them to correct it.
Stacked Dado Gauge



This can be a rainy day project or done over a period of time, set your dado head up with one chipper, make a cut in a length of 1 1/2" thick hardwood, then add a shim and make another cut, continue by progressively adding shims and chippers and marking the combinations beside the cuts. Cut the dados about 3/8" deep, flip the board over and continue on the other side. When you have to cut a dado find the slot the material fits into and set up the dado head accordingly.

Buying a Used Table Saw

Often choosing a used saw over a new saw will get you a better model with added accessories for the same money. The disadvantages are that you will likely have no recourse if anything goes wrong with the saw, however with proper scrutiny most pitfalls can be avoided.

  • What was your overall first impression of the machine? Are there any obvious signs of abuse or neglect, broken knobs, damaged parts, rusty or warped table.
  • Does it have the guards installed, if not are they included so you can install them?
  • Why is the saw for sale, has the seller upgraded or replaced it wth an equivalent model, if you can see no improvement be wary.
  • Plug the saw in and listen and feel how it runs, keep in mind that if the saw has sat around for any length of time the belt will not be a supple as it should be and will thump for a while.
  • With the saw unplugged check the adjustments, raise and lower the blade, tilt the blade, do the mechanisms work smoothly? Raise the blade as high as it will go, lower it just slightly, with a glove or rag to protect your hand grasp the top of the blade, check for any movement in the arbor or trunions.
  • Place a block of wood on the table behind the blade so it just touches a tooth that is offset toward the block, holding the block with one hand slowly rotate the blade checking for wobble. If there is any visible wobble several factors come into play, the blade is warped, the flanges are damaged, the arbor is bent. Remove the insert and the blade, check the condition of the flanges and check the arbor by rotating it with a bar resting on the outer end. If the flanges and arbor seem okay try another blade.
  • With the blade lowered below the table check how level the table is with a straight edge, check it across the ends, along the sides and diagionally, if it has attached wings be aware that they can be adjusted, it is the solid table around the blade that is critical.
  • Check the miter gauge, it should slide through both the slots without binding and have no side to side slop.
  • Check the rip fence does it move smoothly across the table and lock solidly, bear in mind that this seems to be the weakest link on any saw and there are aftermarket replacements that are superior to the orginal.

Left Vrs. Right Tilt

Most saws offer a left tilting blade, meaning that when the ripping guide is to the right of the blade the blade will tilt away from the guide. Some of the higher end saws also offer a right tilting model.

When making a bevel cut, a left tilt moves the blade away from the fence, keeping the teeth away from your hand and lowering the risk of pinching the piece between the fence and blade. Even though the risk can be reduced on a right tilt by moving the fence to the left of the blade, this is a less familiar action, which might increase the risk somewhat.

In addition the arbor thread is a normal right hand thread on the left tilt models, on the right tilt models it is a left hand thread which takes some getting used to when changing blades.

If you only have one saw you will soon get used to it, whether it is a left or right tilt, so this probably should not be a factor in your decision on purchasing a saw everything else being equal.

Tuning Up for Ripping

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Get the highest degree of accuracy with this combination Master Plate and Super Bar. Together, they help you tune-up, calibrate, and align your table saw to within 1/1000 of an inch! What's more, it promotes safer operation by helping to eliminate kickbacks, sticking, and binding. The master plate is made of solid 1/4'' thick, flat-ground aluminum. It replaces your saw blade and bolts into a 5/8'' or 1'' arbor to provide a full 10'' of near-perfect flatness for aligning your equipment. The Super Bar jig has an-onboard precision dial indicator that measures alignment as it slides in the miter gauge slot. This enables you to keep the saw blade parallel, align the fence, square tour protractor, and check runout on routers, drill presses, and more!

Your saw will produce much better ripping results if it is set up properly, kick back, stalling, burnt cuts, and tapered cuts can be virtually eliminated.

1. Use a quality blade suitable for the job, this will eliminate most problems.

2. To check if blade is parallel to the miter slot, unplug the saw, raise blade to full height, place a short length of flat iron on edge against a tooth at the front of the blade, mark this tooth. Lay a strip of wood against the face of the miter gauge so that one end touches the flat iron. Clamp the strip of wood to the miter gauge, remove the flat iron and rotate the blade so that tooth is now at the back of the blade. Slide the gauge forward so the strip is in line with the same tooth. Check the gap with the flat iron, it should be the same as it was at the front. If the blade has to be moved this is done by loosening the bolts holding the trunions under the table.

3. Align the splitter with the blade, this is an essential feature of the saw.

4. Check that the rip fence is not bowed and set it parallel to the miter slot. There are two schools of thought here, some saw manufactures recommend that it be set parallel while others suggest that the rear be offset slightly outward usually about 1/32".

Even with a perfectly tuned saw certain woods such as cherry and soft maple may tend to show burn marks, this can often be overcome or lessened by feeding the stock though the saw faster.


Thin Rip Tablesaw Jig
This jig allows you to rip thin strips on the left side of the blade, eliminating the danger of pushing narrow strips between the saw and fence. Since the strip is not trapped between the blade and fence, there is also less risk of binding and kickback. It s simple to use; a single knob locks the jig into the miter track and locks your setting at the same time. Ball bearing guide keeps your workpiece firmly against the fence for perfect repeatability. Use the graduated scale to fine-tune for extremely thin strips. Note: Ripping thin strips requires the use of a zero-clearance insert. Guard and splitter were removed here for illustration purposes only.

Thin Rip Tablesaw Jig

Thin Rip Tablesaw Jig

Making Square Cuts

An easy way to check if your saw is cutting square is to make a cut with your miter gauge, then mark the two pieces as shown. Move them so they rest against the table saw fence, making sure that the edge that was against the miter gauge is now against the fence. Flip the board on the right over to rest on the left one, the X's are now facing each other. Any variation in the cut from being square will now be multiplied by two so it will be easier to see. It now becomes a matter of adjusting the miter gauge so that the cut is square.


Table Saw Books