how to use a table saw

A table saw is a powerful tool which makes it easier for you to cut various types of wood in different DIY projects. Since the saw is mounted on a table, you can easily secure wooden planks on a sturdy surface while cutting them.

Table saws are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and designs, but they all have the same function. Not to mention, different cutting techniques can help you get different types of cuts. Examples of cuts that table saws can make include dado cuts, rip cuts, and cross-cuts.

In this post, we are going to show you how to use a table saw.

Types of Woodworking Table Saws

Before we dive deeper into this, let’s look at the different types of table saws and give you an insight into how such saws work. This makes it easier for you to operate a table saw. Here are the different types of table saws:

Portable Table Saw

Portable table saws, as their name suggests, are simple to transfer from one location to another, making it simpler for you to work on a variety of woodworking jobs. Portable table saws are available in different types: compact saws, jobsite table saws, and benchtop table saws.

Stationary Table Saw

Stationary table saws are designed for intensive woodworking projects. Unlike portable table saws, stationary saws cannot be moved easily. However, they are more stable than portable saws, making it easier for you to work on huge planks. There are various types of stationary table saws which can help you cut wood planks. Examples of such saws include hybrid, cabinet saw, and contractor saw.

Cabinet saws are mainly used in large factories and are made from durable materials such as cast iron or steel. Since such saws are made from steel or cast iron, they can last for a long time.

Contractor saw – Most contractor saws come with a tabletop made from cast iron. However, the extension wings found on the sides of the table might be manufactured from stamped metal.

Hybrid table saws – As the name hints, this is a blend between a cabinet saw and a contractor saw, which has the characteristics of both saws.

Various Parts of the Table Saw Machine

Getting some insight into different parts of a table saw makes it easier for you to comprehend how you will use it. These are the different parts of a table saw that help you cut various wood planks:


This is the flat surface that supports wooden planks.

Rip Fence

This is a long, sleek, and slender part that runs across the table. It is parallel to the saw, guiding you as you are cutting wooden planks.

Fence Dog

It is a mechanism which makes it easier for you to secure the fence in one spot by locking it.

Blade Cover/Blade Guard

This is a part that conceals the blade, protecting you while you are cutting boards. The blade cover has a unique shape and design, ideal for covering the saw once it starts spinning. Different covers are suitable for different types of blades. In most models, the blade cover is made from a transparent material, making it easier for you to see as you are working.

Mitre Gauge

Just like the fence, a mitre gauge secures a plank of wood in one position as you are cutting it. However, a mitre gauge lets you place a wooden plank at a certain angle so that you can make angled cuts.


Kickback might cause accidents from time to time. For example, a saw can yank a wooden plank in a particular direction due to the kickback. In order to prevent such accidents, most table saws come with anti-kickback claws, minimising the effects of a kickback action.

Bevel Angle Gauge

It is an angle adjustment gauge that lets you switch the blade angle based on your personal preferences. It can change the angle of the blade, making it possible to slice through wooden blocks at a specific angle.

Different Woodworking Cuts

Thanks to its design, a table saw is quite flexible in making multiple woodworking cuts on different workpieces. These are the various types of cuts that you can make with a table saw:


As the name hints, a cross-cut passes across the length of a piece of wood or across the grain of the timber.

Dado Cut

A dado cut is a unique cut that runs across a wooden plank; however, it has a certain shape that makes it easier for you to join two pieces of wood. In most instances, a dado cut is used to create a rectangular groove for wooden joints.

Furthermore, various blades are used to make dado cuts on timber, stacking sets and wobble blades. Due to this, you have to opt for the dado blade suitable for the task you are tackling.

Rip Cuts

This is a long cut made on the long side of a wooden plank and parallel to the natural wood grain, dividing a workpiece into different parts.

Take Some Safety Measures

While table saws can help you cut timber and various wooden boards, they can be quite dangerous because they have a blade. Due to this, you have to minimise accidents while using a table saw by taking different preventive measures.

Wear PPW

Start by wearing protective clothing and safety equipment that will keep you safe while cutting with a table saw. Wear safety goggles to block the wood chips and sawdust that might be thrown towards your eyes.

Since table saws may be noisy while cutting wood, you have to wear ear protection such as earbuds or safety headphones to protect your ears from high noise levels.

Also, cover your nose and mouth with a mask. Timber produces small wooden particles that can irritate you when inhaled.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Moreover, nobody should be on the other side of the table saw while you are cutting a wooden board, especially in the trajectory path of the saw. Whether you plan to make a cross-cut, a mitre cut, or a bevel cut, you have to use a guide to prevent various types of injuries.

How to Use a Table Saw to Make a Basic Cross Cut

Change the Blade Height Based on Your Preferences

a electric table saw

Start off by adjusting the height of the blade for maximum effectiveness. It should be high enough to cut through the thickness of wood without leaving any sections uncut. The height should be about ¼ inches more than the thickness of the wooden plank. Adjust the blade based on the wooden board that you are cutting.

Slide the Mitre Gauge Into the Groove

Once you finish adjusting the height of the blade, slide the mitre gauge into the left groove.

Draw a Line

The next thing you need to do is draw a line that cuts across the width of the wooden plank using a pencil or a marker. This line will guide you while you are cross-cutting a wooden board to get the desired results.

Place the Wooden Plank Against the Gauge

Next, place the wooden plank against the front part of the gauge at a strategic position. The wooden plank should come into contact with the front edge of the gauge.

Align the Wooden Board to the Saw

You have to align the wooden plank to the saw blade to get superb results using the line you drew earlier. The blade should align with the pencil line and rest on the centre of the line to divide the wooden plank into two equal parts.

After that, slide the mitre gauge away from the blade.

Turn On the Saw

Once you finish setting up the wooden plank and other parts of the table saw, connect the table saw to a power source, then power it.

Make the Cut

Stand on the left side of the machine to reduce the risk of any injuries. Next, hold the mitre gauge sturdily with one hand, keeping your fingers away from the table saw blade.

Slide the mitre gauge towards the blade at a slow and steady speed until it comes into contact with the blade. Keep on sliding it until the saw blade cuts the wooden plank completely, dividing it into two different pieces. Next, turn off the machine and wait for the blade to stop rotating. Keep your fingers away from the central part of the table saw where the blade is mounted.

After that, remove the wooden planks from the surface of the table saw.

How to Use a Table Saw to Make a Basic Ripping Cut

Raise the saw blade to a certain height using the height adjustment mechanism. It should have enough depth to cut through the thickness of the workpiece. The blade height should be more than the thickness of wood while ripping a piece of timber.

Mark the Section That You Want to Cut

Once you change the height of the blade, mark the area that you want to cut.

Slide the Fence Towards the Blade

Start off by determining the width that one-half of the plank will occupy. This guides you while you are changing the width of the rip fence. Just measure the distance between the saw rip fence and the saw blade, then keep on sliding the rip fence to get your preferred width.

Place the Wooden Plank On the Rip Fence

Next, place the wooden plank on the rip fence; it should be away from the blade.

Make the Cut

Turn on the saw, then use one hand to keep the wooden plank on the edge of the fence, maintaining a firm position. Place another hand on one end of the wooden plank, then move the plank towards the saw blade, cutting it at a steady motion.

Once the blade gets 12 inches close to your hand, remove your hands from the wooden plank. They should not be near the blade as you are finishing up. Use push sticks to drive the wooden plank through the blade. After that, take two push sticks, then keep the wooden plank on the rip fence with one push stick. Keep on moving the wooden plank through the saw with the second stick. If you use a push stick, you can minimise the risk of injuring your fingers.

Apart from that, a gripper push block can also make it easier for you to slide the wooden plank through the blade, minimising the risk of injuries while making rip cuts. If you are ripping a long wooden plank, two gripper push blocks might be ideal for you. On the other hand, one gripper push block might be suitable for small planks of wood that are not hectic to cut, minimising dangerous risks.

Well, you can either use a push stick or a gripper block during the final cutting steps, depending on your preferences. With such tools, your fingers will never get close to the blade.

Use a Table Saw For Different Cuts

A table saw is quite effective in making various cuts on timber. Not to mention, you can use a table saw in a wide variety of projects and tasks. However, you have to take some safety measures while using a table saw to prevent injuries. While saw blades can cause injuries, this power tool packs various parts that minimise the risk of injuries. Make sure that you change the blade height when the machine is off.

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