Safe Crosscut? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Safe Crosscut?

If I had a piece of wood 2' w X 4' L would I be able to make it 2'X2' on a table saw? I'm trying to figure out when you can crosscut a piece of wood safely without a sled. I know the rule is you can't safely crosscut which is why I've always used a sled. As a matter of fact I just bought a Incra 5000 Miter sled to safely do crosscuts.
But still relatively a new woodworker I got to thinking why is is safer ripping 3" off the length vs 2 feet on a crosscut?

Bill F.
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 07:16 AM
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Depends on the width of the piece .....

For larger and wider pieces of plywood etc. you can use the fence to register against. Less than 10" or so, the amount of blade exposed is greater than the width of the workpiece and you should use either a sled or an extended fence on your miter gauge. I use an extended fence on my miter gauges all the time. It shows you where your cut will be by the kerf left in the face of the sacrificial fence, really handy and accurate!

Here's why:


Plywood is different. It's not either a rip or a crosscut unless you use the fence for the "rip" or the miter gauge for the "crosscut". As long as there is enough material against the fence to maintain a stable registration, it doesn't matter and it will be safe. I use the fence all the time when making cabinets sides, doors and shelves because there's plenty of material registration on the fence. For pieces that are say under 6" an up to 10" wide, I use the miter gauge with extended fence/face.



It just takes a while to get comfortable using the table saw, but if you follow the safety rules and keep you hands and fingers out of the red zone, you will be OK. Use a splitter or riving knife as that will help keep the workpiece against the fence if only very lightly. That's what prevents kickbacks.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-06-2020 at 09:57 AM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 07:40 AM
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Bill, if you are unsure of the situation, I would suggest clamping
a straight board to the project piece and make the cut with
a hand-held circular saw.

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post #4 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 09:19 AM
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With a board that size I would feel perfectly comfortable using the table saw.


George
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 09:50 AM
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Using furniture wax on the table saw top will help a lot to cut down on friction when cutting larger panels. Also an outfeed table will prevent the panel from suddenly tipping as it exits the cut.

Gary

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post #6 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 10:04 AM
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Hey Bill,

I'm comfortable with 2x4. For me width 1/3 the length is my limit. Then I'm looking at a sled, miter saw or track saw. A panel cutting sled is very useful (basically a sled with a fence on the far side that sits to the left of blade/runner in miter slot and along edge of ts wing. A couple toggle clamps). I can cut panels up to 27" wide very precisely! (You have to elongate miter slots in outfeed table).

If you are ever unsure about a cut, the time to be sure its a bad idea is not 1/2 way through it. Does your saw have a riving knife or splitter?

Where you get in trouble is allowing the board to drift away from the fence as the cut proceeds. Focus on keeping the board in contact with the fence. A riving knife or splitter adds a lot of safety!

Here's how I do it:

Start of cut -- Differential pressure from one hand diagonally keeping the forward edge against the fence, while pushing with the other. Beginning of cut mostly pressure against the fence, last 1/4 mostly pushing.

End of cut -- Be sure to follow all the way thru until the board clears the blade. Don't take your eyes off the board edge & fence, until your at the end of the cut.
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 11:26 AM
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And .......

Wait until the blade stops spinning until you reach around or over to retrieve your workpiece!

If you drop a workpiece on a spinning blade, guess what will happen....

This rule is hardly ever mentioned in tablesaw safety articles or instructions, but it's as important as any of the other safety rules.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-06-2020 at 11:28 AM.
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 09:07 PM
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Make yourself a crosscut sled. It is a good project for beginners. You will learn, have a sense of achievement, and save money all at the same time. A win,win. If your are new there are many different designs to choose from, check out youtube.
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B Coll View Post
Make yourself a crosscut sled. It is a good project for beginners. You will learn, have a sense of achievement, and save money all at the same time. A win,win. If your are new there are many different designs to choose from, check out youtube.
I've never had a crosscut sled myself. I think I'm the only person on the planet who has never needed one either. 99.8% of my crosscuts are an the miter saw. My miter guage fence on the table saw will handle any other cuts that are outside the miter saws safe uses.
Having said that I'll probably build a crosscut sled eventually just to see what all the fuss is about.

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post #10 of 17 Old 08-06-2020, 11:55 PM
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The way that I would make the cuts is as follows. The SCMS won't make a 24 inch cut. The band saw won't allow 24 inches to the left of the blade so table saw is the only choice.

This assumes that you have an out feed table.
First, move the fence to 25 inches or so. Make a cut at 25 inches while pushing the wood only between fence and blade. After the cut, stop the saw and retrieve the wood.

Second set the fence to 24 inches. Spin the wood so that the fresh cut is against the fence and make another cut.

Third set the fence to the final dimension, 24 inches. Spin the wood again and re-cut the first cut at 24 inches.
You now have a piece 24 inches wide.

If you need two pieces from the wood, as described there are two options,
First change the design.
Second get one of those zero width kerf saw blades from the "Sharp Chisel and Zero Kerf Blade" store, somewhere on the web.

Rich
Just a dumb old paper boy from Brooklyn, NY
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the responses, I always get great feedback from you guys.

Bill F.
post #12 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 10:07 AM
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This thread has me puzzled regarding the rip fence on my table saw. My table saw has a 36 inch fence, but a 52 inch fence was an option.

Who uses the full width of their rip fence (especially the large ones like 52 inches). What do you cut with the fence set so wide? How do you guide that cut?
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
This thread has me puzzled regarding the rip fence on my table saw. My table saw has a 36 inch fence, but a 52 inch fence was an option.

Who uses the full width of their rip fence (especially the large ones like 52 inches). What do you cut with the fence set so wide? How do you guide that cut?
Cabinet maker/ commercial cabinet makers.... you'll get good at it if you listen to the correct people...
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 12:04 PM
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That's not the fence, it's the rails.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
This thread has me puzzled regarding the rip fence on my table saw. My table saw has a 36 inch fence, but a 52 inch fence was an option.

Who uses the full width of their rip fence (especially the large ones like 52 inches). What do you cut with the fence set so wide? How do you guide that cut?

The length of the rails determines the width capacity of the saw...32" or 52" or whatever.
The length of the fence itself on cheaper ones is generally around 30" or so, the depth of the table. Good fences are longer like the Unifence or Biesemeyer which I just measured, are 42" long.


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-07-2020 at 12:14 PM.
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebelwork View Post
Cabinet maker/ commercial cabinet makers.... you'll get good at it if you listen to the correct people...
Okay - got it. I found a large panel in the back (the wall side) of one of our kitchen cabinets that fits your description. (When I made kitchen cabinets a long time ago, I did not use back panels. You could see the house walls through the shelves.)

Do the table saw manufacturers expect cabinet makers to rip those large panels on the table saws as delivered, or do they assume that table saw owners will always build specialized infeed tables or other supports for those wide rip cuts? In other words, can you safely make a very wide rip cut by flipping up the board by the far end and carefully feeding it through? (Keeping it against the rip fence, of course.)

What prompted my question:
I searched online and through a few books here, and found nothing about how to make wide rip cuts safely, and this thread made me think about that.

Related:
At one time I learned a rule that said, "Do not use the rip fence to guide a cut if the board is wider than it is long." I could not find it in writing anywhere - not online and not in my books.
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The length of the rails determines the width capacity of the saw...32" or 52" or whatever.
The length of the fence itself on cheaper ones is generally around 30" or so, the depth of the table. Good fences are longer like the Unifence or Biesemeyer which I just measured, are 42" long.
Good point. Sorry, but I didn't make it clear enough for you. You're right, I meant the length of the rails, which determines the maximum width of a rip cut.
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-07-2020, 12:51 PM
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You can get rails wider than 52. I think they went up to 96" we had taken a 52" and rebooted it to cut 97" at the commercial shop. After a few years I changed it back.
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