A Woodworker's Guide to Table Saws
One thing that needs to be addressed is the stability of the table saw, an unstable table saw is very dangerous. I have seen some portable table saws used in a makeshift drop in setup where the saw actually set into plywood that was cantilevered over saw horses with no support under the saw or the end of the plywood. Pressure is exerted on the table of the saw and if there are no legs or support under the end of the cantilever, the whole set up can fall forward into the operator and cause severe damage, especially if the saw is running, without a guard. Just a thought.
That is one scary photo, high blade, no guard visible or mentioned in the article.
Table saws are great tools, provided you have the money and shop space for them.
I use circular saws mounted under the table with portable mounts which can be removed when not in use. This has saved me money and a lot of workshop space. But ... some of my friends here may not find it 'safe':wink2:
Scary picture ... look somewhat like my table saw. Had mine for a while ... I don't remember it ever having guards of any kind.
I'm sure the picture was created more for the visual effect than a safety lesson. That being said, a few lessons I have learned...
If you can afford one and you're serious about woodworking, buy a cabinet saw. If that isn't doable, buy a quality contractor's saw with a good fence.
You might want to incorporate a router table to save space. If so, make sure one of the wings is large enough to accommodate it.
If space is an issue, get a good mobile base.
Riving knives are common today on pretty much all new table saws. But if you're buying a used saw, look for the riving knife. It's a valuable safety feature. Few older saws can be retrofitted with a riving knife.
Blade guards are probably one of the most hated safety features in a table saw. That's because they get in the way and make accurate sawing difficult. In my old Delta contractor's saw, the blade guard was more of a hazard because it worked so poorly. If you plan to work with a blade guard, get a demonstration and watch closely how the blade guard works. If it impedes the feed of the wood in any way, you will probably end up taking it off and leaving it off.
the important aspects ... JMO
Get enough power to make the type of cuts you will make most often. This means from 1 HP to 3 HP and in rare circumstances for a home shop 5 HP. Provide a 220 V dedicated line if possible, if not have a 20 amp 120 Volt dedicated line.
Different woods and thickness require different blades. Plywood and sheet goods don't require much power and a fine tooth blade will work, 50 to 80 teeth. Hardwood up to 2" thick will need a rip blade with 24 teeth, OR a cross cut blade with 50 to 60 teeth. An 80 tooth blade will have limited use. I keep a 50 T combination blade in one saw and a 24 T rip blade in another saw.
The fence is the most used "accessory" on the saw. You will make minute adjustments of 1/32" or larger ones to cut panels and you need a fence that will lock parallel to the blade/miter slots and stay put. Very tall fences are difficult to use with push stick and blade guards which interfere. Delta made a Unifence which has a high and a low position which is easily changed
with 2 knobs. I love 'em. The Biesmeyer fence is a rugged and dependable fence which will lock and stay put and is always parallel to the blade. It's easily adjustable and has a cam lock lever. There are clones
of this fence and they work well.
You can't have too large of a saw table when working with sheet goods. A outfeed or catch table is one of the most important safety accessories you can add. It prevents you from, reaching over or around a spinning blade and it will make you cuts more accurate by supporting the long lengths after exiting the blade.
Guards and splitters.
Older saws came with guards attached to a plate also called a splitter. I removed the plastic guard from mine, leaving the splitter which I find the second most important safety device on the saw. It helps maintain the work against the fence and that prevent it from rotating away causing a kick back. It also prevents the kerf for closing on the work, binding the blade and causing another type of kickback. A blade guard will prevent you from putting your fingers into the blade.
Sometimes they are difficult to work around and get removed. This is a personal choice, but the dangers must be recognized. New saw come with riving knives which raise and lower with the height of the blade. They are rarely in the way so there is no reason to remove them. Newer saw make the removal of the blade guard much easier, so for the times that is necessary it can easily be reinstalled.
The switch should be large enough to "bump off" with your hip or leg in an emergency where it would not be safe to remove your hand to turn it off or to look away or under the saw to locate it. All my saws have large "paddles" for the OFF position and I use my leg to turn them off because it 's just much easier.
Jigs, miter gauges, sleds and other accessories.
These accessories and not usually included with the saw and you will want to have them for specialty cuts. You can purchase a thin rip jig or make one. You can buy a tenoning jig or make one. You can buy a sled or make one. I made straight line rip jigs in several lengths. It can be used to make tapers as well. The miter gauge that comes with the saw can be used with an additional fence to make accurate length pieces with stops. You can't make a miter gauge but you can improve upon them... well some of them. A "zero clearance" throat plate is another safety accessory you can purchase or make. It prevents thin strips from entering the gap between the blade and the plate and removes the "temptation" to retrieve it while the blade is still spinning, a very dangerous practice.
Of course the saw should be leveled out and stable so it doesn't rock under operation. Leveling allows other supports to be used when ripping long stock IF you don't have a good outfeed table. Sometimes I use both a roller support and my outfeed table for very long rips.
That's my .02$ :smile3:
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