Carpentry/Power Tools/Table Saw

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Brief Description[edit | edit source]

A table saw consists of an electric motor, mounted below a table, which drives a circular saw blade projecting through an opening in the table's surface. The blade rotates toward the front of the table; the operator pushes the work into the blade, against the direction of rotation.

The two primary table saw operations are ripping, in which a board is reduced in width (cutting along the grain) while being pushed along a fence which is parallel to the blade and fixed at a distance from the blade equal to the desired width, and crosscutting, in which the board is reduced in length (cutting across the grain) while being carried through the blade by a mitre gauge, which holds the board perpendicular to the blade while sliding along a groove in the table's surface parallel to the blade (known as a mitre slot).

There are many variants of these operations. The motor may be pivoted laterally so that the blade forms an angle other than 90º to the table's surface, permitting beveled rips and crosscuts. The mitre gauge may be adjusted to form an angle other than 90º to the mitre slot and saw blade, thereby allowing mitres to be cut. And a series of adjacent, parallel cuts can be made with the blade's height set lower than the thickness of the work to create dados and rabbets; these can also be cut using a stack of blades known as a dado set.

Types of Table Saws[edit | edit source]

Table saws can be divided into several categories. The bench or bench-top saw, also known as a portable or jobsite saw, is compact and lightweight; its durability and accuracy suffer as a result, but it still represents a considerable improvement over a circular saw with a rip guide for production work in the field.

The contractor's saw is a substantial tool, offering a cast-iron table, typically with a pair of stamped steel extension wings, a 1 1/2 horsepower motor, and a reasonably reliable fence and mitre gauge. The hybrid saw improves on the contractor's saw with cast-iron extensions in place of the stamped steel, a more powerful motor, and a longer fence adjustable to finer tolerances.

Finally, the cabinet saw, so named because of its enclosed base, features massively rugged construction throughout, from the trunnions supporting the motor, to the handwheels that adjust the height and tilt of the blade, to the rails the fence clamps to. This saw is typically powered by a 3 or 5 horsepower motor, is often accompanied by an extended table and fence/rail system for ripping wide panels, or a sliding-table attachment for crosscutting large pieces, and may weigh in at 500 pounds or more.