‘Cutting Edge’ Table Saw Tips
Straight from top pro woodworkers—ultra-clever tips for getting the most from your table saw.
Quick Table Legs
If you need to build a quick table, here's a great way to make the legs. We've used this design to make tables for cabins, and utility tables for the shop and yard. Each leg is made from a 1x6, ripped to make two tapered pieces. Glue and nail (or screw) the two pieces together, sand as much as you feel is necessary, and you're done. The taper jig is quick to make, but it works only for this particular taper.
Digital Angle Gauge
This tool is 21st-century fun! Yeah, you could adjust your saw's angle using other methods and eventually get it perfect, but this gizmo, the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge, saves lots of time, and did we mention it was fun? Just crank up your blade, set the magnetic base on the blade and square up the blade to the table (the body of the tool is absolutely square). Then push the zero button to calibrate the device.
Straighten a Crooked Edge
If you run the crooked edge of a board against the table saw fence, you'll still have a crooked board when you're done. Or worse, the board will get bound between the fence and the blade during the cut.
Mount a Featherboard for Accurate Rips
There are times when you want your rips to be super accurate, like when you're building face frames, door parts or other cabinet components. The key to accurate rips is to keep the edge of the board in constant, tight contact with the fence. It's easy with a featherboard mounted on your table saw top. This featherboard has expanding rails that lock into the miter gauge track.
Use a Half Fence for Unruly Boards
Wood with knots or wavy grain and wood that has been dried unevenly will often warp badly as you rip it. If the halves bend outward, one will push against the fence and could cause burn marks or a dangerous kickback. If this begins to happen, shut off the saw and remove the board. You can rip the board safely by clamping a smooth, straight length of 3/4-in. wood against the fence, ending at the center of the saw blade. This half fence gives the trapped piece (the section between the blade and the fence) room to bend without pushing back against the blade. Keep push sticks handy so you can work around the clamps and complete the cut smoothly.
Blood-Free Blade Changes
Ever notice how your knuckles pucker at the thought of changing your table saw blade? The Bench Dog Plastic Blade-Loc, available at tool retailers and online, makes it easy and safe. No more jamming a 2x2 down the throat of your saw to hold (and bend) the blade while you wrestle with the arbor nut. The Blade-Loc fits a 10-in. blade and holds it in place while you remove or tighten the nut. It prevents damage to your blade's teeth and your hands.
Dirt-Cheap Flip-Up Stop
We've used this setup for many years. It's a classic. Flip it up to cut one end of a board square; flip it down to cut the board to length. If you make one, choose a hinge without much play, and knock off the corners of the blocks so sawdust doesn't build up.
Clamp on a Long Fence for Long Boards
Keeping a long, heavy board or a full sheet of plywood tight against a short fence is a challenge, especially when you work alone. It's all too easy for the wood to wander away from the fence, ruining the cut or causing the blade to bind and leave burn marks along the edge. To avoid these problems, clamp a long level or a long, straight board to the fence, The longer the fence, the easier it is to keep the wood firmly against it.
You should also drill a set of countersunk holes in the table saw top and screw the saw down to the protruding 2x4s. The weight of the table keeps the whole assembly stable, but for extra insurance, toe-screw the long 2x4s to the tops of your horses. This dandy outfeed table makes a great assembly and temporary workspace as well. When you're done, prop it up against the shop wall and it'll be ready for the next job.
Dado Guide Using Standard Blade
Cut accurate dadoes without a dado blade by making successive passes over the blade. The tough part here is to get a tight fit. Screw a 1x3 fence extension to your miter gauge and make a saw kerf in it. For a tight fit, trace the width of the board onto the homemade miter gauge fence extension. Then follow the photos. Try this method on a test piece to get the hang of it.
Cut Skinny Strips Safely
Cutting thin strips can be dangerous. There's no space between the blade and the fence for a push stick, and on some table saws you have to remove the blade guard. Five minutes and a 6-in.-wide scrap of plywood or particleboard are all you need to cut safely and quickly. Just screw a wooden "heel" to the scrap and you've got a sliding guide that lets you leave the guard in place and keeps your fingers safe. Add a handle to make it easier to pull the guide backward after each cut.
Admit it: You sometimes use your table saw as an auxiliary workbench, slopping it up or damaging it. Better to build a plywood cover to protect it from glue, paint and tools. Cleats at the edges prevent the cover from sliding off the saw. Makes a great coffee table too!
We'd Love to Hear From You
Do you have a jobsite or tool tip that makes your work-life easier, safer, or just more fun? Why not share it with your construction comrades? Plus, you can show off your professional prowess to your family and friends.