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Table Saws - the Workhorses of the Wood Shop


Table Saw

Parts of a Table Saw

(c) 2006 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Table Saw is undoubtedly the most versatile machine in any shop, and should be the woodworker's most important machine purchase. A good table saw becomes the centerpiece of the workshop, as the woodworker uses it to rip, square, miter, groove, shape and join pieces. A quality table saw will make completing nearly any woodworking project easier.

Table Saw Features:

Every table saw should have a smooth, heavy work surface, a handle for raising and lowering the saw blade, a separate handle for adjusting the angle of the blade and connections for dust collection. The saw should have a strong motor that starts smoothly with little vibration and enough horsepower to make deep cuts through harder woods.

Safety Equipment:

Every table saw should include a blade guard, to protect the woodworker from the exposed saw blade, and a large, easily accessible on/off switch. Most modern table saws utilize a large paddle switch that is pulled to turn on the saw, and pushed to turn it off. As such, when the woodworker's hands are busy steadying the material being cut, they can turn the saw off merely pressing their knee against the switch.

Rip Fence:

Perhaps the most important feature to look for when researching which table saw to buy is the fence. A quality fence should be consistently parallel to the saw blade, and have fine tuning controls for when the fence needs adjustment. Most larger table saws have a Biesemeyer-style fence that is sturdy enough for ripping large stock very smoothly and is strong enough to let the woodworker securely clamp a sacrificial strip or featherboard to the fence.

Miter Gauge:

Most table saws include a miter gauge for making angled crosscuts. Better quality saws will utilize a T-groove in the saw's table to help keep the miter gauge from coming out of the groove when in use. The miter gauge should glide smoothly without feeling loose and the be clearly marked for setting the proper cutting angle.


A number of additional tools and jigs are available for the table saw, including tenoning jigs, stacked dado cutting sets, tapering jigs, panel-cutting jigs and sliding tables. These accessories all can be used to make the table saw the one machine tool that no workshop should be without.

Research table saw reviews on Consumer Search.

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