9 Ways to Maximize the Potential of a Table Saw (Essentials)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

The table saw is perhaps one of the most versatile tools in the modern workshop. It can cut tapers, rip boards to width, and even carve out wide coves in crown moldings. Yet, a lot of people have difficulty ensuring their table saw is as productive as possible.

An entry-level table saw with limited power and features shouldn’t limit your work. Improving its performance should be as easy as pairing it up with the right accessories.

In this guide, I’ll provide some helpful tips that can help you get the most out of your table saw. If you don’t have time to go through the article, here’s a summary of the content:

  • Make safety a priority
  • Give the saw plenty of breathing room
  • Choose the right blade for materials
  • Make use of push sticks
  • Always apply pressure forward, downward, and inward
  • Keep your table-top clean and friction-less
  • Invest in an excellent dust-collection system
  • Provide out-feed support
  • Tune up your table saw

Make Safety a Priority

ppe
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

You should always make safety a priority. The table saw is a powerful and dangerous machine.

Thus, you should always make safety a priority. You want to make sure that you have both eye and ear protection. Wrap-around safety glasses will prevent falling sawdust from getting into your eyes. As for the ears, some good ear muffs or earplugs should get the job done.

Also, invest in a mask or respirator with the correct filtration to protect your lungs from fine dust. Some good Kevlar-fitted gloves should protect your fingers from any harm. Make sure you don’t come into contact with the blade.

Give Your Saw Plenty of Breathing Room

The table saw can rip and crosscut large materials. So, the table saw should have ample breathing room. Ensure that there’s at least 4” of breathing room on either side of the blade and 8” both in front and behind the blade.

Or, you can make the table saw the center of the workshop. This should offer you and the saw plenty of clearance room on all sides. Measure the in-feed and the out-feed clearance to ensure you have enough clearance into and out of the saw.

Or, if you don’t have space, you might want to invest in a mobile base that enables you to wheel your saw in and out of the shop. You can simply roll it out of the storage corner and into the middle of the shop, use it, and return it to its place.

Extra breathing room allows you to work efficiently. It also allows you to use the saw for all its potential uses.

Choose the Right Blade for the Material

Different blades perform different tasks. Thus, you want to make sure that you have the best blade for the work you intend to use it for. For a helpful guide on how to go about it, check out our article on types of table saw blades and adjustments.

The right blade can improve your productivity and reduce the risk of accidents. Material-specific blades are perfect for cutting through specific materials. They are perfect for making accurate, smooth cuts as well.

Not to mention, you will need to take care of your blades. Fortunately, this is an easy and simple task that will maximize the out and longevity of these blades. Ensure that the blades are safely stored and have their teeth in pristine condition.

Remember, if you are doing particular tasks too often, invest in a blade that’s built for that purpose. Otherwise, get a good general-purpose blade that does a good job.

Make Use of Push Sticks

table saw push sticks

If you constantly find your hand within an inch of the saw, it’s time to invest in a push stick. This particular accessory is perfect for short materials that need to go through the saw. It minimizes the risk of damage to yourself during cutting.

A push stick can both push and firmly hold down your material as it passes through the saw. It enables you to make clear straight cuts while keeping your hands safe.

There are two kinds of push sticks available; long, narrow push sticks and broad, flat push sticks. Long, narrow push sticks are perfect for smaller, lighter boards that need narrow cuts. Broad, flat push sticks are perfect for wider, heavier boards that need a bit of downward pressure.

Always Apply Pressure Forward, Down, and Inward

Always apply pressure on three points; forward, down, and inward. You want to apply forward pressure forward to push the wood towards the saw.

Apply pressure downwards to hold down the piece of wood. Apply pressure inward to ensure that the piece remains in contact with the rip fence. I always recommend that you use two push sticks to achieve all these pressure points.

You should have one push stick applying pressure inwards. This particular push stick should be on the side. The other push stick should be to the back, pushing the piece of wood forward. Both of these sticks should apply downward pressure to the wood as it gets ripped.

Keep the Table-Top Clean and Friction-Free

table saw top

To be able to run your piece of wood through the saw easily, you want to make sure that the table top is clean. To make this happen, you want to vacuum your shop to suck away all the chips and sawdust. Make sure that you vacuum the miter slots, the fence, and the top.

Alternatively, you can make use of an anti-friction spray to help you push any material to the saw with ease. Use a little bit of wax. Don’t apply too much. Be sure to buff it out to ensure that excess wax doesn’t cause damage to any future finishing you may want to do on your wood project. 

Invest in an Excellent Dust-Collection System

table saw dust collection system

Invest in a good dust collection system to help you maintain a clean working environment. A massive dust bag can hold a day’s worth of saw scraps without having to empty the trash bag frequently.

Thus, you need to clean and save time during cleanup. This helps the saw run cooler, thus improving its performance.

Most table saws come with Vacuum ports that can help you connect a portable dust collector. You can use one of these to help reduce the amount of dust floating around.

Provide Outfeed Support 

Any time you are using a power tool, you need to make sure to have ample support for the material that you are cutting. The majority of power tools require a stable work surface to allow the tool to do its intended purpose.

Trying to cut a long board without the help of a helper or extra support is practically impossible. You can take advantage of roller support to help you hold the ends of a longboard. If you can’t afford one, you may want to start with temporary outfeed support clamps.

Tune Up your Table Saw

Achieving tip-top performance from your table saw requires regular maintenance. A fine-tuned saw will cut through materials easily and smoothly. An improperly tuned saw can bind and prove dangerous to operate.

Are you having trouble deciding what aspects of a table-top blade you should tune up? Feel free to check out our article on 5 aspects of a table saw blade to consider for a tune-up.

With these few basic steps, you can easily tune your table saw to keep it cutting smoothly and safely.

Conclusion

The story of your woodworking journey doesn’t stop at the purchase of a table saw. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you use the saw’s potential by maintaining its integrity. You may also want to add a few extra accessories to improve its overall performance.

Doing this will ensure that you get the most bang out of the money spent. Believe me, a table saw is a great investment! Are you looking for the best table saw? Feel free to check out our website on all information table saws.

Alternatively, feel free to reach out to us for your needs.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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