Stationary Table Saw                                  Portable Table Saw


A table saw is one powerful piece of equipment.  The table saw consist of a circular blade mounted on an arbor that is driven by an electrical motor.  A table saw allows the user to cut wood on a flat table.  There are three types of table saws.

 Type of Table Saws


  • Bench Top Table Saw – A bench top saw is the same as a portable table saw.  These are nice because you can move them to the location your are working at and set them on top of a bench.  The downside is they tend to lack power.  They will have the same amps or RPM, but the drive configuration is different.  See the drive configuration down below.
  • Contractor Table Saw -These are heavier, but usually have wheels mounted to the bottom of the legs.  The motor hinges off the rear of the saw and drives the blade.
  • Cabinet Table Saw – These are very heavy, but once they are set up they stay there.  The cabinet table saw has a closed base, hence cabinet.  These typically require more power and need a 220V outlet.  They are the most expensive, but probably will not bog down under the same condition that would make a portable saw bog down or even stop.  Since these are heavier, they often vibrate a lot less and the durability increases.

Drive Configuration

  • Direct Drive Motors – These are linked directly to the blade and transfer all of the power to the blade.  Personally with my experience and what I have heard these motors tend to wear out quickly compared to the Belt Drive Motors.  I have a portable table saw and it has a direct drive motor and it still runs fine after six years.
  • Belt Drive Motors – These have a belt that transfers power to the motor.  The motor is set away from the blade which reduces the chances of over heating from saw dust and in return allows the motor to last longer. 

Table Saw Accessories

  • Extension Table – Extension tables mount to the side of the table saw and basically increase your table size.  This helps you maintain more control when cutting wider pieces of wood.
  • Dado Heads – A dado makes a wider cut which is good for shelving and other applications.  Most table saws have a Dado plate and accept the blades, but be careful as some models will not let you use a Dado blade.
  • Rip Fence – A rip fence is a single fence on top of the table that the user adjusts to help create a desired length or width cut. It  helps make sure the cut is straight.
  • Miter Gauge – The table has two grooves running the length of the table.  The gauge sits in the groove and helps guide the user to create an angle cut.
  • Crosscut Sled – This is used to hold the work piece at a 90 degree angle to the blade. 
  • Tenon Jig – A jig that holds the work piece vertically so cuts can be made across the end.

Blades Sizes and Types

  • Blade size – The two common sizes are 8″ and 10″ blades.  An 8″ is good for light cutting such as crafts and thinner stock.  The 10″ is good for thicker stock and angle cuts.

There are three main types of saw blades

  • Steel Blades – Good for softwood, inexpensive, but will dull quickly with hardwood cutting.
  • High Speed Steel Blades – Harder than the steel blades.
  • Carbide Tipped Blades – More expensive, stay sharp the longest and best suited for hardwood cutting.

How To Use A Table Saw

  • Make sure you are using the correct blade and it is properly seated and tight.  Always use a sharp blade.  Dull blades tend to over heat, bind and cause kick backs.
  • Make sure the blade guard is on and secure.
  • Make sure the blade is the right height.  No more than 1/2 above the work piece.  If the blade is higher than 1/2 inches, the chance increases for a kick back.
  • Always start the saw and let the blade get to maximum speed before pushing your work into the blade.
  • Don’t jam the wood against the blade.  Let the saw do the work and just guide the wood, making sure it is tight against the rip fence.
  • Turn off the machine and let the blade stop all the way before you try to grab the wood.  Don’t ever reach pass the blade while it is spinning.

How to Avoid Kick Backs

  • Make sure the blade is not only sharp, but also clean.  Pitch build up causes more friction, which causes more burning and increases the chances of kick backs.
  • Align the saw.  Make sure there is an even length difference away from the front of the saw blade and rip fence and the back of the saw blade and rip fence.  If not, the wood will bind and can cause a violent kick back.
  • Make sure the blade guard is on and securely fasten down.  Most guards have anti kickback features to help protect the user.
  • Make the cut past the end of the board.  Make sure you push the work piece past the blade before trying to remove the piece.
  • Be careful about flaws in the wood such as knots or twists.
  • Always have control.  Do not try to cut a piece of wood that is to big for your saw.
  •  Remove all obstructions before you try to cut.


  • Read Instructions.
  • Make sure the saw is unplugged whenever you change the blade
  • Use a push stick and save your fingers
  • Always use the blade guard
  • Wear eye protection
  • Wear ear protection