Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday. I have a secret to tell you, this is one of the two power tools I own that I fear the most (the other is my router.) However, everytime I use my table saw I get a little more comfortable. Regardless, I will always keep that “healthy fear” so I won’t forget to use caution when using this power tool.

If you are just getting used to power tools, I would use a jigsaw or miter saw before tackling this big bad boy! That being said, I believe in all of you and know you can use a table saw, so let’s get to it!

A table saw is a great tool for ripping long pieces of wood. Unlike the miter saw which is limited to a certain width stock, the table saw can handle long sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood.

Explanation of a cross cut vs. a rip cut:

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw.)

We bought our table saw when we laid the wood floors in our living room. I knew that we’d probably have to rip a board or two once we reached the end. Well, wouldn’t you know that our living room ended up being the perfect size for all full width boards. I kept the table saw anyway knowing that I’d use it (and I have used it a fair amount.)

Table saws come in either a stationary or a portable style. I prefer the portability of my table saw. I can roll it out into the driveway (to keep the sawdust outside.) And, because the stand is built-in, I can fold it up on its side, roll it back into the garage and store it away when not in use.

Table saws cost anywhere from $120 up to $1,000 or more. The Ryobi 10 inch table saw with transportable stand that I use costs $300 at Home Depot.

I highly recommend wearing ear protection, safety googles and a dust mask when using a table saw. Hooking your table saw up to shop vac will greatly reduce the amount of saw dust that is discharged (and it spits out a lot of sawdust!)

Two common dangers of using a table saw are kickback (the board being thrown back toward the user) and hand injuries from forcing material through or feeding the wood with the hand too close to the saw. Kickback will happen if the wood is pinched too tight between the rip fence and the blade. When making a cross cut with a table saw, DO NOT use the rip fence! This can cause kickback to occur.

Table Saw Features:

Safety features are super important on a table saw. A blade cover is essential to keep hands away from the blade. And for that reason a table saw should never be used without the guard in place. For even more protection from hand injuries, there is a table saw that is manufactured under the name Stop Saw, that retracts in a split second if it detects flesh against the blade.

Behind the blade on my table saw are anti-kickback pawls. This is a close up view of this safety mechanism. They are basically teeth that will dig into the wood should the blade start to “kick back” the material toward the user.

 

The rip fence is used to setting the width of a cut and keeping the board straight when making a rip cut. Never use the rip fence when making a cross cut. My saw has a miter fence for making angled miter cuts. I honestly haven’t used that feature yet.

The blade depth adjustment and bevel adjustment knob are one and the same on the Ryobi. To adjust the bevel, push the knob in and then turn it.

The material support and the sawdust chute are located on the back of my table saw.


When using a table saw, be sure to have a clear work area. Set up supports or have someone help you to support large pieces of wood after they exit the saw. Use a push stick to assist when making a narrow cut. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry that could catch on the machine. Always use a table saw when you are well fed, alert, and are not in a hurry. This is a serious power tool and requires all your focus to use it.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic table saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a table saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If I haven’t scared the sawdust out of you, here is the video tutorial for using a table saw:

I hope I have empowered you to use a table saw at some point. It is a good saw to have in your shop. Especially if you need to lay wood flooring, install beadboard wainscoting and many other projects that require you to rip a board.

 

 

Today I’ll teach you how to use a miter saw safely. We’ll learn the difference between a miter and a bevel cut. Plus, I’ll also show you the different features and functions of miter saws.

How to Use a Miter Saw

Hello and welcome to the very first Tool Tutorial Friday (a series of tool tutorials)! Come right in and have a seat. If you give me less than 10 minutes of your time, I will empower you with a new power tool skill! Today, I’m going to show you how to use one of my favorite power tools. Before I owned a miter saw, I used a hand saw and a cheap plastic miter box. But, they were really putting a cramp in my DIY style (if you know what I mean.)

About two decades ago, my husband gifted me my Makita 10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw. That’s right, I don’t ask for jewelry for big occasions, Pretty Handsome Guy knows to ask one thing before an upcoming holiday, “So Honey, what power tool do you want now?” It’s true, I’m a power tool junky.

Ready to learn how to use a miter saw? Okay, let’s get started…

Working with power tools can be dangerous, but your risks drastically eliminated if you give the tool some respect. Today I’ll show you how to use a miter saw safely.

About Miter Saws:

Miter saws come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The size (usually from 7.25″ up to 12″) refers to the diameter of the blade on the saw. The larger the blade, the wider the material it can cut. However, if you purchase a “sliding” miter saw, you can cut several inches wider than your blade diameter (the specifications on the saw should tell you this cutting distance). Miter saws run anywhere from $80 up to $800 depending on the features and brand you choose.

Sliding Miter Saw:

I highly recommend a sliding miter saw if you can afford it. Being able to cut lumber a few inches wider means the difference between using your miter saw or having to break out the circular saw or table saw.

On a non-sliding miter saw, the saw head will not slide forward and back. Most of the entry-level models will cut a miter and a bevel. You may have heard miter saws without the ability to slide referred to as chop saws. They will work great for “chopping lumber” but without sliding, dual miters, and dual bevels, you will spend some time flipping the lumber to make your compound cuts.

Speaking of miters and bevels, let’s talk a little more about what is a miter and a bevel cut.

Type of Cuts:

Miter saws are perfect for cross cuts, miter, and bevel cuts. Miter saws cannot make rip cuts. Rip cuts are easier cut on a table saw or track saw (or using a variety of other handheld saws.)

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw but can be done with a variety of handheld power saws and a straight edge.
  • Crosscut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Crosscuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a track saw, jigsaw, band saw, or hand saw. You can make crosscuts with a table saw, but you will need a crosscut sled to perform a crosscut cut safely.

Miter Cut:

A miter cut is made when you change the direction of your blade from straight ahead (90˚) by moving it from side to side. Think of pizza wedges. For example, in the image below, the saw is set up to cut a 45˚ miter, and no bevel because the blade is still straight up and down.

Bevel Cut: 

A bevel cut is made when you angle your blade tipping it to the left or right. As an example, in the picture below, I’m making a 45˚ bevel cut into the wood.

Compound Cut:

A compound cut happens when you make a miter and a bevel cut at the same time. Essentially you are cutting two angles simultaneously. This is particularly useful when you are cutting crown molding for a room.

You can see in the diagram below how to set up your saw for bevel angles, miter angles, or both.

 

Safety Features and Operating a Miter Saw:

All modern miter saws have a trigger built into the handle. Most miter saws also have a safety button that you must push with your finger or thumb before you can squeeze the trigger. To start a straight downward cut, press the safety button, squeeze the trigger and wait for the saw to reach maximum rotation. Then slowly lower your saw into the board you are cutting. Never force the saw through the wood. Let the saw cut and then guide it downward. Once you have completed the cut release the trigger while the blade is in the wood. Let the saw come to a stop before lifting it out of the wood.

Most miter saws have a fence. The fence lets you rest the position your lumber against a straight edge. It keeps the wood steady and helps your miter saw cut true to the degree setting you have chosen.

Some miter saws have a detachable clamp. This is a nice option and helps keep your hands away from the blade during cuts. Let the clamp be your right-hand man (or left-hand man). If you don’t have a clamp on your saw, be sure to always position your hand as far away from the blade as possible. Do not attempt to make cuts where your hand is close to the blade. AND NEVER reach under the saw while it is rotating! Even when you have finished your cut, your hand is not safe until the blade has completely stopped.

Three Safety Tips for Using a Miter Saw:

  • Blade down until it stops! You should always end your cut and release the trigger while the blade is down and in the lumber. Let the blade come to a stop before raising the blade.
  • Always make sure the lumber is supported on both sides. And never clamp both sides of your lumber. One side should be free so as not to pinch the blade during the cut.
  • Never cut small pieces of wood where your fingers are too close to the blade. If you absolutely must cut a tiny piece, clamp or attach it to a larger piece of lumber.

Making a Safe Sliding Cut:

When using a sliding miter saw, there is a proper way to make a sliding cut (used to cut wider boards):

  1. Make sure your saw is positioned fully on your workbench. Test the blade in its full reach toward you to make sure it won’t tip as you lower the blade.
  2. Put your lumber up against the fence and clamp it on one side (if you can).
  3. Before you start the blade, pull the saw toward you until the blade is directly over the board’s edge closest to you.
  4. Squeeze the trigger to start the saw and wait for it to reach peak rotation speed. Then lower the blade down into the wood.
  5. While the blade is still rotating, slide the saw back and away from you as your blade cuts through the rest of the wood (see photo below.)
  6. Once the blade has finished cutting through the wood, release the trigger and let the blade stop before raising the blade.

I created a video, so you can see how to safely use a miter saw. Before you watch the video — a few necessary words of caution:

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Update: Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic miter saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a miter saw. Two safety revisions I want you to be aware of:

  1. You should wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment when using a miter saw. (Ear protection, eye protection, and a dust mask.) I should have been wearing a mask.
  2. When I first learned to use a miter saw, no one told me to keep the blade down until it came to a stop. This is now standard practice when I work.

And now, let’s get you more familiar with using a miter saw!

I hope you have been empowered to use a miter saw! Go on and give your miter saw a try if you own one. If you decide to buy a new miter saw, I recommend buying a reputable brand with a decent amount of features. I have a lot more information about how to buy quality tools and save money on tools in this article.

These workshops were meant to be interactive, so don’t be shy! Ask questions, leave comments, and let me know you are learning something new.

Happy New Year! I love January 1st. It is a new beginning, with new goals, resolutions and a chance to start fresh.

We had an open house style party on New Year’s Day. I was talking with my friend Leslie about how little changes can really make a big difference in your home and attitude. It is better to make some small alterations to your home instead of waiting to make bigger changes. We all have many reasons for waiting:

  • Lacking Money
  • Lack the skills
  • Lacking a vision
  • Lacking time
  • Lacking motivation
  • Insert your own reason here!

When we first moved into our home I didn’t want to do anything to our master bathroom because I knew we would need to gut it one day.

But, I can’t tell you how awful I felt every morning as I stepped into that hideous bathroom.

Finally I stopped waiting and made a few changes. I didn’t rip out the tile, I just added some paint, stain and new fixtures. And it really made me happy! Sure I still have to step into a harvest gold tile coffin to shower. And I will have to wait until we have the funds to renovate the room one day. But, at least that room makes me happy for now.

So, in the spirit of a fresh start, I decided to give our Master Bedroom a little face lift this week.

Our bedroom was the first room we painted when we moved in, and I stopped loving the room last year. Especially when these showed up!

Yuck, I’m not sure how our roman shades got stained. I think it might have been from the vaporizer I run in our bedroom because I can’t find any other places where water could have penetrated the window.

I admit, I was in a holding pattern. I found myself stalling, thinking that I had to wait until we scraped our ceilings. Then we could re-do that room.

The truth is that I had all the supplies to give our room a mini-facelift. Back when Layla posted about her new window treatment in her master bedroom, I was all eyes!

Our bed is situated in the same location as her’s (in front of two windows.) I had struggled with what to do with our bed and those window until I read her post. Luckily, I was able to find these natural grass shades at Bed, Bath & Beyond on clearance. $9.99 per blind! SCORE!

Thank you [email protected] for sharing your window treatments!

But, I waited another 2 months to do anything with those blinds! Sheesh, I can’t believe it took me that long to pull on my big girl “go ahead and do it” panties?

I started by removing the old stained blinds. Sadly I sewed them myself only three years ago. Sniff, sniff.

Then, I held up the new blinds to the height I wanted them. I hung them higher than the window to give the illusion that the window was taller, and also to be sure not to block too much natural light from the room.

Made a mark on the wall with pencil.

Next, I used a level to mark a line across the whole window.

I measured the width of my blinds and held up the first bracket at one end. Lucky for me I had already located a stud near the one end of the blind. (Read about stud finding HERE.)

Here is the first trick you NEED TO KNOW about hanging any window treatments! Those screws that come with blinds will not hold up your window treatments over the long haul even if you are screwing them into a stud. Especially if you have small children that may try to play Tarzan on them one day.

The wimpy 1″ screws are not long enough to go through the drywall and into your studs. And DO NOT expect them to hold if they are simply screwed into drywall either.

Be sure to purchase some extra drywall or wood screws that are 2″ long.

Also have some of these wall anchors on hand at all times! They screw into the wall when a stud is not behind your bracket. I can’t tell you how much better these are than those cheap wall anchors that you get for free.

Next I drove the screws into the bracket using my cordless drill. (Finishing off at the end with a screwdriver.) I used two of the wimpy screws and two longer screws.

I repeated the process to hang the other bracket. Then followed the directions for hanging the blinds I bought.

I was able to hang the other side the same way and used my level line to make sure both blinds were hung at the same height.

Next I adjusted the cord stop and pulls to fit our windows. Because the blinds weren’t custom made for our windows, they hung down below the window sill. I started by closing the blinds to the bottom of our windows. Then moved the small stop bead to the top of the cord.

Next I moved the pull knobs to a location in the middle of the blinds, added new knots to hold them there and then cut off the excess.

Next up on Pretty Handy Girl. How to hang curtains and a no-iron way to iron your curtains!

Plus, I have some more frugal changes that cost me – ummm – nothing! I added a big graphic element to the side wall (Tutorial HERE.) I know, sorry to tease you like that, but if you follow me on Twitter, I gave away the secret there.

Until then, I encourage you to embrace the New Year by making a small change to a room you really don’t like.

  • Try hanging a new picture.
  • Try hanging new blinds or curtains.
  • Cover up something you don’t like with fabric.
  • Buy some new throw pillows.
  • Change around your accessories.
  • Or switch out your bedding.

If you have a little more time and energy, It really is amazing what a new coat of paint can do for a room!

So, please don’t wait. Make yourself happy! Change out something today! It doesn’t mean you have to buy something new.

I am planning on swinging by our local Goodwill this week. You should have seen the lines of people donating their items before the new year (myself included!) I bet there are some treasures to be found this week.

Addendum: Monique sent me an email asking if she would be at risk of electrocuting herself when using the longer screws. Good question Monique. Here is my answer:

When I used the 2″ screws I was screwing them into the studs. See THIS post to determine how to find a stud. It is about halfway down the post past the bench assembly. Electrical is not normally in a stud, occasionally it is run through a stud, but the 2″ screw is actually only penetrating the stud about 1/2″ to 3/4″. Sometimes electrical wires are fed through a hole in the stud, however, it is normally centered in a 2″ x 4″ stud, so about 2″ back. But, normally electrical is not run up near the ceiling through studs (where I was hanging the blinds). The electricity for your outlets is down near the outlets. The electrical for your ceiling light would run vertical from the switch and up through the ceiling. Most of those wires are either loose in the cavity between the studs or stapled to the middle of the stud (about 2″ back).

If you are mounting your bracket into the drywall cavity (not a stud) I wouldn’t use just the screw. That is where I would use the plastic toggler anchors that I showed above. The cavity in the drywall is 3 3/4″ deep (the width of a stud.) Should an anchor touch the electrical (which that would be rare, it is sheathed in thick plastic and would normally flex away from the anchor. Plus, because it is plastic it wouldn’t conduct electricity.)

In other words, long explanation short, you don’t need to worry about shocking yourself if you are using anchors in the hollow areas and 2″ screws into the studs.

I can’t believe I’m about to show you my dirty little secret. But, I feel bad for my friend Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps. She has some work to be finished in her master bathroom. So, I hope she’ll feel better after I share my awfully tiny and incredibly outdated bathroom.

I’m warning you now, what you are about to see is disturbing. If you have children, please escort them from the room.

Exhibit A. Harvest Gold Tile
 Exhibit B. Jackson Pollock sponge paint and stamping
Exhibit C: Ugly Wall Cabinet on the Wall
Exhibit D. Outdated Oak Cabinet and Light Fixture
Exhibit E. Coffin-like shower.
 I know, SCARY, right?!

Pretty Handsome Guy and I knew that one day we would be gutting this bathroom. Therefore, we decided not to do anything to the bathroom knowing that it was going to be euthanized renovated at some point.

Well, after about a year, I couldn’t stand it anymore. As a surprise for Pretty Handsome Guy, I gave our teeny 1970’s bathroom a minor face lift while he was away on business. I spent about $100 to give us a calmer start to our morning.

First I took down that ugly wall cabinet. Then patched all the holes in the wall. I sanded the walls to remove some of the bumps from all the random paint. I painted all the trim a glossy white. And the walls got a fresh coat of Ralph Lauren Durango Blue. I chose a deep color to draw attention away from the harvest gold tiles.

Then I hung some pictures…
…and a new mirror (bought on clearance at Target).

I ditched the Hollywood strip lights and replaced them with this very affordable Craig’s List find.

I really did not want to spend a lot of time on the vanity (stripping and sanding), so I roughed it up a little and put some Brazillian Rosewood gel stain on it. And left it for 24 hours to dry. Yup, that’s right, I didn’t wipe off the stain.

You know what else I didn’t do? I didn’t put a protective coating of polyurethane either!
I also didn’t bother staining the inside of the cabinet. This is so opposite to my DIY code of conduct! I’m usually a perfectionist and I do it right the first time or I don’t do it at all. But, as I said, this bathroom is slated for demolition one day, so why put a lot of time or money into it.
Finally I installed some new towel bars and put new knobs on the cabinet.
Okay, sure the ugly tile is still there. And the shower still looks like this.

But, we now have a bathroom that we can enter without the risk of leaving with a migraine.

I am able to live with the bathroom as it is, until the happy day when I can knock down some walls, haul out some outdated tile and build my dream master bathroom.

Here are my plans for this dream:

Existing Floor Plan: Luckily an old washer and dryer closet backs up to the other side of this bathroom. This will give us another 3′ of space along one wall!

Renovation Floor Plan:

And this is what I envision our bathroom will look like one day!

Thanks to Lori Gilder of Interior Makeovers, Inc., who somehow has a window into my mind to see what I want our master bathroom to took like. She posted these photos from her portfolio on Houzz.com. She’s a fabulous interior designer who lives in Beverly Hills. Check out her blog and portfolio.

Sooooo, do you have a room or a space that is hideous? But, you don’t have the time, money, or effort to give it a full renovation? Why not make a few frugal changes so you can live with it until you can DESTROY IT (and then rebuild it of course.) It is amazing what some paint, new towels, pillows and/or a few fixtures can do.

I’ve had some time this week to catch up with some of my girlfriends. Sometimes this means it was a few minutes in the parking lot at preschool. Or a phone conversation. I definitely value their friendships and wish I had more time to spend with them (thankfully most of my girlfriends are mothers as well and recognize time is not something we have a lot of right now).

One of my good friends (who was also born a Cancer), and I were talking yesterday. It is really scary how similar our personalities are. She was naming off several traits that fit both of us to a tee. One of them was the ability to throw ourselves into something, not halfway but whole-heartedly!

I always thought this was a good trait (but certainly recognized how it can be all consuming sometimes). Then she stopped and said, “But there is one difference between you and I. When you see something new you want to learn, you throw yourself into it and revel in the challenge. Whereas, I am sometimes uncertain and afraid of failing.” I realize that we all have this fear of failure to a certain degree. Obviously some more than others.

 I have been skydiving once in my life. Was I scared? Yes!
But that emotion flew out the window, and then I loved it.
I will do it again someday, but not until my children are grown.

One of my challenges has been decorating. I wanted to share this with you because, decorating is not something that came naturally to me. In fact, I am somewhat tentative to even share some of these pictures with you. What I have learned has come from many designers and decorators (check out the list of “a few other sites you might like” on my sidebar) who have graciously shared their secrets and design tips with their readers through their blogs. One in particular has a motto that frees you from the “everything has to be perfect” mentality. The Nesting Place written by the Nester really forced me to forget perfection and “Just Do It!” (Sorry, Nike.) Her tagline says it all: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I encourage you to hop (no, make that LEAP) over to her blog and download this FREE eBook on “It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to be Beautiful.”

I read the eBook from cover screen to cover screen. And I have thrown away those “perfect” shackles and made my house MY home. And I did it without spending a lot of money.

I have finally embraced Autumn and am willing to share with you my fall vignettes and decorations. I want you to know that I purchased very little this month (thanks to a very special woman over at the T-shirt Diaries. She challenged fellow bloggers to forgo spending anything on crafts, etc. this September.)  If I purchased it this year, I’ll share with you where and how much I spent. If it isn’t listed, I already had it in my stash. But, it is likely that I found it, transformed it from junk, or got some amazing deal on it.

Without further ado, here is my imperfect and inexpensive decorating for fall:

Wreath $12 from Home Goods purchased over summer.

 

 Bowl & fruit $15 from Craig’s List.

 

 Vase $2 from Goodwill, beauty berries & nandina berries from our yard.
$3 Goodwill distressed chalkboard frame details HERE.
$5 Pottery Barn inspired lantern from Habitat ReStore. Details HERE.
 
 
$2.49 Goodwill gourd painted HERE.
Books, bird, and birdhouse I already had.
Birdhouse is perched on $6 clearance candlestick from Target. 
 
$2.49 Goodwill Pear turned Ballard Designs knockoff HERE.
Apple from Craig’s List bowl above.
 Two more black candlesticks from Target (forgot price).
Both on clearance. I spray painted them black.

 

 Pinecones from our yard, orange/red dishtowel from the kitchen.
Basket fillers were free with 3 card Hallmark purchase.
 
Plant & pot clearance at Kroger $3.50
Books & cowbell passed down from our grandparents.
Pinecones & acorns from our yard.
Another dishtowel from the kitchen.
 
 
Urn from tag sale $3. It is heavy cast iron! 
Copper canisters were passed down to me when my grandfather passed away last year.

 

Splurge wreath! $19 at Michael’s last year.
Added maroon raffia ribbon this year.
 
 Simple 5 minute magnolia wreath, details HERE.

 

 
 Two pie pumpkins used as post finials. $2.50 each from Kroger.

 

 Grocery store pumpkins made into topiary and fringed rope (already had).

 

My boys love to get into the decorating act. 
They love to put their touch on our kitchen window each new holiday. 

I encourage you all to throw away that “perfect” mentality and try something new this month! It is okay if it doesn’t come out perfect. Love it if it is a reflection of who you are. If you hate it throw it away and use it as a learning experience, but don’t give up. Try it again!

Let’s not forget how we all learned to ride a bike or even walk. Were we afraid to try it? Probably. But, we tried it anyway. Did we give up when we fell the first time? No!