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.

 

 

34 replies
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  1. Guerrina
    Guerrina says:

    A table saw is at the top of my list! Love your portable one! Great tutorial, thank you.

    Two things I do for safety are : (1) Keep my long hair pulled back, and (2) have another person in the house. 🙂

    Reply
  2. rusty
    rusty says:

    That seems less dangerous than a hand held circular saw or even a hand held jigsaw. It seems you have much more control and less chance for accidents. ( I almost cut through the power cord of my hand held jigsaw once when using it). Please tell me if you don’t agree and why because I am a novice at power tools and really want to know. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Erin Rader
    Erin Rader says:

    Hi Brittany! Was so glad to find your awesome tutorial! I just bought my husband (and myself…) a compact table saw by DeWalt. We got it in the house, pulled it out of the box and realized that the DeWalt compact model we have will not accept a dado blade. Do you use a dado blade much/ever on your Ryobi? Or do you just make multiple cuts? We’re not sure if we should return the saw and invest in another with more downfalls, but dado capacity!

    Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  4. Linda
    Linda says:

    I’m so glad you’re doing these videos! I just got my first set of power tools and have NO idea how to use them. I have a million ideas of projects I want done around my house, but not much money to pay to have them done. I think I could do some of them myself with the right tools and know-how. Watching your videos and reading your blog is giving me encouragement to give it a try. It’s nice to see a woman doing these things.

    Reply
  5. Kas3dot0 (Stephanie)
    Kas3dot0 (Stephanie) says:

    Hi Brittany. Great tutorial. The table saw is one of the power tools that I want but kinda afraid to have. But watching this makes me alittle bit more comfortable. Now to actually get one. I love how yours is portable and it folds down. Definitely need one like that to fit in my tiny space. 🙂 Look forward to more.. are you by chance gonna do one on circular saws? Another tool that I’m afraid of. lol..

    Reply
  6. SheilaG @ Plum Doodles
    SheilaG @ Plum Doodles says:

    Thank you for another great tutorial- this is probably the tool that scares me the most. When my son was little (he’s 27 now), we were sitting in the dining room and suddenly heard the table saw go on and a scream from my son. I froze- hubby had to run out there. Fortunately, he was just scared, no injuries. Don’t know how/why he went into the garage, but huge lesson- never forget to take the safety key out when not in use!!!

    Reply
  7. Roxanne Lucchesi
    Roxanne Lucchesi says:

    I have been wanting to tell you how much I love your blog. And now I REALLY love it. It is so great that you are taking the time to post these tutorials. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate them. I recently added a table saw to my collection of tools. Mind you, I have never used a table saw, but have always wanted one. Now you have empowered me to actually get out there and use it. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. AShley
    AShley says:

    Awesome tut! I am a newbie to most power tools and this has been most helpful. I have a few wood projects lined up and my husband has been giving me lessons with the power tools we have. It is nice to sit down and read them along with your pics. I am new follower and looking forward to all your know-how! Thanks for a chance at the hammer!

    Happily following,
    Ashley @ Thereisnoplacelikehomemade

    Reply
  9. olleymae
    olleymae says:

    Brittany, thank you so much for giving us such a practical and thorough demonstration for using something that can be very intimidating. I just learned how to use a router and now I’m definitely up for safely trying a table saw. I’m so tired of needing a guy to help me finish my diy projects. You’re the best!

    Reply
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