A table saw functions to facilitate long, straight crosscuts and rip cuts in various mediums by bringing together a stable and stationary work surface with an adjustable but functionally stationary spinning blade. While they come in various shapes and sizes, table saws have the explicit purpose of cutting on a straight line, and they do it well. In the realm of woodworking tables saws are an essential entry level power tool.

Because of their immense practicality, table saws are used by a large cross-section of do-it- yourselfers. From weekend warriors to full-time contractors, the functional combination of table and saw has found its way into work shops everywhere. While this ubiquitous would imply that table saws are as safe as they are effective, this is not always the case. The powerful, exposed blade of any table saw creates functional hazards such as kick back and blade binding that are not so prevalent with other saws. Safe table saw use results from the combination of safe practices and a properly tuned machine.

To ensure you are getting the most of your woodworking projects, here are the top 5 problems associated with table saws and some advice on how to solve them

#1 Overload Switch, Overheating

Like with any electric power tool, table saws have the ability to overheat when pushed to the limits of their functionality. Many models of table saw come with an internal overload switch that triggers when the saw is being worked too hard. If your saw suddenly stops working, allow it time to cool off and try turning it on again later. If your saw has in fact overheated triggering its overload switch, remember the circumstance under which it failed ant try to avoid those activities in future use.

#2 Kick Back

Table saw kick back results when a piece of material being cut is flung back towards the saw’s operator by the rotating blade. While the individual causes of table saw kick back are numerous, the root of the issue always comes back to blade binding or pinching. This binding or pinching can result from a crooked blade, crooked saw fence, the saw kerf closing around the blade, or any other number of things. No matter the unique situation, if your table saw is regularly kicking back pieces of wood, find the cause of the blade binding or pinching and move from there.

#3 Blade Burn

Occasionally table saws leave burn marks on one or both edges of a piece of cut material. The cause of this burn is either pitch buildup, increased friction due to a crooked fence or unaligned blade. If your table saw blade is visible dirty, sap and wood discharge know as pitch might be the problem. If your blade does have pitch buildup anywhere on the blade, it is likely causing blade burn on your cuts and the solution is as simple as cleaning the blade. If the blade on your saw is clean and you are still struggling with blade burn first try realigning the saw’s fence. If that does not help, consult your saw’s manual on realigning your blade.

#4 Cutting Thin Strips

If there is a substantial gap between the blade of your table saw and the edges of its throat plate, cutting thin strips of any material can pose a problem. When the gap between blade and throat plate is too large the material being cut can frequently become wedged or stuck in the gap ruining you cut. This problem can be avoided by using or making your own zero clearance throat plate. If you are inclined to make your own purchase a piece of masonite larger than the surface of your table saw and cut it to size. Once you have sized it to match the surface of your saw, lower your saw blade to its lowest setting and fix the masonite to the surface of the saw’s table using a wooden cleat at the front and rear of the saw. Once it is fixed in place, turn your saw on and raise the blade up through the masonite creating a zero clearance throat plate.

#5 Blade Height

It has been argued for reasons of safety that a table saw blade should be set just high enough to cleanly cut through a piece of material. For a long time the concern has been that the more blade visible above the top surface of material the more danger inherent in operating that saw. It turns out this is not the case. The vast majority of table saw related injuries each year are the product of kick back rather than body-blade contact. Ironically, kick back is much more likely when blade height is set low. Another advantage to a higher blade hight, or deeper depth is that it provides an undeniably cleaner cut. In the end it comes down to comfort. If you are frequently experiencing kick back with your blade set at a low height or shallow depth raise it to see more visible blade actually results in more comfortable cutting. More extensive information about this can be found at http://www.waterfront-woods.com/Articles/Tablesaw/tablesaw.htm

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