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Thread: elementary table saw questions

  1. #1
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    elementary table saw questions

    Hi there:

    Can someone explain to me the following:

    1. Is there a rule of thumb about whether the fence is usually on the right or the left?

    2. For the small "contractor" and "portable" saws, I assume everyone jerry-rigs something to have big tables to support big sheets of plywood etc. before/after/and next to the blade?

    3. I often see in pictures the larger part of the table is on the fence side, and beyond the fence..........why wouldn't the largest part of the table be on the other (non-fence) side to support the work?

    Thanks,
    Cynthia
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    1. The fence is often to the right of the blade, because there is more table space to the right of the blade.

    2. For any size table saw it is much safer (for you and the work piece) to break ply down to workable sizes. The first place you must build some support is for the off-feed. Bad things will happen when the wood suddenly drops down off the back of the table. If you are reading my Follow Along project, you will get some ideas about cutting sheet material.

    3. The non-fence side of the table is for the off-cut. Usually it is narrower than the workpiece.

    There are exceptions to all of this - and many, many variables. One rule always rules; if it doesn't feel right, its not! Stop and rethink the situation.

    For many years I had a benchtop saw, much like your job-site saw. It had a serious shortcoming, which is true of many non-cabinet-type table saws; the fence was wholely inadequate and far from accurate.

    I built a cabinet with space to the right and left, and a fold-up outfeed table. I mounted a Beismeyer fence (yeah, it was worth more than the saw, and I still have it on my cabinet table saw) to the cabinet and then mounted the saw square with the fence. That served me for more than ten years in an income producing (well, some years ) shop.

    Keep asking the questions, girl. We are here to help, and we certainly don't want you to get hurt!

  3. #3
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    May 2007
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    I don't really have a lot to add to Carols comments other than on safety and I'm sure others will provide anything I've overlooked. I'm sure some of these will stem new questions, but please ask if I'm not clear or if you need further explanation.

    *Always stand off to the one side or the other of the piece being cut. You don't want to be behind the piece in the event of a kick-back. Exceptions would be if you're cutting a large piece of plywood or paneling. In these cases the kickback most likely would not be as severe.

    *Keep fingers at several inches away from the blade and use push sticks when ever possible.

    *A splitter is recommended for any saw if you can find one for yours. A lot of us don't use the over head factory blade guard that comes with the saw. You should use it and use your own judgment if you want to remove it. These usually have a splitter or a set of kick-back teeth on them, but aren't ideal for when cutting dado cuts on the saw.

    *The blade should protrude only about 1/8" - 1/4" over your work as you're cutting. A blade that is raised too high increases the chance for a kick back or things that don't need cutting getting cut.

    *Always use a sharp blade, inspect for missing or chipped teeth and replace as needed.

    *Read, understand, and follow all safety instructions that come with your tool...and there are no more important safety items than safety glasses
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
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    Hi Cynthia,

    Have you or your husband used table saws before? What kind of experience do you have with hand and stationary power tools? A simple question, but very important. We may be giving you information without considering your comfort and safety. Fingers and eyes don't grow back.

    I sometimes don't consider what someone's experience is with shop tools because we grew up with our Dad teaching us how to use tools from my earliest memories. I am proud to say I am doing the same with my little ones.

    Cheers,
    Dan Gonzales
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Dona nobis pacem

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gonzales View Post
    Hi Cynthia,

    Have you or your husband used table saws before? What kind of experience do you have with hand and stationary power tools? A simple question, but very important. We may be giving you information without considering your comfort and safety. Fingers and eyes don't grow back.

    I sometimes don't consider what someone's experience is with shop tools because we grew up with our Dad teaching us how to use tools from my earliest memories. I am proud to say I am doing the same with my little ones.

    Cheers,
    Hi Dan. My husband has experience with all of these tools--he's just not into woodworking. He's more into cars. I have (limited) experience with all the hand power tools, but no experience with the stationary ones like a table saw. So this is new territory for me. I know for a long time my husband didn't want me to have a table saw because he thinks it's the most dangerous tool in the wood shop--aside from a radial arm saw. But now he realizes that it will be hard to work with big sheets of ply without a TS.

    So what I'm trying to understand is how I'm going to support the plywood next to, behind, and in front of the blade, since obviously the little "contractor" stand isn't going to be enough.........

    I've almost got the stand put together......
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    I don't really have a lot to add to Carols comments other than on safety and I'm sure others will provide anything I've overlooked. I'm sure some of these will stem new questions, but please ask if I'm not clear or if you need further explanation.

    *Always stand off to the one side or the other of the piece being cut. You don't want to be behind the piece in the event of a kick-back. Exceptions would be if you're cutting a large piece of plywood or paneling. In these cases the kickback most likely would not be as severe.

    *Keep fingers at several inches away from the blade and use push sticks when ever possible.

    *A splitter is recommended for any saw if you can find one for yours. A lot of us don't use the over head factory blade guard that comes with the saw. You should use it and use your own judgment if you want to remove it. These usually have a splitter or a set of kick-back teeth on them, but aren't ideal for when cutting dado cuts on the saw.

    *The blade should protrude only about 1/8" - 1/4" over your work as you're cutting. A blade that is raised too high increases the chance for a kick back or things that don't need cutting getting cut.

    *Always use a sharp blade, inspect for missing or chipped teeth and replace as needed.

    *Read, understand, and follow all safety instructions that come with your tool...and there are no more important safety items than safety glasses
    Thanks Darren, I appreciate it, and I'll be very careful. It's my nature to be really cautious....I do most things slowly.......
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  7. #7
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    Cynthia, perhaps you should have gotten into a guided saw instead of a table saw. Festool makes a great system and there are other great ways to cut sheet good without having to man or in your case women handle the wood. I rarely put sheet good on my table saw. I use a strieght edge and a hand held saw to break down the larger sheet good into managable pieces. I even do it with larger pieces of hardwood. To me the only safe way to cut large panel on a table saw is using one of the euro saws. Unfortunaly I don't have the big $$$ it takes to buy one so I make do.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
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    And if you don't feel like springing for one of the track saws for breaking down sheet goods, there are other options.

    1) You can use any ole hand held circular saw and one of these Clamp Guide

    2) Or make your own jig

    Now you could also make a nice cutting table like Carol has, or you could get a 4'x8' piece of ridgid foam insulation from the Borg, put it on the floor, put your sheet goods on it, mark your cuts, and use your guides...

    Just make sure your blade only extends a little below the ply and doesn't try to cut into the concrete floor of your garage...
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
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  9. #9
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    its all good advice here.

    since an average sheet of oak ply weighs around 80 lbs, its not easy to handle on a small surface area as you have on the makita TS.
    For around 20 bucks, there are rollers on stands that can assist on the outfeed.
    Getting a large sheet onto the table surface and getting it to move straight is very difficult.
    If you have a hand held circular saw, clamping a straight edge down and supporting the sheet on a few 2x4s to make your initial cuts to break it all down, is the easiest and safest way if you cant build support tables around your TS.
    I have a large stand, made to adjust to the TS's height, its around 6 feet long, and has a smooth surface and it stands next to the saw and supports the sheet on the left side so you can put a full sheet on the saw and push and cut. Its still very difficult, so breaking down the sheet as alot recommend is the easiest.
    The most important thing is to always be aware where your hands are, if the board falls foward off the outfeed, dont try to reach over the blade to catch it.
    If it falls, it falls, Never reach over the blade for anything, even if the machine is off, its a bad habit to get into.

    and as much as I find some borg plywood not that great, the big stores sell plywood in smaller sizes, like 2x4 or 4x4, so its much easier to handle if you dont mind the few extra pennies.
    Last edited by allen levine; 08-13-2010 at 02:31 AM.

  10. #10
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    Good to see you asking questions, shows you are one smart lady

    Most of us dumb guys, ask the questions AFTER we screw up....... I know I used to do that a lot

    breaking down your sheets of 4x8 plywood is the way to go, IMHO,

    >> Slicing Up Sheet Goods << is my take on doing this on the cheap, the only thing I'd do differently now is that I would not recommend using that wedge to keep the blade guard tucked up, that is a bad idea, (I should really change that page).

    I too had a Bench Top tablesaw for a long time, and it did the job for sure, but because of it's smaller table and light weight, it was NOT good at breaking down sheets of plywood, use your circular saw for this.

    Also, get one of these....


    >> The GRR-ripper System <<

    I'm finally getting around to buying one, I have several homemade ones that work well, but not as good as this one does. My dad just got a new to him tablesaw, and he uses the tablesaw to cut small pieces for him model airplanes, so this is on the way to him as an early birthday present!

    For $69.50 Canadian, I think you can't beat it.

    Go see their YouTube page for lots of info and videos....

    http://www.youtube.com/user/MicroJig

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

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