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Table Saw Tips and Techniques

Get better performance from your bench top or stationary table saw. With these jigs and accessories you can make safer, more accurate rips, crosscuts, dados, rabbets cuts and more.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Table Saw Tips and Techniques

Get better performance from your bench top or stationary table saw. With these jigs and accessories you can make safer, more accurate rips, crosscuts, dados, rabbets cuts and more.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Super-stable plywood base

A “must do” with any new portable table saw (when you're not using a leg set) is to attach a 3/4-in. plywood base with a hole cut in the center. This simple base allows you to clamp or screw the table saw to sawhorses, which provide a wide foundation for added stability. This also raises the saw off the ground to a comfortable working height. The hole in the bottom lets the sawdust fall through and helps keep the saw running cool. But that's not all the base has to offer. Drill a couple of 1/2-in. holes on one side so you can hang the saw from hooks fastened to the workshop or garage wall when you're finished using it.

Cut the plywood base a few inches wider and longer than the base of your saw, and then cut a 1-sq.-ft. hole in the center. Center your saw on the plywood and mark the mounting holes. Drill a 1/8-in. hole through the plywood at each mark. Flip the piece over and drill 1-in. dia. holes about 1/4 in. deep to recess the carriage bolt heads. Next, drill 5/16-in. holes in the center of the recesses. Pound in the carriage bolts, slip the saw over the bolts (use spacers if they come with the saw) and fasten the saw to the base with washers and nuts.

Caution!

Every table saw user has horror stories about near misses and not-so-near misses. No doubt about it: Table saws can be dangerous. Always approach them with respect. Use your blade guard whenever possible and always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Read your owner's manual and make sure your saw is properly adjusted.

Cut-off block

Dangerous kickback can occur when you crosscut directly against a rip fence. Kickback happens when the part of the board between the fence and the blade gets pinched, and the blade, spinning toward you, catches it and hurls it back at you.

You can prevent this hazard with a simple block. Cut and clamp a block to the side of your rip fence and then position the fence the correct distance from the blade (the length of cut plus the thickness of the safety block). Clamp the block so that as the workpiece enters the blade it's no longer in contact with the safety block. This crosscutting method prevents the workpiece from binding between the fence and the spinning blade. Never make a cut that binds against the blade in any way. Think through all your cut setups before you start!

Dado guide using standard blade

Cut accurate dadoes without a dado blade by making successive passes over the blade. The tough part here is to get a tight fit (Photo 3). Screw a 1x3 fence extension to your miter gauge and make a saw kerf in it. For a tight fit, trace the thickness of the board onto the homemade miter gauge fence extension (see Photo 1). Then follow the Photos 1 and 2. Try this method on a test piece to get the hang of it.

A simple outfeed jig

Cut long boards confidently with an easy-to-make outfeed jig screwed to your plywood base. Be sure to have the highest point of the jig even with the saw table. The gradual incline of the jig (about 12 degrees) helps guide sagging pieces and slowly bring them up as you push your board through the saw. Ordinary rollerstyle outfeed supports don't work well for long boards because they have a tendency to tip over when the board sags and hits the stand beneath the roller. This jig works especially well for long, thin pieces such as siding, which tends to sag and separate as you cut.

Figure A: Outfeed jig

Figure A: Outfeed jig

Build this simple outfeed jig from ordinary 3/4-in. plywood and 2x4 scraps. Be sure to screw the jig to the plywood base of the saw for stability (your saw base must be screwed or clamped to the sawhorses as well). You won't need anything other than a single 2x4 for the far leg support.

Note: Figure A can be downloaded and printed from Additional Information below.

Fast, flawless plywood edging

Cut skinny strips safely

Straighten a crooked board

Cut rabbets with a dado blade

Worktable conversion

Avoid laminate disaster

Instant stand and outfeed

Upstanding support

Inexpensive accuracy

Additional Information

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • C-clamps, 3-in.
    • Tape measure
    • Circular saw
    • Drill/driver, cordless
    • Drill bit set
    • Hearing protection
    • Safety glasses

You’ll also need a drafting triangle and a dado blade.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • ¾-in. plywood
    • 2x4s
    • 2x6s
    • Screws

Comments from DIY Community Members

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1 - 2 of 2 comments
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August 11, 3:40 PM [GMT -5]

The schematics for project #1 leave a LOT to be desired. Like: how wide is it supposed to be? How long is it supposed to be? You say a sheet of plywood, that's 4x8 of course but the table in the picture is nowhere near 4x8.

July 21, 6:31 PM [GMT -5]

I like the table saw work station so much more then the one I made that this weekend i will make it.

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