How to Use a Table Saw – Simple Guide

| Last Updated: March 28, 2021

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There are many components, accessories, and jargony words to understand before you can master your table saw, which is why we've provided you with everything you need to know to properly use a table saw. 

Table Saw Terminology

It can be hard to understand the various 'jargon' words, which is why we've explained each one that will appear in this article below. 

  • Kickback - When the blade is pinched by the workpiece, it can throw it backwards
  • Miter Slot - These are slots that run across the width of the table, which allows the miter gauge to slide across the table
  • Jig - Another word for accessory or attachment
  • Rip-Cut - You'd cut along the width with the grain of the workpiece and possibly use your rip fence for support
  • Miter Cut - These cuts run along the face of the workpiece
  • Bevel Cut - These cuts change the angle of the edge of the workpiece
  • Crosscut - These cuts run the length of the wood through the grain
  • Tear Out - When the end of a woodcut is chipped/tears, leaving a rough edge
  • Arbor - The arbor is a shaft that the blade attaches to; the motor spins it. The arbor and motor will offer different speeds.

Essential Table Saw Accessories

Accessories are created to make our lives easier. But, there are hundreds out there that just aren't as important. Below are a few staple accessories for your table saw

  • Rip Fence - These accessories tend to already come with your table saw. They're used to keep the blade and wood straight while cutting; you'd get the most benefit out of a rip fence when making long rip cuts or crosscuts.
  • Miter Gauge - One of the most common accessories that come with table saws. You'd use the miter gauge for accurately cutting wood at an angle. 
  • Push Blocks - These tools are more built for your own safety. It allows you to push the wood through the blade without exposing your hands to the extra risk of accidents. 
  • Blade Guard - The guard goes over the top of the blade; this means that the only part of the blade that's exposed is the full amount required. The risk of dropping wood on top of the blade is zero; the same goes for the risk of falling on top of the blade. 

How to Use a Table Saw Safely

Knowing how to use a table saw is one learning step. However, we'll show you how to safely use a table saw; we'll also show you how to decrease the risk of accidents. 

Protect Yourself From Kickback 

Kickback happens when the recently cut piece of wood pinches the edge of the blade, and it gets thrown back towards the operator. This can result in serious injury if not properly protected. 

You can reduce the chance of this by using a riving knife. These accessories are designed to be installed just behind the blade. The riving knife prevents the wood from pinching the blade if it starts to drift. 

Blade Guards Are Key To Table Saw Safety

Many people operate their table saw without a blade guard, which is quite dangerous. The reason is that many people struggle to see their cuts through the plastic cover. 

But, the importance of the blade guard can't be stressed enough as it saves people from thousands of horrible accidents every year. 

You connect the blade guard over the blade so that you smoothly push the workpiece underneath the plastic guard without exposing the entire blade. This protects the user from wood falling on top of an exposed blade, throwing the wood towards you or others.

It also protects from kickback. If there's ever a time when you're reaching over the table and accidentally turn it on, you've just saved yourself from an open ribcage. 

Hold up, are you interested in other topics related to table saws? If so, these might be something to check out: 

Table Saw Types of Cuts

You'll come across many different types of cuts when working with your table saw. Below are details on how to complete some of the most commonly used cuts. It's important to note that to get a clean-cut, try to follow the grain as best as possible. 

However, if you're making intricate shapes and can't follow the grain, you can work around this to have smooth cuts without following this rule. 

How to Square a Board with a Table Saw

Firstly you'd be looking to identify which parts require cutting, mark the points at which your blade will make contact. 

When you know what and where you're cutting, you'll want to adjust your rip fence to suit the cut. 

You should try to cut the board while using a push block. It's important to note that you should try to remove as little material as possible. 

How to Cut a Taper with a Table Saw

The safest way to taper is to use a tapering jig. This tool allows you to adjust the tapering angle. 

All you have to do is place the jig at your desired angle, rest the jig against the rip fence, and then the workpiece against the tapering jig.

Turn the power on and push the tapering jig with one hand and the workpiece with a push block using the other hand. 

How to Cut Angles on a Table Saw

A simple way to do this is by using your miter gauge. A miter gauge can provide between 45 and 90-degree angles. Just place your workpiece against the miter gauge when the angle has been set and then slowly cut through the wood. This would also be known as a miter cut, commonly confused for a bevel cut. 

How to Cut Plywood with a Table Saw

If you're cutting plywood, it depends mainly on the size of the plywood sheet. To accommodate the size, most people will need to install a table extension. Most modern tables will come with a small extension accessory. If not, you can buy one or even make one yourself. 

How to Cut a Circle with a Table Saw

Start by finding a spare piece of wood for your workpiece to fit on top of, then take your workpiece and screw a hole through the middle and then insert a screw. 

Don't screw it too tight as you want the workpiece to spin. Bear in mind that the distance from your screw to the blade will be the radius of the circle. 

You're now ready to cut away the corners, which will make the workpiece into an octagon. There will then be more corners to cut after this, do that to make it into hexadecane; this will result in 16 sides. At this point, to remove the rest of these sides, just slowly spin the workpiece until it creates a circle. 

How to Make a Bevel with a Table Saw

A bevel cut can often be mistaken for a miter cut because they're so similar. The difference between them would be that a miter cut runs across the face of the board. 

At the same time, a bevel changes the angle of the board's edge. To complete this cut, you'd adjust the blade's angle using the angle adjustment control until it points at the angle you require. 


There are many cuts a carpenter or woodworking hobbyist can learn. However, only a handful of them will come up regularly like those mentioned above. It's also important to realize that safety measures are in place for a reason and should be followed as best as possible.