Table Saw

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Machine Details

A table saw is a circular saw mounted under a table. The blade projects up through a slot on the table, and cuts to material are made by running the material over the table and into the blade. The table saw is typically used for straight cuts to flat pieces of material, i.e. sheets or sticks of wood, sheets of acrylic or foam, etc.

The table saw is one of the most accurate and efficient ways to make a straight cut in flat material, but is also one of the most dangerous tools in the shop. Aside from blade related injuries, the biggest potential for injury comes from kickback, as the user is essentially working against the blade to make a cut. When using the table saw, it is important to be aware of possibilities for kickback, and take appropriate measures in preventing such situations.

Here in the idea shop, we have a variety of tools (push sticks, sleds, miter jigs, etc) for use with the table saw to enable users to more safely make cuts on the saw.

Saw Stop

Even though our saw is a Saw Stop, it is still dangerous! If the blade comes in contact with skin, Saw Stop can prevent catastrophic injury, but can still leave you with a nasty cut.

No conductive materials are allowed to be cut on our saw. Ask a staff member about other options for cutting conductive materials. If you set off the Saw Stop, there will be a $200 replacement fee

Approved Materials

Wood, wood products (MDF, plywood, etc).
Acrylic sheets, and some other plastics (ask a staff member)
Prototyping materials such as chip board, foam core, cardboard, insulation foam

  • Blade must be changed to accommodate material other than wood - ask a staff member for assistance
  • TREATED WOOD IS PROHIBITED - it will set off the safety cartridge
  • If you are using reclaimed wood, it is your responsibility to remove any and all metal from the wood (staples, nails, screws, etc) before it is cut - metal WILL set off the saw stop!
  • WOOD MUST BE DRY - if you attempt to cut wet wood or wood that has just been glued, you will set off the saw stop!
  • Any wood that has been laser cut cannot be cut on the table saw, as it will set off the safety cartridge!

Safety Instructions


When cutting, keep steady pressure on your material. Use no sudden movements. Push your material through in a deliberate and steady manner to prevent burn marks in wood and chipping in acrylic. If a material is thinner or less dense, it can be pushed through the saw more quickly - feel it and use best judgement.

  • Saw blade turns towards you - watch for material kickback
    • Do not try to grab a piece of material as it is kicking back - let it hit you
      • If you are cutting properly, the only material that will be kicked back will be very light and will not hurt you
  • If the piece you are cutting is 3” wide or less, use a push stick when close to the blade
  • General rule for cutting: If your material is wider than it is long, a miter gauge or sled is should be considered to make a safer and cleaner cut
    • If being cut from a sheet, wide pieces like this can also be cut on a panel saw (unless the piece needs to be precisely measured)
  • Use the fence for cutting and measuring - fence cannot be used with miter gauge!! One or the other only (for employees this is okay, as long as you are holding tightly onto both ends)
  • When using a miter gauge or sled, firmly hold material against gauge/sled so that it doesn’t slip as it goes through the saw - clamping it down is okay too

Machine Proficiency

In order for an individual to advance in machine proficiency they must demonstrate ability to perform certain actions or tasks. All levels include abilities and concepts from lower levels.

This section is primarily for student workers.

Level 0

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Safe materials for use with the table saw
  • Basic safety precautions (sleeves, headphones, hair, body awareness)
  • Locking, unlocking, and starting the machine

Individual understands the concepts:

  • What is kickback
  • How kickback happens and how to prevent it

Level 1

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Set blade height
  • Set fence distance
  • Straight cut (with and without push stick)
  • Crosscut with sled and with miter gauge

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Difference between rip cuts and cross cuts and appropriate equipment for each
  • Understands rabbet, dado, and mitre cuts

Level 2

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Angled cuts
  • Changing a blade
  • Changing writhing knife

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Miter, lap, butt joints
  • Managing error codes

Level 3

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • SawStop override with key
  • Machine maintenance
  • Changing SawStop cartridge

Individual understands the concepts:

  • That there is much they have yet to learn


Location of the Table Saw in the Idea Shop Maker Space