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Table Saw: Sizing the Correct Table Top Height

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Forum topic by Paul Bucalo posted 08-27-2015 04:56 PM 1043 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


08-27-2015 04:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw height question

I recently purchased from a local widow my first hybrid table saw, a 2009 Hitachi C10FL. It had been sitting idle for a few years, so there was much cleaning and adjusting to be done. I’m at the tail end of all that, and in running test cuts it occurred to me how ‘tall’ this saw is on its factory stand, approximately 36 inches. My other contractor table saw (only three years old) is on a base I built that brings it up to a comfy 32 inches high. I am only 5’ 6” with an inseam barely 29 inches. The Hitachi feels awkward. I really don’t like the way I have to stretch my arms past the blade. I have no choice but to make a wooden base and get help in transferring the body over to it.

So my question: is there a rule of thumb, a standard understanding, on how to gauge what the height of the table saw top should be in relation to your waist?

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA


12 replies so far

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

1961 posts in 1726 days


#1 posted 08-27-2015 05:10 PM

I would do some experimenting; maybe by standing on something like 2 by stock and see what is comfortable and works well for YOU!

WE are all totally different for reach, comfort eyesight etc.

Make it comfortable for you.

Maybe try a few different heights of “blocking” to stand on and see what is best!

Good Luck and Please keep us informed as to what worked.

You might even build a few low (temporary ) stools to try.

-- just rjR

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2221 days


#2 posted 08-27-2015 05:12 PM

I encountered a similar problem when I raised my new Hammer K-3 table saw about 5 inches when I added heavy duty casters so I could re-position it in the shop to accommodate long or large boards or plywood. It felt very “unnatural” at the increased height, but I soon got used to it and now don’t even think about it. You do have a point about reaching over the saw blade. My best advise is develop habits of movement of your arm anywhere near the saw blade. I have been working around table saws for over a half a century with no nips due to always being careful and using developed exaggerated arm movements to keep well clear of the blade.

If you can’t lower the saw, maybe making a raised platform to stand on while using the saw would be an option.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3926 posts in 1953 days


#3 posted 08-27-2015 05:12 PM

There probably is, and I don’t know what it would be. But let me say, I’m pretty close to your overall height (I’m 5’7”) and the table saws I’ve had were all right at the 36” table height. I’ve not had any problem with it, maybe because I just got used to it or have never used anything else. Anyway, I don’t think your platform idea will be safe…unless it’s screwed to the floor. The though of it moving in use, or you taking a step to the edge of it and losing your balance sounds like a real possibility. I’d try using the saw awhile and see if it starts to feel more comfortable over time.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#4 posted 08-27-2015 05:24 PM


I would do some experimenting; maybe by standing on something like 2 by stock and see what is comfortable and works well for YOU!

WE are all totally different for reach, comfort eyesight etc.

Make it comfortable for you.

Maybe try a few different heights of “blocking” to stand on and see what is best!

Good Luck and Please keep us informed as to what worked.

You might even build a few low (temporary ) stools to try.

- ralbuck

I hadn’t thought of building a stool or platform, even as a temporary solution to gauge what height works best for me. I’ll have to see what room I have for one and how I could make it safe. Thanks.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#5 posted 08-27-2015 05:28 PM


I encountered a similar problem when I raised my new Hammer K-3 table saw about 5 inches when I added heavy duty casters so I could re-position it in the shop to accommodate long or large boards or plywood. It felt very “unnatural” at the increased height, but I soon got used to it and now don t even think about it. You do have a point about reaching over the saw blade. My best advise is develop habits of movement of your arm anywhere near the saw blade. I have been working around table saws for over a half a century with no nips due to always being careful and using developed exaggerated arm movements to keep well clear of the blade.

If you can t lower the saw, maybe making a raised platform to stand on while using the saw would be an option.

Planeman

- Planeman40

I know how getting use to how things default to makes them feel comfortable over time. In this case, I don’t see how I would be able to use a box joint jig, where I plan on looking over the process, at the saw’s height. I also noticed that where the throw-off from the spinning blade would hit me in the chest and arm on the contractor saw it now throws the sawdust into my face. A few inches seems to matter?

A stout platform may be a good way to see if it matters. Thanks.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

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Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#6 posted 08-27-2015 05:32 PM


There probably is, and I don t know what it would be. But let me say, I m pretty close to your overall height (I m 5 7”) and the table saws I ve had were all right at the 36” table height. I ve not had any problem with it, maybe because I just got used to it or have never used anything else. Anyway, I don t think your platform idea will be safe…unless it s screwed to the floor. The though of it moving in use, or you taking a step to the edge of it and losing your balance sounds like a real possibility. I d try using the saw awhile and see if it starts to feel more comfortable over time.

- Fred Hargis

Appreciate your input, Fred, especially because you are roughly my height. You raise good points on the potential safety hazards of using a raised platform. For testing purposes I think I can make it safe enough. If it turns out that the difference in height works for me, I would want to either cut down the steel legs and remount (drill new bolt holes) the elevating casters or build a new wooden base and move it over when done. The saw is about 260 lbs. It was all I could do to flip it over on my own without hurting myself. I really don’t have anyone here to help, so that’s the best reason for looking for a solution that doesn’t require modifying the stand height. I guess more time on the saw and some thinking needed.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Ted Ewen's profile

Ted Ewen

187 posts in 526 days


#7 posted 08-28-2015 06:32 AM

Thought I’d wait sto see what was posted before posting this:

In an ideal world, you could stand at your saw with you arms relaxed at your side, raise your hands so they’re parallel with the floor, and your palms would be at the desired tablesaw table height. In other words, the saw’s height should allow you to get upper body leverage over the work, so you can push stock in comfort and with better control using your upper body weight, and not your arm muscles.

In the real world, I look at all the other table surfaces in my shop, and try to get them to line up with each other. For example, a mobile outfeed table should be the same height, or a hair under, the saw’s height; your router table may be nearby and shouldn’t be higher that the saw so it won’t interfere with processing sheet goods; you may keep you jointer near the saw (which is very handy during milling operations) and its fence may get in the way if it’s higher that the saw; a workbench makes a good outfeed or sidefeed table and shouldn’t be higher than the saw. You get the idea.

From my experience, 34 in. or 34 1/2 in. are the ‘standard’ tablesaw heights you’ll find in most shops. Mobile bases typically raise that height to an uncomfortable level, and unless you’re 6’6”, I suspect your own saw is too high at 38 in. Some woodworkers get around this by nailing work platforms to the floor around their saws, or by adding really thick floor mats. Others forgo the standard commercial mobile bases and build their own devices that allow the saw to sit on the floor without raising its factory height; a wheeled, pivoting mechanism drops down and levers the saw off the floor when you need to move it. There have been some clever designs published in the magazine over the years. Why not search the Fine Woodworking archives to see if there’s a design that suits your needs? Try searching ‘mobile bases’ and let us know what you find.

via http://forums.finewoodworking.com/fwn-experts/andy-rae-not-taking-questions/tablesaw-height

-- Show us a man who never makes a mistake and we will show a man who never makes anything. The capacity for occasional blundering is inseparable from the capacity to bring things to pass.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

1936 posts in 1448 days


#8 posted 08-28-2015 11:40 AM

The correct height is the one you are comfortable with. I am 6’ 3” with a bad back and like my tools high. I have built platforms in mobile bases to raise them. They would not be good for many people.

The best advice you have been given is to try different heights and find the best one for you.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3018 posts in 1257 days


#9 posted 08-28-2015 11:48 AM

To add, the question for me is: when you have pushed the stock past the blade, do you feel comfortable and in control? If not, then you need to do something.

That Hitachi has L shaped sheet metal legs with casters attached, right? One more rad solution would be to shorten the legs and reposition the castors. It would be a big job and need to be done carefully, but it’s not that complicated, I wouldn’t think. Unlike a stand, you can’t undo it.

I talked about a platform on LJs for my daughter, who is skilled with tools but short, to use the table saw. There just has to be zero chance the platform will move, especially when the user is leaned over the saw.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#10 posted 08-28-2015 01:10 PM


Thought I d wait to see what was posted before posting this:

In an ideal world, you could stand at your saw with you arms relaxed at your side, raise your hands so they’re parallel with the floor, and your palms would be at the desired tablesaw table height. In other words, the saw’s height should allow you to get upper body leverage over the work, so you can push stock in comfort and with better control using your upper body weight, and not your arm muscles….

via http://forums.finewoodworking.com/fwn-experts/andy-rae-not-taking-questions/tablesaw-height

- Ted Ewen

Thanks for the quote and link to the forum response, Ted. I have a leverage problem as it is right now. My waist line is below the top, so when I lean over the saw to push stock past the blade I am pressing my stomach against the front fence rail. I am fully extended, as well. This is workable for now, but I don’t feel as safe as I could be without that extra few inches of height limiting how far I can lean over the top.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#11 posted 08-28-2015 01:11 PM



The correct height is the one you are comfortable with. I am 6 3” with a bad back and like my tools high. I have built platforms in mobile bases to raise them. They would not be good for many people.

The best advice you have been given is to try different heights and find the best one for you.

- Redoak49

Agreed. Test and see what works best for me.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 819 days


#12 posted 08-28-2015 01:26 PM



To add, the question for me is: when you have pushed the stock past the blade, do you feel comfortable and in control? If not, then you need to do something.

Agreed. Comfort with control is an important part of safety. I don’t feel I have that right now.


That Hitachi has L shaped sheet metal legs with casters attached, right? One more rad solution would be to shorten the legs and reposition the castors. It would be a big job and need to be done carefully, but it s not that complicated, I wouldn t think. Unlike a stand, you can t undo it.

This is the solution idea foremost in my mind right now, Charles. After deciding what height works best for me (and from the other saw’s position, made that way purposely with the base I made for it), I can jack up one side, shorten the leg by that amount, drill new carriage bolt hole for the casters, and then do the same to the other side. Sure, if I ever decide to sell the saw this modification goes with it. I really don’t care about the the next owner’s needs. I am actually shrinking with age, not growing taller, so this isn’t a concern to me. As you have said, a bit of work is involved. I have an angle grinder and HD 1/2” corded power drill, so I think once jacked up this is just a matter of applying the correct tool to the task. The alternative, making a new base for it, requires someone to help me lift the saw off the old base to place it onto the new one. There is really only myself and I already know I can’t lift the saw off the base by myself. Help is hard to come by, too.


I talked about a platform on LJs for my daughter, who is skilled with tools but short, to use the table saw. There just has to be zero chance the platform will move, especially when the user is leaned over the saw.

- CharlesA

Making up a temporary platform is doable for me. the uneven and heavily pitted cement floor would make it impossible to lay one down and have it not rock or move. I mean, I would install levelers on the corners, which makes the who project seem like a waste of time. The best solution so far appears me to be the cutting down of the factory priced stand’s legs and remounting the casters.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

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