Specifics on Tablesaw Position and Clearance

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Forum topic by thiel posted 01-11-2010 03:10 AM 2643 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View thiel's profile


374 posts in 2709 days

01-11-2010 03:10 AM


I’m working on all sorts of shop layout ideas, and I had two questions for people with regard to tablesaws. On the surface, these look like simple questions, but I don’t think the answers are simple! (Then again, I could be having an acute case of stupidity right now…)

1) If you’re doing a simple crosscut using the miter gauge, do you run the gauge on the right or left side of the blade? Why do you prefer that side?

2) If you have your tablesaw set up with one side pushed up against a wall, which side is it? Why did you choose that side?


-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

16 replies so far

View lew's profile


11261 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 01-11-2010 03:17 AM

I am right handed. I find it most comfortable to place the miter gauge on the left side of the blade. But, that is how I was taught.

As for the location of the saw, I think you would want it centered in your space. That way you are less limited to the size of materials you can break down- if you use your table saw for that type of work. You will probably want at least 8-10 feet front and back and 4-6 feet on each side.

Just my opinion…

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jeison's profile


951 posts in 2525 days

#2 posted 01-11-2010 03:20 AM

Assuming I’m not doing a bevel cut, I always use my gauge on the left, when cutting longer stock I let it overhang the left side which is always open, the rip fence is on the right so it may get in the way unless I remove it (easier to just push it off to the end than to remove it)

Mine’s a portable so I move it wherevers best, but now that I think about it most times I’ve seen them against a wall its almost always the right side butted up. If I had a big stationary machine I’d probably do it that way also, partly because of the rip fence issue, and that way the saw itself is out in the middle of the room where you can maneuver around it as you’re cutting things.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#3 posted 01-11-2010 03:46 AM

Thiel, I run my miter gauge on both sides of the saw. It really depends on how I made my last cut. I tend to be more comfortable with it on the left but I can run it either way.

I do not push my table saw up against the wall. It has 5’ of clearance on the left and nearly 8’ of clearance on the right. I have just over 8 feet of clearance behind the blade so that I can rip full sheets of plywood.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View thiel's profile


374 posts in 2709 days

#4 posted 01-11-2010 03:55 AM

I have generally found that I crosscut small items on the left (so I don’t have to move the fence) but when it’s a long board I switch the gauge to the right so it can be supported by the wing. Of course, that means I need to flip my gauge (eb-3) and remove the rip fence… which is a bit more work. If I built a crosscut sled, I wouldn’t have to flip the gauge, but I’d still need to remove the fence.\.

As for pushing the table up against a wall, I’m DEFINITELY trying to avoid it… but I’m eager to hear from people how have done it and who can tell me the specifics of the drawbacks involved.

I don’t do a heckuvalot of 4×8 sheet work, and it seems that when do work with full sheets my first step is almost always to rip them in half… so it made me wonder whether I could/wouldwantto get away with pushing the right side of the saw up against a wall (leaving 4’ of table to the right of the blade).

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3066 days

#5 posted 01-11-2010 06:11 AM

I do crosscuts on both sides, depending on the cut. for most cuts the miter is on the left side which lets me use the fence +block as a length stop, or keep the fence for other measurement. however for bevel cuts, or if I need the extra support for longer stock, or different angle cuts, I’ll move it to the right side which means I have to reconfigure the miter gauge (move fence, and I lose the tape on it since it’s reversed – which I don’t use much anyways so no biggy).

I actually do have the TS against the wall because I just dont have any extra space to have it in the middle. I but it against the wall on the right side, which is my max rip capacity and I never go that large eitherway. this also leaves the left side free so that I can reach around the table if I need for certain cuts and am not physically blocked by a wall. until now that you asked for it – I never even realized that my TS is against a wall.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Ben Satterfield's profile

Ben Satterfield

6 posts in 2477 days

#6 posted 01-11-2010 06:47 AM

I’m so glad to hear these answers. My little “shop” doesn’t allow for the TS to be center.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17570 posts in 3093 days

#7 posted 01-11-2010 07:12 AM

I have it out in the clear, truthfully, clear it off and around it when I use it if it have been more than a couple weeks :-)) I don’t build cabinets or cut large sjheet goods. I use the miter in both sides, but primarily on teh left side. 18” both sides is usually good enuf for me. i can make more room if I need to.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Ger21's profile


1045 posts in 2548 days

#8 posted 01-11-2010 04:09 PM

I keep my saw centered from front to back, so I can cut 10 ft long boards with the garage door closed. And my 52” fence is about 18” from the wall. I keep my compressor there. The only time this has been a problem, was when I made some dentil moulding with a dado blade and sled jig. The piece hit the wall at about 7 feet, so that was as long as I could make the mouldings.

-- Gerry,

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2485 days

#9 posted 01-11-2010 05:13 PM

I do 90+% of my crosscuts from the left – especially now that I have a sliding table.

My TS sits just inside the garage door facing into the garage, and is roughly centered. I have my workbench in the middle of the garage and it doubles as the TS outfeed table. This arrangement lets me slide sheet goods out of the pickup, across two roller stands, and onto the saw. Horsing full sheets of 3/4” ply just ain’t nearly as much fun as it used to be. – lol

I would post some pics, but I haven’t had time yet to figure out how that’s done here.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2649 days

#10 posted 01-11-2010 05:45 PM

With my sliding miter table being installed on the left, well my crosscuts are on the left.

I don’t put my saw against the wall, I have a large extended rail set, with a router wing (total of 72” rail capacity). Placing the saw against a wall would be too limiting, either in left side offcuts, or use of the router wing… So my table saw is right in the middle of my shop.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View cstrang's profile


1829 posts in 2585 days

#11 posted 01-11-2010 06:06 PM

I use both sides equally, depending on the cut I have to make I figure which side I will have a better grip on my material and use that side.

I had my table saw in the middle of my shop for years, recently I renovated my shop and one of the things I did during that renovation was push the table saw against the wall, I have the right side of the saw against the wall because when you have a sheet of ply wood you want to be able to have it hanging off the left side of the saw because you have more cutting capacity on the right side.

-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3635 days

#12 posted 01-11-2010 06:54 PM

I run my miter gauge on the left, and have my saw close to the wall on the left side. My thinking was that there is more rip capacity on the right side, so that should be the side I leave open for oversize pieces. But after reading all the responses, I think you could make a pretty good argument either way.

Ideally, I would keep my saw open on both sides. But that’s just not an option for some of us with tiny shops.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

317 posts in 2499 days

#13 posted 01-11-2010 07:40 PM

I have a PM66 with a 50” fence along one wall. My shop is 13×23 (one stall of a 3 car garage) so I don’t really have room to put the saw in the center of the room.

The saw is 7 feet wide and about 3 feet deep. I placed it about 3.5 feet away from the rollup door so my back is to the door. I can rip wood almost 5 feet long before I have to open the door. I could also crosscut 5 feet to the right of the blade and 5 feet to the left (hanging into the walkway). I made a 4×7 outfeed table (and work table) behind the saw. My planer and jointer also feed into the outfeed table from the other side.

I have a long wall mounted workbench to the left of the saw. This bench has a bandsaw, miter saw, router table, and radial arm saw. This gives me a 3 foot walkway between the saw and the workbench. This layout works really well with my room size.

-- Steve

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2703 days

#14 posted 01-11-2010 08:15 PM

I have always had a jointer to the right of my table saw, which is pretty much the same as having it against a wall. The only time that would be an issue, is if you are cross cutting long pieces with a sled or miter gauge.
If you are tight on space, put it on a mobile base and move it when you need to for certain cuts. I’ve not had a shop yet that the placement of any tool was “set in stone”. I’m rearranging my 4 year old shop right now because I felt it would work better another way. Play with it and see what works for you.

Like others, I use my miter gauge on both sides of the blade, but primarily on the left.


View Tim_456's profile


170 posts in 3012 days

#15 posted 01-11-2010 08:32 PM

Wherever you put it I recomment getting a rolling base that has four steerable wheels. my basement shop has a pole right in the middle of it. I have plenty of floor space but if I’m cross cutting something on the left I have to move the table to the right, if I’m ripping long stock i have to move the table forward of the pole and to the left. Anyway, my point is that there isn’t one “best” way to do it but my advice is to give yourself the flexibility to choose your own way. Now try to find a rolling base without to fixed wheels ;)

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