Cross Cutting on a Unisaw

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Forum topic by JK0702 posted 07-29-2012 08:52 PM 2299 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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138 posts in 2155 days

07-29-2012 08:52 PM

Hey guys,
I need some help. I just transitioned from a Delta Contractor Saw to a Delta Unisaw. Everything is great except that I’m experiences some major kickback when cross cutting large pieces. Currently, I’m cutting MDF that is 14” wide and cutting it down from 97” long to 65” long. I’m cutting on the short side, which gives me a lot of board on the long side to control. Everything is somewhat manageable until the last couple of inches and then some major kickback. My daughter is trying to help me push the piece thru on the long side, but we’re not coordinating the push very well. The gap at the cut is the problem, I can keep it at 1/8” it either pinches or widens too much. I don’t have a splitter or a river knife (not sure that’s the proper name). I am not using any jigs, and I tried using the T-Slot but that made it worse.
Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

-- John - Huntington Beach, CA --- Growth occurs when we get out of our comfort zone.

27 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11774 posts in 2404 days

#1 posted 07-29-2012 09:29 PM

Make a crosscut sled.

-- Rick M,

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2310 days

#2 posted 07-29-2012 09:31 PM

Yes, a crosscut sled (and clamps, as needed) will be a big help here.

-- John, BC, Canada

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3570 days

#3 posted 07-29-2012 09:35 PM

Sliding miter saw would do it for you if you have one, or a radial arm saw. I don’t cross cut those dimensions on my table saw.

Also, a side feed table next to your table saw offers a lot more stability during a cut.

-- .

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3317 days

#4 posted 07-29-2012 09:39 PM

This story scares me so much. Specially when you said your daughter was helping. Anyhow, you need either a miter gauge with a long homemade fence or a crosscut sled.

-- LAS,

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2310 days

#5 posted 07-29-2012 10:10 PM

Even though I just recommended a sled, I myself would probably not use my TS to make that cut. If you don’t have a sliding miter saw or a RAS, then a circular saw with a clamped straight edge would be, IMO, the safer choice.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3155 days

#6 posted 07-29-2012 10:27 PM

Having someone help push through a table saw is a very bad idea. I never let anyone even touch a board I’m pushing through the saw.
If you have a jig saw, you can use that to cut it about 1/8” oversize before cutting on the Unisaw.

But as others have said, a crosscut sled is the way to go.

-- Gerry,

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#7 posted 07-29-2012 10:47 PM

READ ALL THE ABOVE!!!! Am I yellin’ at ya? You bet. You’re gonna get hurt BIG TIME, and so is your helper. Long crosscuts like that are a killer.
Just as an aside:
I ain’t usin’ my TS w/o a splitter and guards on any thru-cuts. I’m a sissy with all my fingers (so far).


View intheshop's profile


58 posts in 2862 days

#8 posted 07-29-2012 10:52 PM

Whatever you do, get a splitter!! You’ll need it in so many applications. And like many folks have said, make a crosscut sled, get a big sliding miter saw, use a circ-saw with a straight edge, use a jig saw, a hand saw, whatever, but don’t put your little girl in harms way. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

-- Fast is fine, but accurate is final. The real trick is learning to take your time when you're in a hurry. - Wyatt Earp

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2603 days

#9 posted 07-29-2012 11:16 PM

Too big of a cross cut for any table saw. I usually use a circular saw to cut full sheets down to manageable sizes. Jig saw works okay.

For cutting panels (anything more than 12” cross-cut), I use a crosscut sled. For ANY other cross-cut, I use a miter gauge.

Two really big safety rules:
1. Only one person guiding board through the saw, ever.
2. Try to always use a splitter. On my new Unisaw, I never seem to have to take it off with a standard blade (i.e., not a valid otpion with dado set or moulding head cutter or the like).

Now, John, post back on here to let us know you heard all us worry-warts, and reassure us that you and your daughter are still whole and healthy.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View JK0702's profile


138 posts in 2155 days

#10 posted 07-29-2012 11:33 PM

Thanks to all your input. I hear you loud and clear!! My radial arm saw won’t cut 14” and my miter saw doesn’t slide so it looks like a cross cut sled is what I need. The circular saw with straight edge also is a good option. I still have all my fingers and no injuries from the kickback, just a little scary … the reason for the question. BTW, my daughter is 22, so she’s not a little kid… but I will now adopt the “only one person pushing a board” rule. I appreciate all your expertise (and concern), and even Bill yelling at me. I’ve usually had to figure all this stuff out on my own so it’s nice having such a forum to consult. Many thanks!!


-- John - Huntington Beach, CA --- Growth occurs when we get out of our comfort zone.

View bondogaposis's profile


4759 posts in 2375 days

#11 posted 07-29-2012 11:44 PM

For a cut like that, I would rough cut it with circular saw on some sawhorses first, then go the table saw w/ a more manageable piece for the final cut.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3585 days

#12 posted 07-30-2012 12:52 AM

Your OP sounds like you were trying to cut it freehand. NEVER EVER cut freehand.

My method of cross cutting a long board is to rough cut it oversized by 1/8” with a circular saw then clamp a straight edge and make the final cut with a router which will give an edge that is smooth as glass.

-- Joe

View JK0702's profile


138 posts in 2155 days

#13 posted 07-30-2012 02:01 AM

Thanks, Joe. I wasn’t cutting free hand but was just using my fence. That’s why the cut was so tough. I like the router option tho.


-- John - Huntington Beach, CA --- Growth occurs when we get out of our comfort zone.

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2600 days

#14 posted 07-30-2012 02:07 AM

If you purchase sheets from a lumber yard, they will usually
rip your sheets to a manageable size without charge.
Thanks for heeding the solid advice above.

View HerbC's profile


1763 posts in 2883 days

#15 posted 07-30-2012 02:13 AM

Now I’ve got to shout!



Now, don’t do that any more.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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