when to use table saw

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Forum topic by Glenn posted 02-16-2009 02:18 AM 2387 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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141 posts in 3351 days

02-16-2009 02:18 AM

Please pardon the newbie question, but I inherited a bunch of tools from my granddad, and I have more than I know what to do with (thanks grandpa!). So I have set out to learn how to use them, and started off by building a bird feeder. I started off clamping the board to my workmate and crosscutting several pieces off the end with my 7-1/4” circular saw for the parts, such as the roof, sides, etc. I guess I did good with it—I clamped a straight-edge onto the board to use as a guide and almost every board came off as measured, except for one, which I trimmed up with the bandsaw. My question is: when do I use the table saw? Should I have used that instead of the circular saw? why do I need a table saw? see where I’m going with this? Any advice to get me on the right track would be greatly appreciated. —Glenn

-- Glenn, Arkansas

26 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 02-16-2009 02:25 AM

you could look at the table saw as an upside-down circular saw, with an assortment of accessories that enable you to perform repetitive cuts (miter slot+gauge, Rip Fence).

Here’s how you’d do those cuts you did with the Circular saw – but with a Table saw:

instead of measuring each piece you wanted to cross cut, clamp your straight edge, and made sure you follow the straight edge with your circular saw… you’d setup your miter gauge with a cut-stop, place your lumber against the miter gauge, and run it through the saw blade, rinse, and repeat… without all those extra measuring and clamping that you have to do with a circular saw, and also , since your measurement (cut-stop) never changes/moved all your cuts will be exactly the same length/size.

I see the Table saw as a machine to get repetitive and accurate cuts, where the only limitations are large panels (plywood sheets) that sometimes need to be cut with a circular saw…

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

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Craftsman on the lake

2781 posts in 3402 days

#2 posted 02-16-2009 02:31 AM

This is a basic question and the table saw is very versatile. You can cut lumber along the grain to slice up boards for example or crosscut to get boards to a length you want. Your bandsaw works as you’ve found but a table saw, properly adjusted, can make straight smooth cuts.

My biggest concern is that if you have no table saw experience, and from your question it would seem that you might not have even seen one used much, then safety would seem to be an issue. I’d keep using my bandsaw or other saws you may have until you get some assistance with setting up and safely using a saw like this.
Good luck with your new tools. You may be on a totally new adventure. Just be sure it’s a safe one.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3687 days

#3 posted 02-16-2009 02:34 AM

I hope you inherited those tools because Grandpa is not willing to use them any more and not becasue he is not around to use them any more.

Put the circular saw away until you need to go some where that you don’t have a table saw. Precision and repetitive cuts is what you get with the table saw, not to mention the ability to do multiple types of cuts. Add to it with different blades (dado, molding heads, sanding disks, etc) you have a very versatile tool. Good luck with all of your tools.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3525 days

#4 posted 02-16-2009 02:49 AM

I’d recomend the following: (listed in relative priority)
1. Take a woodworking class that includes use of all the power tools you have
2. Or find an experienced woodworker who will help/teach you.

While you are doing that acquire some good books, DVD’s, and refer to them often. There are also thousands of links to other free resources on this site.

Your objective should be to first learn how to use the equipment SAFELY. After that I think you will know when to use what you have.

Along the way you now have the knowledge base of the over 7000 lumberjocks on these site who will jump at the chance to help you, and marvel at what you make.

-- Joe

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3730 days

#5 posted 02-16-2009 03:08 AM

All good tips above. If you can’t find someone to help you learn, read….... and watch videos. Just remember that safety comes first. If you’re not comfortable using a power tool, wait until you are ready.
- JJ

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3738 days

#6 posted 02-16-2009 03:21 AM

Hi Glenn

I totally agree with ajsephg. I work in the tool department part time at Lowe’s , mainly for the discounts and to make extra money to equip the shop. I had two guys come in one night and wanted to buy a good table saw (Bosch) and a Dewalt 12” miter saw. Then they asked me which way the blade went on the table. I basicly told them the same thing ajsephg just told you. I really was concerned for these guys safety! Be safe!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3358 days

#7 posted 02-16-2009 03:25 AM

For sure the previous members answer your question already. But I want to reinforse the idea.
I’m not sure what type of saw and how big is it,so perhaps you can show us a picture and we can give you amore precise idea. Be very, very, very, very, very carefull with it, is the tool where 99% of woodworking accidents happen and where many people loose theirfingers…...Make a click - here - and see by yourself.

Go to the public Library and borrow a book about Table Saw, look for taunton Press books, they are a good source of info; It’s much easier to educate yourself with graphics, than words. If you are already uning a skill saw, that tells you are plenty capable of using the table saw. Again be very carefully with SMALL pieces, always use a push stick to kkep your fingers away as posible from the blade, and just raise the blade enough to the ticknesses of your material.

By the way, W E L C O M E to Lumberjocks, have fun!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3351 days

#8 posted 02-16-2009 04:26 AM

Thank you ALL for the advice. Luckily my grandfather is still around, but at almost 80 yrs old and a recipient of THREE multiple bypasses over the years, he is in no condition to be using a table saw. It was being stored in my mom’s basement, and I felt I had to rescue it from my mom who had been cutting 4×8’ sheets of plastic lattice on it recently. I would rather it sit in my garage unused than have my mom kill herself on it—she has absolutely no respect for the danger. Anyway, I brought it home and cleaned it up real good. It’s a late 1970’s/early 1980’s Craftsman 10” saw. Put some casters on the bottom so i could move it around. I guess the reason I grabbed the circular saw for the bird feeder rather than try to use the table saw is because I’m just a little scared of it. I have a table saw book I bought at Lowe’s, but I decided not to try to use it until I’ve made the feather boards, push sticks, and crosscut sled described in it.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View tyson's profile


43 posts in 3349 days

#9 posted 02-18-2009 10:08 PM

if i were you i would start by watching woodworking videos on youtube or something to see what other guys are doing with there table saws! searching the web is also very informative. my computer is the best woodworking tool i have purchased by far, i have got many ideas from searching it

p.s don’t put your fingers where you wouldent put your dink

-- a truly wise man never plays leap frog with a unicorn

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3678 days

#10 posted 02-23-2009 09:40 PM

Tyson- LOL… that P.S. line is the best I’ve heard in a while…

Glenn- glad to hear about your G’pa and your tool score. It won’t take you any time to begin to learn all the basic cuts. You’ll be teaching new Jocks in no time.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Steve Maskery's profile

Steve Maskery

48 posts in 3349 days

#11 posted 02-23-2009 11:35 PM

Here are a couple of safety videos to get you started:


Don’t be jealous of the shirt :)

-- The Complete Tablesaw -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#12 posted 02-24-2009 12:08 AM

here are LJ blogs tagged with table saw, forum topics with same tag.
You might find some tips amongst these postings as well.

Think SAFETY.. great advice.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Gary's profile


9324 posts in 3397 days

#13 posted 02-24-2009 01:33 AM

Glenn, where in Arkansas are you? Anywhere close to Texarkana?

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3351 days

#14 posted 02-24-2009 04:48 AM

Thanks, again. You all are very helpful. One thing I can say is I’ve already learned many of the things NOT to do with my table saw. Gary, I’m in NE Arkansas (Delta region). Work outside of Memphis.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View Gary's profile


9324 posts in 3397 days

#15 posted 02-24-2009 05:08 AM

Too dang bad. That’s all the way across the state. I thought if you were closer, I’d be glad to get together and help you with some hands on training. Oh well….....

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

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