Table saws get used so often in the woodwork shop that it's important to make them convenient to use because when we don't, very often people can take short-cuts, and that when accidents can happen, so I am a big fan of making things safe, easy and convenient.

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Of all the workshop tools, the table saw is one that can do some serious harm in the blink of an eye, so the very, very first safety rule around table saws and most power tools, is to NEVER rush what you are doing and always stop and take a moment to think about what you are going to be doing.

The reason for a short pause before using a tool is for safety and to ensure we are going to get the best results we can from the tool, and of course one of the main things we are doing with the table saw is helping us make joints, or cutting wood that will make joints. For this reason, we need to make sure the tool is aligned and set up properly because when it is not, our joints don't align and we end up with gaps, which creates more work later in trying to fill gaps with something. It's far better to avoid them in the first place and the best place to start is the table saw.
This first tip comes from Jim, the inventor of the dowelmax. He took a tip I made a quite a few sessions ago on the sliding miter saw, and applied it to the table saw for helping to ensure the blade is at 90 degrees to the table. He takes 2 boards with a flat bottom and runs them both through the blade at the same time. Then takes the front one and swings it to butt up to the back one. If there is no gap where the boards align, the blade is vertical, if there is a gap, the blade needs adjusting.  

The reason this is so important is that if the blade is off vertical, you can never get perfect joints, and if you are making things like boxes, picture frames or any other 4 side project when a cut is off on one side, it will also be off on the backside, which means now the gap can be compounded for being off, making your joint even worse. There is no better way to check the vertical of your table saw blade than this process, and while you are at it, could also do the same thing with your miter gauge by cutting the wood flat on the table and checking the butt ends to see if they align. An excellent way to check the settings on your miter gauge. 

Recently I received a bit of a flurry of questions about the gap that can happen under a table saw fence. One option is to make an auxiliary fence (which I have made, for couldn't seem to find it for this video) and you can even make a temporary fence quickly and easily without any special clamps. All you need to do is find a board that is flat along one edge or run it through the jointer to make it flat, then use C-clamps, or quick release clamps to attach it to your fence, making sure the bottom is flat against you table saw top. This way you can run thin material like laminate, plastic or even thin veneers without fear of them getting caught under your table saw fence.

Here's another quick tip from Michael, near Vancouver ... where he uses a simple plastic bag, magnetized to the side of his table saw to hold, safety glasses, could be an arbor wrench, could be a dust collector switch ... all sorts of different uses, quick, easy and inexpensive to use. 

I know there are many people with table saw fences that don't align properly and I know how annoying that can be ... I had saws like this most of my woodworking life, but here is an idea that 'might' work for some ... use a sticky back tape on the back rail of the saw as an alignment too with the front tape. It doesn't matter if you use the front tape as long as the back tape is aligned exactly the same, that way you can set the front of your fence to the size you need then micro-adjust the back to be the same. I could be a quick answer to saving some time and frustration. 

Here is another tip that could save you time, especially if you are working with thin materials, make your own push stick with some scrap 6" material. All you need to do is cut slice along the bottom and leave a small tab on the end that you can cut off on the bandsaw or by hand .... or if you want, you could even hot glue a stop on an existing shortboard. Either would work fine. The main point is that you get a push stick that is safe to use and doesn't take a lot of work to obtain because if it is too much work, I might think to skip using a proper push stick and again, here is where accidents can happen... 

... which is also the reason that I am not a fan of the chicken's foot push sticks. Even using 2 of them, is not an answer, it still does not give you the kind of control you may need when pushing wood through the table saw.

Click here to see more about the Grr-ripper on Amazon
If you have a Grr-ripper, even better, which also confirms why anything that holds the wood down and gives you control of the wood, while you are cutting is far better than any bird's mouth cut into the end of a stick. Make your own push stick like I show int he video, it's easy and you can make it the way you like it. 
Here are more SAFE options for push sticks on Amazon

Copyright Colin Knecht 


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