In this article, we’ll look at how today’s table saw works. Although the function may seem obvious at first glance, there is one thing or another that you may not have known about. This would be useful if you want to use the table saw at full potential.
Table of Contents
How does a table saw work?
We will look at the different parts of a table saw and explain their functions and how they interact with one another. Depending on the type, model, manufacturer, etc. of the table saw, these can, of course, be slightly different.
As with all machines, the motor (and the saw blade) also form the heart of the circular saw. The most common are electric motors that are operated either with 230V (“normal current”) or 480V (power current). The high speed of the motor (often 3,000 – 5,000 RPM) is essential, as this affects the quality of the cut. It is most common that the saw blade sits directly on the shaft of the motor, i.e., is driven directly (without V-belts, etc.).
Professional and high-quality table saws usually have a soft start and/or a quick stop and/or a so-called constant electronic. This will start the motor slowly, and it does not start at full load straight away. This usually extends the life of the product.
If the table saw is equipped with a quick-stop, the saw blade stops sharply after it is switched off. This can significantly prevent injuries. In addition, you can continue working much faster with a quick-stop function.
Constant electronic refers to the constancy of the speed of the saw blade. This is important, for example, when cutting thick hardwood. Then the speed does not decrease, even if the load increases and the saw blade remains clean.
The Circular Saw Blade.
The circular saw blade is essentially nothing more than a steel disc with the cutting teeth on its circumference. The basic rule is: the more teeth the saw blade has, the cleaner and less torn the cut will be. However, it should be noted here that many teeth simultaneously mean a small chip space. This, in turn, can lead to the saw blade clogging more quickly. If it overheats, it usually becomes unusable.
Which Saw Blade for Which Work?
In general, one can say: For longitudinal cuts (cuts along the wood fiber), one should use a saw blade with fewer teeth and thus larger chip spaces. A lot of chips are created when making longitudinal cuts, which can quickly clog the saw blade. For cross-sections (cutting against the wood fiber), a finer-toothed saw blade is more suitable. As a rule, this then ensures that work can be carried out with little or no tear-out.
Usually, a table saw comes with a cross stop and a rip fence. A cross stop allows various angle cuts to be made. If you do not want to have the workpiece cut at a 90 ° angle as standard, you simply set the cross stop at the desired angle, place the workpiece at the individual angle and move it through the saw blade. Depending on the table saw, this process is quite different: It is common for the cross stop to be guided over a profile embedded in the saw table or to be made movable with the aid of a saw carriage. If the saw is equipped with a pulling function, the saw blade can also be pulled through the workpiece at the appropriate angle.
Important: Especially with very cheap models (check the best table saw under $200), there may be inaccuracies in the set angle, for example, due to a small play between the guide rail of the cross stop and the embedded profile in the saw table. Those who value extreme precision should definitely check this before buying.
The Riving Knife
The riving knife on the table saw is essential nowadays. He keeps the kerf free. If you push the workpiece over the saw table (especially if it is a little under tension; e.g., if the workpiece is not 100% precise), the rear rising teeth of the saw blade could pick up the workpiece and throw it or throw other small parts at the user. This can cause life-threatening injuries. A riving knife is also very useful as it protects the cutting edge from injuries if the workpiece is not guided properly.
With professional table saws, the riving knife can optionally be lowered slightly (top edge of the riving knife slightly below the top edge of the saw blade). This means that hidden saw cuts are also possible.
The Inclination of the Saw Blade
The inclination of the saw blade allows miter cuts to be made. The cutting angle can usually be adjusted using a wheel. This is usually the case continuously from 0 to 45 ° (0 ° is then the standard-setting). If you tilt the saw blade and thus adjust the cutting angle, the maximum possible cutting depth decreases at the same time.
For the production of an undercut, professional models, in particular, are usually equipped with a so-called undercut function. This is important in furniture construction in order to create a seamless transition between two workpieces.
The basic principle of the table saw is the same for all models, manufacturers, and types. The only difference is that various safety features ( riving knife ) and special functions ( sliding carriage, soft start, constant electronic, etc.) have been added over the years.