How to Use a Table Saw for Crosscuts and Rip Cuts with Proper Safety [Step-by-Step]

Whether you are a professional or hobbyist woodworker, ultimately, you will end up getting a table saw for your job. A table saw is indeed one of the most used and versatile power tools you will ever see in craftsmanship jobs.

There’s hardly any cutting job that this fantastic power saw can’t perform, from the simple crosscuts to rip cuts. But for this, you need to know how to use a table saw for various cuts. Also, the table saw injuries are held responsible for over 30000 accidents and USD 2.00 billion injury-related expenses annually in the US.

So, it is equally important that you know how to safely use a table saw.

That’s why we have decorated our discussion on these two topics for today.

How to Use A Table Saw?

Before you learn the basic crosscuts and rip cuts using the table saw, it is essential to understand how its different parts work. Also, you must understand the further cuts it can perform.

Basis Parts of a Table Saw

A table saw is made of several components that interlink for some incredibly superior and satisfactory cutting results.

  • The table

This is the stand or platform on which the saw comes mounted or pre-installed. If you want a bigger workspace, there’s an option to add a table extension on the right of the platform.

  • The blade

A table saw blade can be of various lengths and made of different materials. You will see the table saw blade made of carbide or diamond or metal tooth. Also, the number of teeth varies according to the cutting necessity.

  • Fence

The fence in a table saw is a moving part along the rail. You can adjust it vertically or horizontally to accomplish the cuts. As the blade spins, the fence keeps the working material at a safe distance. The fence comes in handy, especially for precise and comfortable rip cuts.

  • Miter gauge

When you want to make the square and crosscuts with the table saw, the miter gauge will guide you all the way for accurate cuts. For straight cuts, you can set the miter gauge between 0-degree to 90-degrees properly. And for beveled and angled cuts, it can be set from -45 degrees to +45 degrees with precision.

  • The switch

The on/off switch for the table saw operation would be located usually at the handle. It lets you turn on and off the saw motor and blade as per the project necessity. Also, some table saw with variable speed control features a trigger to adjust the cutting speed.

Different Types of Cuts

A table saw usually performs three varieties of cuts. These are:

  • Rip cut

The rip cut in the material will go down the length of the actual cutting material. You will use the fence of the table saw as a guide reference for the rip cuts. This way, you can effectively and quickly achieve the desired cutting width on the workpiece.

  • Dado cuts

Dado cuts are necessary for joints while making furniture. You will use the miter gauge or fence for the dado cuts with the table saw. The dado cut is also known as wide or trench cut on the material.

  • Crosscuts

The crosscuts are performed across the cutting material right at its narrower width. Professionals use the miter gauge with the table saw for the crosscuts.

Now that we know the ins and outs of the table saw, it’s time to discuss how to use a table saw step by step for the crosscuts and rip cuts. So, let’s begin the cutting steps.

How to Use a Table Saw for Crosscuts?

A table saw is an incredibly powerful tool. These days, no woodworking workshop can be imagined without the table saw. Similarly, hobbyists and homeowners keep the saw at their storage for multipurpose cutting jobs.

One of such essential use of table saw is in crosscutting. Although many power saws can handle the wood crosscuts, nothing comes close to the efficiency that a table saw offers. You can follow these steps for such accurate and precise crosscuts.

Step 1: Choosing the right blade

For the best cutting results, you will have to prepare correctly. It includes choosing the right blade to checking the table saw.

To begin with, choose the right blade depending on what type of material you want to cut. Remember that the blade to cut plastic and wood be different. For cutting wood, a carbide-tipped edge will work fine.

Also, choosing the teeth number is equally important. For instance, with higher teeth, you will get more accurate and smooth cuts. On the contrary, the lower teeth number is suitable for rough and fast cutting jobs. But it would yield in some low cuts.

Finally, check the table saw blade sharpness. If you find the edge has become dull, use a sharpener to remove the dullness.

Step 2: Adjusting the blade height

For crosscuts, you will have to remove the blade guard and rip the fence. Therefore, plug off the table saw correctly. Use a proper and useful wrench or screwdriver to remove the wall and guard of the blade. Then, you will have to attach the right blade with the arbor.

The blade needs to be similar to your cutting necessity. Otherwise, the blade might kickback causing your injuries. Then locate the handle to adjust the blade height. It is usually located at the bottom of the power tool. The blade must have ¼” higher than the actual thickness of your working material.

If the blade height adjustment is too high or low, it might ruin the working material or fail to cut through it properly.

Step 3: Preparing the cutting material

You will have to determine the cutting length you need for the furniture you aim to make. Then use a pencil and measuring tape to outline the cutting plan on the material. If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can use the square set for it.

The measuring tape or square set needs to be placed slightly away from the cutting line. It will allow the pencil to outline the cutting mark right where you want it to be.

Step 4: Preparing the table saw

Next, you will have to prepare the table saw. Once you have placed the material on the platform, start with the blade protector guide adjustment.

You need to set the guide at 0-degree for the straight cut. You will have to set the guide at your desired angled-degree for the bevel or angle cuts.

After you have set the right angle for the fence guide, you will require aligning the workpiece with the table saw blade. The alignment needs to be done with the cutline and miter gauge front edge. Also, you must avoid the use of the fence and miter gauge simultaneously. It will result in some dangerous cuts and possible injuries.

Step 5: Make the crosscuts

Switch on the table saw and allow it to come at the right cutting speed. You will have to wait for a few moments for this.

Once the blade reaches the right cutting speed, proceed to the next steps. Hold the cutting material firmly with the fence of the miter gauge. As you hold the material against the miter gauge edge, use your right handle to hold the connected miter gauge’s handle.

Now, push the cutting piece smoothly towards the table saw blade. You might use your dominant hand to move the material. Use your other hand to hold the material correctly with the miter gauge.

This way, you can quickly make the wood or plastic crosscuts to meet your project requirements.

Note: You won’t have to use the push stick for the crosscuts with the table saw.

How to Use a Table Saw for Rip Cuts?

When you know how to use a table saw correctly, you can use it for accurate and precise rip cuts. You will need to fix the material for the rip cut firstly. Then, you should pick the right blade for the material you aim to cut.

Also, for faster cutting, you need a blade of the table saw with fewer teeth. And for precise cuts, you need to get a blade with a higher teeth number. Once you have chosen the right blade for the rip cuts, it is time to proceed to the next steps.

Step 1: Adjusting the table saw blade height

Crosscuts need a higher number of teeth for the table saw. On the contrary, you should opt for a blade with fewer teeth for the rip cuts compared with the crosscuts.

Hence, it might be necessary to replace the blade. Unplug the table saw from the power outlet if it is an electric power tool. If it is battery-operated, remove the battery. Then, use a screwdriver to replace the right blade in the saw arbor.

Then, you will have to fix the blade at the right height. Find the blade height adjusting angle situated right at the bottom. Use the handle to adjust the height correctly. A table saw blade runs the risk of kickback while you cut through the material.

But there’s a way to avoid such kickbacks. You need to adjust the blade height at least ¼” higher than the working piece thickness. If it isn’t possible, make sure you have set the height at least with the material thickness properly.

Step 2: Adjusting the table saw fence

The blade fence needs to be adjusted to meet the cutting width of the material. For this, release the table saw blade fence lock. The wall needs to be slide in side by side with the rip fence. It will allow you to get the desired width for the rip cuts.

After achieving the right cutting width and adjusting the table fence, you need to outline using a pencil and measuring tape.

Step 3: Preparing the table saw

Now you should be ready with the blade height and fence guide adjustment. So, proceed to lower the attached blade guard. When you position the blade guard correctly over the blade, it safeguards the blade from the sawdust from the material cutting.

Also, it protects your hands from any possible injuries from the blade. Finally, plug in the table saw with the nearby power outlet and switch it on. You should not hurry in the cutting job. Allow the blade to come at its desired speed required for the cutting requirement.

Once you find that the blade has reached the right cutting speed, you are all set for the rip cuts on the material with it.

Step 4: Make the rip cut

Once you have marked the cutline on the material, place it flat on the platform. Then, align it with the table saw fence; if you want to perform long rip cuts on the larger workpiece, attaché a secondary table with the original stand.

Your hand needs to be behind the material. The hands need to the right between the table saw fence and blade to hold the material properly. Then, you need to control the material firmly against the saw blade and its border.

Then, guide the cutting material slowly towards the rip fence of the table saw. While you navigate the material towards the rip fence, make sure you hold it close to the bar for accurate cuts. But, be careful to enforce too much power.

You might alternatively use a push stick to guide the cutting material. When you find the distance between the hand and the blade less than 6″, use the push stick then. After you are done with the rip cut, please switch off the device and allow it to stop entirely.

Then remove the lately cut material for furniture making.

Safety Rules When Using a Table Saw

You must know how to use a table saw safely to avoid any injuries. It is essential because the table saw is responsible for the majority of damages caused by power tools.

  • Always read the table saw instruction manual before you use it for the 1st time. It allows you to know the proper locations of all the buttons and adjustments.
  • Always wear the right safety equipment. It includes wearing safety goggles, gloves, a face mask, and a working boot. The dust or face mask prevents you from flying objects.
  • Whenever you operate the table saw, make sure you wear tightly fitted clothing. Reports have shown that loose-fitting clothes are mostly responsible for table saw injuries. Also, stop wearing jewelry and necktie while you operate the table saw. It will prevent your cloth from getting stuck with the blade and causing accidents.
  • A table saw is a combination of several tools and parts for a uniform cutting operation. Hence, for the safe use of the table saw, these tools and accessories must be in tidy condition. Check the anti-kickback pawls, riving knife, sensors, and other accessories before you proceed to cut with the table saw.
  • At times you might need to switch off the table saw blade due to emergencies. It is possible to use the safety switch. Hence, you should know the exact position of the table emergency switch-off button for safety purposes.
  • Always work in a neat and clean place with the table saw. Hence, ensure that the stand and the surrounding area are void of any other stocks and debris while you operate the saw.
  • The blade guard hides the blade from external elements. It also prominently saves your fingers from accidental cuts. Thus, you should always adjust the blade guard properly. If the table saw lacks the guard, install one separately.
  • When you work with a thin piece of wood boards, use a purposefully built clearance insert. It keeps your finger away from the blade and creates a neutral zone for safe operation.
  • Once you have switched on the table saw and start to cut the materials, you must avoid any blade adjustment. Also, don’t try to reach over the table saw blade. If you need to adjust the working height or fence, turn off the device at first. Allow the edge to cool off, and then make the adjustment and blade replacement.
  • Many professionals work with a free hand while they operate the table saw. But we don’t recommend you use the table saw with a free hand. Always use a designated push stick to guide the working material towards the blade. Alternatively, you might use a push shoe or a splitter for it.


A table saw is a brilliant woodworking tool. But when you don’t know how to use a table saw, its versatility and excellence won’t benefit you. You must also abide by the safety rules for using a table saw to keep you protected from injuries.

Thereby, we have discussed how you can make the rip cuts and crosscuts with the table saw. These two types of cuts are the most widespread in furniture making. So, you get massive benefits from the instructions. We have also included the top ten features for the table saw safe uses. Hence, we hope you now operate the table saw adequately and safely, even if you are a newbie in the industry.

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