Carla Cain Table Saw August 28th, 2018 - 09:17:01
Most table saw trunnions are made to tilt either left or right (but not both) to a maximum of 45 degrees from vertical. If you have a choice, and you usually do, never buy a right-tilt saw for the following reason. A right-tilt saw tilts the blade towards the fence and can pinch a work piece into the fence, causing a jam or, worse, a kickback just as the cut is finishing. Further, on a right-tilt saw, the blade is tilting towards the fence and could cut into and ruin it if the fence were to be inadvertently moved too close to the spinning blade. A left-tilt saw tilts away from the fence and instead of pinching the work piece, allows it to rise vertically slightly, if need be.
The trunnion determines the accuracy of your cuts so you want to be sure that it is well built and accurately machined. The saw blade must always be exactly where you need it to be. Furthermore, the trunnion must be easy to operate. It should not require Superman to raise or tilt the blade. As time goes on, you may find that it is harder to turn the wheels or cranks that operate the trunnion. This is usually because of sawdust contamination of the gears and/or lack of lubrication. Some better saws have ways of eliminating sawdust from the cabinet into an external dust port before it can get into the gears. Other saws come with self-cleaning gear teeth.
Most table saws use the miter gauge and miter slot system to allow for crosscutting. A miter gauge consists of a cast metal protractor head attached to a length of metal bar. The bar rides in corresponding "miter slot" in the table saw's surface. Protractor on the "no frills" miter gauges that come with most table saws can be set to crosscut stock at any angle between 90 and 30 degrees and, if well made, do a serviceable job with most "routine" crosscutting.
The saw should come with a Biesemeyer or similar type fence included in the purchase price. This type of fence locks and aligns itself to a rectangular tube attached to the front of the saw table when you press down on a handle. Fence accuracy and ease of operation will be important every time you touch your table saw and so a cheap fence is no bargain. The fence will probably read measurements along a stick-on measuring tape on the top of the front fence rail tube. You will need to carefully adjust the fence for accuracy. Instructions of how to do this should come with the set-up instructions for the saw.
If you're in the market for a table saw, you'll have a number of options and features to consider. To make the best decision, a basic understanding of the "inner workings" of this woodshop standard is essential. Below, I'll describe the primary table saw components, what makes them important, and what to look for when it comes time to buy.
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