Essie Faulkner Table Saw August 15th, 2018 - 14:20:26
One of the more useful add-ons for just about any table saw is either an upgraded system offered by the manufacturer, or an aftermarket miter gauge or crosscutting sled. These tools provide, in various combinations, repeatable incremental angle positioning, longer fences, stop blocks and other advanced features that can come in handy in projects that call for precision crosscutting.
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.
One table saw manufacturer I know believes in "aging" its cast iron machine table tops before milling them flat. The tops are cast and then left outside in a "bone yard" to bend, bow, warp and twist in the sun and rain for a year or so. Then, they are brought inside where all the rust is removed and the table top is ground absolutely flat and polished to sheen. The theory is that the metal needs to settle into a place where all post-casting movement has ceased and that the table should not be ground flat before this is done. Otherwise, the table may move out of absolute flatness after it is part of your new table saw and that it not at all desirable. Why? Because the flatness of your table saw top will determine the accuracy of your cuts. Be sure to check your new table saw for table flatness with a straightedge on or before delivery and afterwards from time to time. Lay the rule across the table top at all angles and check for daylight under the rule or rocking of the straightedge on the table top.
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.
I'd like to take a minute to talk about the features that you should be looking for and what these features will mean to you after you unpack and set up your new table saw. These features include: motor horsepower, blade size, trunnion construction, tabletop flatness, tabletop size, arbor size and arbor bearings, sawdust extraction, ease of operation including raising, lowering and tilting the blade, tilt of the blade (left or right), the necessity of a magnetic switch and the importance of its location, ease of access to the interior of the cabinet, accuracy and ease of operation of the fence, the amount of rip space to the right and the left of the blade, safety features and table saw mobility around the shop. In addition to the table saw itself, you may want to construct an outfeed table around the back of the saw, if space permits. We'll talk about that, as well.