Edith Hart Table Saw August 28th, 2018 - 12:36:11
The quality of the table saw surface (or "bed") is extremely important to the overall performance of the machine. The table surface needs to be reliably flat and rigid to properly support the workpiece during a cut. As one of the most massive parts of the saw, the table surface also plays a major role in absorbing vibration. Because of the need for mass, rigidity and flatness, cast iron is the material of choice for the top of a table saw. On a quality saw, the table is made using a hefty quantity of cast iron and state-of-the-art foundry methods. The end result of the casting process is then precision ground to flatness in the .0005'' tolerance range.
Many table saws can be purchased with optional extension wings. Table extension wings bolt on to the right and left sides of the table and increase the surface area of the saw to help support wide stock and sheet materials. On a heavy duty stationary saw, the extensions are usually cast iron, while on smaller saws, they may be made of lighter stamped steel or the lighter "webbed" style of cast iron.
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.
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.
There is a rule that says, "Never stand directly behind a horse or a table saw." Sooner or later every table saw operator will do something stupid that causes a kickback. If the operator makes it a practice to avoid standing where the kickback will occur behind the blade, he or she will probably avoid the severe injury that can be inflicted by a flying piece of wood striking the face, neck, chest or arms of the woodworker.
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