Louella Craig Table Saw July 30th, 2018 - 12:05:46
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.
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.
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.
Your new saw must have a rip capacity equal or wider than the widest thing you will ever want to rip. Usually, a cabinet saw will have a rip capacity of around 30 inches or 50 inches. A large rip capacity to the right of the blade will require an extension table to support work wider than the cast iron table. Many times, this extension table is included with the saw or, alternatively, you can easily build you own. The fence must have a tube or rail long enough to achieve the maximum with you want to rip.
Beginning at the bottom, the table saw base houses the working parts of the saw, including the trunnions, the arbor assembly, the sector gears, and sometimes the motor. On some saws, the base is a "cabinet" type, meaning that a fully enclosed base extends all the way to the floor. Other saws have an open base, meaning that the base consists of a metal box that surrounds the internal working parts of the saw on four sides, but not the bottom. Open base saws have legs that extend downward from the bottom of the base to the floor.