Making items out of wood is an art that requires creativity aided by tools and equipment to come up with excellent projects. Most of the projects of woodworking involve cross-cutting. Cross-cut is basically cutting across the main grain of the wood. Although there is a tool specifically designed for cross-cutting (crosscut saw), a table saw can as well perform the task more efficiently. Apart from using less manpower when working with a table saw, its crosscut is normally accurate, smooth, safely done, and very precise.
However, a table saw is versatile to perform numerous tasks, but it is commonly utilized to carry out two important procedures of woodworking. That is:
- Ripping – Process of narrowing wide boards
- Cross-cutting – Process of making longboards shorter
How to prepare for a safe and easy crosscut by a table saw
Before embarking on the task at hand, you need to be prepared by preparing the table saw to work superbly and offer excellent results. Therefore, you should:
- Make sure the table saw is aligned flat.
- Make sure the blade of the table saw is sharp to get that precision and clean-cut quality you want
- In the case of using extra tables, make sure the alignment is flush.
- The blade of table saw should have a cover. A blade cover is important for blocking misdirection of your hand or finger towards the blade.
Various Common Crosscutting Techniques Using a Table Saw
There are many scenarios that one should be familiar with in the art of woodworking that requires crosscuts. Below are the common examples of crosscuts and the steps that you need to follow that I have included the “don’ts” that you need to avoid. However, a table saw is the core equipment required for the following procedures, there are also other minor tools that are a must to be available during the process. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of outlining every tool needed for each project for safety and a swift job well done.
How to Square a Board with a Table Saw
The most vital factor to consider when making right-angled cuts is setting up the miter gauge to be perfectly square to the blade.
You should not trust the angles indicated on the gauge. That is why am suggesting that you use a 45-degree drafting triangle.
Place one side of the drafting triangle against the blade while aligning the gauge on the other side. During this setting, it is recommended that you raise the blade up for better accuracy.
- Safety goggles
- Miter gauge
- Align your material piece with the miter gauge
- Place the aligned piece on table saw
- Hold the piece adjacent to the fence of the miter gauge using your left hand
- Slide the gauge forward using your right hand till the front edge is closer to the blade.
- When the table saw blade starts cutting your aligned board, you can use two or just one hands to position your material piece so that the blade follows the line of cut.
How to Make Exact 45-degree Miter Cuts with Table Saw
When you want to achieve that perfect cut that is miter angled on a board, it is almost similar when coming up with a perfect square; after all, they are both angled.
- Drafting triangle
- Safety goggles
- First set up the miter gauge to be precisely 45 degrees.
- Place a fence of extension then move it towards the blade at a distance that can allow you to make a cut the end at a 45 degrees angle.
- Hold your material firmly while you make a fine cut.
Note: For extreme cases that require high levels of accuracy, for instance, picture frames, you should start by test cutting reserved materials (disposable) and then measure with a drafting square. Keep adjusting the miter gauge if the angle is not perfect until you get it right. And please don’t trust the angle calibrations on the miter gauge.
How to Crosscut Long Boards on Table Saw
It is difficult to cut long pieces of board let alone cutting them accurately. For boards longer than 4 feet, cannot be supported by the table saw, hence, when it is tiring you down to make it lie flat on the table, it gets dragged by the blade.
- A support piece of board (preferably plywood because it has smooth edges that allows the material piece to slide over when being crosscut)
- A sawhorse
- Safety goggles
- First, set up the support by clamping a considerable size of plywood on top of a sawhorse placed near the table saw.
- Make sure the height of the straight length plywood is level with the top of the table saw.
- Finally, place the material piece making sure it is evenly flat on both ends; on the table saw and on the supporting board.
Note: Don’t be tempted or at all cost allow anyone to support the hanging end when you are in the cutting process because it is extremely dangerous.
How to Crosscut on a thick stock
There project that require thick wood pieces, for example, making legs for stools and tables. The width of the wood can exceed the height of the blade hence the table saw might fail to crosscut the whole girth completely.
- Safety goggles
- Remove the blade guard (the blade guard will prevent the thick wood from going all through the blade)
- Your fence should be set higher; preferably two-thirds the width of the wood to give better support.
- Make the first crosscut which will go almost above halfway the width.
- Flip the wood piece and accurately make sure you follow the line of cut and finish cutting off the other half.
Note: I insist that you be careful when making the second cut. If you fail not to follow the first crosscut line, you resulting wood piece may not be the desired measurement required or also it may have an overhanging piece that is not flush with the cutline. More also, be extra careful when pushing your wood piece through the blade because it doesn’t have a blade guard.
How to make multiple cuts that are identical
Nearly every woodworking project follows asymmetrical (equal parts) kind of balance so it is inevitable having parts that will be identical. Take for instance a cabinet; every opposite side piece will be similar to one another. A table saw can help you reduce the time you will take measuring and cutting these pieces.
- Safety goggles
- A block stopper
Steps for cross-cutting short identical board pieces:
- Clamp a block stopper to the longer extended fence
- Make a small cut of an angle on the blocking stopper to reduce the accumulation of sawdust around the piece of board to be crosscut and the block
- Make the first crosscut on the material piece using the exact dimensions required
- Use the above cut piece to make a block stopper for cutting the other pieces of your project.
Steps for crosscutting long identical board pieces:
- Use clamps to place a secondary piece of wood (for fencing) above the board
- 2 Position a block stopper at the end of that secondary piece.
- Chose a fence of extension that can hold the material piece that is clamped with the secondary fence.
- Make the first cut on material piece using the exact dimensions that you desire
- Use that first cut piece as a block stopper for cutting the other material pieces
Safety Tips you should consider
- Always unplug the saw during setting up your material piece and aligning the blade with a drafting square.
- Make sure the safety guard is positioned along the blade to prevent the material piece from hanging up on the support during cutting.
- Always wear safety goggles, the sawdust might get in the eye which can blind you and ultimately make you lose control.
- Use a firm grip when pushing the material piece through the blade.
- Use push sticks if your hand is within a foot of the table saw blade.