A table saw is a staple of any woodworker’s shop. They are the preferred choice for cutting large pieces of wood and plastic and can cut with much more precision than miter saws. They can perform a variety of cuts, such as angled cuts, rips cuts, and crosscuts, making them a must-have for any carpentry project.
The vast majority of table saws use a 10-inch circular blade that can cut up to 3.5 inches deep. There are some other table saws that use a 12-inch blade, which can cut up to 4 inches deep. Check the table below:
|Blade Diameter||Cutting Depth|
The blades on table saws are adjustable, allowing you to make a cut just a few millimeters deep or perform a cut at its maximum depth. When choosing a table saw, it is essential to know what types of materials you will use most frequently and the size of cuts you will need to make before deciding on the right model for you.
How Does a Table Saw Work?
A table saw is aptly named: when viewed without the blade, it simply looks like a table, several feet by several feet, made out of steel but shaped like a standalone butcher block.
Near the center of the table is a slit that allows a saw blade to come up from under the table and through the opening. It can be raised or lowered by a crank to influence the depth of the cut.
This blade is powered by an electric motor that, when turned on, will cause the blade to spin, creating the cutting point as the board is fed across the table.
Parallel to the blade is a metal bar known as the rip fence. It locks in place to ensure that the board does not veer off course as you push it across the table and through the blade, creating a cut that goes straight along the line.
Some other auxiliary features include a miter gauge, which allows you to angle the board precisely for cross cuts; blade guards that serve as a protection measure in the event that your fingers get too close to the blade; and push sticks that allow you to feed the board across the table without having to get your hands too close to the blade.
While there are several different functions of a table saw, it will primarily be used for two specific cuts when preparing lumber for a construction project:
- Rip cuts: The most common type of cut you will encounter with the table saw, as the table saw is the only type of tool that can perform this efficiently. Imagine that you have a board that is three feet long and six inches wide, and you want to narrow the width to four inches. You would run the board along its length on the table saw to shave width. Read more about table saws rip capacity.
- Crosscuts: This is when you would cut a board lengthwise. Imagine the same three-foot board that is six inches wide. If you wanted to make it two feet, you would cut along the six-inch width to shave off the additional foot. This is not as common of a table saw cut as a rip cut because other types of saws can perform this cut almost as well.
Factors That Influence Blade Height
When it is said that a table saw uses a 10-inch blade, many may think that this means that a table saw will be able to make 10-inch cuts. However, this refers to the diameter of the blade, which is the distance from one extreme point to the other of a circular surface.
Since the blade rotates at its center point to create a circular motion, it may seem logical that the radius, or the distance from a center point to the edge of a circular surface, would then measure the cutting depth for a table saw blade.
This would mean that a 10-inch saw blade would have a radius of 5 inches, so it should be able to cut 5 inches deep into a surface. However, this is not right, either, as not quite the entire length of the radius gets used to cut into a piece of wood.
The motorized pivot on which the table saw blade is mounted is located below the arbor through which it emerges from the table. Due to this difference, the actual cutting depth of a 10-inch blade is only about 3.5 inches.
Blade Height Adjustment
Even though a 10-inch table saw blade is capable of cutting through a 3.5-inch piece of wood, there are instances when that will not be necessary.
For example, say that you have a 3.5-inch board and only want to cut a 2-inch notch in the board along its length. This notch could be used for mounting images, crafts, or simply as a recess to notch pieces of carpentry together, but whatever the case, you do not want to cut all the way through the board.
There are ways that the blade height can be adjusted to meet your needs. Beneath the table surface, you will notice a hand crank. By rotating this crank, you will be able to raise or lower the portion of the blade that comes through the blade plates (an alternate name for the arbor or opening) as necessary.
Rotating the crank one way will cause the blade to rise until it reaches its maximum height while cranking it the other way will make it retreat into the recess, exposing just enough of it to make a shallow cut.
What Are Some Good Blades for Rip Cuts?
Understanding blade height is essential because if the blade is too low, you will not be able to complete a project as desired.
If the blade is too high, you may cause splintering and kickback—the condition in which wood shrapnel (and maybe even the board itself) gets thrown back at the user.
In order to get the most out of your table saw, there are a couple of blade types and blade heights that you will need to make sure that you have in your arsenal.
50-Point General Purpose Blade
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While the 10-inch blade type is the preferred size for table saws, this 50-point general purpose blade is a great option to use with your table saw, especially if you are not an expert or trying any specialized cuts.
Most general-purpose blades will have between 40 to 50 teeth and will be capable of performing rips and crosscuts on a wide array of materials.
When used in conjunction with a 10-inch blade, most projects can be completed with minimal splintering.
This blade may not be capable of getting through the densest woods, but it is excellent for everyday use.
8-Inch Stack Dado Kit
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Having 8-inch blades for your table saw is an excellent idea because there are times that you will want to cut with a little more precision than can be offered with your 10-inch blade. The 8-inch blade will probably only be able to cut about 3 inches deep, but it will be able to complete more revolutions per minute, sawing through materials with great alacrity.
In addition, by stacking the 8-inch blades together with this kit (Amazon affiliate link), you will be able to make thicker grooves in those materials that you do not want to cut all the way through, in some cases up to ¾ of an inch thick, which gives you more versatility for notching and fastening.
Read also: Where Are Grizzly Table Saws Made?
In conclusion, if you’re looking to perform deep cuts in boards or pieces of wood, first consider the type of blade you’re using on your table saw, and remember that the deepest these saws typically can cut is four inches with a 12-inch blade.
As long as you have one of these equipped, you should find no trouble in acquiring the cutting depth you need for your project.
Cheers, tools owners!