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Wood Species and Table Saw Burn
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Are some woods more prone to table saw burn than others? Yes, but it shouldn’t matter all that much. With an appropriate (and appropriately sharp) saw blade, correct fence alignment and the proper feed rate, you’ll get clean cuts nearly all of the time, as three experts point out below to a Woodworker’s Journal eZine reader:

Q. This woodworker is having problems with his table saw burning hardwoods on one side of the blade. He heard that some hardwoods are more prone to burning than others. Is that true?

A. (Michael Dresdner) "Yes, it is true. Cherry is a good example of a wood prone to burning. However, the problem is most likely in the saw setup, the blade trueness, or the speed the wood is being fed into it. A well set-up saw with a good blade will not burn wood that is fed into it at the right speed. Take another look at your setup - it is too soon to be blaming the wood.

A. (Rick White) "First off, cherry and mahogany are more prone to burn when you're cutting them, so make sure you don't stop in the middle of a cut or feed the material too slow when working with these woods. There are other factors that cause burning, including:

• Dull blades

• The saw is not square with the fence

• Wood could be warped and pushing itself into the blade as it's cut


Check the alignment of the blade and fence once, and then check it again. That's the likely culprit."

A. (Ian Kirby) "It very much sounds like the fence isn't aligned parallel to the blade. Slow feeding, even with a brand new carbide blade, will cause burning because there's too much friction. Check that the fence is parallel and feed the wood faster (it's practically impossible to feed too fast - the saw motor will bog down before you could damage the blade).


A. (Ellis Walentine) Certain woods, whether hard or soft, are more prone to burning from the friction of a saw blade or router bit. If your wood is burning on just one side, it suggests that you need to align your table saw blade with your rip fence.

You can reduce burning by using a sharp rip blade for ripping and a sharp ATB (alternate top bevel) blade for crosscutting. Fewer teeth will produce a slightly rougher cut but will generate less heat and burn less."

From the Woodworker's Journal eZine archives

It may be impossible to entirely eliminate table saw burn. Lumber that’s been improperly dried or has other anomalies, especially in a burn-prone species, can end up with a few marks no matter how much care you take. But by following the advice offered above, you can make ugly, burnt cut-edges a very rare occurrence.

freud premeir fusion bladeAs a first step, make sure your saw is adjusted and aligned correctly. You’ll find the basics of the procedure in Rockler’s article, “Improving Table Saw Performance”.

The type, condition and quality of your saw blade is the next place to look. Your blade may be perfectly good and just in need of sharpening. But if it’s not, investing in a good quality table saw blade – and one that’s appropriate for the job - can make a world on difference.

If you’re not sure what makes one blade better or more appropriate than another, read through Rockler’s “Saw Blades 101” for a basic education in saw blade types and terminology, or head for “Choosing the Right Saw Blade” for help in picking out a specific blade.

posted on July 12, 2007 by Rockler
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2 thoughts on “Wood Species and Table Saw Burn”

  • Howard Disney

    Regarding burn marks on hardwood (red oak), it might be
    helpful to add a note about the table saw itself. My 30 year old
    Craftsman table saw plug was getting fairly thin and weak. I
    tried cutting some red oak and got burn with several very good
    blades. After replacing the power plug, no burn at all. Maybe
    you could add that whatever saw you use, having a very good
    electrical connection to a dedicated electrical outlet will make
    a big difference when cutting hardwoods on saws with less than
    industrial capabilities.

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team April 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for that, Howard. We don't hear adequate power supply and good electrical connections mentioned in the context of table saw safety very often, but an optimally functioning motor certainly a plays an important part.

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