the parts of a table saw video screenshot

What are the parts of a table saw? Take a closer look at the main parts and features you will find on most table saws, including the tabletop, throat plate, blade, arbor, motor, trunnions, hand wheels, stationary base, mobile base, fence, miter gauge, guard system, riving knife, splitter, and flesh-detecting safety systems.

Skill Builder Video

The Parts Of A Table Saw - Video Transcript

Speaker One of the first big tool purchases every woodworker makes is the table saw. The reason for that is that the table saw allows you to make straight, accurate cuts easily and safely. Today I'm going to walk you through the important features that make up any good table saw. Let's start by talking about the tabletop. It usually comes in sections and the center section is mounted directly to the base and surrounds the blade. This one, like most stationary saws, is made out of cast iron. The most important thing is that it needs to be dead flat and smooth, and it should come that way from the manufacturer. You'll also notice that there are miter slots here and those are used to guide accessories across the table.

On either side of the center section you'll find extension wings. Now, on this those are made of cast iron, which is really nice. On some saws it's going to be stamped steel. On some smaller or portable size, this right extension actually slides out to give you greater cutting capacity while providing support at the fence. This also features a 52" melamine extension table which is great if you're breaking down a lot of big sheet goods. When you're shopping for a saw, consider the type of work that you're going to be doing, as well as the size of your shop, because while this is great for breaking down big stock, in a small shop it just might get in the way.

Within the table's top you'll find the throat plate. Now, this is just are movable insert that gives you access to the blade. The most important part of the throat plate is the slot for the blade. That just allows the blade to rise through, and that slot needs to be as close to the blade as possible, so that offcuts don't get wedged between the blade and the throat plate. You can also buy aftermarket throat plates with different size openings for different things, such as dado sets, or you can buy a blank like this and cut your own custom throat plate.

Inside the saw you'll find the blade, which is mounted to a shaft that extends from the motor, which is called the arbor. Now, the motor is mounted to two brackets called trunnions and those are mounted either to the underside of the table or directly to the cabinet's base. The reason that's important to know is that if your blade and your table ever become out of alignment, those are the parts you're going to have to adjust.

The height and angle of the blade are adjusted using either one or two hand wheels. On this stationary saw there are two and they're located down here on the base. Adjust the height of the blade with the wheel on the front of the saw. Simply rotate the wheel in one direction to raise the blade and the opposite direction to lower it. Use the wheel on the side of the base to change the angle of the blade in relation to the saw's top.

Now, let's talk about the base. Now, these are going to range anywhere from being fully enclosed to very open. No matter the size of your saw, generally speaking, the more enclosed the base is, the better dust collection you're going to get. Now, this saw also features a mobile base. That's not absolutely necessary, but it's really nice to be able to move your tools around your shop. Smaller size, such as jobsite and benchtop size will often come on a portable base. This type of base folds up so it's easy to transport your saw, or if you've got a small shop, makes it nice just to tuck it into a corner.

Most modern saws, even smaller, portable size, come with a good quality fence. The most important features of a fence is a secure locking system, so that when you lock this down it stays put, and secondly, some form of adjustment so that you can make sure that the fence is parallel with the blade. Lastly, there'll be a scale down on the fence's rail that allows you to adjust and set the distance from the blade. One accessory that comes with every table saw is a miter gauge. Miter gauge has a bar that fits into the miter slot and slides along the table like this. Then there's also a head which you can adjust to make different angled cuts.

All saws are required to have some form of guard system, and they typically employ three different components. First is the shroud. It's this large plastic housing that completely covers the blade so you can still see the blade, but your fingers can't come in contact with it. Secondly is the splitter, and that's located behind the blade. What this does is it prevents the board from pinching and binding on the blade after it's been cut. Lastly are these two anti-kickback pawls, and they're just little spring-loaded arms that have teeth on the bottom of them so that in the event that you get a binding situation, those teeth will dig into the workpiece and prevent it from kicking back at the operator.

Another blade-related safety feature is called the riving knife. In order to use it, you have to remove the rest of the guard system. There's a little lever down here that releases that, and then you can set that aside. The riving knife looks a lot like the splitter and it mounts in the same holes, provides the same protection against pinching on the blade. The difference is that at its peak it's lower than the top of the blade, so you can make cuts that don't go all the way through a workpiece without having the riving knife interfere.

In this size case, both the guard system and the separate riving knife are mounted to the arbor assembly so that they raise and lower with the blade, maintaining a consistent narrow gap between the blade and splitter or riving knife. This helps keep the kerf open throughout the cut and it prevents pinching and binding the blade. mini-size feature a fixed guard system or separate splitter like this, which mounts to the saw's base so it doesn't move with the blade. The gap between this splitter and the blade increases as the blade is lowered. The greater the gap, the more chance there is of the kerf pinching and binding the blade.

One other safety feature that I think is worth mentioning that's on this saw is the flesh detection technology. Now, in this case, in the event that you come into contact with the blade, the blade will drop out of the way in a fraction of a second, preventing serious injury. I hope this overview of its many features helps you to understand what makes the table saw a workhorse in any wood shop.