Twelve Top Table Saw Accessories
Table saws are tremendously versatile, but much of that capability comes from a number of jigs and accessories that can be employed to enhance the basic machine.
I am going to list, in my order of importance, what I believe are the most useful table saw accessories. I am sure there will be challenges to my list, but here goes.
1. Quality Rip Fence Most modern table saws have a good quality rip fence. But as I pointed out with my old-fashioned saw from my youth, that is not a given. In fact, one of my chief gripes about table saw fences today is the lack of fore-and-aft adjustability.
Rip fences must remain parallel to the blade in order to prevent binding during rip cuts. Quality rip fences can be adjusted when needed to correct for parallelism. That helps to prevent kickbacks and results in cleaner cuts that are easier to make.
2. Quality Miter Gauge This probably comes as no surprise. The quality of miter gauge "fences" provided with modern table saws ranges from acceptable to extremely good. Poor miter gauges fit loosely in the miter slots and fail to lock the gauge's pivoting head securely. The sheer number of aftermarket miter gauges available testifies that there is room for improvement to the miter gauges on many home-shop table saws.
3. Essential Saw Blades Most saw blades are of exceptional quality these days. That said, here are three I think every owner of a 10" saw should have: a 40-tooth standard-kerf combination blade, a 40-tooth thin-kerf blade and an 80-tooth thin-kerf plywood-cutting blade. (You may need to add a thin-kerf riving knife if your saw does not come outfitted with one.) My rationale for this collection exceeds the space I have here to explain, but suffice to say with this assortment, you will be able to handle almost every table saw cutting task.
4. Dado Blades The table saw is my favorite tool for plowing dadoes and grooves. Most dado blades "stack" or nest together to vary the cutting width for these common and important joinery cuts. But dado blades are also useful for milling rabbets, tenons, lap joints, box joints and more. Is a dado blade essential? Maybe not at first, but eventually the need will arise. When it does, it's well worth the expense.
5. Crosscut Sleds The extra degree of control that crosscut sleds provide by lifting your stock off the saw table during cutting makes these jigs a go-to product. Many have added mitering capabilities that make them even more useful.
6. Angle-setting Gauges Table saws can cut precise angles but only if they are set accurately. Whether you use a Rockler Perfect Miter Setup Block or a Wixey Digital Angle Gauge, these products will improve your results.
7. Rockler's Thin Rip Tablesaw Jig Ripping very thin slices of lumber safely and accurately can be a bit of a pain. This jig provides an elegant solution.
8. Zero-clearance Inserts These throatplates typically replace wider-gapped standard throatplates and hug the blade to keep thin stock from jamming against it. They also help to reduce tearout. For those reasons, they improve safety and cutting quality. One could challenge me as to whether these are "accessories," but that is how I see them.
9. Tapering Jigs The need to form angled rip cuts, known as "taper" cuts, is often required for furniture-building. A tapering jig can help you do this safely and repetitively, which you'll surely appreciate.
10. Tenoning Jigs Mortise-and-tenon joints are ideal for solid-wood projects. While there may be better tools for raising tenons, the table saw and tenoning jigs have been cutting them effectively for generations.
11. Cove-cutting Jigs Cutting coves on the table saw is downright fun. It also provides a way to machine large coves into solid wood safely. Specialized cove-cutting jigs tackle this unique shaping operation with ease.
12. Mobile Bases As important and useful as a table saw can be, they are often large, heavy machines that can get in the way. If you need to move yours from time to time, a mobile base with swiveling, locking casters can be a real help.
I'll stop there with my "dandy dozen." Accessories are the key to getting the most from your table saw.