Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday. I have a secret to tell you, this is one of the two power tools I own that I fear the most (the other is my router.) However, everytime I use my table saw I get a little more comfortable. Regardless, I will always keep that “healthy fear” so I won’t forget to use caution when using this power tool.

If you are just getting used to power tools, I would use a jigsaw or miter saw before tackling this big bad boy! That being said, I believe in all of you and know you can use a table saw, so let’s get to it!

A table saw is a great tool for ripping long pieces of wood. Unlike the miter saw which is limited to a certain width stock, the table saw can handle long sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood.

Explanation of a cross cut vs. a rip cut:

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw.)

We bought our table saw when we laid the wood floors in our living room. I knew that we’d probably have to rip a board or two once we reached the end. Well, wouldn’t you know that our living room ended up being the perfect size for all full width boards. I kept the table saw anyway knowing that I’d use it (and I have used it a fair amount.)

Table saws come in either a stationary or a portable style. I prefer the portability of my table saw. I can roll it out into the driveway (to keep the sawdust outside.) And, because the stand is built-in, I can fold it up on its side, roll it back into the garage and store it away when not in use.

Table saws cost anywhere from $120 up to $1,000 or more. The Ryobi 10 inch table saw with transportable stand that I use costs $300 at Home Depot.

I highly recommend wearing ear protection, safety googles and a dust mask when using a table saw. Hooking your table saw up to shop vac will greatly reduce the amount of saw dust that is discharged (and it spits out a lot of sawdust!)

Two common dangers of using a table saw are kickback (the board being thrown back toward the user) and hand injuries from forcing material through or feeding the wood with the hand too close to the saw. Kickback will happen if the wood is pinched too tight between the rip fence and the blade. When making a cross cut with a table saw, DO NOT use the rip fence! This can cause kickback to occur.

Table Saw Features:

Safety features are super important on a table saw. A blade cover is essential to keep hands away from the blade. And for that reason a table saw should never be used without the guard in place. For even more protection from hand injuries, there is a table saw that is manufactured under the name Stop Saw, that retracts in a split second if it detects flesh against the blade.

Behind the blade on my table saw are anti-kickback pawls. This is a close up view of this safety mechanism. They are basically teeth that will dig into the wood should the blade start to “kick back” the material toward the user.


The rip fence is used to setting the width of a cut and keeping the board straight when making a rip cut. Never use the rip fence when making a cross cut. My saw has a miter fence for making angled miter cuts. I honestly haven’t used that feature yet.

The blade depth adjustment and bevel adjustment knob are one and the same on the Ryobi. To adjust the bevel, push the knob in and then turn it.

The material support and the sawdust chute are located on the back of my table saw.

When using a table saw, be sure to have a clear work area. Set up supports or have someone help you to support large pieces of wood after they exit the saw. Use a push stick to assist when making a narrow cut. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry that could catch on the machine. Always use a table saw when you are well fed, alert, and are not in a hurry. This is a serious power tool and requires all your focus to use it.


The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic table saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a table saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If I haven’t scared the sawdust out of you, here is the video tutorial for using a table saw:

I hope I have empowered you to use a table saw at some point. It is a good saw to have in your shop. Especially if you need to lay wood flooring, install beadboard wainscoting and many other projects that require you to rip a board.



35 replies
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  1. Kim G.
    Kim G. says:

    Thanks for sharing your video and knowledge. I have a table saw that I haven’t finished putting together. It intimidates me. I guess I should just sit down and devour the manual.
    I started a project almost 2 years ago and haven’t been back to it. Not sure why. But each time I read your blog and see comments I get a littler more anxious to get back to it.

  2. Mary Ann B
    Mary Ann B says:

    Total respect/borderline fear for anything that powers up any motor or blade with electricity or gas! I’ve personally known two or three men to cut some digits off with miter saws, and that’s enough warning for me to play it safe! The other day I can’t believe I saw This Old House longtime carpenter extraordinaire(I won’t say his name, but most will prob. know who I mean) hold up a SMALL piece of wood he was using in a window jam and had a small sliver to take off it. On camera he actually held the wood with one hand up in the air and used his circular saw to cut the sliver??! I couldn’t believe they didn’t edit that, because that was totally not cool. I do like how you are safety minded. It sometimes slows us down, but better slower and in one piece than regretting it later! 🙂

  3. Lucy
    Lucy says:

    I’m with you on the fear factor. I used mine only occasionally, always with a bit of trepidation, but never had an accident besides a kick back on a small piece that scared the heck out of me and left a bruise on my hipbone!! When space became a problem, I decided to gift my little table saw to an old gentleman woodworker I met at a garage sale (both of us were looking for tools). He’d had to sell all his tools when he moved to be closer to his children (they wanted him in a retirement center, but he wanted a space with a workshop). For now, I’m able to use my circular saw and my clamp guide for the few rip cuts I need, but I’ll definitely look at this Ryobi if I ever get another. I love the safety features and its portability. I may even be able to make room for it! 😉 Thanks for another great, empowering tutorial!

  4. Carole Stucker
    Carole Stucker says:

    Great job on the table saw tutorial. I asked Santa for a table saw fifteen years ago and he gave me a full sized one. I’ve used the heck out of it but it’s time for a new one. I like the features on yours and the fact that it folds down and stores so nicely. Gee, if I had one like yours I may actually be able to put my car in the garage.

  5. Kim N.
    Kim N. says:

    A pink hammer…I’d love it so then my 4 y.o. wouldn’t always be trying to convince me that my hammer is really his daddy’s! 🙂 Great tutorial. I have a love/hate relationship with my table saw (it scares the bejeebers out of me) so your tute is great for helping me feel more confident with it.

  6. Emily R.
    Emily R. says:

    Thanks for another great tutorial. This is slight off topic, but the compressor and nail gun you featured a couple of weeks ago will be on sale for $59 on Back Friday. Just like to alert Tool Tutorial followers of a sale.

  7. seansmom
    seansmom says:

    Wow!! I can’t believe I won a pink hammer! I’m so excited!
    Hubby has two(don’t ask)Shopsmiths here and although I’ve used them a few times, I always approach them the same way I would a large dangerous animal…withs LOTS of caution!! They’re also large and every time I do use them I have to run back and forth from the house to the garage.. Yours is great..so compact and portable. Lucky you!
    ..And you’re welcome to come and stay at our guesthouse any time you’d like!

  8. MyAuntLulu
    MyAuntLulu says:

    Great tutorial. I just bought a table saw last week because I can’t make a strait cut with a hand saw. One of my crafty girlfriends sent me your link and I’m so glad she did. I’m looking forward to absorbing lots of information from you.
    Thanks Eva for the link. I’m a girlie tomboy and this is perfect for me.

  9. Karen @ Feral Turtle
    Karen @ Feral Turtle says:

    Hi Brittany. I am so glad you are posting about table saws. Years ago, we had a cheap Delta table saw. I had no fear of this tool, even though I had a few hand injuries from kick backs. Then one day I was ripping a 2×4 to make a 2×2. I still am not sure what had happened, but I got my sweatshirt sleeve caught in the blade. It pulled my hand towards the blade and cut the skin right off the side of my thumb. As blood was dripping all over, and hubby was at work, I had to wait for the kids to get off the school bus so we could go to the hospital. I am so grateful to still be the proud owner of my thumb but it was a lucky break for me. Needless to say, I am most respectful of this tool now. I take extreme precautions and never wear long sleeves. (And I never rip 2x4s with it. I use my skillsaw with the guide for accurate cuts. Works great.) Thanks again for your posts. They are most appreciated! Cheers!

  10. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    Excellent video! Now I understand everything my husband is always doing when he uses the table saw. It actually doesn’t seem difficult – just a little scary.

    He uses a push piece as well, but he just uses whatever piece of scrap wood he has laying around that’s handy. I also got him a couple of “roller tables” that you set up behind the table saw, so when he’s ripping long pieces of wood, it rolls across the surface of the extra table and he doesn’t have to push down on it to keep it from falling off.

    I’m definitely going to have to give this a try.

    BTW, have you heard of that other safety feature for some table saws? ome have it – it sends a *small* electrical current through the blade. (Really, really small – like the shock you’d get it about the same as touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery.) What it does is, if something that would conduct the current comes in contact with the spinning blade – like, your finger, for example – it’ll *immediately* shut off the blade and set off a mechanism that’ll “put a brake” on the blade’s spin, so it stops in the blink of an eye. I thought that was a really awesome idea, and if you can afford a table saw that has that neat-o addition, you should so splurge on it.

  11. Shawnie
    Shawnie says:

    Love your website – I found it via Ana White and I’m now a subscriber via RSS feeds. We used to have a table saw and my hubbie sold it because he didn’t use it that much and he wanted room in the garage. Loving the one you have that collapses . Our circular saw went missing last year and I am asking yet AGAIN for a replacement one for Christmas this year. We’ll see if he takes the obvious hints this year! I finally have some time to do some projects and I’m just dying to jump in and get my feet wet. Would love some tools of my own!
    Thanks for the inspiration – you have awesome tutorials and ideas and I appreciate you sharing them with newbies such as myself.

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