So you want to be a master woodworker huh?
Well I suppose if you’re reading this, you’re already part way there.
Assuming you’ve read or already understand everything covered in my Basic Table Saw Skills Guide, this is where you come to find out about woodworking’s more advanced table saw cuts.
Here, you’ll find information about proper resaw technique as well as how to miter and bevel safely and accurately.
But I’ll also go into the need-to-know information about more complex table saw operations such as dadoing, tapering, and the like.
What you won’t find here is an overload of safety info or how-tos on rips or crosscuts.
That’s because if you’re here, there is no more need for hand holding.
So let’s just jump right in.
Regarded as the 3rd fundamental table saw cut type, resawing is all about the finish.
A resaw cut is basically a sideways rip. Instead of a rip that cuts a board to width, you cut it to thickness.
In this way, you turn a 2”x8” into two 1”x8”s. The math on saving material is obvious.
What isn’t so obvious is the visual effect this creates. Depending on the wood, cross-section cuts can reveal beautiful grain patterns. But you have two matching faces to use together however you see fit.
However, it is important to emphasize that resawing is one of the table saws most dangerous operations. Bandsaws are actually more commonly asked to resaw than table saws. However, if you take the proper precautions, you are rewarded with gorgeous, repeatable resaw cuts by the table saw.
This type of cut cannot be made with a blade guard, as you will need to push the fence up to the blade. But a riving knife is absolutely essential to your safety.
To me, featherboards are not optional, but required when resawing. I recommend them before and after the blade, especially for stock over 2’ in length.
Additionally, you want to minimize pauses and grip changes as much as you can once you initiate the cut.
Because the average table saw has a cut depth of about 3 inches, it’s likely you’ll need to raise the blade to it’s maximum. Be wary, as this gives the blade’s teeth more surface area to grab and throw your material back at you, greatly increasing the risk for kickback. That’s why I recommend featherboards so strongly.
So what if the your stock is thicker than 3 inches wide?
You will have to do to it in two passes. After the first, flip it end for end. Again, the featherboards help with consistency.
Whenever I have a two-pass resaw, I always leave a quarter inch or less uncut. In other words I don’t cut it through, even if it’s just 4” thick. So, I’m left with a board that looks like an H from one end. If the connection is thicker, I carefully cut through it. If its on the thinner side I simply break it.
I do this for anything I can’t resaw in one pass. You see, when you cut a resaw all the way through, there is great potential for the two pieces to come together at the top, pinch the saw in the middle, and fly back at you with speed. It’s easy enough to sand the extra material down.
With my experience, a little flying wood doesn’t scare me much, but that kickback also guarantees I just ruined the the inner surfaces of both pieces of stock.
Resawing can allow even a novice to produce stunning work. Experiment with different woods and create yourself a masterpiece! Resawing really is one the woodworker’s best strategies.
How you approach bevel cuts—especially rips—will have a lot to do with what kind of table saw you own.
Until recently, right-tilting table saws were much more common. But thanks in part to European influence, left-tilting or dual-tilting saws have slowly become the standard over the last decade or so.
Bevel ripping has a lot to do with this marketplace shift.
European safety regulations are very strict. But many American woodworkers with decades of experience look at some of their standards as being more dangerous. Personally, I think this is a misunderstanding.
Too often, American carpenters only look at one thing they do differently across the pond, see how dangerous it would be incorporated into their own setup, and dismiss it as nonsensical. But when you get down to it, we have to look at the full scope of what they do differently if we really want to understand.
They’ve actually led the way to our new and improved standards in this country. And European saws actually have raving fans in the states.
So where that leaves us now is two questions:
Is your table saw to American or European standards? And is your table saw left-tilt or right-tilt?
Well if your table saw is American-made, you’ll want to position your rip fence away from the blade’s tilt (unless you follow the instructions inthis video to a tee). If your saw tilts right, your fence will be on the left-hand side and vice-versa. This way, your finished piece ends up on top of the blade.
For European table saws, the instruction is to do the opposite. The main difference is that they use a shorter rip fence.
You see, the stock under the blade (whether waste or project piece) has an increased chance of kickback and burning unless certain measures are taken. The Europeans take those measures.
Since this isn’t a beginner’s guide, I’ll be blunt:
I do it both ways depending on the project. I like the European way when hairline detail is vital. The American way is what I use when precision is not as big of a deal. Partly because it’s how I learned it first, and partly because it takes less setup time.
So now that you have a better idea of how to safely make bevel rips, allow me to point out one thing.
Always use a protractor or other trusted angle measure for bevel cuts. Bevel scales on table saws are shaky at best, and it makes sense to line up every bevel individually anyway.
Also, it is way easiest to measure your width on the long end of the angle cut.
Now I’ll have you know that I have several jigs for bevel cutting (especially for bevels beyond the 45° to 45° natural range of the saw and the side of paneling) and I’m quick to make a new one whenever I see fit.
Actually this is just as true for cross cutting bevels as it is for ripping them.
Crosscut Bevels and Compound Miters
Crosscut bevels are a bit of a different animal. Remember, the miter gauge is your guide, not the fence.
For these, I always use the miter slot away from the tilt and have my waste under the blade. The reasoning here is that the miter gauge will apply the same pressure to the piece throughout the length of the cut.
I always make sure that my cut marks are properly lined up with the still blade before I turn the saw on and begin my cut. This helps me ensure that I have properly factored in the blade’s kerf.
Beveling anything is a high-chance-of-kickback operation, so be sure that you stand outside the miter slots to avoid scrap wood projectiles.
When you graduate to compound miters, nothing much changes. You will need to slow down your feed rate and perhaps the blade speed to reduce tear out. But other than that, the most difficult part is getting your angles correct.
Doubling the number of angles nearly doubles the difficulty. I encourage less advanced users to use plenty of scrap testing their cuts before they bring out their project pieces. Each angle will need to be more accurate than usual because each will work to highlight the other’s deficiencies.
And if you plan on doing a lot of bevel crosscutting or compound mitering with your table saw, I’d recommend some specially made miter gauge extensions whether you buy them or make them yourself.
Dados and Grooves
Dado and groove cuts are in essence the last foundational woodworking cut to be made on a table saw.
These cuts are referred to as ‘non-through’ cuts.
Meaning, you don’t cut all the way through the stock.
The point is to create a notch in one piece, generally for another piece to affix itself into.
Obviously, this table saw application is essential to joinery. It is a nuanced skill with important safety and cut-quality measures that need to be taken.
But first, let’s establish the difference between the two. Grooves are basically rip cuts, going with the grain. Dados are crosscuts, going across the grain. That’s it.
Nowadays, if you don’t use a stacked dado blade set for this type of cut, you are simply being silly. Nothing safer. Nothing that produces better non-through cuts. Nothing else worth mentioning, though some still use outdated methods.
Stacked blade sets consist of just that: stacked blades. You basically have two regular table blades with chippers and shims in the middle to dig out the space between the larger blades cleanly.
It’s vital that you read, keep, and always follow the instructions of your dado blade set as well as any special instructions from your table saw manufacturer concerning dado blades or dado and groove cutting.
To set up your cut, remove your standard blade and the riving knife or splitter. Install the appropriate stack based on the thickness of your intended notch. With dado blades installed, you can completely disregard the measure on your table top. It is no longer accurate given the increased cut thickness. It’s also imperative that you use a dado insert, as your usual zero clearance insert won’t fit over the blade.
You’ll also need to take a few extra safety precautions if you aren’t using a dado sled (more on dado sleds momentarily).
I always use feather boards and either push sticks or push pads for non-through rip cuts:
Featherboards because the slightest rock will ruin your cuts. Push pads for stock laying flat and push sticks with an extra tall auxiliary fence for non-through ripping into the sides of stock.
But I also have several different, extremely useful, dado cutting sleds. Designs everywhere online. Check them out. If you do a lot of dados and grooves, they are a necessity. This is one of the big reasons I hardly ever use my miter gauge for making non-through cuts.
The perfect dado cut allows the piece you need to insert to slide into place with average pressure. It should retain a friction fit without having to be forced into place. If the fit is too tight, the insertion piece will scrape all of the glue off the sides.
Oftentimes, you will need a digital caliper to achieve this kind of fit.
The issue is that all ¾” panels aren’t created equally. You’ll likely need to make adjustments down to a few thousandths of an inch to achieve the highest quality joint.
If you’re making drawers, cabinets, shelves, or really another other piece of furniture, you are likely to need dados. It is as important a cut to know your way around as any others on this list.
Where to Go From Here
If this post has taught you anything, take what you’ve learned, mix and match it with what you already know and get creative!
Experiment with different cuts, different materials, and different projects. The woodworking community can always use one more pair of hands innovating new designs.
Also, if you have any tips or tricks that could make any of the cuts mentioned here safer or more accurate, please comment below. I am big on community and love to hear my reader’s input.
Make sure to check out our list of all table saw guides for more.