Every big power tool needs its helpers.
And every novice should have a good grasp on all of them.
This purpose of this post is to educate new and aspiring woodworkers about the different supplementary tools and attachments available for a table saw.
Additionally, newbies should understand exactly which accessories they need. Please consult Essential Table Saw Accessories for details on the bare minimum accessories every table saw user needs. You can also find out about what you would need for a specific project in Right Table Saw Accessories for You.
For a concise yet detailed explanation of all table saw specific accessories, this is exactly where you want to be. I left out of this article basic accuracy tools and other things all woodworkers should have such as ear and eye protection. But don’t forget those.
Anyway, let’s dive in. Table Saw accessories:
True to form, we are going to start with the basics and work our way to the more advanced accessories.
These are some of the most basic parts on the table saw. They are the table saw’s most fundamental parts. Quality is vital here.
These is a lot of variety among all these parts because they are so common.
Obviously, nothing could be more important than the blade when it comes to any saw.
Experienced woodworkers understand that the type of blade they use goes a long way to determining what kind of cuts a saw makes.
Blades are differentiated by the shape of their teeth, as well as how many they have. Also, the cutting edges of blades can be made of different materials. You should make a selection based on both what you are cutting and how you need to cut it.
With a table saw, it’s best to have different blades for ripping and cross cutting. But if you are a beginner or don’t plan on getting too serious, you can get away with blade for all cuts, as long as it is the right kind. Keep in mind, the cut quality will be below that of more specialized blades.
This video will help you gain a basic understanding. But more advanced woodworkers know there is a little more nuance to it than the video makes it seem. Be sure to check out Choosing the Right Table Saw Blade for an in-depth understanding of how to do just that.
The last thing you really need to know about blades is just how important it is to keep them sharp. Worry not, you do not need to go make a new purchase if one gets dull. There are plenty of blade sharpening products and services. But it is a vital aspect of cut quality.
Rip cuts are the most basic table saw cut. Therefore the rip fence if one of the most important table saw components.
It provides a vertical plane to guide your in-grain cuts. And you may also need to add attachments to it from time to time.
It is really central to most table saw projects.
I even recommend the rip fence as a factor when making buying decisions. A quality rip fence is sturdy, locks tightly into place, is easy to adjust, has adequate dimensions (height and length), and will stand the test of time.
If you are in the market for a more bargain saw, I’d then recommend that you look into rip fence upgrades. Usually, you’ll want to find something from the same manufacturer to ensure continuity.
Take care of any surfaces that will contact wood. That means the vertical face needs to be waxed and lubricated appropriately. Make sure that this is not the place you try to cut corners.
The miter gauge is just as vital as the rip fence.
Of course, it’d be much more dangerous and difficult to make crosscuts and angle cuts without it.
Unless you buy a more expensive saw, you can almost guarantee that the miter gauge is nothing special. Or worse, it is absolutely horrible.
In a miter gauge, I look for strong stops and easily read angles. And it’s obviously critical that it fits well in the miter slots. Free to slide back and forth, but tight enough to remain supported. Even if your miter slot upgrade doesn’t quite fit, you and buy pieces that will make it snug yet still smooth.
I’d recommend that novices don’t get too fancy with it. Again, the same manufacturer as your saw is a great place to start looking for upgrades. But honestly, there is a little more variance here and capability issues are a little less frequent.
Get something that fits your needs. No need to go overboard here.
Just about any table saw worth purchasing, no matter the type or price point, is going to have some sort of outfeed extensions.
However, the design and therefore the quality of your factory outfeed setup may be poor or limited. Proper outfeed is an essential part of table saw safety. It frees one of your hands and keeps accidents from happening in more ways than one.
This is another area that I advise buyers to factor in when shopping for their next table saw. There are also specially made outfeed extensions. You might want to look into what different manufacturers have to offer.
Although, building outfeed tables is a great project for novices. It is easy, but useful.
There are several safety accessories I decided to leave out of this Accessories Overview.
I already have a post on the Essential Table Saw Accessories. So it seemed redundant to talk about to have a section for ear and eye protection. But you can’t forget those. Remember that all the tools list in the Essentials post should be considered required for table saw use.
But this section is only about table saw specific safety accessories.
So let’s get into them.
When it comes to push sticks, there are basically two schools of thought.
As a push stick is designed to make make cutting narrow stock safer, it makes sense that there would different kinds. Personally, I use them both depending on what the situation calls for.
While you can buy specially made push sticks (of which I have a few), they are the easiest accessory to make.
The first kind of push stick is the more conventional one. I like to use two at a time, like you can see in this video. As long as you have a design, they are fairly easy to make. But you can also buy one for just a few dollars.
The second kind is gradually rising in popularity. Many woodworkers prefer it because it always you to have more control over the front end of your stock. It goes by different names but I call it a ‘“push U” like this guy in this video.
The ergonomics of “push U” are a bit better and it feels nice in your hand. But it does bring your hand a lot closer to the blad than does using the traditional push stick. I generally only bring it out when I will be doing a lot of cutting in a row, to give the muscles in my hand a break.
I never use a “push U” for very narrow cuts or when I am cutting with a high blade height. Also, the traditional push stick is useful for shorter table saw users, making it easier for them to get stock across the blade.
Push pads generally consist of a flat, grippy surface connected to a horizontal handle.
You generally want to use them when cutting grooves in stock. They give you an extra space between your hand in the blade in case something goes wrong. They can also be used for extra grip when cutting wider materials.
There is also a more advanced push pad called Gripper that has a variety of applications. It is a useful tool and I highly recommend it. It may look intimidating, but it is actually simple to operate.
One way or another, you should invest in a few accessories that increase your grip over the wood. Stay away from gloves. Stick to push pads.
Featherboards are a great safety accessory. You can make them, but I highly recommend purchasing a (few) good one(s).
A featherboard has “fingers” that secure stock against the fence and prevent kickback. Homemade feather boards are made of wood, which works. But there are ones you can buy made of rubber and other flexible materials that grip the wood a little better.
You can find featherboards that attach with powerful magnets or with clamps. Magnetized ones are probably better. But I have both, because sometimes the width of a piece of stock makes it difficult to lock into place to lock magnets in (due to miter slot positioning).
Plus, you can use clamps to attach your featherboards to the rip fence, which helps hold stock down.
Be sure to read the instructions for proper setup. But be sure that you place your featherboards only before the saw. You don’t want any of the “fingers” contacting the wood after the point the saw makes contact with the stock. This is a recipe for disaster.
That’s why I consider featherboards to be another of the essential table saw accessories.
A throat insert is simply the small metal or wooden piece that surrounds the blade and functions as part of the table top.
All table saws come with a standard throat plate. But many of these need an upgrade.
If you’ve read any of my posts about safety, you will know my opinion about throat inserts. But in case you haven’t, here’s my biggest recommendation:
Buy or create your own zero clearance insert set.
Often, the factory throat plate leaves a wide gap around the blade. This is because it is designed to be used with any basic cut. There are several issues with this, but main thing is that wood debris can fall into the wide gap and cause different problems.
First, it’s a potential safety hazard as the blade housing is vulnerable getting knocked out of whack by any unlucky large pieces of stock. Secondly, this is a maintenance nightmare. It results in so much sawdust making its way into the table saw’s innards. This means more cleanings.
Luckily, you can avoid all of that with zero clearance inserts. Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach, swap between zero clearance inserts based on what kind of cut you are making. Zero clearance inserts leave very little space on the sides of the blade and thus remedy the issues of stock inserts.
Personally, I think all table saws should come with zero clearance inserts standard. But that’s just me.
Too many “old school” woodworkers scoff at the idea of using a blade guard. Little do they know that nowadays, there some very useful blade guards on the market.
Some models even come standard with a very useable blade guard that can really improve your table saw’s safety score. The traditional argument against them is that they restrict your view of the cut as it is being made.
My thoughts were always that if you used the proper features to secure your stock and ensure your cut, it didn’t matter so much whether you watched it. Yet I do understand how this could make someone nervous.
Luckily, manufacturers today have listened to the complaints. Most blade guards today are crystal clear and unobtrusive. Many also help collect dust like a charm. But many reason you use a blade guard is for safety, plain and simple.
Keep in mind there are some cuts where you absolutely can’t use one, but I use mine whenever I can.
Specialty Table Saw Accesories
This group of accessories mostly consists of add-ons that either help you make more advanced cuts. For table saw users that are trying to complete more detailed or complex projects, this group will be crucial.
If you are a newbie, you don’t quite need to worry about most of these yet. First, you’re going to want to get through my Cut Guide Series and read Which Table Saw Accessories Are Right For You?
Sleds are an important accessory to have if you plan on doing a lot of crosscutting. Even more so if you are going to be cutting larger stock.
Sleds are basically specialty miter gauges. The most basic ones simply provide an extra wide base of support for work pieces. Others can be made to cut at specific miter angles or to help with dado cuts.
Novices will be able to forego the sled at first, but as they gain experience, a sled becomes more necessary.
Sleds also serve as one more way to increase speed and accuracy on a table saw. The more work you do, the more uses you will find for different sled designs. This is a great accessory to make yourself. But there are manufacturer’s versions on the market.
I tend to stick to making mine because I know exactly what I need.
Truth be told, sleds, featherboards, miter gauges, and even push sticks get called jigs.
And by definition a jig is ‘a device that holds a piece of work and guides the tools operating on it’. But what I mean by specialty jigs are jigs that are created for specific, unique purposes. You can find some manufactured ones.
But honestly, you’re probably better off looking up a few designs online and making one yourself, whatever the need you have is.
Building jigs can be fun, and oftentimes you will see a new or better way in the process of making it. Examples of different kinds of specialty jigs include: tapering jigs, sacrificial fences, miter sleds, box-joint jigs and more.
Dado blades sets are the way way to go if you are going to be making dado cuts consistently.
They generally consist of two cutting blades, several chippers, and some shims. The cutting blades go on the outside with the chippers in the middle.
If you have the need of a dado set be sure that you keep all instructions. They generally comes with a reference that is vital to understanding exactly which pieces you need to use for any given dado cut.
Additionally, I recommend the use of zero clearance throat inserts made specifically to use with different dado blade combinations.
Dust Collection Systems
To me, this one is a life save.
I often wonder why more brands don’t make high quality dust collection systems. And likewise, I wonder why more table saw users don’t demand them.
The main reason to get a table saw with a nice dust collection system or purchase an aftermarket one is to reduce your maintenance burden. Cleaning out the saw’s innards is one of my least favorite activities, but I know how important it is to keep sawdust free.
That’s why I think dust collection systems are no-brainers. Combined with the first type of blade guard, you can clean out your table saw’s trunnions and gears half as often.
Maybe I’m just lazy, but I simply can’t see why more woodworkers don’t use them.
Table saws are so versatile in large part to the variety of add-ons and accessories available to be used with them.
Afterall, a table saw is little more than a blade and table. But when you add the right pieces and know how to use them properly, a table saw becomes a workhorse that can handle nearly any woodworking project.
Be sure that you understand which accessories are necessary for what it is you need to do. And of course, familiarize yourself with all the most basic ones. These accessories contribute to the quality of work you do, the speed at which you are able to do it, and how safely you are able to operate your saw.
Do not neglect to either purchase or make the accessories you need. And furthermore, don’t neglect to learn how to use them properly.
Make sure to check out our list of all table saw guides for more.