Table Saw Terminology Guide

Reading one of my other articles and having trouble understand woodworking jargon or table saw terminology? This is the place for a quick explanation so you can get back to learning!

Here you’ll find definitions of saw parts, cut types, and everything in between.

Kerf: The word kerf can be used to describe: a slit cut into stock, the thickness of a slit cut into stock, the act of cutting a slit into stock, or the width of a blade’s cut. You usually have to use context clues, but where I use it on Table Saw Choice, I try to make it obvious.

Dado: A dado cut is basically just a notch cut in stock. They are most often used to create the receiving end of joints. You can also use them to create unique effects. The most effective way to create a dado with a table saw is with a dado blade set.

Gullets: A gullet is essentially the trough between two saw blade teeth.

Trunions: Trunnions are basic components of table saw design that hold the blade and motor assembly in place, in relation to the cabinet or tabletop.

Blade Guard: A blade guard is a table saw attachment that covers the blade as you cut wood. It comes standard on all table saws and it’s use is highly recommended. There are a few cuts where a blade guard gets in the way, but for the most part it helps to keep you safe and keep sawdust out of your face.

Rip Fence: A rip fence is one of a table saw’s standard jigs. It is used to make rip cuts. Rip fences serve as the anchor for the project side of stock being cut.

Miter Slots: Miter slots are standard notches that run parallel to the blade across the width of a table saw’s tabletop and allow the miter gauge to slide across the surface with stock as the blade cuts.

Miter Gauge: A miter gauge is one of a table saw’s standard jigs. It is used to cut stock to length and make miter cuts. A miter gauge grips stock and moves across the table saw’s tabletop via the miter slots as the blade cuts.

Jig: A table saw jig is an accessory or attachment that adds functionality to your table saw. Some, like the rip fence and miter gauge, are fundamental. Others are used to very specific tasks or one-time operations; many of this type are handmade by a woodworker for a specific task.

Sled: A sled, or “crosscut sled”, is a specialty table jig that makes crosscutting and miter cutting faster, easier, and more repeatable. They run in the miter slot, but extends out beyond the table and provide an extra surface for stock to rest on.

Rip Cut: Rip cuts, or “cutting to width”, is the most common table saw cut and goes along with the grain of the stock. It requires the use of your table saw’s rip fence.

Crosscut: The crosscut, or “cutting to length”, is one of the fundamental table saw cuts, entailing a cut across the grain of the wood. It requires the use of a miter gauge or sled on a table saw.

Bevel Cut: A bevel refers to a cut with an angled blade, as opposed to one perpendicular to the tabletop. Bevel cuts are common for joints and all table saws can adjust to accommodate bevel cuts.

Miter Cut: A miter is a cut to length at an angle, instead of perpendicular to the grain of the wood. It is another cut common in different types of joinery.

Resaw: A resaw is an in-grain cut across the stock’s thickness, instead of its width. You might look at it as a twisted rip cut or a mix between a rip and crosscut. However, the primary value of this technique is the unique visual effects it produces.

Taper: A tapered cut is one that leaves a board thicker on one end, with an even and gradual transition from one end to the other. Most commonly used for furniture legs, there are a few common jig designs that allow you to make this cut safe and easily repeatable.

Feed Rate: Feed rate is the speed at which stock is pushed through a cut. Striking the right balance based on the the cut, your material, and saw power is an essential part of performing table saw cuts safely.

Feed Force: Feed force is the force used to push stock through a cut; the most important thing about feed force is where it is applied based on the cut you are performing.

Blow Out: Blow out is slang for when a blade tears at a wood on the way out of a cut, leaving rough, chipped, splintery edges. Same thing as “tear out”.

Tear Out: Tear out is slang for when a blade tears at a wood on the way out of a cut, leaving rough, chipped, splintery edges. Same thing as “blow out”.

Arbor: A table saw’s arbor is the cylinder, or shaft, that the blade attaches to. It is spun by the motor and in turn spins the blade when you engage your saw.

Arbor Assembly: The arbor assembly consists of the arbor and mechanisms for raising and lowering the blade. Together, they move as a unit to determine blade height.

Joinery: Joinery is the realm of woodworking that consists of creating joints in different pieces of stock. There are a variety of different joints in woodworking and the table saw can help create quite a few of them, but depending on your project needs, there may be better choices.

Tenon: A tenon is a projecting piece of wood that is designed to fit into a matching hole called a mortise. It is the “male” component of a mortise and tenon joint, where the mortise is the “female” component.

Mortise: A mortise is a hole or recess in wood that is designed to fit a matching projection on another piece of wood, called a tenon. It is the “female” component of a mortise and tenon joint, where the tenon is the “male” component.

Something you’d like defined or explained? Comment your question below!

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