Benefits of a Sliding Table Saw

In Session 6 of the ongoing Maple Trestle Table build, I needed to cut two stretchers from a slab of maple and my sliding table saw was the best tool for the job.  Note that I used a riving knife for every cut.

Crosscut Fence

I first crosscut the slab to length using the crosscut fence and outrigger for support.  The crosscut fence, which was much longer and more solid than a mitre gauge, was secured to the outrigger and sliding table.  The workpiece sat directly on the outrigger and sliding table so I didn’t lose any depth of cut.  Together, the slab, sliding table, outrigger and crosscut fence glided past the blade on ball bearings.

Straight-Line Ripping

Once the stock was cut to length, I turned it length-wise to rip one edge straight.  I butted one end against the back of the crosscut fence and positioned a cam-action hold-down at the other end.  I positioned the workpiece where I thought it needed to be to rip a clean, straight edge (I could have also measured to be more accurate).  Then I secured the slab with the hold-down and pushed the sliding table and slab through the blade.  Because the slab wasn’t perfectly flat, I also applied downward pressure to the forward end.

Short Fence

With one straight edge established, I then needed to rip two pieces of the same width.  I positioned the rip fence the appropriate distance from the blade and retracted the fence to the short fence position.  In this position, the fence terminated where (or slightly before) the stock was parted by the blade.  This way, the material was never trapped between the blade and fence which could cause burning, binding, and/or kickback.

I recorded the whole process, including set-up, in this video.  (Duration – 6:11)

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Flat-Top Ripping Blade is King

Freud’s 24-tooth Heavy Duty Rip Blade (LM72M010) is what is installed in my table saw 90% of the time.  The blade has 24 teeth 0.126″ wide, ground flat on the top and pitched forwards at 20 degrees.  These characteristics make it the most versatile and most used saw blade in my shop.

Heavy Duty Rip Blade - Technical Specifications (from FreudTools.com) K= Kerf; P= Plate Thickness

As you would expect, this blade excels at ripping.  The 20-degree forward (positive) hook angle makes feeding stock past the blade easier and the blade leaves two clean surfaces requiring little, if any, further clean-up.  This blade also does a formidable job with cross-cuts too, especially when freshly sharpened.  (When I need a super-clean crosscut, I take the time to switch to a dedicated crosscut blade.)

For a 10″ circular saw, 24 teeth is not very many (they may have as few as four or as many as 90).  Having few teeth allows quicker, more aggressive cutting.  The trade-off is that the blade will tend to leave a rougher cut than a blade with more teeth.  In some cases, using a slower feed rate increases the quality of cut.  In other cases it only causes burning.

Freud Heavy Duty Rip Blade

The flat-top blade is useful for joinery.  Non-through cuts have square shoulders and flat bottoms, making cleanup unnecessary.  The blade has a regular kerf that is 0.126″ wide, just a little over 1/8″ (1/8″=0.125″).  This is 20% thicker than a thin-kerf blade which typically removes 3/32″ (0.09375″).  While a thicker kerf means it turns more wood into sawdust and requires more power to spin, it also means that only three passes are required to cut a 3/8″ wide groove versus four with a thin-kerf blade.

In addition to making joinery more convenient to cut, set-up is also quicker and easier.  Because each tooth is the same, the top or edge of any tooth can be referenced for accurate set-ups.  Another benefit to the tooth shape, which distributes the cutting duty over a wider surface, is that the teeth are also very durable and as a result, I need to have the blade sharpened less often.

There is a lot more information on saw blades on the Carbide Processors Inc. website.

My Tall Workbench with Flair

This bench was inspired after the Joinery Bench that Shannon Rogers brought to Woodworking in America.  It was intended to simply be a taller workbench and I honestly did not know how useful I would find it (ask me in half a year).

This small bench was built taller than normal (39.5″) to allow joinery to be cut at a more comfortable height – no more bending over to see your scribe lines.  I built the base using drawbored mortise and tenon joinery.  The bench was made of Western maple.

Tall Workbench Assembled

All the joints were drawbored mortise and tenons.  I used my drill press and chisels to cut the mortises and cut the tenons with my bandsaw and tuned them with my shoulder plane and chisels.

Mortise and Tenon

In this video, I demonstrated how I shaped and installed drawbore pegs while discussing why drawbored mortise and tenon joints are effective.  Listen how the sound changes as the peg encounters the offset hole in the stretcher’s tenon.  (Duration:  1:27.)

To keep the build simple, I only did what was necessary.  The faces of the legs were left rough-sawn and the back of the bench top still bears a live edge.  The bench top was attached to the base with four lag bolts in oversized holes to allow for expansion.  No glue was used.

In this second video, I showed how I used my sliding table saw to straighten one edge, then crosscut the two adjacent edges square.  (Duration:  3:09.)

The bench itself required 13 hours to construct and the Moxon Vise with Flair required another two hours.

Tall Workbench

What do you think of my 13-hour Tall Workbench with Flair?

Quite a few other bloggers are documenting (or have documented) the building of their workbenches.  You can read about their benches by following these links:

(If I have missed your bench build, please leave a link in the comments section.)