Insights from an Experienced Woodworker
Ask any group of woodworkers about the ideal table saw blade height, and you’ll witness a lively debate akin to discussions about politics or religion. Opinions on this topic are plentiful. Some suggest that the blade should not extend more than 1/8 inch above the cutting surface, while others argue for a height that reaches the floor of the esophagus (the space between the teeth).
Proponents of a lower blade height claim it reduces kickback and minimizes tearing. On the other hand, there are those who advocate for a higher blade to improve the front angle or rake. With so many conflicting viewpoints, it’s no wonder that finding the correct table saw blade height remains a challenge.
Factors to Consider
Here are some key considerations when determining the optimal table saw blade height. These points have proven effective in real-life table saw battles.
The angle at which the blade approaches the wood is known as the angle of incidence. A lower blade height results in a smaller angle, directing force primarily towards the operator. This can be dangerous in Type 1 kickback situations, where material is pushed back by the front teeth of the blade. In more perilous Type 2 kickback scenarios, the lower angle of incidence propels shrapnel towards sensitive areas when a back tooth rises out of the board.
Taller blades have higher angles of incidence. While they are less prone to Type 1 kickback due to the front teeth penetrating further into the material, they pose a greater risk of Type 2 kickback. Shrapnel can be propelled towards higher parts of the user, such as the throat, face, head, and eyes.
A lower blade height increases the contact between the teeth and the wood, resulting in greater heat generation during the cut. This can lead to slower feed rates and burn marks when working with hardwoods. Conversely, higher blade heights produce cooler and faster cuts, as fewer teeth come into contact with the material. It’s evident why there are so many contrasting opinions when it comes to setting the best table saw blade height.
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## Safety Considerations Determining the suitable blade height is not only about performance but also ensuring safety. Some argue that less exposed blade is safer, while others contend that any height that makes the blade useful is potentially hazardous. So, what's the verdict? Undoubtedly, the blade height discussion will persist. However, it's important to remember that the significance of blade height is surpassed by the safety measures employed by the table saw user. As one wise woodworker once said, "A right cut is a safe cut." To minimize the risk of Type 2 kickback, using a separator, especially one that accompanies newer riving knives, is highly recommended. It prevents the saw blade from passing through the back teeth, averting potential projectiles. Securing the blade guard in place is equally important. The powerful saw and sharp blade help prevent Type 1 kickback, while utilizing a feather board and push rod ensures downward pressure. Consider using blades specifically designed for your cutting needs, taking into account the number of teeth, rake angle, and other relevant factors. And of course, always wear adequate eye protection. ## The Final Verdict In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the optimal table saw blade height. It largely depends on personal preferences and the specific woodworking tasks at hand. We hope this article has provided you with enough information to confidently choose your preferred method. If you're a seasoned professional with valuable insights on table saw blade height, we invite you to share your tips and tricks in the comments section below.
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