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    Essential Tablesaw Accessories

    By Kelly Mehler

    Tablesaws need a few important accessories improve both the safety and accuracy of the saw.

    Outfeed support
    There’s not much distance between the back of the blade and the back of the saw table. As a result, boards can end up falling off the back of the saw at the end of a cut. This is why you want to use some sort of outfeed support (table pictured above).

    Also, when ripping a long board, you must bear down hard to prevent it from tipping off the back at the end of the cut. That’s not something you want to do with your hand passing near the blade. So it’s important to have some sort of auxiliary support at the back of the saw. A sturdy table is best, but even a support stand will help.

    Tip: If you build the workbench, like the one from the Getting Started in Woodworking series, you can customize the height to also serve as an outfeed table.

    Push blocks
    When making a ripcut 8 in. wide or less, a push block or push stick is a must. It’s an extension of your hand, so your fingers stay a reasonably safe distance from the blade.

    A push stick is effective for pushing a board, but the most basic ones (like this one at Woodcraft) holds down little more than the trailing end. I prefer a push block (above) because it provides downward pressure along more than just the end. That way, the board is less likely to flutter and, more important, is less susceptible to kickback. It takes just a few minutes to make a push block. Use any 3⁄4-in.- or 1-in.-thick stock and cut it to shape with a bandsaw or sabersaw.

    Zero-clearance insert
    When a tablesaw comes from the factory, the blade insert typically has a wide opening. That’s fine for bevel cuts or wide ripcuts. But for a narrow ripcut, the trailing end of the piece can drop down through the opening in the insert.



    The wide slot of a factory insert (above left) can trap thin stock. A better option is using a zero-clearance insert (above right). Its narrow slot is created by raising the blade through the insert.

    As the piece tips, your pushing hand follows it. And you don’t want your hand to drop toward a spinning sawblade. If that’s not scary enough, you run the risk of kickback, too. To avoid those problems, I use a zero-clearance insert for almost all of my cuts. Most woodworking mail-order catalogs sell inserts made from phenolic plastic and precut to fit most any make and model of saw. Or you can cut your own from plywood.

    Drawings by Jim Richey

    Excerpt from A Tablesaw Primer: Ripping and Crosscutting from the 2004 Tools and Shops issue (FWW #167).