How to Use a Bench Saw

A bench saw consists of a flat table top with the saw blade projecting through it. The blade is adjustable for depth and angle of cut and protected by the sliding guard.

There are two guide fences which allow timber to be cut correctly. The rip fence parallel with the saw blade can be slid sideways up the edge of the table. Timber is guided along it into the blade for parallel straight cutting, usually along the grain.

The cross-cut guide is for cutting across the width and grain of wood at any angle and slides from front to back of the table in a slot parallel with the blade.

A protractor on the front of the guide enables angled cuts to be made.

Both fences can be removed so that large sheets of material can be cut. It is important to check the angle of the rip fence periodically, as the blade may jam if it is not exactly parallel with the blade. Some bench saws have slip clutches to disengage the motor.

Never direct short pieces of wood or the ends of pieces into the blade with your hands. Always use a push stick to direct it. This is a simple piece of wood with a v-cut at the front end.

Wood is also likely to slip’ on a. saw bench because the torque of the blade tends to push it aside if it is not held firmly. This may be a problem when using the cross-cut guide set at an angle.

Usually, when cross-cutting, you should hold with both hands on one side of the blade, and let the offcut fall away. Pushing from both sides closes up the cut around the blade and may cause jamming.

To cut a mitre, set the protractor on the cross-cut guide to an angle of 45° and place the wood against the guide and slide both wood and guide into the blade.

To cut a bevel along the edge of a piece of wood, again set the blade at an angle of 45°. Some saws have built-in protractors though on others the table tilts and not the blade.


Firring consists of cutting a taper on a long piece of wood so that it is narrower at one end. Firring pieces are used for rafters on flat roofs to create a slight drainage slope.

An adjustable jig is the best way of cutting these. It can be made from two battens of medium length. These are set face to face and fastened together by a hinge at one end and a slotted metal strip, secured with wingnuts, at the other.

By opening the jig to the extent desired and tightening the nuts, an accurate profile for repetition work is provided.


This allows a piece of timber to be bent to produce an outside curve. This is achieved by making a row of parallel cuts across the wood on the inside of the curve through half to three-quarters of the wood’s thickness, all along the part to be curved. The wood can then be bent, though it is best to dampen or steam it first.

Use a cross-cut or planer blade to make the cuts as a combination blade is too coarse. Kerfing reduces the strength of wood and should not be used for load-bearing frames.

Housing joints

Housing and other grooves can be cut by setting the blade to the depth required and cutting the sides of the groove first; use the fence to keep them straight.

Next, remove the fence and cut out the wood in between by passing the wood over the blade. Mark the limit of the groove on top of the wood, to avoid cutting past the edges.

For a stopped housing, you need to cut the last distance by hand, using a chisel. This method provides for an even depth of cut all over the groove. Wood can be removed in the same way when cutting tenons.


Rebates may be cut in two ways on a bench saw. One is to cut along one side of the rebate, using the fence, and turning the wood through 90° to cut the other side.

It is quicker to mount the blade on ‘wobble washers’. These are a pair of angled washers which make the blade wobble from side to side as it spins, so that it cuts a wide groove.

The width of a rebate can be increased by making several passes. Once you have set the blade on its washers, place a section of battening against the fence to protect it.

For narrow cuts, adjust the blade to cut into the battening. The depth of cut can be adjusted in the normal way. You can adjust the width of the wobble cut by means of washers.


The jig-saw and the jig-saw attachment enable curves and shapes to be cut. While safety rules should still be observed, these are far safer to use than circular saws.

The moving blade can be touched without hazard, though this is not recommended.

This attachment is limited to soft materials, up to about 50mm thick, or harder materials, such as hardwood, 25mm thick. The jig-saw can be used either as a hand-held or bench-mounted tool.


The rebate attachment, or rabbeter (rabeter), can be used either free in the hand or as a bench unit with a lathe kit. The rabbeter can, with different blades, or cutters, be used to produce tongues, rebates, slots, decorative edges and grooves.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Use a Bench Saw


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