How to Prevent Tearout When Using a Saw

prevent tearout on wood while cutting with a saw blade
Tearout on the edge of a workpiece

You want cuts that are clean and crisp. Tearout is most likely when making crosscuts, or cuts across the grain. Being proactive about reducing and eliminating tearout is an easy way to save yourself some time when it comes to finishing the wood. Preventing tearout is easy if you take a few extra steps before making the cut.

Here are a few ways to prevent tearout:

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Table Saw Kickback: Ways to Prevent it

Table saw kickback is a serious concern when using a table saw. A table saw spins the saw blade with A LOT of torque. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a table saw can kickback a large piece of wood 20 feet through a piece of sheetrock. You’ll want to stay out of harm’s way because you will be injured if that woodpiece hits you, or even grazes you. You’ll be lucky if you walk away with a bruise or a scratch.

What is Table Saw Kickback?

what table saw kickback looks like
Table saw kickback

Kickback occurs when the workpiece gets pinched or pushed back onto the backside of the saw blade. The rear of the saw blade spinning so the blade is coming up towards the ceiling. The saw blade catches the wood, drags it over the top of the saw blade and fires it like a bullet back towards the direction the saw blade is spinning. Kicked back wood can come straight back, but usually, it will come off the blade at an angle away from where your fence would be. Here are some tips to prevent kickback on a table saw.

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This Is How High Your Table Saw Blade Should Be

How High Should I Set my Table Saw Blade?

There are 2 possible answers. The blade should barely come above the wood you are cutting, or the blade should be well above the wood you are cutting. The answer isn’t obvious as there are pros and cons to each method. But in the end, I hope you see that one way is superior to the other.

The Safest Cut

This is how high your table saw blade should be
Table saw blade at approximately 1/8″ above the workpiece.

It’s my opinion that the best cut is the safest cut. I don’t want to lose a finger when I could have gotten away with a few stitches or a band-aid. With that in mind, the safest height to set a table saw blade is so it’s just above the wood you are cutting.

The general rule of thumb is that the blade should be set so it is 1/8” above the workpiece. If you make contact with the blade with your hand at this height, you’re unlikely to lose a finger. That’s enough reason for me to be on the barely above the wood side of this question.

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