How High Should a Table Saw Blade Be?

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Sawing wood on a table saw blade is no easy task. You should be careful in handling tools that can potentially injure you. That’s why you should know the ways to use a table saw blade. For safety, you should know how high should a table saw blade be. 

How High Should a Table Saw Blade Be?

The height of the blade should be set a quarter to a half of an inch above the surface of the wood piece. This height offers the best results in terms of the quality of the cut without compromising your personal safety, which is extremely important. 

You should always go for the safest cutting method over the easier one. It’s what most manuals and experienced woodworkers recommend. That’s why going for just above the wood you’re going to cut is the safer option. 

Close up of a table saw blade

Setting the blade a quarter to a half of an inch above also clears the surface on the upswing and then re-enters on the downswing without following the same planar path because of harmonics and vibration. This tapering gives you the lesser chances of cutting or injuring yourself. 

Safest Height for Cutting

Different cuts operation often requires different varieties of saw blade heights. While you may be tempted to raise the saw blade to its maximum height, it exposes the blade more and may result in inaccurate or dangerous cutting

If you want to be efficient and safe at the same time, getting your saw blade at a height of 1 inch or 1.5 inches showing above the wood to be cut would be a nice compromise. 

What Happens If You Set the Blade Higher

When you set the blade higher, you get less strain on the table saw motor. The motor works more efficiently because there’s less part of the saw blade cutting into the wood. You also generate less heat and less resistance when cutting. 

Setting the blade higher gives you a better-looking cut. The teeth come down at a steeper angle which gives you the better-looking cut. However, this may also chip out the workpiece at the top face. 

At first, it’s better to be safe than looking for quality. While you get a balance of safety and quality, you can improve the quality of the woodwork using other factors. The quality of woodcutting other than the saw blade may also be attributed to:

  • Quality of the saw blade
  • Accuracy of the saw set-up
  • Using the right saw blade

Safety Tips

When it comes to handling saw blades you need to follow safety first before anything. You need to have the proper safety tools and precautions for using a table saw. Make sure that you keep the blade guard in place. 

Powerful and sharp blades prevent kickbacks. Featherboards and push-sticks that push as well as press down also help prevent kickbacks. Don’t go for all-purpose saw blades. Instead, use saw blades specifically designed for the type of material you want to cut. 

Here are also some additional tips:

Measuring how high the table saw blade is to the piece of wood
  • Raise the blade so its peak reaches ⅛ inch to ⅜ inch higher than your workpiece.
  • Raise the blade so 1 full tooth of space is exposed just above your workpiece.
  • Raise the blade so you can expose half of the gullet (this applies to the shallowest gullets if there are multiple depths of gullets)

Safety Features in Table Saws

It’s important that you take safety seriously when handling a power tool such as a table saw. A simple mistake can cost you your fingers or even your limb. That’s why you should consider looking into safety features installed in table saws. 

Modern table saws use a variety of safety features nowadays. The most important you should look out for are:

  • Plastic or metal guard that prevents the wood from rising off the blade
  • Kill switch that allows you to turn it off quickly
  • Rip guide that keeps the wood in line during cutting

You can also use a push stick to push the wood through the blade. That way, your hands always stay clear of the blade itself. 

What Manufacturers Recommend

Most blade manufacturers recommend you should have 3 to 5 teeth into the wood upon ripping. If you’re making crosscuts or cutting material that’s not made from 100% organic wood (laminates, veneers, MDF, metal, etc…), you should use 5 to 7 teeth into the material. 

You should set your saw blade so that it’s barely above the workpiece. This leads to the answer above of going around ⅛ inch above the top of the workpiece. Some manufacturers add rip guide and safety features on their table saw to make cutting safer

Some blade manufacturers like Freud recommends you to have ½ of one tooth above the wood. This equates to 3 -5 teeth into the wood upon ripping and 5 – 7 teeth when crosscutting. If it’s hard to maintain the ratio, you might be using the wrong saw blade for cutting. 

Related Questions

How Do You Adjust the Height of a Table Saw Blade?

Close up of a table saw blade
  1. Adjust the combination square blade until you reach the desired depth that extends beyond the 90-degree face and then locks it down. 
  2. Hold the 90-degree face of the square lightly on the saw blade teeth and at the end of the blade level with the saw’s surface.
  3. Move the square and teeth it rests on slowly forward and backward while keeping your eyes on the end of the blade.
  4. When the end of the square’s blade is at its highest point, adjust the saw blade height until the end of the combination square blade barely touches the table surface.
  5. Rock the square and blade back and forth slightly. 
  6. Watch the light beneath the edge of the combination square blade, it will indicate if the height is still a bit too high or not. 

How Deep Will a Table Saw Cut?

The majority of table saw modes use 10-inch blades, while others go for 12-inch blades. Most blades are adjustable so you can make a shallow cut almost a fraction of an inch deep and also make deeper cuts. 

10-inch blades can make a maximum cut of up to 3 and ½ inches deep. 12-inch blades can cut as deep as 4 inches.  

Can I Put a Bigger Blade on My Table Saw

It can work but you’ll probably get some issues with it. You need to make sure that the maximum RPM rating of the blade matches the table saw which is usually designed for smaller blades. You also run the risk of heating your motor since it’s using a larger blade. 

You also don’t get as much cutting power using a bigger blade than a smaller blade. You can’t increase the power output of your saw blade so it will use the same amount of power it uses on a smaller blade to your bigger blade. 

Conclusion 

When it comes to how high your table saw blade should be, safety is always the priority. Some expert carpenters can handle woodcutting pretty well that they can take a higher angle. However, if you’re new to woodcutting, going for ⅛ inch above the wood should be the safest. 

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.