Why Cut to the Left of the Blade on a Table Saw?

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The rule of thumb is that your cutting position on a table saw depends on your handedness. You should place the fence on the side of the blade where your dominant hand is located.

The cutting position is also determined by the tilt of the blade, i.e., whether the blade tilts to the left or to the right.

Why Cut to the Left of the Blade on a Table Saw?

For most right handed people, cutting to the left of the blade on your table saw is the safest and most accurate way. The position of the table saw from which you cut is determined by the direction of the tilt of the blade and the hand that you are likely to use to hold the workpiece during cutting.

The table saw blade is supposed to tilt away from the fence to enhance your safety. So, if your saw’s blade tilts to the left, you should position the fence on the right side of the blade and thus cut from the right.

Man using safety tools before cutting his wood on a table saw

You are likely to cut from the left of the blade if the blade tilts to the right, meaning that in this position, you will place the table saw fence on the left side of the blade.

The cutting position can also be a matter of personal preference, with right-handed people being able to cut from the left of the blade and vice versa.

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The Tilt of the Blade and the Fence Position

The general rule is that the blade of your table saw tilts away from the fence so that there is no possibility of the workpiece being trapped between the fence and the blade. This is a matter of safety since ensuring that the blade tilts away from the fence reduces the possibility of a kickback.

Based on the rule above, the following applies:

  • If the blade of your saw tilts to the left, you will place the fence on the blade’s right.
  • If you have a table saw with a blade that tilts to the right, you will have to move the fence to the left of the blade in order to cut safely.
Man explaining why cut to the left of the blade table saw

Traditionally, most of the table saws sold in the United States have had blades that are tilted to the left. This means that when you use such a saw, you are likely to place the fence on the right of the blade and cut to the right.

However, today there are versions of both left-tilting and right-tilting blades. If you buy a table saw with a blade that tilts to the right, you will most likely position the fence on the left of the blade and thus cut to the left of the blade.

Your Dominant Hand and the Cutting Position

Your dominant hand and also determines the cutting position that you are likely to take as you use your table saw. Generally, you should position the fence on the side of the blade that is nearest to your dominant hand.

Therefore:

  • If you are right-handed, you should place the fence on the right side of the saw’s blade.
  • If you are left-handed, you will have to place the fence on the blade’s left side, which means that you will cut to the left of the blade.

However, it is not mandatory to follow these rules. If you are comfortable placing the fence on the side of your non-dominant hand, you can always do so provided that you get the desired results.

Personal Preference Can Determine Cutting Position

Man trying to cut a piece of wood using a table saw

Whether your table saw has a left-tilting or right-tilting blade, it can make the cuts that you desire. The difference boils down to the method you use to operate the saw and the cutting position that you feel is natural to you.

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Therefore, it is possible for right-handed people to cut from the left of the blade and left-handed people can cut from the right side.

How Does a Left or Right-Tilt Affect the Cutting Position?

A table saw with a left-tilting blade comes with the bevel wheel located on the right side of the equipment. This location means that you can easily turn the wheel using your right hand. So naturally, you will cut to the right of the blade.

The opposite is true for a table saw with a blade that is tilting towards the right. The natural cutting position for such a saw is to the left of the blade.

Conclusion

When you are using a table saw, your cutting position is determined by direction towards which the saw’s blade tilts, whether you are right-handed or left-handed, and your own preference.

You are likely to cut to the left of the blade if your saw’s blade tilts to the right, if you are left-handed, and if you naturally prefer to do so. 

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.