Why Does My Table Saw Burn Wood?

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Burn marks are not very pleasant on wood, especially when they are unwanted. However, they cannot be entirely avoided in the course of working with a table saw. A woodworker needs to understand their causes, which will lay proper grounds for troubleshooting them. So, why does my table saw burn wood?

Why Does My Table Saw Burn Wood?

Burned wood is a sign that your table saw isn’t cutting correctly, and can be caused by using a dull, dirty, or incorrect blade. Your arbor, riving knife, or blade might be misaligned. Or, you might be pushing the wood through the saw too slowly.

Here’s a complete list of why your table saw could be burning wood:

  • Blade height
  • Dull blade
  • Dirty blade
  • Blade and fence alignment
  • Blade and miter slot alignment
  • Right blade for the cut
  • Slow and uneven feed rate
  • Misaligned or missing splitter
  • Low power
Wood about to be cut using a table saw

1. Blade Height

In some tables, increasing the height of the blade stops the saw from burning wood. Blade height determines the angle of the teeth as it cuts through wood. Friction occurs when the blade is too low, causing the wood to burn.

2. Dull Blade

A dull blade slides slowly through the wood, which leads to friction that creates heat, burning the wood.

3. Dirty Blade

A dirty blade is caused by the buildup of pitch resins behind the teeth of the blade. A dirty blade slows the rate of cutting, creating friction and heat that burns wood.

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4. Blade and Fence Alignment

The table saw will burn wood, mostly one side of the wood, if the blade is not parallel to the fence. This is due to the wood moving sideways against the blade as you slide it through.

Ruler tape measuring table saw distance

5. Blade and Miter Slot Alignment

Failing to align the blade and the mitre slot properly will burn wood and result in table saw performance issues.

6. Wrong Blade for the Cut

Don’t use a rip blade for a cross-cut or a cross-cut blade for a rip cut. Match the blade with the kind of cut you are making.

7. Slow and Uneven Feed Rate

Stops and starts to adjust your hold while the wood is feeding through the blade will cause burns in your wood. Table saws can take high feed rates; don’t move your wood slowly as you might burn on your wood.

8. Misaligned or Missing Splitter

A splitter protects the wood from binding around the blade. Improper alignment will cause friction that will create heat, burning the wood.

9. Low Power

A less powerful table saw cannot cut hard and thick pieces of wood as easily as a powerful one can. You will often see burn markings on the wood you are working on if the table saw is not powerful enough to cut it.

How to Prevent Burns on Your Wood

Luckily, there are several ways you can prevent burns on your wood.

1. Use the Right Blade for the Task

Hardwoods like maple, mahogany, or cherry require a different kind of blade from softwoods. Use a suitable blade for the type of cut you want, whether crosscut or rip cut.

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2. Tune up Your Saw

Ensure all the moving parts of the table saw are properly aligned. Ensure no parts are rubbing against each other to prevent friction. Tune the saw by first checking the quality of the splitter you are using. Also, ensure it’s parallel to the fence.

Table saw being used properly to cut wood to avoid burning

How to Remove Woodburns

Woodburns are not easily removable, hence the importance of making sure they do not occur in the first place. In the unfortunate event that they happen, use these approaches to remove them.


For a light burn near the surface,  just sand off the burnt part of the wood. The effect of removing the burn with sandpaper is insignificant.


A scraper is suitable for deeper burns. It easily does the job due to its curved, sharp edge. However, it does change the end result of the project.

Why Does My Table Saw Smoke?

A wobbling blade due to bad bearings can cause saw smoke. Poor blade and motor quality will result in overheating issues, causing the wood to smoke. If the blade is dull or warped, the result is saw smoke. Saw smoke will also be observed when making a rip cut through moist wood.

Are More Teeth on a Saw Blade Better?

The number of teeth on a blade help determine the speed of cutting wood and the type and finish of the wood. The more the teeth, the smoother the cut, and the less the teeth, the faster the cut.


Do not panic when you see burns on your wood. Check the blade’s state since most of the wood-burning incidents result from the blade. Is it dull? Is it bent? Address such issues and you will have remarkably reduced the chances of your wood burning.

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.