Why Does a Table Saw Motor Get Hot?

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A well-utilized table saw motor may develop some problems over time, for example, overheating or hard starting. That’s why it’s vital that you keenly monitor it to avoid motor damage that arises from overheating. So, why does a table saw motor get hot?

A table saw motor will get hot due to a myriad of reasons such as:

  • High ambient temperatures
  • Blade pinching and binding
  • Improper extension cord
  • Electrical shorts
  • Repeated starts and stops
  • Bad capacitors
  • Overload of electric power
  • Blade alignment
  • Poor ventilation
Man explaining why does a table saw motor get hot

High Ambient Temperatures

If your table saw is running in a much warmer environment than its motor was designed for, then it will overheat. This is because the ambient temperatures in the environment will make it more challenging for the motor to cool down properly after working.

Make sure that your table saw is operating at the right temperature to prevent overheating of the motor.

Blade Pinching and Binding

Common construction lumber usually pinches the blade as the cut is being made, causing the saw to overwork and the motor to get hot in the process. A table motor can overheat if the blade binds up when cutting wood.

The motor may overheat if the saw blade binds up whenever it is cutting a workpiece. Therefore, you need to replace any damaged or dull cutting blade.

This prevents it from binding up when it is cutting your workpiece. In addition, you must ensure that you are using the right kind of blade for the type of workpiece you are cutting.

Improper Extension Cord

A lightweight or long extension cord may cause a voltage drop that will overheat your table saw motor and cause the overload to trip. You should use a shorter cord or a heavy-duty extension cord that will handle the current draw of your table saw device

For a table saw of 120volts plugged into an outlet that is protected by a 15-amp circuit breaker extension cord, the length should not surpass 25 feet.

Electrical Shorts

Output power can be lowered by internal electrical shorts in the motor windings, resulting in the motor getting hot.

Repeated Starts and Stops

Frequent starts and stops will not allow the motor to properly cool. This will not only overheat it but also damage some of its components.

Bad Capacitors

There are usually two capacitors in the motor, a start capacitor and a run capacitor. If one gets bad, the motor will overheat.

Overload of Electric Power

If voltage that is higher than what is recommended is released into the motor, it will overwork, making it excessively hot.

An electrical overload is mainly caused by excessive voltage supply or overwork. When your motor draws more current, it will cause overheating issues.

Your table saw motor will have to work harder when there is an overload and heat will be the main byproduct, leading to its failure. When the voltage supply is incorrect, your table saw motor will have to work harder for the machine to perform its intended task and this will cause overheating.

Close up of a table saw

Blade Alignment

If the blade alignment to the miter slot and the rip fence alignment to the miter slot is wrong, it will slow the cut-rate, causing the motor to overwork, thus getting hot.

Low Resistance

One of the common causes of the table saw motor overheating is low resistance. When the motor windings are degraded by heat, it will pave way for leakages and short-circuits. All these situations will leave your table saw motor at a high-risk of failure.

Bad Drive Motor or Worn Out Motor Brushes

Your motor may overheat if the motor brushes are worn out or you have a bad drive motor. You need to routinely check the conditions of your carbon motor brushes and ensure they are replaced if worn out or damaged.

You should also replace your motor if it does not spin your blade when cutting light workpieces or it overheats. A faulty overload switch can also trip when your motor does not overheat. It is best to replace your motor overload if it shuts off constantly when the motor is not overheating.

Motor Is Too Small for the Task

In some cases, the motor may be too small for the wood cutting work that you are using it for. As a result, excessive heat will be produced.

When a motor is too small, it will be unable to dissipate heat quickly and it will overheat. You must ensure that you use your table saw for its intended application and in the right environment to guarantee maximum performance of its motor.

Poor Ventilation

If the air-cooling channels are blocked, hot air from the motor will not escape, resulting in hot air build-up, leading to its overheating.

Although this may seem obvious, the ventilation holes on the table saw motor must always be open to help heat escape. When the ventilation holes of the motor are blocked by debris and dust, the internal temperatures of the motor will be raised and this will prevent it from cooling properly.

As a result, the excessive heat for long period of time will cause overheating, which will affect the integrity of the motor components. Proper maintenance of the ventilation holes of your table saw motor is crucial.

How to Prevent Heat-Induced Failures

The problem with heat-induced table saw motor failures is that they will continue happening until the core issue is solved. Luckily, there are ways that you can nip these motor problems in the early stages without modifying your maintenance plan. These include the following:

  • You must perform thorough, routine maintenance and cleaning of your table saw to ensure that all individual components, including the motor, get the attention they deserve. This will help to minimize both overheating and overworking of crucial components.
  • Installing overload protectors and apt configuration will help to prevent overload issues and will directly address different catalysts that may lead to motor overheating or damage.
  • Installation of smart sensors on your table saw can alert you about any heat-induced problems in real-time. This enables modifications and fixes to be carried out before the total breakdown of your table saw occurs.

How to Keep the Motors Cool

Now that we know why your motor is hot, let’s discuss several ways to keep it cool.

Use Clean Blades

Always use clean blades that are free from any sap buildup. Clean blades mean smooth cuts and less motor pressure to deliver, minimizing overheating chances of the table saw motor.

Polish the Table Top

Use paste wax to polish the tabletop, front fence guide, and the rip fence to allow smooth sliding of stock through the blade. This eases the motors work as the table saw runs.

Replace the Overload Switch

Replace a faulty overload switch, especially if it persistently switches off the motor even when it is not overheating.

Use Proper Blades

Do not use dull, bent, or warped blades. They overwork the motor, causing it to get hot and spoil the quality of your cuts.

Replace Worn Out Motor Brushes

The carbon motor brushes usually wear down after 50 hours of run time. You should change them after that duration to keep the motor running smoothly.

SawStop table saw motor

Use an Appropriate Extension Cord

A good extension cord should be of 12 or 14 gauge and not higher. Use a shorter or a heavy-duty extension cord suitable for the table saw motor you are using.

Proper Voltage

Plug the motor into a circuit with the voltage the motor is wired for.

Minimize Table Saw Vibrations

Severe vibrations usually cause the components of the motor to heat to unsafe levels. This will eventually damage the motor saw.

Routine Motor Inspections

An expert should routinely inspect the table’s internal parts like windings and bearings to guarantee their excellent condition.

How Do I Restore Table Saw Overload?

Table saw overload is a protective device that prevents power from going to the motor if it overheats or overloads. To reset it, press the reset switch on the motor overload to restore power going to the motor, but only after the motor has cooled down. If the motor overload won’t reset or has false trips, replace it with a new one.

How Do I Know if my Table Saw Motor is Bad?

One way to know that the motor saw is bad is when it trips and pressing the red thermal overload switch won’t restore operations. If the motor starts slower than it should, it means the start capacitor is faulty, causing it to fail.

Conclusion

A table motor is an integral component in a motor saw. Overheating is the primary cause of motor failure. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the motor clean, free of dust and debris that may clog the ventilation holes.

Basic, regular maintenance should keep it working flawlessly. A good motor means uninterrupted wood saw operations and better quality yield.

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.