Why Is My Table Saw Binding as I Cut?

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Table saw binding can cause major setbacks on a project. Not only will it make your cuts inaccurate, but it incredibly dangerous and can create kickback. There are several reasons for table saw binding, and we go through each one here.

Why Is My Table Saw Binding as I Cut?

Your table saw will bind when you cut if the back dimension measurement from the blade to the fence is less than the fence’s blade’s front dimension. When that happens, your timber or wood will follow a triangular path instead of a parallel one. As the wood moves through the cut, it will begin to pinch, causing the table saw to bind.

Table saw about to cut wood

This causes a pinch between the blade, and the fence causes friction that bends the blade. As a result, the blade tries to fight back, resulting in a kickback.

Your table saw may also begin to bind if you are using a low-quality blade or missing some tooth sets. If this is the case, the solution is to get a new blade of better quality.

How to Correct Binding

Binding is a severe, dangerous issue in woodwork and may result in accidents such as burning on your wood piece. Continuing to operate a binding blade can cause kickbacks, which can bring about severe workshop injuries.

While sometimes kickbacks are imminent, the injuries are avoidable. Avoid doing rip cuts while standing behind the wood or putting your head right above the piece of wood you are cutting. To be safe, you must always work away from the path of the blade.

The method you use to correct binding will depend on the origin of the problem. That is:

  • Poor blade quality 
  • Misalignment of the blade;

1. Poor Blade Quality

If your binding is due to the blade quality, then the only corrective measure is to buy another one. That’s why it’s important that you check on your blade quality and condition before buying.

Consider the following factors when buying a high-quality blade for your table saw.

2. Number of Teeth in the Blade

The number of teeth your blade has will determine its effectiveness in cutting the wood. The standard assumption is that the more teeth it has, the faster and smoother it cuts the wood. Although fewer teeth might also be better than manual saws, they can cause tear-outs in the wood.

Table saw about to cut wood beside a fence

3. Configuration of the Teeth

In this concept, configuration refers to the alignment and shape of the teeth in the blade.  There are two main types of teeth configuration:

  •  Flat Top (FT)
  •  Alternate Top Bevel (ATB).

The former optimizes ripping while the latter is suitable when you want to do crosscuts. You can pick either depending on the type and size of your project.

4. Teeth Angle

This refers to the angle at the centerline of your blade. The blade has two different angles, positive and negative tooth angles. A positive tooth angle means that the blade teeth angle forward at a specific degree.

A negative tooth (or hook) angle, on the other hand, means that the blade teeth lean backward. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the positive angle in the teeth, the more aggressive your blade is.

5. Blade Gullet

This refers to the rounded space between the blade teeth, which helps to carry away sawdust and other wastes. The gullet size in your saw closely relates to the feed rate factor. In other words, the more or the bigger the gullet spaces, the bigger the chips your blades can cut.

6. Misaligned Blade

If the binding is a result of a misaligned blade or fence, you will need to set up the saw in a way that the blade runs parallel to the fence.

The back dimension measurement from the blade to the fence must be greater than or equal to that of the front dimension. You can measure the distance from a specific tooth at the front and use the same measurement (of the same tooth) to align the back dimension.

If you cannot realign the measurement, we advise that you refer to your owner’s manual. They have tailor-made instructions on how to align fences and blades of tables saws.

Table saw binding when cutting wood piece

How to Avoid Kickbacks

There are three ways that you can avoid kickbacks and stay safe in your workshop:

  • Use a Riving Knife: A riving knife is a thin bit of metal that resembles a small surfboard. It plays a vital role in preventing the wood from drifting away. The knife achieves this by absorbing the friction intended for the blade from a warped board.
  • Use a Splitter: If you do not have a riving knife, then a splitter can be a great tool to prevent kickbacks. It also introduces a zero-clearance throat plate. Splitters apply the same technique to prevent the wood from drifting toward the blade.
  • Use a Push Stick: While a push stick will not necessarily help you prevent kickback, it acts as a safety precaution if kickback occurs. When working on a table saw, you can use this tool to push the wood instead of your hand, reducing the chances of kickback injuries.

How Do I Know if My Table Saw is Binding?

The first signal that your table saw is binding is when there are burn marks in your wood. The friction from the misaligned blade will heat up on the wood surfaces hence causing burns.

Why Does My Table Saw Cut Out?

Your table saw could keep cutting out due to the blade’s excessive binding, worn-out motor brushes, or a faulty motor overload switch. The other reason for this could be that you are using an inappropriate extension cord.

Why is My Table Saw Burning the Wood?

Your table saw could keep cutting out due to the blade’s excessive binding, worn-out motor brushes, or a faulty motor overload switch. The other reason for this could be that you are using an inappropriate extension cord.

Bottom Line

The orientation of your table saw will determine its efficiency and safety while working. Simple mistakes like binding may result in poor results and sometimes injuries. If you are working on a project, ensure that you prevent such occurrences at all costs.

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.