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Body Mechanics: Cutting Sheet Goods on the Tablesaw

Tip! Remind helpers that they should not pull on the workpieces, only support them as they come off the saw.


Breaking down full-size sheet goods is best handled with a circular saw, so you can move the saw over a stationary sheet. But the tablesaw gives you greater precision when cutting multiple, identical-size parts. Follow these steps to size sheet goods safely and precisely.

  1. Support the workpiece and offcut before, during, and after the cut, and using a helper, as needed. Place infeed supports so they don’t interfere with your forward progress. 
  2. Install your tablesaw’s riving knife or splitter to prevent kickback.
  3. Stand to the left of the blade, so you can press the sheet against the rip fence. Start with the sheet 3–4" from the blade, allowing you to establish stable contact with the fence and table before the material reaches the blade. 
  4. Switch the saw on. Push the sheet toward the rip fence and forward, with your hands centered (or as close as possible) on the width of the offcut and keeper piece. Keep your weight balanced over your feet; do not lean into the sheet. Focus your attention on the rip fence to make sure the material maintains contact throughout the cut. 
  5. As the near edge of the sheet reaches the near edge of the saw, keep your eyes on the blade and your hand placement. Use a pushstick to push through a keeper piece narrower than 8". When the material clears the blade, shut off the saw and wait for the blade to stop before retrieving the pieces.

We outfitted each portable workbench with a support made from a 2x8. The cleat holds the support at the proper height while you clamp it in the jaws. A 15° bevel on the front end guides a sagging sheet onto the support.

Build an always-there workpiece support that slides into your tablesaw’s rip-fence rail.

Get plans for these adjustable-height supports.




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