Stationary Power Tool Tips
There are three crucial pieces of equipment in a woodshop: the jointer, table saw and the band saw. Check out tips and advice on using and placing these core power tools.
One of the most important pieces of equipment in a woodshop is the jointer, a stationary power tool with cutting blades designed to flatten and square wood. Frequently, raw lumber from a lumberyard has rough or imperfect surfaces, and these must be run through the jointer to make them perfectly smooth and flat. Perfectly flat wood surfaces and square corners like this can be butted together to create a joint -- hence the name of this tool.
The jointer is equipped with an adjustable fence as well as a protective guard -- a safety device designed to keep the user's hands away from the cutting blades. The heights of the blades are adjusted with wheels mounted on the end-feed table. With most jointers, one rotation of the wheel raises or lowers the blade by 1/64".
Since the jointer is frequently the first tool used on raw lumber, it should be positioned close to the lumber rack to avoid having to carry heavy wood across the workspace. In some cases it can be positioned directly below an overhead wood rack or shelving. Since large pieces of wood are passed over the jointer, there should be several feet of clearance on either end of this piece of equipment.
The table saw is another critical piece of equipment in the machining area. In fact, some regard it as the single most important piece of equipment for any woodworking shop. It is the central piece of machinery used for ripping stock, cutting miters and making crosscuts, dados and joinery cuts.
The table saw's fence is critical. It moves from side to side and can be locked in position anywhere on the table that is parallel to the blade. The fence braces the wood stock as it passes over the table-saw blade, enabling perfectly straight cuts to be made. The fence is equipped with a ruler for precise measurements, and it can be located on either side of the blade.
The blade is covered with a plastic guard to reduce the chance of injury. The blade itself can be raised or lowered, and it can be tilted in either direction to make angled cuts. Slots in the table accommodate a miter gauge that slips easily into place for making mitered cuts.
As with the jointer, adequate clearance is required around the table saw to allow working with larger pieces of wood. A roller stand at the end of a table saw makes it easier to feed longer pieces of wood across the saw when working alone.
The third major piece of equipment should be the band saw. It is used much like the table saw, but typically for working with smaller pieces of wood.
The name derives from the cutting blade, which is in the form of a band wrapped around a rotating wheel. The table on the band saw can be angled left or right for making mitered cuts. The band saw can also be used to make circle cuts and take care of other fine woodworking needs.
Larger pieces of wood can also be accommodated on the band saw simply by raising the upper guide. This feature is particularly useful for splitting a board down the middle, resulting in two book-matched pieces.