The right accessories can take your number one tool, and your woodworking, to the next level. Learn which ones make the cut, and how they can work for you.
|Whether it’s fresh out of its box, or has a few miles
under its drive belt, your table saw might seem
to make most cuts, well, good enough. But what you
may not yet realize is that it can do so much more. Many
woodworkers don’t know that table saws, like other shop
tools, are supposed to be tinkered with and improved.
Of course, your choices of accessories and upgrades hinge on the work you want to do, and the accuracy you want to achieve. Knowing the best of
| what’s available can help.
Following is our list of the 14 top accessories and
upgrades to turn almost any table saw from naughty to
nice...really nice. We’ll also show items you might not have
seen (and a few you’ve forgotten about), explain how they
work, and discuss why you need them in your shop.
Note: All items are available at Woodcraft stores, woodcraft.com or by calling 800-225-1153.
|Why you need it: This affordable “starter set” makes a smart buy for new table saw owners and experienced craftsmen alike. If you don’t know the exact location of each of these items in your shop, it’s time to buy some back-ups. A fully-equipped shop can benefit from a few well-placed extras. Keeping push pads and pushsticks next to each machine saves time and eliminates the temptation of putting your fingers too close to a blade. #143624, $24.99|
|Why you need it: Featherboards serve as an extra set of hands
where fingers should never go. Mesa Vista Design’s Grip-Tites do just
that. Using a super-strong magnet, this jig stays in place better than
simpler, clamp-in-place solutions, but the cam release makes them easy
to remove and reposition.
#813449, $39.99 ea.
|Note: Grip-Tite offers 36" and 42" long steel fence plates that can be screwed onto your existing fence. Additionally, they sell table saw fence clamps you can use to make an easy-to-remove metal fence, or a sacrificial plywood subfence for cutting rabbets with your dado blade.|
|Why you need it: When a board starts
between the blade and fence, you need a way to quickly
turn off the saw without shifting your attention from
the cut, or letting go of your stock. A safety, or “kill,”
switch makes it easy to turn off your saw with just a bump. Even
when kickback isn’t a problem, you’ll find that the ability to keep your hands on your stock as the blade comes to a stop can lead to better looking cuts. Not needing to worry about the threat of a slowing blade glancing against—or grabbing—the board eliminates the need to push long stock completely off the table and onto your floor. #141938, $39.99
|Show me a woodworker who has everything, and I’ll show you a guy who’s got rust. The $20 TopSaver kit contains an 8oz. pump bottle, two non-woven abrasive pads, two disposable cloths, and a pair of disposable gloves...everything needed for an hour or two of rust-management. The|
|neat thing about this product is that once it’s sprayed on and buffed off, you won’t need to repeat the process for a long while. More than just a deruster, TopSaver cleans and seals the surface. The surface feels freshly waxed; however, the treatment lasts a lot longer. The manufacturer states that the product doesn’t contain oils, silicones, or other chemicals that might stain the wood or interfere with glues or finishes. #145198, $19.99|
|Why you need it: In time, old-style V-belts stiffen and develop “bumps.” When this happens, your saw may seem underpowered, or produce ragged-looking cuts, even when carefully tuned. In the worst instances, your saw may start|
|bouncing around. Urethane elastomer/woven polyester links (aka Power Twists) do not have a “memory” like V-belts, so they won’t deform, even if you don’t use the machine for months. Additionally, since each link moves independently, the belt stays flexible and absorbs minor vibration, which can help your saw run more quietly and perform more smoothly. #145530, $28.99 for 4'|
|Why you need it: If you’re working in a small shop, you’ll need to move your saw around. (When sawing sheet goods, you’ll need 8' of clearance on the infeed and outfeed ends. If you’re using a crosscut sled, you may also need that much space on both sides.) A mobile base will enable you to wheel your saw out when and where it’s|
|needed, and roll it out of the way when it’s not. The base shown here is a smart choice because it includes locking wheels to ensure that your saw stays in place while you’re making your cuts, and the adjustable feet enable you to make the machine stable even if the floor isn’t perfectly flat. #144813, $54.99|
|Why you need it: If you’re tired of dragging out a broom, or tracking sawdust in the house every time you make a few cuts, this one’s for you. Simply stick the Velcro strips onto the base of your saw, then attach the cloth pouch. If you roll your saw around a lot, use the pouch in basic “collection” mode for 80% efficiency. When you plan to make piles of sawdust, switch the bag to “funnel” mode and connect it to your shop vac. When used with a vacuum, the $40 shop solution offers over 90% efficiency; about the same as a full-blown two-stage dust collector costing hundreds of dollars more. #145764, $39.99|
you need it: Leecraft inserts are precisely machined phenolic plugs
designed to replace the metal throat plates that come with most saws. Unlike the
gaping-wide metal plates, these blanks are slotted by your sawblade to make a “zero-
clearance” fit. A tighter-fitting throat plate reduces tear-out, improves dust collection, and
eliminates that gap where small chunks of wood sometimes fall and then come hurtling back
at you. You can make your own insert, but if you haven’t, buy one that’s ready-made and see
what you’re missing. Woodcraft sells a variety to match your saw in prices $21.50-$29.99.
|Why you need it: A well thought-out element on high-end saws, a splitter works like a rudder, preventing boards from sliding sideways, or squeezing in on the back edge of the blade (either instance can lead to burnt edges, or dangerous kickback). Such is not the case with all machines. Unfortunately, most woodworkers remove their splitters because they’re hard to adjust and a pain to remove when making cuts that aren’t|
|completely through. This small, polycarbonate “chip” is easy to attach to (and detach from) any zero-clearance insert. Used when your blade is set at 90°, it helps steer boards for smoother, safer cuts. Regular Kerf #145612, $14.99; Thin Kerf #146178, $21.99|
|Why you need it: Most woodworkers will agree that buying the best blade you can afford is a smart investment. While you can get very good performance from a less expensive blade, Forrest alternate top bevel (ATB) blades have set the benchmark for super-clean rips and chip-free crosscuts in all types of materials.|
|The super-hard carbide will slice hundreds of board feet; when it starts to dull, Forrest can
resharpen your blade to its original specs for
40-T Woodworker II, #85N52, $104.99
|Why you need it: The ability to cut rabbets, dadoes, and grooves makes a dado blade a cabinetmaker’s best friend. Along with a good combination blade, a good dado set is the second smartest investment you can make. Freud’s Dial-A-Width dado costs more than Freud’s standard 8" stacked dado set, but after spending an afternoon cutting test grooves and shuffling shims, you’ll appreciate the convenience. The fine-tuning wheel offers .004" click increments to quickly tweak the fit of a groove. #813642, $249.99|
|UPGRADES FOR AMAZING ACCURACY There’s more in store for your saw than just 45° and 90°. These two jigs will enable you to quickly, consistently, and accurately cut miters and bevels to a degree of precision you might not have thought possible with your garden-variety saw.|
|Why you need it: It’s tough to cut miters accurately when the bar wiggles in its slot, or the degrees imprinted on the head are 2° thick. An aftermarket gauge, such as the Incra V27, can help. The miter bar employs four expansion disks that eliminate any side-to-side play in your saw’s miter slot. Laser-cut V-stops ensure that you’re cutting the miter you’re after and can repeat the cut days later. Additionally, the universal mounting bracket on this gauge’s vertical fence allows you to add a store-bought or shop-made auxiliary fence for cutting boards to consistent lengths. Like other accessories, you can use this upgrade with any miter-slotted machine. #144644, $59.99|
|Why you need it: Before this pint-sized gauge hit the market, cutting bevels was a set-test-set affair. Now, you can find any angle—to the nearest tenth of a degree—on the first crack. To use, simply “zero in” the gauge on your saw’s tabletop, then stick the magnetic base to the blade. Adjust the blade until the angle appears on the easy-toread digital display. #147281, $39.99|
|Why you need it: The dial indicator wound up at the bottom of our list, but there are a lot of good reasons why it makes sense to be at the top of yours. This tool allows you to find and fix the micro-devils that gang up to spoil your work. Use the indicator on its magnetic base, or attach it to a simple guide bar to precisely set your saw’s tabletop, blade, and fence for line-splitting accuracy. Additionally, you can use your indicator to help set jointer blades, and inspect your other shop machines. #128400,$39.99|