How To Cut A Straight Edge On A Table Saw

In order to get a clean cut on a table saw, it is important to follow a few simple steps. First, make sure that the surface of the material you are cutting is flat. If it is not, use a straight edge to ensure that the material is lying flat against the fence. Second, adjust the blade height so that it is slightly higher than the thickness of your material. Third, keep your hands and fingers away from the blade at all times. Finally, always use safety gear when operating power tools. By following these tips, you can safely cut straight edges on your table saw.

You’ll need

  1. Table saw
  2. Auxiliary fence
  3. Stop block
  4. Miter gauge or another measuring device that can be clamped to your saw’s fence.
  5. A feather board may make the process of pushing stock through the saw safer and more comfortable

Steps For Cut A Straight Edge On A Table Saw

  • 1. Bring your miter gauge to bear against the table saw’s blade, with the number on it representing how thick of a cut you are making. Draw a line on your workpiece where this will be, indicating where the miter gauge will go once you have it set up. This will help guide you in setting up everything else.
  • 2. Make sure that there is nothing between where your cut will be made and the guard of your table saw, and clamp your auxiliary fence in place. The miter gauge will allow you to position it perfectly. If your fence isn’t positioned this way already, set up a stop block so you can cut the same length off each time. Read more here How to cut thin strips on a table saw.
  • 3. Set up the feather board (if desired) to make pushing stock through easier and safer.
  • 4. Cut along your marked line with your table saw’s blade raised completely out of the material you are cutting. This allows room for error since blades sometimes hit their own teeth when lowered into wood (even if only very lightly). 
  • 5. Clamp the two pieces together with the straight ends lined up, absolutely flush against each other. You don’t need to clamp them in place because you will be making very shortcuts here, but it wouldn’t hurt if you did so anyway for safety’s sake.
  • 6. Turn on your saw and check to make sure it is spinning in the right direction. Then, cut along one of the edges that are already straight. This should leave you with a piece that has one perfectly square end.
  • 7. Now that all three faces are squared off, cut the two pieces apart again.
  • 8. Finally, use this newly squared-off portion as a guide against which to set your miter gauge for any future cuts. If necessary, flip the piece over to use the other side as your reference.

You now have a perfectly square piece! This method has the benefit of not requiring any special tools beyond what you already own for cutting wood. It does not, however, provide an especially safe and stable area for you to work with and requires more time and effort than some alternatives do.

If you need something similar but can’t seem to make it work, check out our article on how to cut a straight edge on a table saw. Read more here How to cut tapered legs on a table saw.

Safety Rules 

  • Wear safety equipment, including a face guard and gloves. 
  • Turn on your machine only when you have the guard adequately set up to protect yourself from any possible injuries. 
  • Keep both hands away from the blade while it is running!
  • The blade should be raised only enough to cut through the material beneath it, not so that it does not touch anything at all. 
  • Ensure that there is no gap between your piece of stock and the fence before making a cut in order to avoid kickback potentially causing injury. 
  • Make sure your workpiece is perfectly flush against one another before beginning a cut in order to prevent any accidents while cutting with the saw lowered into the wood (even if very lightly). 
  • Clockwise saws must be turned on the left of the material, anti-clockwise saws must be turned to the right. 
  • Make sure your saw is in the right direction before making a cut in order to avoid any injuries which could potentially arise if it were to hit its own teeth while cutting into the wood (even if only very lightly). 
  • If you are using feather boards, make sure they are parallel to your blade in order to prevent kickback from potentially causing injury. 
  • Ensure that there is no gap between your guard and where it protects when making a cut (for example, when you use push sticks or feather boards when making cross cuts or certain rips). Read more here How to cut plywood without a table saw.
  • Be aware of how much material you are cutting away when making a cut because larger pieces may cause the stock to become unstable, potentially causing kickback or kick-in accidents. 
  • Never carry your material with you while it is attached to your table saw! 
  • 13. Always stand on the left side of your machine (or right if your machine is one that cuts from left to right) and never lean over the fence of it unless absolutely necessary! 
  • 14. Make sure all attachments such as feather boards and miter gauges are firmly attached to the table before beginning a cut in order to prevent them from coming loose and potentially causing possible injury (if they were to hit you for example). 
  • 15. Never place any part of yourself near the blade unless using proper equipment, ie. push sticks or feather boards, in order to prevent any possible injuries while the blade is running. 
  • 16. Make sure there are no flammable materials near where you will be making your cut! 
  • 17. Be aware of cord placement when cutting because if it gets pulled into the blade it could cause kickback or kick-in accidents! 


We’ve covered the basics of how to use a table saw and cut a straight edge on it. The main point is that if you want your cuts to line up perfectly with each other, make sure you have them properly aligned at all times. We also touched on what types of blades are best for cutting different materials, as well as some safety tips when using a circular blade in particular.