4 Ways to Avoid Tearout at the Table Saw


– Hey, I’m Caleb with YouCanMakeThisToo. Today I’m gonna be
talking about four things you can do to reduce or
even eliminate tearout at your table saw. One of the simplest things you
can do to reduce your tearout is make sure you’re
using the proper blade. I like using dedicated blades. A lot of people prefer a
40 tooth combination blade, that’s just fine if you’re
getting good results, but if you’re not getting good results, you might want to consider
switching to a dedicated blade. This is ripping blade. We normally don’t see a
lot of tearout for ripping, but that’s when you’re cutting this way and you don’t want to use ripping blade if you’re doing crosscuts
or cutting plywood. This has big teeth, it’s made
for cutting the long grain and whenever you’re going
across or doing plywood, this thing is just gonna maul it and you’re gonna get crazy tearout. I have a thin kerf cross cut blade. This has a lot more teeth
than that one as you can see and that’s for getting nice cross cuts across hard wood or soft woods. You could, this would be
a lot better on plywood than this ’cause it has more teeth, but ideally for plywood
which is the toughest thing to get no tearout on is to
use a dedicated plywood blade. This is plywood melamine
blade and it has 80 teeth compared to the 60 teeth on my cross cut. Another thing about
plywood blade is they tend to have a slightly different
geometry on the tooth that will score the
veneer before it cuts it which helps reduce tearout. This doesn’t do that,
so while the cross cut is a lot better than a
rip blade on plywood, which never touch plywood with that unless you just don’t care, the dedicated plywood blade
is going to be much better. Quick note before I do all my test cuts. I’m gonna be doing all
the test cuts on plywood, because in my opinion
plywood is the hardest thing to get no tearout on. So if you can get no tearout on plywood, you can get no tearout on anything. And if you wonder why I
think plywood’s the hardest, it’s from experience but
the more practical reason is this tiny veneer layer
is what’s gonna tearout. Now when you’re dealing with
solid wood, it’s solid wood. But this tiny veneer,
yeah that tends to tearout a lot more than solid wood will. Here’s a demonstration
of the ripping blade. As you can see, the rip blade, all kinds of tearout on both sides. Here’s the cross cut blade,
which is a lot better than my rip blade. And my plywood blade, which I can’t don’t see much tearout, just
a few tiny little places like down here there’s a touch. Now something to note, my cross cut blade is actually barely used. I bought that blade
before I got my miter saw, so now I use my miter saw
for all cross cutting. My plywood and rip blade
I use a lot though. So my dull plywood blade cuts better than my sharp cross cut blade on plywood. So, proper blade for your application. All right, so the next
technique to help with tearout. This works on hardwood too, is to use a bit of tape. And what that does is
just reinforce the fibers because they’re really
weak being unsupported, and another is if you score it. So we’re gonna try both of these and I put the rip blade back
in ’cause it was the worst. So we’ll try it with the worst blade and then with the cross cut
blade ’cause it did okay. Not gonna try it with the plywood, ’cause it was already doing awesome. I’m just gonna transfer my mark so I know how to line this up. Yeah, let’s take a look
at what we just cut. Yeah, you can see the
two sides where we taped. Got some fuzzies, little bit of tearout. Now we’re also running with the grain, not across the grain like we did before, so that’s gonna help but here’s
the piece we did earlier. Huge difference with just the tape. And here’s the score cut. Now, apparently it wasn’t
square when I marked it. I kinda see my score line where
I didn’t hit it all the way. Where I did hit it, you can
see this side is very good, whereas on the other
side we got some fuzzies. And you know what? I’m not gonna waste your time showing you the difference on the cross cut, ’cause look how bad this was, look at these tape and scoring. Clearly I think we’ve
proven those two techniques do help a lot to reduce tearout. Now obviously the pain in the butt about those two techniques
is who wants to tape or score every cut they’re
gonna make before they make it? And as we talked about,
the reason tearout happens is basically ’cause the fibers
on the edge are unsupported and so instead of being
cut, they get ripped. The tape prevents that by
providing reinforcement to hold it so they don’t rip and get cut instead. The scoring helps because
you’re making the cut while the material’s supported and then cutting alongside the score line. What if there was a way
to support the fibers so they were cut instead of
torn without having to score? And we can do that by making
a zero clearance insert. You can buy those for most
saws or you can make them, so I’m gonna go over how to make them. As you can see, mine was actually meant to be a zero clearance insert, it’s just been used so much
that it’s opened up now and it obviously isn’t a zero clearance. Most saws use a half inch plate, so you can use half inch plywood. That’s what I did for my dado stack and as you can see I’ve cut
miters with this as well. I need to make some more. Plywood works okay, just
wax it or finish it. But the good folks at Rockler sent me their phenolic table saw inserts. The advantage to this is it’s really hard, so it’s not going to open up over use as quickly as plywood will. It’s also non-slick. Now this is also super hard, which means it lasts a long time, that means it’s really hard
on normal bits and what not, so they sell a bit just for drilling this so you don’t wear out your regular bits. To stick these together, I’m
gonna use a little trick here. Just some blue painter’s tape. As you can see guys, I really like this. Now I’ll add some CA glue. And the tape prevents our actual pieces from sticking together. But the CA get and tape
give plenty of hold. There we go. To speed things along a little bit, I’m gonna use my band saw to
cut off some of the excess before we go to a router table. With my piece roughed out,
I’m gonna use the template bit in my router table to transfer. You could also do this
freehand with a router. If you don’t have a router,
then you can cut close as size on a band saw or with a jigsaw and then use a sander
to bring it in flush. And like anything, you’re most efficient when you batch things out. So I went ahead and made a
few more plywood inserts. I’m gonna use these two
phenolic ones for the rip blade and my plywood blade that I use the most and then I’ll just have these on hand for whenever I do some dado
stacks or just whatever I need. They’re handy to have already made whenever you’re need one. Now I’m just marking location
for the little finger hole. Yeah this stuff is super hard to drill. You can definitely see why they sell a special bit for the screw holes. And the last thing is leveling. As you can see, this is
pretty far below flush. That’s what these tabs are for and why they’ve got these little spots. That’s from screw heads. The Rockler kit comes with some screws and for plywood I normally just use plain number eight wood screws
like you see in this one. So with a zero clearance insert, that is the cut quality on plywood. Super thin veneer that I got
from a dull ripping blade. Zero clearance, guys. It’s where it’s at. And that’s it guys. Of course, it’s a lot
easier to get better results if you have a well-maintained
and tuned table saw. I just did a video on how I
like to maintain my table saw. I’ll link a card in case
you wanna check that out. But yeah, a quick runover. Make sure you’re using the right blade and make a zero clearance insert. If you can’t or don’t wanna
make a zero clearance insert, then use tape or pre-score your edges and that tearout’s just gonna go away. But there you go, thanks for watching. I hope you learned something
or at least entertained. If I missed anything or
you wanna add anything, please do so in the comments
or at least let me know what you’re working on. I love to hear about that. Until next time, make
time to make something.

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