11 Most Common Table Saw Problems & How to Fix Them Quickly

A table saw is one of the most used cutting tools in the woodworking workshop and can cause a lot of problems for you to deal with. Some table saw problems are quite common, while others are rather rare. Whatever table saw issues they are, you want to see them solved as soon as possible.

A good starting point for DIY table saw repair is to make a selection by investigating what type of table saw problem you are dealing with in order to be able to quickly and specifically search for the right solution.
Table saw problems can often be classified into 3 categories:

  • Cutting problems: Here the problems come from cutting through the saw blade
  • Mechanical problems: The problems come from malfunctions in the motor or mechanical drives, such as the blade lift system
  • Setting Problems: The problem you are experiencing is a result of human error, such as setting the fence incorrectly

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at these DIY table saw repair categories, as they’re the foundation of any table saw troubleshooting, and guide you through the most common table saw problems.

However, there is one piece of advice I want to give you right now that you should do first in any situation, and that is to read your owner’s manual! With this information that you get in advance, you are better prepared to solve any more in-depth problems.

After having a better understanding of the different categories you can use as a starting point for table saw troubleshooting, and the most common table saw problems, at the end of this article, I’ll give you a few helpful tips to reduce table saw problems in the future and to be able to work longer with this important tool for your woodworking workshop.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

Different Types Of Table Saw Problems

Cutting Problems

Most Common Table Saw Problems - Cutting problems
Most Common Table Saw Problems – Cutting problems

Let’s start with the most basic table saw problems and often the easiest to solve, the cutting problems.

Cutting problems are frequently experienced because the cut on the wood is not as it would be desired. When the cut wood comes out splintered, rough, or damaged, or when it is difficult to follow the marking line, this can indicate cutting issues and cause frustration. This means that you can start over or that the (expensive) wood can be destroyed and can be thrown away.

Now, cutting problems can have many possible causes. Minor wear, misuse, or wrong blade selection can have serious consequences. To avoid that it is good to know how to select the right table saw blade, which you can discover here.

A common consequence of cutting issues is kickback, and believe me, you don’t want to experience this. Not only is it painful, but it can also have serious consequences.

So if you notice that the wood cannot be sawn according to the rules of the art, in most cases you are dealing with cutting difficulties. In that case, you can search further in this article between the most common cutting concerns with table saws and make a further selection to find the right reason together with a suitable solution.

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Mechanical Problems

Mechanical problems are different from cutting problems. Mechanical issues will negatively affect cut quality to a lesser extent, but rather in user experience. It will become immediately clear to you what I mean by this.

The main mechanical problems that can arise are motor failures or disturbances in gearboxes, the lifting mechanism of the saw blade, or any other mechanically driven parts.

Most Common Table Saw Problems - Mechanical problems
Most Common Table Saw ProblemsMechanical problems

Each brand of table saw produces its tools a little differently. So if there is a motor problem deep inside the table saw, it is not good to make precise general statements here, and you will therefore have to rely on a professional table saw repair company.

Often a major cause of mechanical table saw problems will be due to excessive build-up of dirt.

Table saws create a lot of debris. If you’re not used to cleaning the inside of your saw, you’ll probably be surprised how much has accumulated around your saw’s motor housing, shaft assembly, fans, gearbox, shafts, wiring, and gears.

However, this can often be avoided, and that’s why I’ll give you a few more tips before closing this article.

Another cause of a mechanical issue can be the loosening of screws. When this occurs, belts, threaded rods, or other important mechanical parts will loosen and interfere with mechanical operation.

A table saw also contains electrical wiring, and with the newer table saws with the saw stop system, there are a lot more. Cables can be interrupted by accumulating dirt or if they get pinched too much, they can even break.

If the motor hesitates or refuses to start, the saw blade lifting system fails, or you experience other user inconveniences, the table saw problem is most likely due to a mechanical failure. Later in this article, I will list the most common mechanical problems and how to solve them.

Setup Problems

Most Common Table Saw Problems - Setup problems
Most Common Table Saw ProblemsSetup problems

A final table saw problem really has nothing to do with the table saw or the saw blade itself, but rather with making human errors.

A table saw is a precision machine that needs to be set up correctly if you want to get the cut you expect. If this doesn’t happen, you get the effect of cutting problems, but often most people don’t realize that they are ultimately the cause.

A fence is placed a few dozen times a day to cut the wood to the right size. The chance that it will go wrong all those tens of times is high. Placing the gate at an angle to the blade can pinch the wood, causing burns, engine overload, and kickback.

Another common human error is setting the cutting depth incorrectly. People frequently want to saw the wood in one pass, which makes them think it saves time. Ok with thinner wood such as plywood this is perfectly possible, but if you want to saw harder woods with larger sizes, issues can arise. The saw blade can heat up, warp, and cause burns on the wood.

Many mistakes can be avoided by using the table saw correctly. But above all, it is important to have the right table saw in your workshop that is suitable for doing the cutting work for your projects.

Table Saw Troubleshooting Guide

With this table saw troubleshooting guide, you can quickly find the table saw problem you are experiencing. In order to keep that article as concise as possible, I will list the most important features of each problem so that you can quickly recognize the problem as well as a quick solution. For some of these problems, I have separate and more in-depth articles that will help you even better in finding the perfect solution. You will always find a link that will take you to this article.

I work hard to keep uploading articles weekly with new things about woodworking, as well as experiencing issues with table saws and other woodworking tools. Whenever I add an extensive article on table saw problems to my website, this guide will be updated as well. So come back regularly to learn more about your table saw.

For some table saw problems, the causes can be found in both cutting problems and mechanical problems. So when you go over the problems, you can encounter them in both categories. Then it is up to you to find out, thanks to the in-depth articles, where the problem lies and how you can solve it correctly.

Cutting Problems

Problem #1: Burns Occur On The Wood

Burns on the wood can occur for various reasons. What always happened is that there is increased friction between the saw blade and the wood, which creates heat. That heat can be so high that the wood burns.

Some woods are more sensitive than others, but when the heat gets that high, burns will eventually appear on any wood. The problem could be with the sharpness of the blade, the feed rate, or the position of the blade.

Problem #2: The Table Saw Is Smoking

This can be a cutting problem as well as a mechanical problem. In the case of cutting issues, smoking the table saw will be a harbinger of the burns you will find on the cut surface. But smoking can also be due to a mechanical problem.

Problem #3: The Wood Is Tearing

This could be due to a dull blade or the wrong blade. When making rip cuts, it is important to choose a knife with few teeth and deep gullets. When making crosscuts, or cutting plywood, for example, you use a saw ball with more and finer teeth.

A zero clearance insert in your table saw also really help reduce tearing. Sometimes you just need to learn the right feed-to-blade speed ratio for a particular wood species. And never underestimate the importance of high-quality blades designed for the cut you’re making.

Problem #4: My Table Saw Is Binding.

If it is hard to push the wood through the blade, your possible causes of this table saw problem are similar to the occurrence of burns. Always use a sharp knife, slow down your feed rate, lower your blade speed, clean your blade, or combine the possible solutions.

Problem #5: My Stock Consistently Wants To Kick Back When I Make Rip Cuts.

If you’re constantly running the risk of your material flying through the workshop when making simple cracks, the problem is almost certainly the alignment of the blade to the fence. This will usually be the result of binding the knife, as I discussed earlier.

Problem #6: The Table Saw Does Not Cut Straight

The cause of this is almost always a mechanical problem, or a setting problem. If the saw blade is not set correctly, or the fence is placed incorrectly, the cut can never be straight. However, there can be several other causes that are at the root of this problem.

Problem #7: The table saw does not cut smoothly

Sometimes you will feel that the table saw is not cutting smoothly. The reasons for this can be a dull blade, misalignment between the blade and fence, dust buildup on the blade and in the dust collection system, and using the wrong cutting speed for your material.

Mechanical Problems

Often mechanical problems can be solved quickly by cleaning and lubricating the table saw. However, if the problem persists, you can search for the cause in the following table saw problems.

Problem #8: Carbon Brushes Must Be Replaced.

If your motor is direct drive, for example, your electric brushes may only need to be replaced. Consult your manual for instructions on where to look for them and whether they need to be replaced.

Problem #9: Capacitor Failure.

If your engine is choking and you smell a chemical burn, this is almost certainly the cause.

To test it, all you really need is a volt-ohm meter. If the electrical reading is inconsistent, locate the correct replacement capacitor for your saw model and turn it off.

Problem #10: The Lift Mechanism Gets Stuck

If you experience that the lift mechanism is stiff, this can usually indicate the presence of dust and debris between the gears, or a lack of lubricants. Just removing the dirt and applying a lubricant can solve the problem in just a few moments.

However, sometimes the problem can be much bigger and the saw blade will stay in position no matter how hard you turn the handle. I could already experience this myself.

The lift mechanism on my table saw works by moving an aluminum block over a threaded rod. By turning the threaded rod, the aluminum block, which is attached to the saw blade, is turned up or down.

The screw thread in the aluminum block was completely worn out so that the screw thread no longer had any grip. That’s why I had to replace this part, which took quite a few hours. You can see how I did this in this video.

Problem #11: My Table Saw Stopped Working While Cutting And Will No Longer Turn On.

If your table saw stopped working, it may be your inexperience with the material you are cutting. If this is the case, stop forcing the material through the cut.

You may need a lower blade speed for more torque. Be careful, do this too much, and you could hurt yourself or damage your saw.

Depending on your model and the severity of the abuse, you may be able to turn off your saw’s overload switch. Often you can simply turn the saw off, unplug the power, wait a while, plug it back in, and get back to work.

If not, however, it’s time to consult your owner’s manual for the method of turning your saw back on. There may be a lever or button in a not-so-obvious location.

If you’ve gone this far and the problem is still not resolved, it might be something bigger. Hopefully one of the following solutions will work for you.

Problem #12: My Table Saw Won’t Turn On.

It may appear simple and silly, but first check your power connections. Yes, begin with the wall plug, circuit breaker, and on/off switch. You’d be surprised how many people look for the big problem when all they need to do is this.

Then there’s the possibility of damaged wires, broken sockets, and extension cords.

Disconnect from other tools, outlets, or power cords as needed to see if you can identify a faulty piece of the puzzle.

If the problem is still not resolved, check to see if the most recent solution to the following problem works for you.

Problem #13: The Table Saw Is Smoking

This could be a mechanical problem, or it could be a cutting problem. For more information, you can go to the relevant issue in the cutting problems above and find a suitable solution.

How To Avoid Table Saw Problems

Table saw problems can be avoided by performing routine maintenance. You’d be surprised how much longer a well-maintained table saw can last and how much safer it is to use.

Always disconnect the power before beginning any maintenance.

To remove the dust in the table saw, it is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner. This will prevent the dust from drifting away and floating in the air of the workshop. Parts that you cannot reach with the vacuum cleaner can be cleaned with air pressure. But pay attention, do not do this in a closed space and always use a dust mask. After you have cleaned the table saw with air pressure, it is also important to let the room ventilate sufficiently until all small particles of dust have disappeared from the air.

Do not use high air pressure on electrical parts, as this could damage the small and sensitive parts.

While cleaning the table saw, keep an eye out for things like loose screws, melted or cracked wires, worn belts, broken gears, and damage to other moving parts.

Also, regularly lubricate moving parts, because of the dust they will dry out quickly and move more stiffly. Lubricants can avoid this.

Using the table saw tips on my website, you can avoid many table saw problems. So consider the table saw tips I’m about to share with you here. This allows you to maximize the cutting quality, ease of use, and tool longevity of your table saw.

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