4 Tips to Prevent Tear Out

Tear out sucks, but fortunately is preventable. At best it just means some extra sanding, at worst it means ruining a veneer on a piece. These four tips will make sure you never worry about tear out again!

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It’s pretty straight forward to prevent tear out at the table saw. Of course it helps to have a well maintained saw. Check out my post on how I keep my saw humming if you don’t have a maintenance routine.

  1. Use the appropriate blade.

Lots of people prefer using a combination blade. If that’s working for you, great. If it’s not, clean and sharpen it. If it still isn’t cutting it, then get a purpose built blade. It’s not just marketing hype, the different tooth counts and grinds really make a difference. If you don’t believe me, just watch the video where I compare the different blades.

2. Support the fibers so the blade cannot tear them.

Tear out happens because the wood fibers on the edge of the board are ripped by the blade instead of being cut. That ripping happens because the wood fiber tears under the force from the blade before it can be cut because the fibers on unsupported. On one side, a blade, on the other side, air, in the middle, weak wood fibers getting pushed by the blade.

Sharper blades with the right tooth count and grind help. But another sure fire technique is to keep the fibers supported. If there’s no where to get pushed and tore, they’ll politely lay in place and be neatly cut. An easy technique using blue tape to add some support, and it won’t leave behind residue. But when it really counts, you can support your piece with another board.

3. Pre-cut the fibers.

If the fibers are already severed, the blade can’t rip them instead of cutting them. This can be finicky and you really have to line up your cut right on the score line to make sure you’re not wasting your time. But if you’ve dropped some serious cash on a fancy figured veneer, this will always work 100.

4. Use a Zero Clearance Insert.

This goes back to point 2, support the fibers. That’s what a zero clearance insert does. But it’s so much better because you don’t have to do any material prep before a cut. So long as that insert is in place, you’re good to go.

Odds are you can buy a zero clearance insert for your saw. It’ll be a blank plate that’s ready to have a saw blade raised through it. The slot will be the exact size of the blade, so the material right next to the blade will be supported.