When I was using my table saw the other day, I wondered if it could cut a 4×4 that I was working with. I took my 4×4 over to my table saw and raised the blade as high as it could cut.
So, can you cut a 4×4 with a table saw? A standard 10 inch table saw can’t cut all the way through a 4×4 in one pass. The deepest cut a 10 inch blade can cut is about 3-⅛ inch. A high-end table saw with a 12 inch blade can cut a 4×4 in one pass with maximum cut of about 4 inches.
There are multiple ways that you can cut 4×4’s on table saws, so keep reading and I’ll give you some tips along the way to get the job done, no matter what size your blade is.
Quick Explanation of Table Saw Design
The reason that a 10 inch table saw blade can’t completely cut through a 4×4 in one pass is that the inner guts of the table saw that actually hold and support the blade can’t be raise above the surface of the table.
Although the radius of a 10 inch blade is 5 inches, the table saw’s arbor (Think blade spindle) and collar/washer take up some of that distance. The collar is designed to give more support to the blade and make it feel more stiff while cutting.
When you raise your blade, the collar has to be under the throat plate (Pill shaped insert on surface of the table around the blade), which also takes away some height from your cut.
Cross Cutting a 4×4 on a Table Saw
Cutting a 4×4 across the grain can be done using the miter gauge. You will have to make 2 passes on your 4×4 to cut all the way through, if you have a 10 inch table saw.
First, raise your blade as high as it goes. It should be at just over 3 inches high. Make your normal cross cut and flip your 4×4 over. Lower your blade so that it will cut through the remaining material, but make sure it’s not too high for safety reasons.
To ensure my 4×4 will be cross cut at the proper length, I like to cut off the remaining wood and leave a little extra material on the needed piece. This makes the wood easier to work with and lets you slowly trim more material off in a few more passes, giving you a perfect cut.
Only do this if you don’t plan on using the “scrap” 4×4, though. If you need the “scrap” part of the 4×4 at full length, then do your best making sure that your second cut is perfectly lined up.
If you leave a little extra material after your second cut, you can also use a router with a flush bit to make your cut perfect.
Ripping a 4×4 on a Table Saw
Ripping a 4×4 on a 10 inch table saw is basically done the same way as a cross cut. Only this time, you only have to make 2 passes with the wood because you know your fence won’t move, and you’ll have the exact same cut as the first one. There won’t have to be any clean up passes, which is always helpful.
Just set your fence distance and lock it down. I like to raise my blade so that it is over half of the cut, but not all the way raised. Doing this means your cutting less material on the first pass, which makes it faster.
Also, not having the blade cutting the most material possible at one helps to not bog down your table saw’s motor and reduces the chance of the blade burning the wood.
Push your 4×4 along your fence and make sure you’re thumb isn’t pushing where the blade is going to pop out of the rear of the wood. Using a push stick is highly recommended.
Other Table Saw Limitations
Depending on what type of wood you’re using, and the make and model of your table saw, you might run into a few other things that might be tricky while cutting your 4×4.
If you’re 4×4 is made from a hardwood and you’re using a low end table saw, you might want to cut it in a few more passes. The harder the wood, the harder time the motor has keeping proper blade speed.
Also, if you’re ripping a 4×4 that’s long, then you will probably need some extra support while making your cuts with your table saw. There are awesome outfeed rollers/roller stands that do a great job with this. They’re perfect for helping you get the job done when you don’t have an extra set of hands. Sometimes I actually end up using 2 or 3 of them on longer pieces of wood when I’m by myself.
Some lower end table saw’s don’t allow dado blades. If you’re planning on making a dado in your 4×4, you’ll have to make multiple cuts with a single blade, and adjust your fence after each cut.
Other Saws for Cutting a 4×4
- Circular Saw – Although you can’t cut all the way through with a standard circular saw in one pass, you can still get the job done with a circular saw. Just mark your cut on all 4 sides and flip your 4×4 90 degrees after each cut. This method works pretty well for cross cuts. Ripping a 4×4 with this method might not turn out too well and you’ll be forced to do a lot of sanding.
- Miter Saw – A 12 inch miter saw is a great tool to have around when you need to cut a 4×4. It can actually do it in one pass too! Line up your cut, pull the trigger, and pull the saw down until it goes all the way through your 4×4.
- Band Saw – A decent sized band saw is a pretty good tool to cut a 4×4. You can cross cut, miter and rip pretty easily. Doing any type of grooves or dados along a long 4×4 is pretty tricky. A router or table saw work better for those.
- Radial Arm Saw – This is another solid choice to cut through a 4×4 in one pass. People say they are a dangerous tool to work with, but isn’t every tool dangerous when not used properly?
- Jigsaw – I wouldn’t recommend using a jigsaw to cut a 4×4. The blade won’t go all the way through and it’ll just be poking the 4×4 and popping out of the cut. This can be very dangerous.
- Reciprocating Saws – These are one of my favorite tools and they can absolutely shred a 4×4. Accuracy suffers with these for me though. I tend to use them for demolition instead of building things. They are a lot of fun to use though!
- Chainsaw – A chainsaw can get through a 4×4 in a matter of seconds, but they are probably even less accurate than a reciprocating saw. I’ve never used a chainsaw on a 4×4, but I bet it’d slice right through it like butter.
- Hand Saws – There are a bunch of hand saws that could cut a 4×4. The downside with these is that they don’t move with the pull of a trigger or a flip of a switch. Lots of sweating is involved and it takes a lot longer than a miter box or band saw. Using any hand saw is tedious work in my opinion and should be avoided at all costs! There are better uses of your time as well!
- Scroll Saw – This is another saw that can’t cut through a 4×4. They are used more for smaller and more precise projects.