Safety is the first priority in our DIY class in Dallas and we use math skills to promote it. You can use math all over in wood working, but I am talking specifically about math terms and the table saw. You may ask, “How can math save my digits on the saw?”, and all ten fingers point to geometry.

If you took a geometry class and studied shapes, you probably came across the terms “concave” and “convex”. Now, if you are like me, and math class was a long time ago, a simple way to separate these two terms is that concave has a “caved in” shape and convex is a ballooning outward shape. To apply this concept to lumber, you need to imagine how the wood you are about to rip lines up against the fence of your saw. The concave side of a board will touch at both ends with an open space in between while the convex will touch in the center but neither side will be flush with the fence. The convex side presents a danger to anyone using the saw because it increases the likelihood of the board moving unpredictably during the cut.

To save your fingers, and the integrity of the wall space behind you, always check your boards against the straight edge of your table saw’s fence. If both sides are touching (i.e., the concave side), then you can guide the board through with greater confidence you will achieve a straight cut. However, if you place the board against the fence and you see it move and either end (i.e., the convex side), flip it over to make sure the concave side is against the fence. And if you are a stickler for both sides being joint worthy, cut your board to its desired width by making two passes, first by using the concave side and the second with the freshly sawn side.

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