Burn-free Edges

You seldom get an edge burn when your cutoff is less than a 1/4″ wide.

One of the things that gets under the skin of most woodworkers is when a part comes off the saw with a black-marred edge. It’s a burn made by the blade rubbing the board. Most times you can see an arcing pattern in the darkened defect. How do you make cuts with your table saw that produces burn-free edges?

Step one is to make sure that your saw is set up properly, that your fence does not toe-in. In fact, I like my fence to toe-out about the thickness of a once-folded dollar bill. If your fence is right, you’re less apt to get burn. Also, a sharp and clean blade is sure to help. But those are not the only things to consider.

You have to have your lumber properly dried – the real culprit is the sudden exposure of the middle of the board, which has a higher moisture content than the edges or faces of the board. And at times, movement could be from a release of stress in the tree.

Making a rip cut in the middle of a board, or when a significant amount of width left in your cutoff, is when an edge burn is more possible. Cut close to your final width, then finish the no-mar cut with a second pass at the saw.

Sometimes, even when your lumber is dried right, you still get a small amount of movement as you saw. What I’ve found is that this usually happens when you’re cutting down the middle of a wider board, or with a significant amount of width left in your cutoff.

One of the best ways I’ve learned to reduce edge burn is to make a rough cut close to my final dimension, then rip the last 1/8″ to 3/16″ off with a second cut (see the opening photo). With such a thin amount of cutoff, there is less movement in the waste piece (the cutoff) and that reduces the potential for burn.

— Glen D. Huey

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4 thoughts on “Burn-free Edges

  1. I’ve been able to get rid of most of my edge burning by using the 1/16″ thick skill saw blades. They flex enough to not burn. I can cut up to 1 5/8″ thick with these blades

    1. Karson,
      Do you use that blade for all table saw work, or only for ripping operations? I switch out when ripping banding, but that’s to save material.

  2. Thanks Glen.
    I’ve been using as lot of maple lately and getting burned edges.
    I’ll try all the options you suggest for reducing it.

    1. Eric, this method will help. Good luck.

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