If you’re new to the world of table saws, you can be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed. On top of the considerable amount of skill and patience it takes to work with a table saw, there’s also a sizeable vocabulary that comes with the tool. Scratching your head wondering what people mean by ‘table saw arbor’?
You’re in the right place.
This page is designed to get you up to speed. We’ll run through some common terms like arbor, arbor flange and the saw blades associated with them. Read on to become a saw blade pro.
What is a Table Saw Arbor?
The saw blades for any table saw need support in order to operate effectively and safely. The arbor is a central metal shaft onto which you slot your saw blade. If you’ve ever lifted weights at home you’ll be familiar with a mechanism like this; it’s the same idea as a dumbbell pole, only for a saw blade.
The motor of your saw drives the arbor which in turn drives your blade. It’s one of the key components of your machine that makes cutting possible in the first place. Once you’re familiar with your machine’s shaft, it’s important to check the size and diameter of any blade you buy.
We’ll explain why a little later in this guide.
Other Names for the Arbor
It’s worth mentioning that ‘saw blade arbor’ isn’t the only phrase you’ll hear when referring to the shaft on your machine:
Mandrel — the arbor is sometimes referred to as the mandrel.
Spindle — this is another common term that can be used interchangeably with ‘arbor.’
To complicate things further, you’ll also need to learn about this part of your arbor shaft. The ‘nut’ of an arbor functions in the same way as any other construction nut; it secures your blade firmly in place. Make sure you’re using a high-quality nut that fits well with your flange and blade.
Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with saw blades that wobble while you work.
We mentioned this part of the arbor right at the top of this page. So, what is it? In short, this part of your arbor acts as a washer that sits alongside the nut. It helps keep your blades nice and secure while you cut with your saw.
The terms just leep coming! This is also referred to as the spindle lock. When you change the blade of your table saw, it’s very important to make sure you’re doing so as safely as possible. This is where your spindle lock comes in.
It secures your blade safely in place while you remove it. The last thing you want is your blade to activate while your hands are touching it. A depressing number of amputations are still caused by table saws every year, so it’s vital that you take advantage of any and all safety measures present on your machine.
What’s an Arbor Hole?
So we’ve covered the arbor, but what about the arbor hole? Fortunately, this one is fairly straightforward. You’ve probably noticed that your saw blades all have holes in the center for slotting onto your machine. This is what’s referred to as the arbor hole.
Understanding at least the basics of arbor holes is important. You’ll need to check the size of any blade you buy in relation to your arbor at home to make sure you’re buying a product that actually fits your machine.
Common Arbor Hole Sizes
This section will run through some of the most common sizes out there. You’ll leave with a better understanding of what to look out for when buying a new blade. To be clear, this list is far from exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point in our opinion.
The Diameter Rule
As a general rule, the diameter of your blade is directly related to the size of its arbor hole. For this reason, we explore both measurements combined when describing the common sizes below. If you know what diameter you’re looking for, you usually know which arbor hole to look for and vice versa.
American VS European Measurements
Depending on where you’re shopping for a new blade, you may encounter metric measurements in millimetres. This isn’t normally anything to worry about; just make sure you double-check the imperial equivalent before buying to avoid disappointment.
The largest measurement on this page, these blades are typically reserved for heavy-duty rips and tougher cuts. The associated arbor hole size is 1″.
8″ and 10″ Blades
This standard blade size is very common and used widely across North America and the European market. The associated arbor hole size is 5/8″.
If you’re using a smaller 6″ blade, your arbor hole is likely to be smaller. Look for an arbor hole size of 1/2″.
A 3″ Blade
Last but certainly not least, the 3″ size is the smallest measurement on this page. These blades usually use a hole size of 1/4″.
Replacing your arbor shouldn’t be something that every woodworker has to consider, but there may be a time when you need to pick up a replacement. While they’re far from perfect, the brands below usually have a great track record when it comes to high-quality parts with strong levels of durability:
Remember to only ever consider replacing parts of your machine if you’re absolutely confident that you have the skills and tools needed to get the job done properly. There’s no shame in hiring a professional for help and it can even save you money on unnecessary repairs in the long run.
We hope this page has cleared up any confusion. In summary, the arbor is the metal shift on your machine that’s driven by the motor. It turns your blade and makes it possible to cut in the first place.
Remember to always use your spindle/ arbor lock when changing your blade. This can protect from substantial injury and takes virtually no effort to do.