Thursday, September 6, 2012

Table Saw Tune Up

     I mentioned in my last post that it seems to be time to check the alignment of the blade to the table and the fence to the blade.  I purchased an inexpensive dial indicator from Harbor Freight and made  a holder for it to ride in the miter gauge slot.  This is uncharted territory for me, I really hadn't used these type of measuring tools since my hot rod days and machine shop part of my industrial arts education -- suffice to say; that's a long ways back!

Step One:  Table Aligned with Blade

     I was a bit apprehensive on this step knowing that it could be a real pain in the !@#%#$^!#.  Even though the runner for the holding jig fit quite snugly I could get a variation in the reading of +/- .006 by applying pressure to one side or just leaving it alone and sliding it in the miter gauge slot.  To compensate for that I applied pressure towards the same side to keep the reading accurate.  You can't see it in the picture but I placed a black dot on the blade with a sharpie, set the dial indicator right on it at the front of the blade, applied pressure to the holder and zeroed out the dial.  It was interesting to note that if I left the blade stationary and slid the indicator along it there was a variation in the measurement as I moved from the front to the back of the blade. The important measurement though was to zero out the indicator on the mark made at the front of the blade and then rotate that mark to the rear.  There was only .001 difference in those readings so thankfully, I don't need to align the table.  That tells me a lot about the quality of this Jet Cabinet Saw, I've had it for many years and do move it around by grabbing on to the table so I honestly anticipated having to re-align it.
     The next step was to align the fence with the blade and also re-adjust it to be square to the table top. This is a bit easier, just takes some fiddling around with the set screws that lock against the rail.  I found it interesting that after adjusting it so the reading was exactly the same at the front and rear of the fence there was a measurable variation of +/- .010 while sliding the indicator the length of the slot.  No doubt that's caused by uneven wear on the side of the fence but no problem whatsoever.

Step Two:  Square Fence to Table and Align to Blade

     The final step to this process was to adjust the splitter so that it was in line with the blade.  That's the one part I'm not overly happy with, it is too easy to knock it out of kilter with a board or something.  It'll do for now but if I ever get that dull moment I'll mess around with that!


  1. Welcome to the 21th century, John! The measuring gadgets you are adding to your arsenal are really cool!

    Also, congratulations on the 29 boxes. I look forward to seeing the photograph with the final display. :-)


  2. Hi John

    Interesting blogs.

    When I set the fence on my saw I set it so there is a slight tow out of about .6mm over 600mmm. The idea being that it helps to prevent the work binding on the saw and being thrown back at you. Is this done in the US or is it just a Brit thing!?

    1. Hi Chris, I've heard of that technique and it seems to make sense. I'm guessing it's like an expression I heard from a fellow woodworker: "Ask 10 woodworkers how they sharpen and you'll get 12 answers" That's what makes our craft so enjoyable, the variety of ways we go about it to get pretty much the same results. I'm glad there's no discussion about setting the fence with a slight measurement inwards!

  3. Thank you John for this interesting post. My grand pa has a table saw that he and my father are using for a very long time. But not even once I can see them tuning it up. When is the right time that a table saw needs tuning up?

  4. Steve, that's a difficult question. I'd say that as long as everything is working properly why mess with it! I tend to blow the built up sawdust off of the trunnion and gears and apply lubrication when I hear or feel any resistance in the raising or tilting mechanism. The most common adjustment seems to be aligning the rip fence and a cut that binds or burns would be a good indication for that. I think for me, since I move my table saw around that's what probably caused the table to be out of adjustment. I have several woodworking friends that have their tablesaw in one, dedicated space that never need to adjust them.