Table Saw Tune up – 5 Steps to Follow

Last modified on September 17, 2022
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a man tuning up table saw

Table saws are great for fine woodworking. They can cut dado cuts, crosscut, rip, miter, and bevel cuts. Table saws are great for beginners as well. Improving your table saw is one of the best ways you can become a better woodworker. If your saw is working just fine, chances are you probably aren’t using it as well as you could be. If it’s an older saw, it’s most likely never been tuned up for premium performance and even if it’s a brand-new saw that just hit the market, there’s no way it can be used at its best if it hasn’t been tuned up yet.

It is possible that the table slots and fence on your saw are not properly aligned with the blade path, resulting in rough or burned cuts during cutting. A blade angle stop that isn’t tuned in precisely can result in cuts that aren’t square. Stubborn drive belts or improperly aligned pulleys could be producing vibration, and a misplaced splitter can result pinching or other feed issues. These and other issues indicate a machine that isn’t making the most of its potential. With a few simple and inexpensive tools, you can get your sawship in top working order in no time. 

When to Plan a Tune-Up

Your table saw will let you know when adjustments are necessary if you pay attention to it. For example, the blade of your saw must be properly aligned with the fence. Incorrectly aligned blades can generate burn markings on wood, but slowing down. Even when the blade is cutting straight, you may notice that it cuts a little more stock than you would want.

Table Saw Tune Up and Maintenance

Conditioning the Blade

Table saw tuning begins with a thorough inspection of your blade. For the best results, the blade should be razor-sharp, pitch-free, and flat. In order to tell whether or not the saw’s blade is flat, look at the blade’s slowdown after you stop using it. Any “wobble” in the blade will most likely be visible as it is slowing down and approaching the point when it comes to a stop. A wobbling blade indicates that the blade should be replaced.

Blade Alignment (Parallel)

The next step is to make sure your saw’s blade is parallel to the miter slots and that it is correctly installed. Raise the blade as high as it will go to make sure it is aligned properly before using it. Pick a carbide tooth on the blade and rotate it until it is level with the table on the blade’s front side. Note the distance between the carbide and one of the miter slots. Then, spin the blade such that the carbide is at table level at the back of the saw, and measure again. If the distances aren’t the same, you’ll need to make some motor adjustments.

Fence Alignment

We’ll now inspect the rip fence’s alignment after the motor and blade are aligned. To avoid deadly kickbacks, make sure the rip fence is exactly aligned with the saw blade.

We’ll match the fence to the miter slot now that we know the blade is properly aligned with the miter slot. Place a straight-edge in the miter slot and slide the fence until it rests securely on the straight-edge. Examine any gaps between the fence and the straight-edge with your eyes. Make any required adjustments to the fence in order to close any gaps.

Square the Blade

Check the blade for squareness to the table now that the fence and blade are both parallel to the miter slot.  Set the arbor angle of the saw to the 0-degree stop. To check the blade’s 90-degree angle to the table, use a layout square or a small framing square on its edge. If it’s not square, adjust the 0-degree stop on the saw as directed in your table saw’s owner’s handbook.

Throat Plate

Make sure that the blade is level with the table. Then, completely drop the blade. Push a straight-edge across the throat plate perpendicular to the miter slot. Ideally, the plate will rest just over the table’s surface. You may have difficulty pushing the stock through the blade if the plate extends over the table’s surface level. Adjust the height of the plate if you can find adjustment screws.

Final Check

In order to make sure that your saw’s blade and splitter or riving knife are aligned, place a straight-edge against both of them at the same time. Check both sides of the splitter to ensure that it is even, and if any modifications are required, consult your owner’s manual for further instructions.

Check the table’s dust collecting and adjustment systems to make sure they aren’t covered with sawdust.

In the final step, inspect the miter gauge to ensure that it goes freely into each of the miter slots. Another thing to look out for is any slipping of the fence’s locking mechanism under even mild lateral force. While cutting, you don’t want it to slip about while you’re pushing it.

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