Aligning a Table Saw
Issue: Issue 105
Posted Date: 8/17/2004
The original poster had just purchased and assembled a new Ridgid table saw and tried it out on a project. He followed the setup instructions, but after ripping a couple of pieces of wood, noticed that they pulled away from the fence on the tail end of the cut after starting out flush. He wondered if he needed to do something else to adjust his table saw alignment and asked for recommendations, indicating that he wanted to be "dead-on accurate" and was willing to spend some money to achieve that goal.
The first response pointed out that he wants the fence and blade to be parallel to the miter slot, and that he can achieve this be sliding the fence to the end of the miter slot, then running a finger along it to check to feel for any misalignment. After doing so, this poster suggested, he could put a metal spacer of some sort between the fence and the blade and slide the fence over to push the spacer against the blade. If there were any gaps along the fence or the blade, he could then adjust the blade.
The original poster came back saying he was confused about the purpose of the spacer - his instruction manual had said he could use a newspaper folded three times as such, but he wondered why he couldn't just move the fence up to the blade to check for parallel.
The reason, his respondent came back, was that it would probably be hard to see what was going on - and he would be taking the chance of scratching his fence in the process by turning the saw blade to see if it was touching - not that he had any personal experience with this, mind you.
Another poster suggested that his table saw might be fine, but internal stresses in the wood were causing it bow out and away as he cut. The test for this, the new poster said, would be to place the wood cut-side-down against a known flat surface or straightedge and check for gaps.
Several other posters came onboard with recommendations and links to sites about aligning with a dial caliper, and a discussion ensued about whether setup tools were worth the price. The consensus was...they could be. One poster also came up with instructions for a jig he made himself from scrapwood to check for accuracy, using a 3" screw as an indicator. Another poster pointed out that such sleds or jigs didn't have to be perfect; they just had to be consistent.
Finally, the most useful tools in aligning a table saw, one poster said, were actually books. He included recommendations for The Table Saw Book by Kelly Mehler, Mastering Woodworking Machines by Mark Duginske and Care and Repair of Shop Machines by John White.