I just brought a used table saw. Any tips on evaluating this thing? I heard someone mention something about arbor runout. How would I check that out? How do I tell if the bearings are good? The blade seems tight and there doesn’t seem to be any side-to-side movement. What would you do to check it out? If I decide to get a new fence what do I measure?
Simon Watts: I suggest you invest in one of the several books on using and tuning table saws.
Michael Dresdner: Here’s how to check arbor runout. Unplug the saw and raise the arbor to its highest position. Mount a flat plate (I use a blade stabilizer) onto the arbor and snug it down with the retention nut. Mount a dial indicator on a magnet and set it on the table with the tip reading the face of the plate near the outer edge. Spin the arbor by hand and watch the dial. As you go through a rotation, watch how much the dial changes from the highest to lowest reading. That is the amount of runout. If luck is with you, it should be less than .005″ on a 10″ plate, and half that on a 5″ plate.
The best way to test bearings is to listen to them while the saw is running. I find that I can hear a bad bearing before spotting it any other way. Good ones are quiet; bad ones make all sorts of untoward noises.
Aftermarket fences all fit most any saw. The size difference is in the beam they attach to. That corresponds to how far to the right or left you want the saw table to extend. In other words, a 52″ fence will travel 52″ to the right of the blade. Most fences will require some sort of table extension, and some may come with it. When you go to purchase, indicate the type and brand of saw you are buying it for, and the space the saw occupies, and the vendor will help you get an appropriate size.