Adjusting the blade and fence on a cheap table saw


I bought an inexpensive Craftsman 10" table saw on Craigslist, and the manual gives instructions for making sure both the blade and the fence are squared up with the mitre slot, and therefore with each other. And I've watched Woodworking #55 and #56 on Youtube which show essentially the same process.
But this saw has an aluminum table, and the sides of the mitre slots are kinda rough - not machined - and I'm just not sure the slot edge is a reliable surface to try to adjust from.
So I was wondering about possibly *visually* aligning the fence with a little groove found in the middle of the mitre slot, and then squaring the blade to the fence. Of course that assumes the fence itself, which is also aluminum, is straight.
Also, I was trying to think of a way you could do some test cuts that would demonstrate whether the blade and fence are aligned. Can someone help me with such a test cut?
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The easy way to test is to cut a board lengthwise in half. Flip the board over lengthwise and see if it goes thru again without cutting any wood. That will determine alignment (parallel) between the fence and the blade. if you flip the board over (top-bottom), this will test perpendicular square between the blade and the base.
Rob
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On Thu, 29 Apr 2010 10:13:18 -0700, rlz wrote:

Seems sensible. I picked up a cheap 10" saw a few weeks ago too and finally got around to trying it yesterday. Seems to cut well, but I was worried about fence alignment too (once I've checked alignment, I wonder if it's worth my bolting a ruler to the back edge of the table, just so I can make sure it's not drifting out over time).
The one I've got (Ryobi) seems pretty reasonable, but I think I'll need to extend the table (and possibly fence) sometime to make it truly useful.
I'm worried too about the fact that the rack/pinion mechanism for changing the blade angle is all made of plastic - the teeth already show signs of wear, and I doubt matters will improve over time! Another project might be to replace that with something made from metal...
cheers
Jules
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On Thu, 29 Apr 2010 12:04:13 -0500, Peabody

Well you don't have to assume. You can check it. Hold it against an aluminum straightedge.
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wrote:

Sorry. I guess you meant we should assume it, not that you did.
I was sort of caught up what I see as the humor of using an *alumininum* straightedge to check another piece of aluminum, and of the word "straightedge". I'm a simple guy, who likes simple jokes, so please forgive me.
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if you want accurate,square crosscuts,you need it square to the blade. or you'll be squaring up the miter guide every time you use it.

Actually,you want to square up the -miter slot- with the blade. Otherwise,your miter guide will be inaccurate;your crosscuts will be off. THEN worry about the fence. it's mostly used for rip cuts. you might be better off adding an aftermarket fence system.

Heh,I just saw this exact same procedure shown on a PBS wookworking show last Saturday.(and they squared up the miter slot...)
The miter slot -should- be machined square to the table in the first place. Maybe the OP's miter slot has been gouged up by a previous owner. you could file it smooth and then use shims or an adjustable miter guide.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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Peabody wrote:

A framing square (the small size) is your friend, for dialing in a small table saw like this. If the saw came with the T-shaped thing that rides in the slot, use the square to set that to 90, then use it as the baseline to use the square to adjust the blade parallel to the table slot. Unless your table is not flat, the framing square will be accurate enough to make sure the blade is vertical.
Practice some cuts with cheap wood, before you use fancy wood for any projects. You will quickly learn the quirks any used saw gets, and how to work around them. How big is the table, and did wings come with it? Most Craftsman 10" with the small table are not good enough for fancy cabinetry, but plenty good enough for the usual household repair tasks. A good 4' level is straight enough to verify the table is flat and the fence is not bent.
I'm jealous- I miss having a table saw. But unless I give up parking inside (essential 6-7 months out of the year around here), the only place I have that is big enough for a saw, is a narrow stairway and a narrow door away from the outside world. I'm not sure I could even get a 4x8 panel down there. I may buy one anyone, and just not do projects in winter, or plan them so I can do them with panels ripped in half on sawhorses.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

Get double duty for your space. Put the table saw IN the car.

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aemeijers says...
> A framing square (the small size) is your friend, for > dialing in a small table saw like this. If the saw came > with the T-shaped thing that rides in the slot, use the > square to set that to 90, then use it as the baseline to > use the square to adjust the blade parallel to the table > slot. Unless your table is not flat, the framing square > will be accurate enough to make sure the blade is > vertical.
Thanks for everyone's suggestions.
I ended up taking the ruler out of a combination square, and placed it on the mitre T so that it barely touched the marked tooth, and then found a mark on the T that lined up exactly with a ruler mark. Then I moved everything, including that tooth, to the back to see if that mark lined up again.
Well, it wasn't the same. The tooth was about a quarter of a tooth width closer to the T at the back than at the front. So I adjusted the table (about 1/8th turn of the adjusting screws) and checked it again, and it was right on the money this time. Then to be sure, I did the same test on a "left" tooth relative to the left mitre slot, and that was a good match too.
Then I used a similar method, but using a nail setting tool, to adjust the fence to the blade. Even after making the first adjustment above, the fence was still a little closer to the blade at the back than at the front. So I had been about half a tooth width out of adjustment in the first place, which matches what it felt like on my test cuts - some binding between the fence and the blade at the back.
> How big is the table, and did wings come with it? Most > Craftsman 10" with the small table are not good enough > for fancy cabinetry, but plenty good enough for the > usual household repair tasks. A good 4' level is > straight enough to verify the table is flat and the > fence is not bent.
It's a model 137.248830. The main table is 26-7/64" x 19-1/2", but it also has left, right and rear table extensions that expand it a good bit. Came with a dust bag that catches about 25% of the dust. Ok, maybe 30%. It's a 15-amp, 5000 rp, direct-drive motor. Pretty loud.
The table isn't level, and the fence doesn't inspire confidence. But you know, I paid $100 for this thing on Craigslist, and it was almost brand new. So on balance I'm pretty happy with it so far. For now I only need it for rough ripping that doesn't need to be exact, so it will do fine for that, particularly since it now won't bind anymore at the back.
Thanks again for the responses.
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On Fri, 30 Apr 2010 18:52:55 -0500, Peabody

I have never gone to this much trouble. I'm glad I don't do quality work. It saves time. :) Congrats.
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