I have a Delta contractor saw. Peachtree Woodworking Supply has these
devices called "table saw pals" in their catalog that supposedly make
aligning these saws "easy". I'm all for that. It attaches to the
rear trunion and has "micro-adjusting" screws. Anybody have any
experience with this or a similar device?
Yep... it works great for contractor saws. I also recommend
the TS-Aligner in addition to the PALS system. You are going
to need a measuring device and the TS-Aligner is your tool of choice.
The ts-aligner.com alignment tools range from expensive ($75 for the
cheapest "Junior Lite" with the most basic dial indicator) to hugely
expensive ($459 for TS-Alginer Premium).
I'm sure they are worth their weight in gold, but I'm just an amateur
on a budget with a 20 year old Craftsman table saw so I built my own
equivalent for under $10 using a Harbor Freight $6.99 dial indicator
gauge, a piece of angle iron, and a couple of screws
I then attached the dial indicator guage to the angle iron with a
thumbscrew and lock washer (after griding down the corner to allow the
dial indicator to mount on the angle iron) , allowing me to fix it any
desired angle. I then bolted (or alternatively clamped) the angle iron
to my miter gauge allowing me to move the jig up and down my miter
slot. If I want to anchor it solidly at one spot, I can always use the
hardware from one of my fingerboards to afix it to the T-slot.
Given that I am only using the jig and indicator to measure and then
minimize *differences* in deflection as I turn the blade or move the
miter gauge, it is much less important how absolutely accurate the
indicator is or how perfectly machined the rest of the jig is. As long
as the indicator returns to the same position and as long as the jig
itself remains rigid, I think it is possible to get results accurate
to with 1-2 thousandths which is probably within the minimum range of
imprecision of the Craftsman table saw and mid-priced blades that I
After experimenting, I became convinced that the precision of my setup
was repeatable enough to within a thousandth or so. This allowed me to
tune my alignment to within 1-2 thousandths. Even if I am
overestimating the accuracy of my jig, I do think that I got quite an
improvement in alignment for under $10.
Again, I'm not trying to say that for under $10 you get the same value
as a $450 instrument, but I certainly got something for it :)
I second this. All you need is a dial indicator and something to hold
it in place while you measure. You can easily get within .001 or
better. I'd suggest going this route and try working with the
result. if you find a reason to be more accurate then you can lay
down the big bucks for something else. I've yet to make anything
where the saw alignment caused a problem. I've won plenty of ribbons
with my work and it's been featured in Better Homes/Garden and
I used a dial mechanism from an old blood pressure cuff gage. I noticed
a very small movement of the internal diaphragm caused a large angular
movement of the dial needle. Drilled the inlet air port out to 1/8" and
used a polished 1/8" welding rod as an actuator. As the original poster
says we often need to know variations instead of absolute distances.
Using feeler gages to calibrate my "dial indicator" I am able to detect
0.001" variations with ease.
I wish this were true! At about $900/oz I would finally be able to
start showing a profit! I appreciate your attention to detail and
honest representation of the TS-Aligner prices. Some have prefered to
just quote the $459 as if they all cost this much. OUCH! All seem to
miss the idea that they do a lot more than just blade and fence
If you like doing test cuts for other adjustments and you only need a
device to check blade and fence alignment then this is a great
solution. I recommend this all the time to people. I even have a
page on my web site showing a typical "dial indicator on a stick"
Make one of these, or the more elaborate angle iron configuration
described here and you're good to go! While surfing the web I ran
across an even more elaborate home made jig which is basically a
wooden clone of a competitive alignment tool:
So, if blade and fence alignment is all you're after, then you really
don't need to spend any money on a commercially made jig. As you have
discovered, there's really nothing to gain in terms of accuracy. But,
if you care about blade tilt accuracy, miter gauge accuracy, miter saw
setup, etc. then you might take a second look at something like the
Jr. Lite. It includes some features that just cannot be duplicated
using wood or angle iron and typical home shop tools. If you have
other machines in the shop (jointer, planer, shaper, bandsaw, radial
arm saw, etc.) and you care about the accuracy of their settings, then
you might consider spending even more money.
<snip the description of the jig>
Sure enough. For $10 (or even less if you just use a wooden stick)
you can get a pretty darn good jig for blade and fence alignment.
Which puts to shame those commercially made jigs which only do blade
and fence alignment. You don't gain any accuracy by purchasing a TS-
Aligner product - you gain capability. Read through the comparison at
the page I mentioned above to get an idea of what the simple home made
jig is lacking.
Ed - I appreciate your honesty and constructive response. I certainly
mean no disrespect for your undoubtedly fine product.
I just have a limited budget and the wife already think I spend too
much on tools and materials :) I wish I could afford to buy your stuff
On the other hand, by playing with making (simple) jigs myself, I find
I learn a bit more about the accuracy and capabilities of my tools
even if the results are not as perfect.
Highly recommended. A couple of options are available, but do yourself a
favor and get the best dial indicator you can afford. If you're going to be
measuring in the thousandths in earnest, might as well go for the full
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