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?
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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
> 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
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
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
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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