Just thought some of you might be interested. No charge, it's an
on-line video (for those with high speed connections). No spam, no
harvesting. Nothing but interesting (and hopefully useful) videos.
me know if you have any questions.
I tried to view the sliding table clip with media player 10 but it gave the
message "unable to open..."
And the player window was blank, so I clicked the link, to no avail.
Maker of Fine Sawdust and Thin Shavings
Sorry about that. Right after I posted the message I went back to test
it and it worked fine. But, I noticed that it wanted to run at 700
kbps - a bit high. So, I re-made the video file and replaced the
online version. It could be that you managed to try it while I was in
the middle of transfering the new file. I wouldn't have thought that
this could be a problem but it's a possibility. It took several
minutes for the transfer to take place (some 17.6 mb). Give it another
try. As was also mentioned, you might look into your security
The sliding table video can be downloaded and played seperately (the
link to the side) or played through the Windows Media Player (I put it
right after the "Table Saw" section).
Let me know if you still can't get it to go.
Here's the message I see if I click on the link...
"Windows Media Player cannot play the file because a network error occurred.
The server might not be available. Verify that you are connected to the
network and that your proxy settings are correct."
The mini player on the page works, but the sliding table segment doesn't
seem to be on the play list.
> Hi Tom,
> Sorry about that. Right after I posted the message I went back to test
I looked yesterday afternoon and it worked fine for me.
For squaring the fence on the sliding table, I'll suggest another
approach that doesn't require an 18" precision square.
Take a rectangular panel (plywood, particle board, masonite, etc.) that
is about the maximum your table will cut. Using the roughly-squared
fence, do a trim cut on Edge 1 of the panel. Now rotate the panel 90
degrees so Edge 1 is against the fence, and do a trim cut on Edge 2.
Repeat until Edge 4 has been cut and is against the fence. Now cut a
narrow strip off Edge 1. Measure the width of both ends of the strip.
If they're the same, your fence is perfectly square to the table
travel. If there is a taper, the fence isn't square.
I believe if the leading edge of the strip (first part into the blade)
is narrower than the trailing edge, the fence is set to greater than 90
degrees, and vice-versa, but I could have that backwards.
I clamp a dial indicator to the sliding table to measure the outboard
end of the fence, so as the fence is rotated the dial indicator will
tell me how much. Because of the geometry of the parts, there's no
formula and you have to do some trial and error, like in the current
video. Make an adjustment on the fence, make the five cuts, measure
the strip, and repeat if necessary.
I found that writing down the measurements helps a lot to see the
trends and how much an adjustment on the fence changes the width of the
Because of the repeated cuts, any error in squareness of the fence is
quadrupled on the width of the strip. A micrometer or vernier caliper
is useful for measuring the strip. This method gives you very accurate
squareness on the fence.
Otherwise, it's a great series of videos.
Not sure what is happening with this "network error". Does it happen
after a while of downloading or right away? When you click on an
individual clip, it doesn't stream the video, it downloads the entire
file and then sends it to your media player. Perhaps your ISP has some
restrictions on downloading large files?
The sliding table alignment video is in the play list - right after the
table saw section. I have used the skip forward button to get to it
without any problem. If you are still having trouble, send me an email
with your snail mail address and I'll send a DVD copy of it to you.
> Hello Ed,
> Here's the message I see if I click on the link...
> "Windows Media Player cannot play the file because a network error occurred.
> The server might not be available. Verify that you are connected to the
> network and that your proxy settings are correct."
> The mini player on the page works, but the sliding table segment doesn't
> seem to be on the play list.
> > Sorry about that. Right after I posted the message I went back to test >
Yep, this is the classic test cut method and it can produce very
accurate results. You've improved on it a bit by including precise
measurement of the final cutoff (via micrometer or calipers) and the
use of a dial indicator to monitor the fence adjustment. Personally, I
can't help but feel that it's actually a more costly and time consuming
method. Sure, you avoid buying a large square but you could still
obtain accuracy to within thousandths with a smaller square (+/-0.001"
at 6" is +/-0.003" at 18"). And, there is some cost in cutting up a
peice of sheet goods every time you want to square up your sliding
table (not to mention the investment in time). The ordeal would make
me reluctant to check my alignment (which I do frequently) and
reluctant to change the setting (cut angles). The indicator/square
method is quick, easy, accurate, and economical - which means it will
be done without hesitation whenever it is necessary.
I guess the costs depend on your situation. I use an off-cut that is
laying around anyway, and most of it remains when I'm done, so my
material cost is zero. I don't have an 18" precision square, however,
and that would be significant cash for a tool that I would only ever
use to square this sliding table fence.
I agree that the initial squaring can take more time than with a big
precision square, but we're talking the order of a few minutes. Once
the fence is squared, scribe a line on the sliding table so it's easy
to return it to the square position without recalibration.
As for periodic checking of squareness, you just need to grab a scrap
panel, make five cuts on it, break the resulting strip in half and
compare the width of the ends between your fingers. On the other hand,
getting out a square and dial indicator, doing the check and putting
them away takes time, too. If one process takes longer than the other,
I expect it wouldn't be by much. I'd never think to describe making
five cuts on a tablesaw as an "ordeal", but perhaps some woodworkers
I do agree that using the precision square to align the fence every
time you change the fence will give you better squareness accuracy than
using the rotating stop or a scribed line. If I can resolve a scribed
line to 0.010" by eye, and that scribe mark is about 24" away from the
fence pivot point, my squareness would be within about 0.0075" in 18"
compared to your 0.001" in 18". There may be situations in woodworking
where this extra accuracy would be helpful, but I'm at a loss to think
of any at the moment.
As always, your milage may vary.
The last guy I discussed this with was also pleased to tell me that the
panel stock he used for the test cuts was "free" to him too. You have
to admit, somewhere along the way the wood cost something. And,
keeping it for test cuts doesn't exactly make it free. At the very
least, it could be made into something if it wasn't being reserved for
I used to think that people who advocate trial and error "test cut"
methods just have an aversion to using precise measurement instruments
(dial indicators, calipers, etc.). However, lately I've seen more and
more of them use these instruments to assist them in the process. So,
I just have to assume that people who advocate trial and error just
plain like the method. After all, they could use the instruments to
adjust the machine directly instead of using them to measure test cuts.
I've heard people describe it as a "skill" so perhaps there is some
sense of pride in finally arriving at a correct machine setting after a
challenging sequence of getting it wrong over and over.
Personally, I hate trial and error. I have a goal in mind (to produce
a finely crafted item of some sort) and I don't want fussy machine
adjustments to get in the way. I want the machine to do exactly what I
tell it to do on the first try - not after a dozen or so test cuts.
And I don't like a shop cluttered with peices being saved for test cuts
or the cutoffs from test cuts. If trial and error is a "skill", then
proficiency must be measured in ones ability to achieve the greatest
accuracy with the least number of test cuts. One could not do better
than to obtain the right setting without any test cuts. That's what I
do but I've been told by test cut enthusiasts that I "cheat". That's
OK by me, my goal is to produce a finely crafted item, not a pile of
This particular procedure (squaring up the fence on a sliding table by
trial and error) is most offensive to me because five test cuts must be
made before any results can be evaluated and any error correcting
adjustment can be made. Then another five test cuts must be made to
evaluate the adjustment to see if it was correct. So, unless you're
astoundingly lucky and get the right setting on the very first try,
you're in it for at least ten test cuts with a panel which (as you
said) should be near the capacity of your sliding table (48" for me!).
I'd call lugging around a half sheet of panel stock on the sliding
table an ordeal which I would definitely be reluctant to perform. And
a half sheet of anyting is hardly a "scrap".
Finally, at my age, there's no hope in resolving a scribed line to
within 0.010" by eye. The 100ths divisions on my scale just look grey
to me anymore. It would involve a magnifier, or perhaps I would use it
only for crude adjustments. If the whole machine were outfitted with
precise adjustments including vernier scales then the topic would be
moot. Nobody would think that there was any virtue in doing test cuts.
But, most woodworking machines have very crude adjustments. I've got
a square and a dial indicator and that's all that I need to do the job
right - with no test cuts.
When I was in college decades ago, it was said that the whole world could
be divided between accountants and economists. I have always been on the
side of the economist...
On another axis, people, woodworkers, too, can divide along the lines of
engineers and artists. (This has all of the validity of most of these
generalisms, but work with me here.) An engineer, as you seem to be, values
the measure and the exactness. If you want to make something replicable,
and to a measured drawering, there is great validity to that tack. But it
has little appeal to me as an artist. The second of anything simply is an
exercise to see if I can remove some of the errors of the first, but the
thrill is gone of having made the first.
Makes for a lousy business, but a great hobby, at least for a while.
Nice that the world is more than large enough for all kinds, is it not?
thankful for engineers making neat, exact, repeatable tools...
Well said Patriarch.
It reminds me of a scene from the TV show M*A*S*H. One of the
characters (I don't remember which) is talking to a local merchant
about doing a carving and wants to see an example of his work. The
merchant hands him a short length of 2x4 lumber. The character says
"this is just a 2x4!". The merchant says "Thank you!" as if it were a
compliment for having produced such a convincing replica.
Yup, I suppose I'm bent in the engineering direction. I don't
generally do my woodworking from plans (did it once for a friend) but I
do like my machines to obey me and live up to my expectations. In the
machine shop everything is done according to drawings, maintaining
specs, with allowable tolerances. It's what I do.
Still remember a chief engineer I worked for who would tell upper
"Give up 6 more months along with $100K (this was a long time ago) and
we will give you a better answer".
Basic problem with engineers, they don't know when to stop?
Like a kitty cat playing with a ball of string.
Basic reason I got out of it.
Normally not a problem...
Ah... I ASSUMED it was in the order listed... I did the fast forward bit
and viewed the file. Thanks.
If you are still having trouble, send me an email
No need, Ed... but thanks anyway.
Of course they know when to stop. It's when time and/or money run out!
It's the age old triad of engineering: time, money, and quality. You
can never have all three at once (quick, cheap, and good). You must
sacrifice one of the three in order to get the other two. For example,
if you want it quick and good then it will cost a lot of money. If you
want it quick and cheap then you better be ready to accept low quality.
If you want it good and cheap, then expect to invest a lot of time.
This rule, of course, doesn't apply to the world of the artist ;-)
Better not look at that video, Ed. Unless the guy tapping the fence
into a new position between measurements has calibrated knuckles, he's
certainly doing trial and error. ;-)
My approach was to do the five cuts, then measure the taper on the
strip with a digital caliper. I put an indicator with magnetic base on
the outboard end of the fence, then try an adjustment, say 10 or 20
thou. Then repeat the five cuts, and measure the new taper value. If
10 thou fence adjustment reduced taper by X thou, then adjust the fence
another (current taper/X) x 10 thou. One more test cut, and Bob's yer
uncle, it should be right on.
This morning I tried a modification to this. Instead of putting the
indicator at any position along the fence, I put it L inches away from
the fence pivot, where L is about the length of each side of the test
panel. With my 10 thou fence adjustment, I was basically finding a
calibration factor for the system with the indicator wherever it was
and the test panel whatever size it was. By keeping these dimesions
the same, the calibration factor is just 4 (the amount of the
squareness error is increased going around the four corners of the
I roughly squared the fence with a $6 combination square. The first
test on a ~24" panel gave 0.180" taper. I put the indicator 24" from
the pivot, adjusted the fence 0.045" ( = 0.180"/4) and the second test
gave me 0.005" taper over about 24". Although I've heard of a guy who
aligned his contractor saw to within 0.000050" of true, this squareness
is good enough for me. (I wonder what ever happened to him? ;-)
I expect some cosine error since the fence pivot point is offset from
the fence face, and my magnetic indicator base isn't terribly rigid,
but even if a third test cut was required it would be no biggie. I
didn't time it, but this probably took me ten minutes to square the
fence from scratch.
Now, if I had a TS-Aligner and an 18" precision square to square a
sliding table fence, for instance, rather than measuring, tapping,
measuring, tapping, etc., until I was happy, I'd try a little different
1) Measure out-of-squareness. Call this X.
2) Move the TS-Aligner to the sliding table. Use one hand to hold it
against the fence at a position 18" from the fence pivot.
3) Use the other hand to tap the fence a distance -X and lock the fence
4) Re-check out of squareness. It should be zero, or pretty close to
There's no magic to a test panel -- it's just something of convenient
size that comes out of the offcut bin for a few minutes and goes right
back slightly smaller.
Actually, the right setting with the least investment in time and money
is my definition of better. I don't have the square, so test cuts is
better for me. You do have one, so no test cuts is better for you.
A corollary is that if your customers have 18" precision squares, the
method in the video will help them, if your customers don't have such
squares, the video won't help them.
Sorry, I didn't express that well. I have the medium size Excalibur
table. With the fence at the front of the table there is about a 27"
cross cut capacity. I also have a bunch of 2' x 4' masonite offcuts
from some years ago that I use for 2' square test pieces. This size
also serves when the fence is at the back of the table, even though it
then has 48" crosscut capacity. Because error is multiplied by 4 each
time around, it turns you you don't need a big piece to get good
resolution. I haven't tried it, but 12" pieces would probably work
just fine, too.
It sounds like you don't have a rotating stop for the zero position on
the fence. I'd strongly suggest looking into one. I set mine two
years ago, and after resquaring the fence this morning, the stop was
still dead on. This is with moving the fence between the front and
back of the table very frequenly over that time. If someone was
resquaring the fence from scratch each time it was moved, I could
certainly see why they'd avoid using the 5-cut method to square it.
With the rotating stop, set the fence against it and you're squared
without any measurement or adjustment.
The scribed line would then be a nice back-up to periodically check the
rotating stop hasn't moved.
Naw, they wait for more money or another project.
Problem with engineers is they are never taught how to make a decision
and move on.
The engineering curriculum is a great tool for teaching a person how
to think, but not necessarily how to make a decision.
One of the basic reasons you don't see more engineers in top management.
Lew, I think you mean to say something other than what you said.
Engineering is all about making decisions. What material to use. What
size. What shape. What weight. How much should it cost. How long
should it last. How should it be made. Etc. And, the process of
making those decisions (which is taught in Engineering schools) is very
rigorous. It involves an exhaustive review of the variables,
parameters and objectives. Perhaps it is the process itself that you
have trouble with. Maybe you misunderstand the systematic approach to
decision making. You probably believe that good decision making "comes
from the gut" and is based on "sound judgment" - not endless
examination of every minute detail. Right?
Without knowing it, I'm sure that you trust countless engineering
decisions every day. I'm sure a person could live without trusting any
of these decisions, but it wouldn't be a very comfortable life. Next
time you drive a car, walk on a floor, live in a house, work in a
building, talk on the phone, type on a computer, surf on the Internet,
or anything else, think about the engineering decisions which made it
I'm also sure that a very brief examination of the Fortune 500
companies would reveal that a majority of them were founded by and very
successfully run by people who could apply their engineering skills to
management. HP, Ford, GE, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Boeing, just to
name a few. I've seen lots of situations where the internal political
environment in a big company makes it difficult for a disciplined
engineering mind to contribute. But, I really don't think that there
is anything inherently deficient in Engineers which makes them
inadequate for upper management positions. On the contrary, these last
several years have seen a number of "non-technical" individuals behind
bars for their mis-deeds in top management positions. Perhaps
something in their decision making process was flawed. ;-)
The ones that did really well generally had at least two guys involved, one
the technical guy and the other the business guy. With Apple it was Steve
Wozniak and Steve Jobs--Woz was the technical guy and Jobs the business
guy, and it turned out that Jobs wasn't all that good a manager himself,
which is why Sculley was brought in. With Microsoft it was Bill Gates and
Steve Ballmer. With Intel it was Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce--while both
were engineers it was Noyce that ran the show during the period of rapid
growth. With HP it was William Hewlett and David Packard, but I'm not sure
who was the technical guy and who the business guy. William Boeing was
already a wealthy man in the timber trade when he and Conrad Westervelt
decided that they could improve on the design of a Curtis airplane that
they were trying to repair. Ford seems to be the exception.
The big problem I see with engineers is a tendency to sneer at the marketing
people and the bean counters and the other non-engineering specialists who
are necessary to actually grow a business instead of filling a warehouse
full of widgets that nobody buys.