# Table Saw callibration

• posted on September 5, 2005, 9:12 pm

OK, I admit it, I bought a very cheap table saw.
Well, now here's my fiirst question. Assume the table top has no markings, and my "fence" if you can call it that is just a straight bit of metal that clamps to the table at either end.
Is there an easy way for me to figure out if my fence is paralell to my saw blade? I'm not sure how the "propper" table saws do it, but I can't think of a simple fool proof way of ensuring that the fence is straight every time. Once i've figured out a marker, I could bolt down a ruler at either end and them just measure off the same distance each end of the fence.
(actually, the table has a ruler along both edges, but it's just a bit of printed paper stuck down to the table top, I tried following this and it was at least 5mm out and deffinately wasn't straight.
Thanks for any advice (appart from throw it away and buy a propper saw.
Thanks.
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• posted on September 5, 2005, 9:29 pm
J (in snipped-for-privacy@eclipse.net.uk) said:
| OK, I admit it, I bought a very cheap table saw. | | Well, now here's my fiirst question. Assume the table top has no | markings, and my "fence" if you can call it that is just a straight | bit of metal that clamps to the table at either end. | | Is there an easy way for me to figure out if my fence is paralell | to my saw blade? I'm not sure how the "propper" table saws do it, | but I can't think of a simple fool proof way of ensuring that the | fence is straight every time. Once i've figured out a marker, I | could bolt down a ruler at either end and them just measure off the | same distance each end of the fence. | | (actually, the table has a ruler along both edges, but it's just a | bit of printed paper stuck down to the table top, I tried following | this and it was at least 5mm out and deffinately wasn't straight. | | Thanks for any advice (appart from throw it away and buy a propper | saw.
One approach might be to pick up some 1/8" by 1" or 2" flat aluminum stock and four sets of nut/bolt/washers at the hardware store and build a rectangle with a bolt at each corner. Leave the nuts loose enough that the rectangle can be skewed with hand pressure.
In use, put one side against the saw blade and adjust the fence against the opposite side at the desired distance from the blade.
The more carefully you measure and drill the holes, the more accurate that parallelism - but it shouldn't be too difficult to improve on a 5mm error.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/solar.html
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• posted on September 5, 2005, 9:31 pm

The simplest way to determine if your fence is parallel to the blade is to insure you have a good quality blade on the saw to start with and then make test cuts. When the cuts are free of tooth marks on the keeper piece your fence is close enough. That said however your first concern is to insure that the miter slot is parallel to the blade.
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• posted on September 5, 2005, 9:41 pm

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The easiest way is to put a metal ruler in between the blade and the fence. If they're parallel to each other, then you'll get a straight cut. Understand though, that they could both be out of alignment as compared to a mitre slot if there is one on the table.
If you're going to use the ruler method, make sure that any carbide teeth (if you're using a carbide blade) do not come into contact with the ruler. It's the flat part of the blade you want parallel to the fence.
If you're going to do a full workup on your table saw, then make sure the blade is parallel to the mitre slot and that the fence is parallel to the blade.
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• posted on September 5, 2005, 11:55 pm

My first advice would be to buy a proper saw or at least a proper fence.
However, failing that go to a marine store or go online to West Marine and buy the largest set of chart parallels you can get. they are not expensive. reference them against the blade and set your clamp-on fence on the other side to the dimension you want You will need some kind of block to stay off the blade teeth but that will get you fairly accurate cuts.
Frank
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 12:26 am

What's a propper saw? :-)
In the old days, before I got a saw with a Unifence (like 6-7 years ago), this was the procedure I used, taught to me by my father back in the 60's.
1. Make sure your blade is parallel to the mitre slot (I assume that your saw does have a mitre slot).
2. Set the fence at the right distance from the front of the blade.
3. Measure the exact distance from the fence to the mitre slot, preferably using a ruler, but a tape measure will do. Call this measurement "A".
4. Make sure that the distance at the back of the fence to the mitre slot is the same as measurement "A".
5. Make sure that the distance at the front of the fence to the mitre slot is the same as "A".
6. Go back and measure the he distance at the back of the fence. If it is, lock down the fence. Otherwise, rinse and repeat.
7. Go back and measure both distances again. if they have changed, give the fence a little whack (or a few little whacks) with your fist (use the fleshy part, not the knuckles) at the front or back as appropriate until the measurements are all OK.
Now you know why these expensive fences are great.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 6:17 am
I think it does have a mitre slot, just don't really know what it's there for.
I assume it's not there just to measure up to?
I'll try measuring from that and see how it turns out.
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 3:02 pm

If you do not know what a miter slot is used for you need to walk away from the saw and learn to use the tool before ever thinking about using it. You are going to get hurt.
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 5:17 pm
Any particular pointers as to where to start looking?
or i'll just give google a try.
Thanks
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<%-name%>
• posted on September 6, 2005, 7:17 pm
Book store or Library would be a good start.

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• posted on September 6, 2005, 8:19 pm

In addition to what Leon said, go take a look at Jeff Gorman's site. It has loads of good and accurate information, although his usage of language is very British.
http://www.amgron.clara.net/circularsawbenches/sawsafetyindex.htm
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html
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<%-name%>
• posted on September 7, 2005, 5:05 pm
http://www.amgron.clara.net/circularsawbenches/sawsafetyindex.htm

Wow, this really is quite gruesome. I'm now unsure of even going near it :)
Are there any practical courses that I could go on to learn how to use all this stuff safely?
I'm in the Milton Keynes area if that helps, i've had a look at the courses on the council's website and the closest one is Wood Turning. Not really something i'm interested in (yet).
Thanks again.
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• posted on September 8, 2005, 9:27 pm
J wrote:

take a look at www.ukworkshop.co.uk.it might just save your fingers or worse a good bunch of lads and lasses.
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 8:51 pm

Agreed. It's very dangerous to do a crosscut without using the slot and a miter gauge.
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<%-name%>
• posted on September 7, 2005, 6:12 am

I was actually doing a rip cut when I tried this with the fence. I've since tried a cross cut using the miter guage and it seems quite good, I think i'll either need to buy a better miter guage or extend this one as the miter slot is quite far from the blade.
Thanks J
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• posted on September 7, 2005, 11:37 am

Consider adding a piece of wood on the face of the miter gauge. Also consider making a cross-cut sled.
I really like the tolpin book on table saws.
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 3:21 pm

Just to be sure, it should actually be called a mitre gauge slot ("miter" for the Murricans). There are usually two slots on the table top, one on each side of the blade, running parallel to it for the full length of the table. Most common size is 3/4 inch wide and 3/8 inch deep, but the measurements may vary on different models.

It's used for mitre gauges and other accessories that need to slide along the table.

nd then do some test cuts and see what happens as per Leon's instructions.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html
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• posted on September 6, 2005, 9:07 pm

I've had another look at it, and yest the "rulers" (printed stickers) are not allighned with each other. I clamped the rip fence straight according to the "rulers" and measured to the mitre slot, sure enough, one of them was 4mm out. After closer inspection, I see that these are stuck in recesses in the table surface, and one is quite obviously further from the end of the recess than the other.
So, what I did next is clamp the rip fence along the mitre slot exactly, then cut a board using this fence as the guide. With the board cut I could see exactly where the cut line is and marked this line as my new zero line on the inaccurate "ruler"
So, now i'll either have to remember this 4mm difference every time I do a cut, or replace the "ruler" wiht a more accurate marker.
I was thinking of using a steel ruler stuck down in place of the sticker but didn't want anything that would raise my workpiece off the table.
I'll have to measure the depth of the recess wehre the sticker is and see if that is suitable for a half width ruler. or possibly, cut up a measuring tape and stick that down.
Any ideas welcome.
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• posted on September 7, 2005, 1:47 pm

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Yikes! Go read what was recommended and don't fool around with the saw until you do!
Jois