Friday, May 7, 2010

#15 - Proper Saw Blade Alignment is a must.

Ok, let’s see if, after a couple of trips to never-never land, we can get back on track this week.

Let’s talk table saws.
One of the most common adjustments on table saws is that of making sure the blade is properly aligned within the saw. There are several indicators that let one know that the blade is not in proper alignment. The operator could see some burning on the side of the stock. There could be some excessive roughness on the sides of the cut. There might be a tendency for the stock to lift at the back of the cut or even kickback at the operator. This isn’t a complete list, just those that are the most common.

When those conditions are showing up in your work, it’s time to do a bit of blade alignment checking. It’s not difficult when done the right way.

First, choose an accurate ruler with which to measure. Personally, for this task, I use a combination square because it can be locked to a length and you can hang it inside the miter slot. Raise the blade to maximum height and pick one blade tooth and mark it. Rotate the blade so as to put the chosen tooth at the front of the saw. Measure the distance from that tooth to the miter slot in the table and write it down. (This is where the combination square comes in handy- it can be locked into that distance and you know it stays accurate) Then rotate the blade backwards which puts the chosen tooth at the rear of the saw. Measure the distance from that tooth to the miter slot. These two measurements must be the same.
The reason for using one particular tooth is to eliminate any possibility of the blade being warped and that causing your measurement to be inaccurate.

Once it has been determined that the measurements are not the same, it’s time to get the blade properly aligned. In my experience all table saws, no matter their size, have the means to align the blade to the miter slot. What needs to be done is to determine exactly how this is accomplished on the particular saw that is being checked. Start by looking at the undercarriage of the saw and see how the saw arbor is hanging from the table. That should tell you where you need to loosen to be able to shift the saw arbor to properly align the blade. Most Contractor-style saws have 4 bolts that hang the undercarriage to the bottom of the table. Most larger saws have an independent table and the undercarriage hangs from the cabinet. On those saws, simply loosening the table to cabinet bolts allow for the alignment adjustment.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.
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