Proper Table Saw Tune Up with A-Line It
I’ve noticed that the cuts I’m getting aren’t good enough. A few years ago when I was in my “MDF and White Paint” phase, these cuts would be considered exceptional, but I’m proud to say I’m past that. I want very accurate and very safe cuts, whether I am ripping or crosscutting. To decrease tear out I’ve added a very nice Leecraft Zero Clearance plate, and to increase safety I’ve added a Biesemeyer Splitter.
So now I want to increase accuracy. And now we’re at the point of this post. I’ve used my Starret to setup my saw in the past, but I’m sure my saw needs a tune-up, and I’m sure it’s been out of proper alignment since polishing the Saw Arm Pivot Shaft. A saw that isn’t properly tuned up gets a big thumbs down.
Today in the shop I tuned up my table saw properly and with accurately with the A-Line It. I like the A-Line It because I can use it with my table saw and my jointer, it’s got a very accurate dial indicator, and it’s got a great system for riding in your miter slot snugly
Aligning the Miter Slot with the Blade
The first step is to align the miter slot with the blade. The instructions were clear, simple, and contained tips for moving the top easily. It was easy to do alone, and didn’t take much time at all. My top slot and blade were out of alignment by .002”, but not anymore.
Click on the picture below to confirm that the dial indicator reads zero at the front and back of the blade.
You can see that the bar is in the miter slot, but what you can’t see is that on the left side of the bar there are adjustable spring loaded pistons that push the bar snugly against the right side of the miter slot. This ensures you’re tightly up against the same reference edge when taking your measurements. The other part you can’t see is the groove in the bar that the arm fits in. This keeps the arm square to the bar. It’s a very good setup.
The process is simple: put the A-Line It in the miter slot toward the front of the blade with the plunger on the dial indicator against the blade, and rotate the face of the dial indicator to read zero. Mark a spot on the blade where the plunger was hitting. Move the A-Line It through the miter slot to the back of the blade, and using your hand rotate the blade so the plunger is against the same reference mark. Take a reading, make adjustments, and repeat.
A Note on Table Saw Fence Alignment
Kickback sucks. You don’t want it. I’ve experience minor cases of kickback and they are scary. You do not want the back of your rip fence closer to the blade than the front. That create a channel that gets narrower as the material flows through the saw. That’s how you get burns on your material, overload your motor, and increase your chance of kickback.
If you get your fence perfectly parallel to the blade, you are still creating a potentially unsafe situation because the back of the blade making contact with the work and travels up from the table which could lift and throw your material. A perfectly parallel fence won’t create clean rip cuts anyway because if the back of the blade is doing cutting as well as the front, you’ll get a messy cut and sawdust thrown above the table. You really want the front of the blade pushing the work down against the table and making clean cuts, taking all sawdust into the cabinet.
So, the ideal alignment for a Table Saw Rip Fence is to have the back of the fence move away from the blade just slightly. You will get parallel rip cuts that are clean and safe.
Aligning the Fence to the Miter Slot
The next step is to align the fence to the miter slot. This is similar to the first step. Put the A-Line It in the miter slot toward the front of the saw, move the fence up against the plunger on the dial indicator, lock the fence, and rotate the face of the dial indicator to read zero. Move the A-Line It through the miter slot to the back of the saw and take a reading. Make adjustments and repeat.
My fence was a mess, I’ll admit. I had a rip cut a while back that left burn marks, and without measuring I adjusted the back of the fence away from the blade. Very quickly I was able to get it back in line with the A-Line It. Now the back of the fence fades out .003” click on the picture below to see the full size.
Splitter Installation Centered on the Blade
The aftermarket splitter is a great safety accessory, and needs to be installed correctly. A straightedge, placed on the table in contact with teeth at the front and back of the blade, should not make contact with the body of the splitter. If it does then material will hit the splitter, and you have a potential binding, burning, or kickback problem on your hands. Adjusting this is done under the throat plate, and requires a bit of fidgeting. Click on the pictures below to see the straightedge and gap full size.
Properly Tuned Up and Ready for Work
With the trunnion operating correctly, the miter slot parallel to the blade, the fence set correctly, and the splitter centered on the blade, the saw is making great cuts and is safer to use. So what’s the final verdict?