55 – Tablesaw Setup/Tuneup (Part 1 of 2)

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Our tools are no good to us if they aren’t tuned up properly. As the “heart” of the workshop, its crucial that our table saws are configured to perform their best. So whether you are setting up a new saw, or tuning up your current one, this video guide will get you where you need to be. Part 1 covers three different methods for aligning the miter slot to the blade as well as a simple technique for attaching and leveling the extension wings.

I am sure you will also notice that this is a new sexy tablesaw. For those who are curious, it is a PM Custom from the folks at Wood Werks Supply. And even a big fancy saw still requires a good bit of setup and tweaking.

Go to Part 2

Category: Tool Setup

Comments

  1. kentuckybill June 13, 2008

    Nice video Marc and nicer saw. Congrats to you.

  2. Bedrock Bob June 13, 2008

    Marc,
    As always great video. When I bought my table saw the store owner suggested I use clamps instead of a dead blow hammer to adjust the table saw top. I have not had to adjust my saw yet because it was aligned when I got it and has showed to be in alignment every time I check it.

  3. Richard (http://) June 13, 2008

    Good job mark
    I saw somewhere where you can slide the extension table to the main lthen tilt it on end and attach the center bolt the rotate it up on the bolt and attach the outside bolts
    Allows it to be done with only 1 person

  4. John June 13, 2008

    I must have gotten lucky with my table saw because the blade to the miter slot was within .002 right out of the box. Of course, that can change depending on the quality of the blade being used. Not all blades are absolutely flat and true.

    Looking foward to part 2.

  5. runningwood June 13, 2008

    Another great video but you lost me on the shimming with the blue tape, how does the blue tape get rid of a dip at the joint ?

  6. Steve June 13, 2008

    I like to do the ‘sound’ test occasionally to be sure my blade is aligned. It is quick and easy.

    Thanks Marc, for the excellent, instructional videos.

  7.  

    Hey Richard, I saw that too. I think it was on Fine Woodworking’s site. Great technique.

    And Runningwood, the table had a slight valley where the extension wing met the table. To offset that and bring it into alignment, I put a little strip of tape at the top of the joint, which essentially forces the extension to angle down slightly, which in my case put it right in alignment with the table. Make sense?

    Thanks everyone else for the comments and suggestions!

  8. I ran across this last night, but you must’ve still been loading it.
    It was a great to hear my tri-square technique wasn’t too imprecise.

  9. Congrats on the new saw. With all those bright, pretty colors on the saw you may need a large brimmed hat with a feather, a fedora and a purple smoking jacket a la Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch to max out the pimp potential of that beautiful piece of hardware.

  10. Once again, a great video, Marc. Very informative and it shows how simple and varied the tune-up process can be. I recently relocated and I’m going through all the tune-ups on my machines. Nice refresher course!

  11. Rob June 13, 2008

    This comes at the perfect time actually. As I just set out to tune my table saw for the first time.

  12. Denis Rezendes June 13, 2008

    great video Marc!
    been waiting for this one for awhile and i think that now i am ready to tackle at least the first part of my table saw tune-up!

  13. Thanks for the video Marc. Your info will come in handy this week while I set up my unisaw.

    And by the way, was that a coffee mug I saw on the deck of your PM saw? Shame shame, you should know better.;)

  14. Jim Jones June 13, 2008

    Great timing for me. I’ll be getting a new Grizzly after July 4.

    Thanks, and looking forward to part 2.

  15. Chris June 13, 2008

    The new sexy table saw is nice.. but where did you get those sexy specs?

  16. Praki Prakash June 13, 2008

    Marc,

    Excellent information ad always and looking forward to the second part. I am also happy to see the cheap method I use to align my saw has your approval :)

    My built is not herculean by any means but I put together my Delta Contractor’s saw all by myself! I had to improvise quite a bit but with the aid of a 1-ton pulley, I managed to do it. I stood the wings up on their side, attached at one end and them rotated to bring it level and attached the other bolts.

    One thing I was not happy with was my attempt to level the extension tables with the main table. Your method of aligning them is perfect and I shall do so very soon.

    I do have some doubts around making my cheap saw work at its best. I am not sure if you are going to cover it next. Do the link belt and a custom pulley help the saw work better? I would be curious to see your take on it.

    Thanks

  17. ronald graziano June 13, 2008

    Today I just noticed that my fence is acting a little funny. Looking forward to you part TWO. I’m sure fence alignment will be in it.
    Ron From Chicago

    DEAD BLOW HAMMER!!!!!

  18. Kyle June 13, 2008

    i may have missed this, again (i usually ask stupid questions that have already been answered), but what happened to the old table saw?

  19. LONGHAIR June 14, 2008

    The only comment that I have in the process, so far, is in the order of your set-up tasks. I realize that you are working with PowerMatic equipment and that they produce nice stuff, but you left out two important things. Well, you kind covered one…but then let it slide.

    First, the top must be checked for “flatness” which you casually mentioned by stating that this was a second top. You really should have said more about that. You have to be starting with good parts, or your tuning time is wasted.

    Second, along that same line of thinking, you really should check the arbor for “run-out” too. I realize that the “one tooth” method of testing compensates for that during set-up….but you really shouldn’t spend all of this time only to have your regular blades become “wobble dados”.

    The likelihood of these problems may be slight with higher-end tools, but it can/does happen. Case in point, your second top.

  20.  

    There is no way you would know this, but I did test for flatness. I even did a short segment on the topic. The reason I left it out was because I truly feel that table saw flatness is a frequently overblown issue (and I needed to bring the video length down). And since I fall on the more “laid back” side, I didn’t want to upset those who are more discriminating than I am. So for the heck of it, I will add the cut scene to this post today. Keep an eye out for it.

    Just an FYI, the reason the first table was replaced was more because of the exacting standards of the folks at Wood Werks, rather than my own desire for a dead flat surface.

    And good point about arbor runout. I left it out because I was really trying to avoid anything that would require the use of a dial indicator. Do you know of a way to do it without one?

  21. Chip June 14, 2008

    Another great video – I’m going to re-check my table saw the next time I use it.

    Why use a dowel to check miter slot alignment? It seems that any piece of wood would work and wouldn’t require a special V-groove jig. So, what am I missing?

  22. LONGHAIR June 15, 2008

    Marc, you are right about things being over-blown or exaggerated at times. It is wood after all, it can and will, move on it’s own by more than some “precision” measuring and cutting tolerances.
    Table flatness is however easy and cheap to measure. Like you said though, how much you are willing to live with is up to the end user. But it should be checked for “extremes” and that should be one of the first things you check on a new saw. It really should never be an issue again.
    Arbor run-out…you are right. There really isn’t a good way to test that w/o a dial indicator. As cheaply as one can be purchased though, it is a great thing to have. They are useful for many set-up tasks.

    It might just be me as a “newbie” to the site, but what part of the country are you in? I though it was out west like AZ or something?
    Wood Werks is just across town from me in Columbus OH. I know they are involved in the “Custom” PowerMatic stuff. You never showed the front of yours, did you get the name label or any of the other custom options? I just checked their website….and right there you are “front and center” ….cool.

  23.  

    I am indeed in AZ. If you are close to the Wood Werks store, I highly recommend stopping in. It will be worth the drive! We have some footage from their store that we are holding on to until they get their online store in order. That place was like a woodworker’s candy store. The fact that they have a Rockler INSIDE their store should give you an idea of what you are in for. lol.

    I will indeed show the front of the new saw in all its glory near the end of the second part of the setup series. It does have the custom name plate.
    Thanks for your input Longhair.

  24. LONGHAIR June 15, 2008

    It is a great place, I am in there at least once a month.
    I work in a commercial cabinet shop and they get quite a bit of equipment from there too, plus the occasional repair work.
    There is a WoodCraft store here too. It’s one of the advantages of a living in a big city.

  25. DeGauss June 16, 2008

    I have always used a piece of white oak milled to fit tight in the miter slot with a dial indicator screwed to it, until recently. I just got one of the new Woodpecker Saw Gauges. Talk about easy. You just drop three metal tubes into the miter slot and the gauge sits on top. When I change fences or make any adjustments I can now check it quick and easy.

  26. Bas June 19, 2008

    ROFLMAO! Marc, the image of you explaining about aligning a table within 1/128″ while wearing sexy specs and holding the dead blow…man that’s funny stuff.

  27. Paul June 20, 2008

    Sweet new saw… hopefully you will review it once you get everything together. I love that sexy cast iron extension table. FWIW I used the adjustable square method to align my miter slot to the blade… worked like a charm. Someday I’ll get one of those dial indicator sets when I’m feeling flush.

    BTW… I agree that most people are far too anal about table flatness.

  28. Craig August 12, 2009

    I believe that a dial calibrator is most needed. They cost about 35 dollars and all things being considered are part of using saw and machines. Cheaper that a blade.

    Very good web site and thank you

  29. Matt July 8, 2010

    Thanks for the informative video! I’m new to woodworking and have been using my TS3650 out of the box and am interested in how well it is tuned.

  30. Love that sound test. I find that just listening to the sound of the cut tells me so much.

  31. john G June 19, 2011

    Use your dial indicator at the end of the table side that is being moved towards. That way you can move it the desired amount. I am a machinist… so I do this type of thing often.

    Thanks! You do a great job !!

  32. azTRD January 12, 2012

    Great Video!! I bought a used table saw and wanted to give it a thorough tune-up. I am a visual guy and this video really helped put things into perspective. The one thing that would complete this tune-up video would be refinishing the table top.

    I read an article in Fine Woodworking that covered this topic fairly well using Scotch Brite pads to smooth the surface and Johnson’s floor wax to protect it.

    Just a though for a future video.

    Thanks for all you do Marc!

  33. Steve January 26, 2012

    Marc,

    I noticed your cast iron 50″ extension wings. Where did you get the large dual wing pieces?

    Steve

    •  

      They were custom from the PM Custom line. Unfortunately they don’t make them anymore.

      • Steve January 27, 2012

        Dang

      • Zim March 28, 2013

        Hi Marc,
        I am a recent fan of your website but I have a question. I see in episode 55 that you are setting up a PM 2000 and that Powermatic is a sponsor. My question is, besides PM being a sponsor, how did you decide on the 2000? I have done an exhaustive review and narrowed down my cabinet saw search to the Sawstop Professional, the Delta UniSaw and the PM 2000. I am also leaning heavily to the PM 2000 but was curious on your thoughts. BTW, I think your videos are both informative and entertaining.
        Thanks,
        Zim

        •  

          Well keep in mind I had a Powermatic saw before sponsorship as well. I used to own a PM66. Bought it from a buddy back in California. At that time, the PM66 was the saw most forum lurkers lusted after. By the time PM came on as a sponsor, the PM2000 was their hot selling model and offered much of the same quality found in the PM66. So when a company began offering flame paint jobs and custom colors on PM2000 saws, I couldn’t turn it down. And I have found the PM2000 performs just as well as my old PM66.

          Truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of the three you are looking at. If you want the added safety feature, then the SawStop knocks the other two out of the running. If you aren’t stuck on that feature, then take the SawStop off the list and narrow your decision down to two.

          And I hate to spread a rumor, since I have no facts to back anything up, but I have heard that Delta is having some financial issues. Do your research and take that into account if it’s true. Obviously it’s nice to have a saw from a company that is still in business. :)

          So if it were me, the choice would be between the PM and the Sawstop, and the safety feature would be the deciding factor.

  34. Gordon January 30, 2012

    Marc,

    First-time posting on the site, although I’ve been a fan for a while now…just had to say, this video really helped me see just how totally inadequate my table saw really is! Lol.
    Seriously, I will try to apply as many of the tips on saw tune-up as possible, but my budget, job-site style saw is just not designed for much in the way of adjustability. But I take comfort in knowing that when I do find a saw to upgrade to, these videos will be here to help me dial it in.
    Thanks for all you do, and congrats on the new baby.
    Cheers,
    Gordon

  35. jason March 11, 2012

    Thanks for the help Marc! When aligning the miter slot to the blade, does it matter which miter slit you use to align it? I guessed no, and picked the one to the right of the blade. Maybe I’m being to careful here lol, I just picked it randomly. BTW, this really helped my a lot with my new saw, AND

  36. Brandon December 24, 2012

    This is a great video. I have an older table saw and think its time for a more thorough tune up. This video will come in handy. One question though, why reference the edge of the tooth and not the flat surface of the blade? It seems like it would be fairly easy to use a square against the flat surface of the blade and check it against another square referenced from the miter slot. The two arms of your squares should be flush with each other if the blade and miter slot are parallel to each other.

  37. Rick Roades January 29, 2014

    On the .010″ rule of thumb, I just purchased a Laguna Fusion. For the hybrids, it seemed very highly rated and reviews were all 5-star.

    Moving up from the Bosch 4100, having an aluminum table, I was going back through looking for clean-up/set-up of new tables.

    The Laguna has maybe .011″ front to back, checking in 3 places, far left, mid and far right. Seems uniform.

    Across, it is all but dead flat. Haven’t checked wings yet. But it would seem that if it’s uniform front to back, that would be much more tolerable than diagonal or laterally. Is my logic sound?

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