Keeping your table saw tuned up is perhaps the most vital part of a positive woodworking and shop environment and, of course, of achieving the most beautiful woodworking results. As the centerpiece of many of our shops, the table saw is a champion, but one that is often taken for granted – show your table saw you care with just a little bit of extra attention. As always, a little bit goes a long way and a bit of TLC for that table saw will have the thing cutting and purring like the cat’s pajamas – er something… Click here to read a great article about properly tuning-up your table saw.
Keeping your table saw blade properly aligned is a crucial part of the woodworking experience and one of the most integral factors in achieving the best possible results. In fact, a misaligned blade will cause both inaccurate cutting and unnecesasry hazards on the job. As it turns out though, keeping your blades in good condition and keeping them on the right cutting path is not so hard as you might think. See this great article to find out how to align your table saw blades.
As that old and terrible saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Similarly, there seems to be just as many ways to clean your table saw top. Of course, there are some ways that are just more efficient and effective than others. Click here to see a great article about cleaning your table saw top — and just in case you’ve got a few other machines with cast-iron saw tables (like a bandsaw or a scroll saw), this method is totally universal. Clean up those saw tops and be all the wiser for it.
Measuring your bandsaw blades can not only be a huge hassle, it can also be dangerous. As such, it is important to have a simple plan of action before you get started, and simple, my friends, is exactly the plan of action I find the best and most accurate way to measure your blades. Visit this great article for a step-by-step guide to measuring the length of your bandsaw blades.
How to Fine-Tune Your Table Saw
Let’s face it, many of us run our table saws through the ringer. As the central piece of most woodshops we work them like our beast of burden, we force them through every rigor of woodshop life and rarely give them even the smallest nuzzle of thanks. As such, it’s really no surprise that our table saws can get a little beat up, they can fall out of alignment and begin to produce cuts with a poor man’s precision (pardon the expression). All this requires, though, is a bit of good-old-fashioned time and a bit tender loving care.
Beginning With Your Blade:
It’s fairly simple to see when your table saw blade needs to be aligned. If misaligned, your overall cutting accuracy with suffer and you will likely see burn marks about your cut-lines. You may also experience something not unlike planer snipe where you’ll lose a bit more material than intended near the end of your cut.
To remedy said blade alignment issue, that is exactly where you’ll want to start – at the blade. First, take a real good look at the thing; after all, the component is pretty darn important to your table saw. Before cleaning, sharpening, or anything else, you’ll want to make sure that the blade is totally, completely, perfectly flat. To do this, simply watch the blade come to a stop after disengaging the saw. As the blade slows, it should remain perfectly straight, if there is any wobble in the blade it will have to be replaced. NOTE: A loose blade may also cause a bit of wobble; if you’re loose, tighten it up a bit and spin again. If you still wobble after tightening, replace the blade.
If your present blade is flat, you want to also ensure that it is clean and clear of pitch (or that sticky build-up that accrues with each cut). Soaking your blades in oven-cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, kerosene, or mineral spirits will remove pitch build-up. Whichever solution you use though, wipe or scrub the blade with a non-abrasive cloth to avoid scratching the blade and remember that these solutions are highly flammable. Be always cautious when working with them and always cautious when working with saw blades. If you’re pitch-free, you may simply wipe the blade with a lint-free cloth and a water-diluted household cleaner. Now, you’ll also want ensure your blade is sharp; if you have the skill and equipment to sharpen it yourself then that is tremendous, if not, your blade distributor should be able to sharpen it for you for a small fee. If you have any chips, missing teeth, or if the blade is in generally bad condition, you should replace it.
Aligning the Blade to the Miter Slot:
After tightly and properly installing a flat, clean, sharp blade into your saw, you now need to make sure the blade is set parallel to the saw’s miter slots. To do this, raise the blade as high as possible and pick a specific tooth on the blade as a reference point. Move (or rotate) the blade forward until your reference tooth is level with the front end of the saw table. Measure and note the distance between your reference tooth to the miter slot. Now, reverse rotate the blade until your reference tooth is level to rear of the saw table and measure and note again. If there is a discrepancy in the distances, simply adjust the saw motor accordingly (and as per your manual) and repeat the measuring process until you are perfectly lined up. You may also want to ensure that your miter gauge is aligned to the miter slot and can move freely between all positions.
Our next step is checking the alignment of the saw’s rip fence (because misalignment of the rip fence can cause kickback, sloppy cutting, and inaccurate angles, this part of the process is particularly important). By virtue of the blade now being perfectly aligned with the miter slot, you can confidently align the fence to the miter slot as well. Take a framing square or straight-edge that is at least as long as your fence and stand it up inside the miter slot. Slide the fence toward the straight edge until they are firmly pressed together. Closely inspect the space between the fence and straight edge to confirm there are no gaps. Where gaps appear, simply adjust your fence to correct them (see your manual for any further specifics). It is also recommended that you check the fence’s locking mechanism to ensure it can brace some lateral pressure – this will ideally ensure that it won’t slide during the pressure of use.
Squaring Your Blade to the Saw Table:
Now, to ensure your blade is square to the table, simply set your saw’s arbor angle to zero degrees. Using a small framing square or a layout square, ensure the blade forms an exactly ninety degree, or square, angle with the saw table. If you don’t find a perfect ninety degree angle, adjust the saw’s zero degree stop in the appropriate direction until you obtain a perfect square angle. Specifics for this procedure will also be more completely outlined in the saw’s manual.
Inspecting Your Throat Plate:
Now that your blade is square and your fence and blade are aligned to the saw’s miter slot, you’ll want to double check the level of your throat plate. The throat plate should lie at or just below the level of the saw table, if it sits above this level the throat plate may interfere with the stock as it moves toward the blade. To most effectively check the height of the throat plate, slide your framing square or straight edge across it to ensure it doesn’t catch. If the plate extrudes past the level of the table, use the adjustment screws on the plate to lower it. As with the blade, check here for cleanliness as well. Saw dust is a retched creature with a tendency to build-up.
And now, after all this is said and done, you and your table saw should be ready for just about anything. With just a few steps and a little bit of patience and effort, your table saw is now aligned with superior precision and ready to tackle your wildest woodworking projects.
Dewalt’s New and Improved Line of Compact, Cordless 12V Power Tools
Despite featuring Bosch’s new line of pneumatic tools in last June’s newsletter, it is not customary to feature more than one power tool each month. Nonetheless, no tool in this new line-up could be very easily overlooked. See for yourself…
Just in time to satiate our need to hunt and gather before the winter (and Holiday) season settles in, this October Dewalt launches their first line of compact 12v power tools. Taking their time to work out all the kinks and work in all the innovations that characterize Dewalt tools, the new line is anticipated to be well worth the wait. Featuring seven new tools with a redesign that moves the battery directly below the handle rendering it thinner and more ergonomic, the tools are, albeit a bit different, both powerful and comfortable to use. Although this redesign does make the tool handle a pinch larger, it also provides greater stability to the tool when upright and allows the use of a belt-clip – something always convenient and not traditionally found on more compact power tools. Altogether, the line is expected to make a pretty veritable splash within the tool community.
With several new tools and tool kits the 12v line offers, in brief, Dewalt’s DCF610S2 screwdriver kit, DCD710S2 drill driver kit, DCF815S2 and DCF813S2 impact kits, DCL510 LED worklight, DCT410S1 inspection camera, and DCT414S1 IR digital thermometer making the line complete, comprehensive, and, indeed, totally impressive.
To get into just a little bit more detail though, weighing only 2.2 lbs, the Dewalt DCF610S2 12v Max 1/4” screwdriver kit is super compact to better fit into tight and awkward spaces, and despite its single speed transmission, the screwdriver operates with smooth and powerful precision. The tool also has three LED lights on its front to ensure virtually shadowless visibility, a one-handed loading quarter inch hex chuck, and that good-old belt clip for convenient mobility. The kit also includes two lithium ion batteries, a fast-charger, bit-tip, and a contractor’s bag.
The DCD710S2 12v Max 3/8” drill driver kit which, weighing only 2.4 lbs, boasts the same compact design as the DCF610S2 but with a giant 1500 RPM and a dual-speed transmission to produce the most optimal speed and torque control. The drill driver also has a bright LED light to improve visibility, a belt-clip for comfort and portability. Also like the DCF610S2, this kit includes two lithium ion batteries, a fast-charger, bit-tip, and contractor’s bag for proper organization, storage, and transportation.
As for the DCF815S2 12v Max 1/4” impact driver kit, it is also lightweight and compact weighing only 2.3 lbs, and with three LED lights at the front of the tool designed to provide shadowless illumination during any work environment, the impact driver provides the utmost convenient crafting. Also featuring a one-handed loading quarter inch hex chuck and a huge 950 in/lbs of max torque, the tool is both seriously powerful and simple to operate as well. Like the others thus far, the kit includes two lithium ion batteries, a fast-charger, bit-tip, belt-clip for convenient comfort, and a contractor’s bag for portability.
Similarly, Dewalt’s DCF813S2 12v Max 3/8” impact wrench kit shares the slim and lightweight body design of its above counterpart while offering a gigantic 1150 in/lbs of max torque for the most intense impact driving capabilities. Additionally, with three LED lights at the front of the tool, the driver offers virtually unimpaired visibility and also fast socket changes with a hog ring anvil. The kit additionally includes two lithium ion batteries, a fast-charger, bit-tip, a contractor’s bag, and ZERO belt-clips; I repeat there is not a belt-clip included with this tool.
As aforementioned Dewalt’s new line-up also includes a new worklight, camera, and thermometer. The 12v Max LED worklight, or the DCL510 has a 360 degree pivoting head for optimal usability and puts out a bright 130 Lumens for an always enlightening performance. Additionally, the light is equip with both a kick-stand and a powerful magnet to allow hands-free use is a variety of convenient positions.
Additionally, the DCT410S1 12v Max inspection camera is an infinitely cool little gadget. With a three foot long, waterproof, snake-like cable extension which allows you to see into, record, and photograph more-or-less impossible spaces (like inside pipes, behind walls, or etc), the camera is ideal for tight or awkward working environments. The camera also features a 3.5” LCD screen monitor (with a 3x zoom capability) that completely detaches for better visibility in strange and strained positions. The monitor also recharges directly from the camera handle so you may simply reattach the monitor or replace the battery to keep working. The kit also includes a lithium ion battery, a charger, storage box, and hook and magnet tools to help you retrieve otherwise not-retrievable objects.
Lastly, with a focus on general versatility, the DCT414S1 12 Max IR (infrared) digital thermometer scans for temperature changes with color-coded accuracy. With beeping audio alarms and the tool’s patent-pending LED hot (which reads red) and cold (which reads blue) spot indicator, this thermometer quickly locates temperature fluctuations (between negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit and 932 degrees Fahrenheit) with true accuracy. The analog display is simple to read and as it includes a lithium ion battery, charger, and a kit box, the tool is both complete and precise.
Ultimately, Dewalt’s new 12v line-up is a doozy with the big guns and the big smarts to ensure you are more than equip to handle your next jobs with most powerful and simple sophistication.
Keeping Your Table Saw Top Clean and Rust-Free
Although it does require a bit of elbow grease to keep your table saw top clean and rust-free, it’s also a very simple and worthwhile process. Using circular motions and a white Scotch-Brite pad, thoroughly rub WD-40, CRC, cutting oil, or something similar onto your entire saw top. Use a clean, dry rag (or several) to then wipe the solution from the table top and apply a few coats of wax (butcher’s wax or paste wax) to keep it smooth and protected.