If you’re like me, your table saw is one of the workshop tools you use the most, so let’s make the most of it and tune up your table saw for maximum performance!
Today we’re going to tune up your table saw! From replacing the stock blade to adjusting the fence and reducing friction to protecting your hands these are 7 easy ways to maximize the performance of your table saw.
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Before we tune up your table saw or use any tool for that matter we need to think about safety. We’ll read, follow, and understand the safety instructions for our tools. If we don’t understand those instructions, we’ll contact the manufacturer or ask a pro.
7 Easy Tricks to Tune Up Your Table Saw
Replace the Stock Blade
Chances are most of the cuts we’ll be making with our table saw are rip cuts. Rip cuts are made with the grain of the wood, or along the length of a workpiece. The general rule of thumb for making rip cuts is to use a blade with fewer teeth. This is why table saws generally come equipped with a blade that has fewer teeth.
Saw blades with more teeth generally produce cleaner, crisper cuts, while blades with fewer teeth generally produce rougher, chippier cuts. I prefer to swap out the stock table saw blade for a blade with more teeth because I feel a blade with more teeth produces better quality parts for my DIY furniture projects.
One of the easiest ways to tune up your table saw is to upgrade the saw blade. I typically work with pine and my go-to saw blade is the 80 tooth Diablo Ultra Fine saw blade. The blade makes crisp, silky smooth cuts – exactly what I want for my DIY furniture projects. Both my table saw and my miter saw are outfitted Diablo saw blades. On my table saw I use a 10″ 80 tooth Diablo Ultra Fine saw blade and on my miter saw I use a 12″ 100 tooth Diablo Ultra Fine saw blade.
Parallel the Blade to the Miter Gauge Slot
Now that we have a shiny new saw blade let’s tune up your table saw by checking some adjustments. The first adjustment to check is if the blade is parallel to the miter gauge slot. If the blade is not parallel to the miter gauge slot it can affect the quality of our cuts. But even more importantly our workpiece could bind and possibly kickback.
We all know what kickback is, right? Kickback is when the workpiece suddenly stops moving forward through the saw blade and is propelled in the opposite direction. In other words, the workpiece is coming at you instead of moving away from you. And it’s coming at you at a high rate of speed! Kickback is dangerous!
There are a few ways to check that the blade is parallel to the miter gauge slot, but I think one of the easiest ways is the method described in the instruction manual for my table saw.
TIP: Are you missing the manual for your saw? Did you know most manuals for modern tools are available online? Just google the name and model of your saw or tool (ex: Hitachi miter saw manual) and I bet you’ll find the manual for your saw.
Step 1: We’ll start by unplugging the saw. Next, raise the blade and make a mark beside one of the teeth at the front of the blade.
Step 2: Place a combination square in the miter gauge slot, against the saw blade and measure the distance.
Step 3: Turn the blade so the mark you made earlier is now at the back of the saw. Move the combination square to the back and again measure the distance. If the distances are the same, the blade is square to the miter gauge slot.
If the distances are different the blade is not square to the miter gauge slot and the blade will need to be adjusted. All saws are a little different when it comes to making this adjustment so please refer to your manual to make this adjustment for your table saw.
Parallel the Rip Fence to the Blade
Now that our blade is parallel to our miter gauge slot next we’ll tune up your table saw by making sure the rip fence is parallel to the saw blade. A properly adjusted rip fence is just as important as a properly adjusted miter gauge slot. A misaligned rip fence will affect the quality of our cuts and can increase the chances of kickback.
The procedure my manual describes for making the rip fence parallel to the saw blade is a little more difficult than I think it needs to be. Instead, I like this method I found on the Rockler Woodworking and Hardware site.
We’ll start by moving our rip fence to the edge of our miter gauge slot. The only tools we’ll need to check the rip fence is the ones at the ends of our hands. That’s right, our fingers! Use your fingers to feel along the length of the rip fence and miter gauge slot. If the rip fence is flush against the miter gauge slot from front to back then our rip fence is parallel to the blade.
If the rip fence deviates from the miter gauge slot from front to back then our rip fence is not parallel to the blade and will need to be adjusted. All rip fences are a little different when it comes to making this adjustment so please refer to your manual to make this adjustment for your table saw.
Precisely Adjust the Blade Angle
We’ll need to make one more adjustment to tune up your table saw. Next, we need to adjust the blade angle. Years ago I would set my table saw blade angle with a speed square just like the one I would use to set up my miter saw for accurate cuts. While the speed square worked well to set up the miter saw I never felt like the table saw blade was adjusted as precisely as it could be.
Then I found the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge makes setting our table saw blade angle as easy as 1. Turn it on, 2. Zero it out, 3. Place it on the blade, 4. Adjust the angle, and 5. Done! The gauge takes the guesswork out of setting the angle and allows us to precisely set the table saw blade for any angle we choose.
Skate over to Best Way to Set Table Saw Blade Angle for Precision Cuts for more details about setting your table saw blade angle and a video of the gauge in action.
Clean Your Saw Blades
Earlier we replaced our stock table saw blade with a quality 80 tooth Diablo Ultra Fine saw blade and now we need to keep our blade clean. Why do we need to clean our blades? Well, there’s more to it than just keeping our blades looking shiny and new.
Wood pitch builds up on our table saw blades as we make our cuts. In the Wood Magazine article Tool Review: Blade and Bit Cleaners they say over time residue left on a saw blade “can corrode the blade”. Wood Magazine goes on to say a blade that needs to be cleaned requires “more feed pressure to make the cut” and “blades with excessive buildup are sometimes mistaken for dull.”
Cleaning our table saw blades is really easy to do. Please skate over to Clean Saw Blades for Peak Performance and Quality Cuts to see which cleaner I use, the simple procedure I use to clean my saw blades and saw blade cleaning video.
Wood pitch can build up on the table of our table saw just like it can build up our table saw blades. Is there a way to prevent this? Yes, we can wax our table saw. And there’s more to waxing than just making our table saw look pretty. We should wax our table saw because it will be easier to clean, reduce the chances of oxidation, and perhaps most importantly it reduces friction.
Please skate over to Wax Your Table Saw to Reduce Friction and Maximize Performance to see the wax I use for my tools, the simple procedure I follow to wax my table saw and table saw waxing video.
Keep Your Hands Safe
The table saw is one of the most dangerous tools in the workshop. In fact, we discussed two table saw mishaps in Advice DIYers Want You to Know About Their Workshop Accidents. In that, Ken’s advice was “Push sticks and push blocks are our friends.”
I agree with Ken. Keeping our hands away from the table saw blade is one of the best ways to prevent injury. The push block I’m digging right now is the Grr-ripper 3D Push Block by MicroJig. There are three key differences between a regular push block and the Grr-ripper and those differences are what makes the Grr-ripper the ultimate push block.
First, MicroJig says “the downward pressure of the Grr-ripper virtually eliminates kickback and keeps the workpiece against the table.” Second, the Grr-ripper uses inward pressure to keep the workpiece against the fence and prevent burning the workpiece. Third, forward pressure advances the cut and controls both sides of the workpiece.
The Grr-ripper also features a “sawblade tunnel”. The tunnel allows the Grr-ripper to pass over the blade and acts as a moving blade guard. Work safely, protect your hands and get yourself a Grr-ripper
If you’re like me, your table saw is one of the workshop tools you use the most. Tune up your table saw for maximum performance by replacing the stock blade, paralleling the miter gauge slot to the blade, paralleling the rip fence to the blade, precisely adjust the blade angle, regularly clean saw blades, wax to reduce friction and keep your hands safe with a Grr-ripper.
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott