Refurbish Powermatic Table Saw #4: Reassemble, Align Blade (PALS), Clean-Up Insert and Guard

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Blog entry by bch posted 11-02-2011 06:17 AM 5807 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Disassembly and Cleaning of the Mechanics Part 4 of Refurbish Powermatic Table Saw series Part 5: Finishing Up: Repairing the Fence and A New Push Stick »

Here you can see the end result of cleaning the underside of the table. The minor rust seems to be converted and sealed as the product claimed.

At this point I reassembled the saw. I didn’t include any pictures here as they are redundant given the previous photos and not likely relevant to your saw.

During assembly, I followed the instructions in the manual for aligning the saw. The instructions for aligning the blade could be summarized as follows (this is my condensed version): “Align the saw blade parallel to the slot. Measure with a ruler and if it’s out of alignment, hit the table with a mallet and measure again. Repeat as necessary. When parallel, tighten arbor nuts to lock in alignment.” I chose to measure by by clamping my dial indicator to my miter guide:

For three evenings I followed these instructions to adjust the blade to the miter-slot. I measured, whacked the table, measured, whacked again… When the table-saw-whacking-fairies would smile upon me, the blade would align. I would then lie on my back underneath the saw and very, very carefully tighten each arbor-nut in tiny increments only to find the arbor would move ten thousandths with each tightening of the arbor nuts.

I mentioned my frustration and lack of success to my wood-working mentor, Chris, who told me about In-Line Industries PALS . These are the same people that make the red link belts for your motor. Given the three evenings I’d spent following the saw’s instructions, $20 plus $6 shipping sounded quite reasonable. I ordered the PALS alignment system and waited. Upon arrival I had this package:

I did my best to follow their instructions and was slow and methodical in their alignment. In 45 minutes I was finished. My sloppy measurement method using the dial indicator on the miter seemed to get me within about 1.5 thousands. (I think if I wanted to spend a few more minutes I could reduce this, but by this point I was a bit excited and quite happy with the results I’d achieved in a relatively small amount of time).

Review of PALS: They work perfectly as advertized. I have no complaint with the actual product. The instructions I have a minor gripe with. The instructions tell you in what order to install the custom part, washers and screw, and then give no advice on aligning the saw. While this was pretty obvious given their design, the absence of any instruction is a little disconcerting. The whole point of the product is to align a contractor’s saw blade to the table yet there is not a single sentence in the instructions on how to do so. I believe they are trying to make all of their instructions fit on the printed cardboard backing of the package. If they gave up that idea they could include their instructions on half a sheet of paper. If they did so I would give their instructions top marks, as I do their product. Likewise, if you look at their web site instructions for installing PALS, it just says, “instructions coming soon” (as of 11/2/2011).

PALS are a great product regardless, and I strongly recommend them. I was about to make a review but LumberJock Jack Barnhill already wrote a good review.

After aligning the blade to the miter slot using PALS, I installed the wings using a straight edge. I aligned them so that I could just barely feel an edge. They are a fraction of a thousandth lower than the table. I was unable to get them exact across the entire length of the surface. Visually I cannot see the drop, but I can feel it when dragging my finger across the joint.

As I installed the insert I noticed some corrosion beginning:

A quick few seconds with wet/dry sandpaper and penetrating oil and we have the following:

Now to look at the splitter, riving-knife, and guard assembly. This had a little more corrosion than the insert:


After sanding the worst of it, I discovered the paint came right off:

This cooled my enthusiasm a bit and I just did a very light sanding of the rest of it, thinking with a very light sanding I could just remove the worst of the corrosion but maintain the original condition. If it continues to rust I can easily stop the problem. The assembly is easy to remove. I can remove it at any time later to sand and repaint more thoroughly.

I gave the outer surfaces a quick coat of paint to cover up the portion I’d sanded off:

Here you see the guard attached:

Next: Please view the last installment: The Fence.


-- --bch

4 comments so far

View ajosephg's profile


1881 posts in 4162 days

#1 posted 11-02-2011 12:37 PM

Nice looking saw and good review of the PALS. I too could not get my saw aligned until I installed them.

A personal opinion about the splitter, guard, and insert: I hung all that stuff on a nail on the wall where it collects dust. This type of splitter and guard assembly is more dangerous than going without, and the insert is also worthless for fine wood working.

Make yourself a zero clearance insert and the quality of your cuts will go up big time as well as making the saw much safer.

-- Joe

View bch's profile


300 posts in 3290 days

#2 posted 11-02-2011 07:31 PM


I’ve already begun making a ZCI. No worries there.

I’m curious why you think this style of guard/splitter/cauls is actually dangerous. I know they are difficult to add and remove compared to newer styles of guards, but you say they are actually dangerous. How so?

Thanks so much for taking the time read and comment.


-- --bch

View ajosephg's profile


1881 posts in 4162 days

#3 posted 11-02-2011 08:42 PM

Since all the world’s knowledge doesn’t rest within my brain this is only my opinion and experience with my guard that was exactly like yours.

Several problems. The first is the downward pressure (by the guard) on the cut-off can cause the cut-off to rotate and catch on the blade resulting in a kickback. If the cutoff has reached the so called “anti-kickback” pawls, the results will be worse because the pawls are pretty flimsy and the cut-off will get trapped between the pawl, the guard, and the blade, and the pawl will lose the battle. This problem is magnified when working with small pieces.

It’s my perception that most guys (at least on this site) run their table saws without guards for these reasons.

While not a safety issue, the lack of visibility makes it hard to line up a cut because you can’t see where the tooth is going to touch the mark on your board.

-- Joe

View MickeyGee's profile


119 posts in 3495 days

#4 posted 11-03-2011 05:16 AM

Good job on the blog and a congrats on the great deal with the saw.
Enjoy and I’ll be waiting for your next installment.

-- -- Mike

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