Common Sense? #1: Recalibrate your table saw, duh!

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Blog entry by slooper posted 12-06-2008 09:34 AM 1032 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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You know, it may seem like common sense to recalibrate your table saw every once in a while. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why I have not done so to mine over its five years of use! I think I just hoped it’d maintain that wonderful precision that I gave it the day I put it together. Maybe that’s why I put it off. I don’t know. I mean, I spent a lot of time on it so that it’d cut perfectly. And its metal! It’s not like it expands and contracts like the wood its designed to cut.

Alright. I admit it. I’ve been bad. But you may not understand just HOW bad, so let me put it in perspective. Over these years I’ve moved three times, one of those times was a 700 mile trek. And in two of those locations, every time I wanted to use it, I retrieved the saw from a storage unit across town or up a steep hill. (See more of this story in my first post) Much like what happens to my back, all that shaking around is bound to throw a few things out of whack. See, I’ve been that bad.

Now before you jump all over me, I haven’t exactly been doing a lot of precision type work, and when I have done some, I’ve used other methods to get clean, square cuts. (Where would we be without routers and pattern bits?) Most of the time however, close enough was, well, close enough. But being that I was about to build some jigs, starting with a long awaited panel-cutting jig, I thought it was time to recalibrate. My common sense finally kicked in just when I needed it most!

Alright, now that confession is over, how far out of whack was it? Well, the blade was maybe 2 degrees short of 90 (sigh) and 3 degrees out of parallel with the miter slot (ugh.) The fence veered to the right much like my golf swing (doh!) and, after straightening the fence, my splitter became a pincher (ouch.) It’s a wonder I didn’t notice this sooner. Did I mention I haven’t checked this stuff in five years? Oh, yeah.

Anyway, to bring a happy ending to this sad story, my panel-cutting jig turned out great and I have learned a valuable lesson: use some common sense and recalibrate your table saw. The question is, how often should a table saw be recalibrated?

Yours foolishly,

3 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4896 days

#1 posted 12-06-2008 01:51 PM

This is, I think, a personal call and, in large part, dependent upon your saw and operating conditions. If you move, as you have done, then I certainly would recalibrate it after each move. But if the saw is quality cabinet saw that is stationary then I would think that this is necessary only when you begin experience problems with the saw’s operation. I have a Craftsman, which I would not put in the premium saw category, and go through this routine periodically (about once a quarter- usually when I need an excuse to get into the shop) since it is on a mobile base and I am rolling it around, both in and out of the shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View lew's profile


13353 posts in 4830 days

#2 posted 12-06-2008 04:46 PM

I typically check mine before every major project.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4748 days

#3 posted 12-06-2008 06:07 PM

Last time I decided to check mine there was an very visible air gap between the dial indicator and the blade on the back side.

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