Table saw set up issue with miter slots

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 03-24-2012 05:20 PM 5724 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

03-24-2012 05:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw steel city 35990cs miter slot issue

I’ve got a new table saw- Steel City 35990C and the cast iron top separates into 3 pieces at the miter slots. One end of the left slot is .013” narrower than the other end so that my miter rattles at the feed end, and gets sticky at the outfeed end. I am building a cross cut sled and and am making maple miter sliders. To make the sled slide properly, I would have to make the sliders .747” wide to slide nicely through the whole length of the slot. This is .013” undersize at the front of the slot nearest to the operator. The right side slot has less variation about .010” end to end.
Is this amount of variation to be expected or do I have a bad table top?
Do you have any experience in setting up a table so the slots are consistant end to end? If so I would appreciate hearing your solutions.
The way I am thinking; the varience is less important with a cross cut sled because there are 2 runners and the second runner somewhat compensates for the first. However with a miter that uses only the looser left slot, the issue is a real problem. Correct?
Your help & advise is appreciated

24 replies so far

View ajosephg's profile


1898 posts in 4805 days

#1 posted 03-24-2012 05:58 PM

Have you looked at the joints to see if there is foreign material that keeps the pieces from mating properly? If it can’t be easily corrected, I’d take it back. That much variation is totally unacceptable.

-- Joe

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

#2 posted 03-24-2012 07:37 PM

Joe, I pulled the top extension off and cleaned everything and reassembled it. I used clamps to pull the extension to the top, then tightened. If .013” is unacceptable, how much is OK?

View knotscott's profile (online now)


8431 posts in 4619 days

#3 posted 03-24-2012 07:39 PM

As Joe suggests, check out the mating surfaces. You may need to sand or file that surface a bit to get it to fit better. 0.013” is less than 1/64”....not huge IMO. The real indicator should be the cuts….how much does it effect them?

Taking it back is always an option, but if that’s the only issue with the saw, you might that the path of least resistance is to do a little mod work vs returning the saw. If you’re able to get it to work with a little effort, I’d let Steel City know and ask for something like a blade as compensation for your time.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View MrRon's profile


6184 posts in 4487 days

#4 posted 03-24-2012 07:48 PM

.013” IS unacceptable. If the miter gauge binds, then the saw is not well made. When making your x-cut sled, set the runners to bear only on the face of each slot that is closest to the blade and ignore the other two faces that face away from the blade. Your runners don’t have to be as wide. If you have the means, measure the distance from inside faces of the slots and then the outside faces and use which ever one is the most parallel.

View Dave's profile


38 posts in 4259 days

#5 posted 03-24-2012 07:59 PM

when you assembled your table you can shim the sides to make the narrow end as wide as the other. I have the granite steel city and mine too was not consistent. I managed to get it pretty close. With my x-cut sled I get no binding or racking in the slots. It is pretty solid.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

#6 posted 03-24-2012 08:02 PM

Dave, what did you use for shims and where did you place them?

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

#7 posted 03-24-2012 08:11 PM

Mr. Ron good suggestion to narrow the runner and use just one edge. I’ll try shimming and see if I can get consistent width that way, and will use your idea to guide off of the inside edges only.

View ajosephg's profile


1898 posts in 4805 days

#8 posted 03-24-2012 10:42 PM

Mine is 0.006 at the very end. It is less than 0.001 for most of the length using a digital calipers to measure it.

BTW, my saw is cheapo no name Taiwanese contractor saw that I bought over 20 years ago.

You might be able to make it work kind of good with a sled, but if you ever use it with a quality miter gauge (like an Osborne) you will not be able to achieve the full benefits of a gauge that has virtually no slop when adjusted correctly.

-- Joe

View NiteWalker's profile


2743 posts in 3821 days

#9 posted 03-25-2012 02:47 AM

Here’s the way I do it, learned from the late Nikki:
I use undersized runners (width-wise) and use masking tape to shim them towards the blade before attaching them to the sled. This eliminates any issues like you’re having because the runners could be 1/2” wide and still be snug on the saw. After making the initial cut to align the fence I use a quick grip clamp to squeeze the two sides of the base a bit so they don’t move away from the blade. Works perfectly and slot size and fit are not an issue at all.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

#10 posted 03-25-2012 03:25 PM

Hey Nitewalker, Thanks for the technique. Sounds like it will work well. I’ll shim my table first (hopefully today) then I can try your sled technique.
Thanks for all your help!

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4418 days

#11 posted 03-25-2012 03:40 PM

Not surprisingly, you got really great guidance on the potential solutions.

But … new saw ??

I’d be on the phone with Steel City, in a friendly manner, and trying to find out what THEIR tolerances are for this spec. It may be that you’ll get a replacement.

It’s a philosophy thing. Some DIY types are FAR more okay with having to modify their new machines. Others would really prefer only to upgrade and enhance.

But SC might say you get a new one. I’d at least give them that chance, before taking out the sanding blocks.

Good luck !
—- originally a Michigander, M’Self :-)

-- -- Neil

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 3663 days

#12 posted 03-25-2012 04:30 PM

Beener, Thanks, yea I should give them a shout before I do anything. It just seems easier to fix it myself that start over with a new saw.
Thanks for the advice.
Unfortunately there are a lot of ex-Michiganders out there.

View MrRon's profile


6184 posts in 4487 days

#13 posted 03-25-2012 05:46 PM

I looked at the on-line operator’s manual and can see why you are reluctant to replace it. It must take many hours to assemble it. I spent 8 hours assembling a $600 saw from Sears one time, only to discover the top was badly warped. Took it back to Sears the next day and bought a Jet cabinet saw.

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 3922 days

#14 posted 03-25-2012 06:43 PM

If it were me I’d contact Steel City and give them a chance to make to right. Just replacing the saw doesn’t really do that since you wasted your time assembling/disassembling/shipping back their mistake. Plus you would have to assemble the new saw when it comes. Your time is worth something.
Before calling I would have clear in my mind the problem and what I considered to be fair resolution/restitution.
I think you should give them a chance to make it right.
If they make it right tell everyone.
If they don’t make it right tell everyone.

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 3530 days

#15 posted 03-25-2012 09:16 PM

I have the 35990G. The difference here is that the miter slots are not milled into the main table, but are split between the main table and wing. So the seam is in the slot. The slots are VERY adjustable.

#1) Don’t just use clamps to pull the wing tight to the table and call it a day.

I did a long write-up on this part of the assembly, but I forget where I did it. :)
The first thing to do is get the wings level with the main table section. Use the blade wrench to adjust the bushings up and down (after loosening the set screws) if you need to make adjustments to level the wing. You need to start with the mounting bolts closest to the miter slot. Loosen the mounting bolts (all of them), adjust the bushings closest to miter slot to get the wing even with the main table. This involves a lot of loosen the mounting bolt/adjust bushing/tighten the mounting bolt. Get it as close as you can. DO NOT mess with the miter slot width until you have the wing level. Once the inner bushings are adjusted, go to the outer bushings (farthest from the miter slot). The bushings only serve to support the wing at the correct height. Mine were off by quite a bit even though the manual says this was all done at the factory. If your wings are level with the table, obviously you can skip that part…. BUT…. FORGET ABOUT the miter slot width until you have the wing bushings adjusted. (See a trend here?)

Miter slot width:
With the wings now level, you can adjust the slots. What worked for me was to take a piece of 3/4 inch plywood (actually 23/32) and set it in the slot. This was a strip of 3/4” plywood about an inch wide. Lay it in the slot so the thickness (not the width) is giving you the slot width. I used that plywood strip and a business card.

You have the bushings all set for the wing height so loosen up all the mounting bolts (again) and stand at the side of the table and give the wing a good tug away from the main table to open up the miter slot. Now it’s WAY too sloppy. So put your “spacer” in the miter slot and push the wing back in rather gently.

TIP: On mine, the “locating pins” wree interfereing with the adjustment of the slot width, so don’t be afraid to loosen the nuts on the bottoms of the 2 locating pins ( a LOT) so the pins are free to move a bit.

With the wing now kissing your spacer, start snugging up the mounting bolts. Do the inner ones first. If the slot is looser at one end, tap the wing in toward the main table with a rubber mallet. Straight hits on the end of the wing. No glancing blows.

These wings don’t draw to the main table like every other table saw you’ve used. There are no draw bolts to bring the wing tight to the table. It doesn’t NEED them. Once you have the slot width adjusted, AND you’ve retightend the mounting bolts, that wing isn’t moving. You don’t NEED to shim between the edge of the main table and the wing. I mean… you could if you WANT to, but it really isn’t necessary.

My guess is that your saw is fine, but this really is a different way to attach the wings. The resulting seamless top is VERY nice, but the procedure to do the wing attachment/adjustment is different from what most folks are used to. When I just pushed mine together I was heartbroken as this was my SECOND new saw…. I had returned the Rigid 4512 due to a factory defect in the height adjustment.

I was a journeyman millwright. Once I figured out the mechanics behind the wing design, my 35990G came out GREAT and has been a pleasure to use. I will tell you the first wing took me over an hour to get right, but that’s because I had to figure everything out. The 2nd one was on, level, miter slot set, in about 15 minutes.

Hope that helps

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