Need advice on table saw blade vibration

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Forum topic by drobertson posted 11-24-2014 10:02 PM 1599 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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57 posts in 3476 days

11-24-2014 10:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw vibration rip

I have a very old craftsman table saw that I restored and enhanced with dust capture and a few extensions. It has a great cast iron table and for an old workhorse saw I actually really like it. Recently I have been doing a fair amount of rip sawing of long pieces. The wood was donated to me in big chunks and ranges from cypress to Florida hardwoods like Rosewood, Mahogany and Sea Grape.

My issue is that my rip blade starts vibrating badly once I get a little ways into the wood. This is causing lots of problems. I am getting everything from wood burns to having the extra drag on the motor trip the breakers on a regular basis. As the blade vibrates it is taking some 1/8th inch (roughly) chunks out of the wood on each side. It just isn’t fun.

These problems are happening on everything from soft pine to the hardwoods. I am taking the cuts very slow and not burying the blade too deep. I have even seen similar symptoms on 1 inch pine boards.

The blade is in good condition and when the machine is off I can’t feel any slop in the blade when I try to move it around by hand.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what could be causing this? I could really use some suggestions about what I can do to get this machine back in good working shape.

I have considered buying some link belts, but it doesn’t seem like the belts are where the vibration is coming from.

Thanks for your help

12 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3219 days

#1 posted 11-24-2014 10:29 PM

Try another blade, preferably a new, thin kerf, rip blade (24 tpi).

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2822 days

#2 posted 11-24-2014 10:34 PM

Arbor runout might be the issue
I’d agree, a think kerf rip blade might help on an underpowered saw

A blade taking off 1/8 on each side of a cut is scary-

View drobertson's profile


57 posts in 3476 days

#3 posted 11-24-2014 10:45 PM

I think the thin kerf saw may be worth trying. I have been considering that anyhow.

Yeah, this saw is under powered. I would love to buy me a nice new table saw, but the wife keeps vetoing it.

I was wondering if the bearings were going, but I assume I could feel slop when I wiggle the blade if that was the case.

Thanks for the ideas, please keep em coming. I can use all the help I can get. ;-)

And yes, the chunks that are getting taken out of the wood are pretty darn scary. The vibration seems to build up to a crescendo, then just stops. Then it starts up again. This has me worried and I really can’t afford to lose my table saw.

View runswithscissors's profile


3031 posts in 2385 days

#4 posted 11-24-2014 10:49 PM

Bent arbor shaft?

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2847 days

#5 posted 11-24-2014 11:00 PM

YOu might want to take multiple shallow cuts also, getting deeper with each pass. Trying to make a 3” deep cut with an underpowered saw is a recipe for vibration, burned arbor bearings, burnt out motors, etc.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View dhazelton's profile


2837 posts in 2657 days

#6 posted 11-24-2014 11:14 PM

Does it do the same thing when you try to rip short pieces? Unless you have a helper keeping your board tight against the fence and well supported that might be an issue as well.

View drobertson's profile


57 posts in 3476 days

#7 posted 11-24-2014 11:50 PM

Support might be an issue on the long cuts. These are pretty big slabs and not these easiest things to wrangle, but I also get the vibration on short cuts and even (to a lesser extent) when I am using the sled.

I could have a bent arbor, but I would expect to see vibration when it isn’t cutting if that was the case. The saw actually starts clean and runs very smooth when it isn’t under load. It might even pass that nickle (penny) test everyone talks about.

I am considering the bearings as a possible source of the problems. Bad bearings can run fine under little to no load, but they can be a serious mess under load. If the bearings are bad I should also be able to feel some wiggle to the blade if I try moving it with my hand and I don’t get any of that.

So far the root cause of this issue is a mystery. These ideas are helpful, so thanks to everyone for sharing ideas.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2993 days

#8 posted 11-25-2014 12:13 AM

- Check the arbor pulley. Make sure it is properly installed and the set screw is tight. (I had one work loose once and caused the very symptoms you mentioned.)
- Make sure your fence is aligned with the blade.

View drobertson's profile


57 posts in 3476 days

#9 posted 11-25-2014 12:20 AM

I am pretty sure the fence is good because I am getting even hack on both sides and I am not seeing any cove effect on my cuts, but I think it may be worth pulling out my indicator and checking to make sure the fence is parallel.

The pulley is actually a real good suggestion. I have had issues with them lately and there is a solid chance they are slipping. This is a very old table. Sometimes it feels like it is held together with gum and duct tape. But I still do love the table – as long as it cuts well.

View dhazelton's profile


2837 posts in 2657 days

#10 posted 11-27-2014 06:29 PM

A lot of people eliminate vibration by using a linked belt instead of a vee belt. Worth a try before you tear everything apart.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2847 days

#11 posted 11-27-2014 07:22 PM

I would suggest that if your maple wasn’t acclimated to your shop or had a minimal drift while jointing, there may have been a side that was not completely true.

I always use a piece of extruded aluminum tube about 7’ long which I put a stop on the back end.
That way, any curve in the wood is supported by two places on the metal which is about as straight as yu could ask for. Both the wood and the aluminum move along the fence at the same time.
That means, you will have a cut as true as your aluminum for the total length.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View bobro's profile


320 posts in 1671 days

#12 posted 11-27-2014 07:39 PM

+1 on check pulley first.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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