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Tool Tune Up
This project appeared in our April 11th, 2003 Newsletter.

One of the things that often get overlooked is the condition of your power tools. We get to working on projects and after a while start to wonder why those miters just don't quite come together. Pieces that use to fit seem to be off a little bit. Well it could quite possibly be that your power tools are starting to drift a little bit.
This week we'll do a quick run through of the major tools to make sure everything is true and square.

Here's a list of what you'll need;

  • A Dial Indicator with an adjustable magnetic stand.
  • A 90 degree triangle.
  • Johnson's Paste Wax.
  • Tools as required to loosen and tighten things.
We'll start with the table saw. It's really important that the saw blade aligns both perpendicular and parallel with the table, grooves in the table and the fence. Using a clamp mount the magnetic base and dial indicator (DI) to the miter.
Set the DI so that it just touches inside of a tooth near the front of the saw.

Slide the miter in the slot and watch the DI for variation. Most blades will have a dip in the middle, hollow ground, so ignore that. Check just inside a tooth at the other side of the blade. Make sure that they are neutral teeth that don't go in or out.
Adjust the saw blade mounting assembly as required until it is perfect. I had to loosen four very large bolts under the table to make the alignment. Don't loosen them all the way and adjust it by tapping with a rubber mallet.

Next align the fence to the grove. Set the DI up to just touch the fence. As you move from front to back watch the DI for any drift. If required adjust the fence. You may have to follow the manufacturers directions to do this.


Now check the miter for square. Most miters have a positive stop for 90 degrees. Set the miter to 90 degrees and place a 90 degree triangle on the front of it. I taped mine to a small block of wood so the triangle would be up off the table. I placed another piece of wood to hold it up.
Engage the magnetic base to the table and set the DI so that it just touches the edge of the triangle.
Move the miter forward and back. If the DI changes then adjust the miter.


Now that we are square to the world we need to make sure the blade is perpendicular to the table. I like to use a ply tooth saw blade for this adjustment. You can also use a flat piece of metal with a hole for the arbor.
Crank the blade all the way up. Place a 90 degree triangle on the table and align it to the blade.
Your table saw should have a 90 degree stop that you can adjust so that this setting is repeatable.


While you are at it you can set the 45 degree stop using a 45 degree triangle.

I like to lay down a light layer of paste wax. Different people have different feelings about wax. They are afraid that it will get into the wood grain and mess up the finish. I feel that if you use a light coat and rub it out really good you should not have a problem.
That should pretty much take care of the table saw. You may want to make a few cuts and check them with a square just to double check.

Now we'll move on to the drill press.
Mount the arm from the magnetic base into the chuck and snug it up.
Set the DI so it just touches the table.
Slowly rotate the DI to check the flatness of the table. If it's off make adjustments until it's flat and perpendicular.


Next we'll check the table of the band saw.
Using a square line it up with the blade and adjust the table as required.
If you have a miter slot in the band saw table you can check it the same way we did the table saw.

Band Saw

Lastly we'll check the miter saw.
Using a good 2" X 4" with clean edges, make a cut.
Check the cut with a square and adjust the perpendicularity until it is perfectly square. I try to make it so I can not see light between the square and the wood when held up to a light.
Next adjust the fence for 90 degrees.
Make a cut and use a square to check it. Use the same method of holding it up to the light and adjusting until you don't see light.

That should pretty much have things tuned up for our next project.

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