If you’re starting a wood workshop or already have one, chances are you’re going to want a table saw. With its ability to perform a variety of tasks, they are often seen as the first machinery purchase. If you need help with buying one, this guide should help.
If you have already bought one, you might be thinking, ‘let’s get to work’! Although by doing this the results will most likely prove inaccurate and you might be endangering yourself in the process.
So, it’s now time to think about getting it setup correctly, something our American friends often call a ‘tune up’.
Most new table saws will come fitted with a blade. And most guides will tell you that aligning the blade to the mitre slot should be the first thing to do. This is really down your own personal preference and the saw you are buying. If you trust the maker and the quality of their manufacturing, then it’s most likely the blade will already be aligned very well with the slot. If you want to double check, then a saw aligning jig would be a fantastic purchase.
The first thing we would recommend doing is making sure the blade is square to the table. This is done by raising the blade to it highest height and the tilt to 90 degrees. Then get a 90 degree square and place it against the blade to check if it’s at exactly 90 degrees. If not, you should find in your manual a way of adjusting this to get it right.
If you are planning on doing bevel or compound cuts, it would also be wise to check the blade at 45 degrees. This can be easily done with a mitre square.
The Riving Knife
As we are on the blade, it’s best to check that the riving knife is in the correct position. A general rule of thumb is that it should be no more than 8mm away from the blade along its curvature. If you need to make any adjustments to this it can be done easily by removing the kerf plate.
Above we have used the ‘pencil technique’ when checking that your riving knife is the correct distance from the blade. Most pencils are no more than 8mm thick so if you can fit them between riving knife and blade, the distance is too far.
A table saw is mostly about ripping, so getting the rip fence set up correctly is almost as important as getting the blade correct. There are a couple of things that you will need to do with the fence before it is right.
1.Fence square to table – In the same way as finding if the blade is square to the table; use a 90 degree square and place up against the fence. If it’s not square most fences will be easily adjustable to get it spot on.
2. Fence parallel to blade – As these two are working in conjunction with each other often, it’s paramount it is correct. If anything it’s best to have the fence tailing away very slightly so that there’s no ‘pinch point’ at the back of the blade. A great way to do this is by using the sub fence in a vertical position and placing it up against the blade and checking by eye down the table.
If you’ve bought a table saw that comes complete with the sliding table, then you will no doubt have to fit it. Depending on the size of the saw this can be a two or three man job. One thing to remember when fitting it is to make sure the sliding table sits very slightly above the main table. This is to prevent it dragging on the main table when pushing the wood through.
Table Saw Maintenance & Blade Change
So now your table saw is set up and ready to go. As with all machines you will have to keep the machine maintained and in good working order. You will also of course at some point have to change the blades.
To help you with both, here is a printable PDF on blade changing and future maintenance for your saw.
This is just a brief guide on setting up your table saw. The points may change slightly depending on the size and type of saw you have purchased. We hope that this has helped you ‘tune up’ your saw ready for use and good luck in your future woodworking!