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Table Saw Blade/Fence Alignment Jig

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Project by garbonsai posted 02-10-2014 06:12 PM 4144 views 74 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Edit: Fixed link to SketchUp file.

I finally gave up on the stock fence for my Craftsman 113 and ordered a Vega Pro 50 as a replacement (review forthcoming). The installation went smoothly, but Vega’s instructions for squaring the fence to the miter slot don’t inspire a lot of confidence. After a little bit of research, I decided to build a jig that would allow me to use a cheap Harbor Freight dial indicator to ensure accuracy.

Inspiration for the jig came from a photo jcwalleye posted a few years back. I modified the design to include an adjustable width miter bar that ensures the whole setup can be snugged down in any miter slot, not just the ones on this particular Craftsman. It should also prevent seasonal expansions and contractions from introducing slop. The whole thing is made out of a scrap of kiln-dried maple I got from my father, except for the knobs which are oak from a pallet stringer (how-to for the knobs forthcoming, maybe).

The jig works like a charm—I got the fence zeroed out, then added a 0.001” toe-out at the rear. It can also be used to align the blade, which I got dead-nuts after much fiddling with a hammer and scrap block of wood (table mounted trunnions, FTW). Furthermore, as you can see in the fourth picture, the jig can also be used to check a drill press table for perpendicular to the quill—it works only so-so with the factory table, but I think the results will be much more pleasing when I finally get around to building a table that’s more conducive to woodworking.

Finally, in case anyone else wants to build the jig, and doesn’t want to guess at dimensions and the like based on the photos, here’s a link to the SketchUp file I created.

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.





18 comments so far

View woodchuckerNJ's profile

woodchuckerNJ

892 posts in 357 days


#1 posted 02-10-2014 08:22 PM

why would you add toe out , dead on parallel is the way to go.
Also I hope you set the fence after getting the blade dead on parallel to the miter slot.

It’s a nice jig BTW.

-- Jeff NJ

View Jasonjenkins's profile

Jasonjenkins

41 posts in 326 days


#2 posted 02-10-2014 08:31 PM

my question is about the accuracy of the HF dials and such… I want to buy the magnetic type you stick to the saw blade, this dial type and even some calipers.. but don’t know if the 30-40% savings is worth me second guessing the accuracy. Am I being paranoid? Heck I’m trying to grow my tools and skills, but modest tools i own outclass my skills as they sit so I’m sure the end results won’t know a difference. CAN we count on HF for measuring tools??? (really great jig btw, top of the “after you get a table saw worth being called a table saw to-do list” and added to my favs.)

-- Growing a full beard is proven to instantly improve your handtool skills...

View garbonsai's profile

garbonsai

135 posts in 678 days


#3 posted 02-10-2014 08:49 PM

@Jasonjenkins: Harbor Freight is really hit or miss, that’s for sure. I’ve had good luck with their pipe clamps, mobile bases, blue-and-grey clamps, feather-boards, and various other one-time or little-used tools, as well as their 2HP dust collector and a few other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. I wouldn’t buy bits or blades there, but that’s just me. Your best bet is generally to read the reviews of what you’re thinking about buying, then (if you can), go into the store and man-handle it.

With regards to the dial indicator, in this instance, you’re only worried about repeatability. It doesn’t matter if it reads 0.005” when the actual measurement is 0.008”—it only matters that it does so consistently. For me, it seemed to.

@woodchuckerNJ: As far as setting the fence before the blade, or the blade before the fence, unless I’m missing something (and there’s always a huge chance that I am), since the jig checks both for parallel to the miter slot, and since the only thing that doesn’t move is the miter slot, the order doesn’t matter. To think about it another way, if you throw a ball at the broad side of a barn and it bounces right back to you, then someone gets between you and the barn and catches the ball, the location of the barn isn’t affected—only your ability to hit it. You haven’t moved. It hasn’t moved. And once that moron who thinks you want to play catch leaves, you’ll be able to bounce the ball right back to yourself again.

Can you tell I’m an only child? :)

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

View MichaelT77's profile

MichaelT77

111 posts in 835 days


#4 posted 02-10-2014 09:12 PM

Great idea. Thank you for sharing.

This may not be the appropriate location for me to post this, but since someone asked…

I have recently bought a couple of dial indicators from HF. I planned on installing them in a couple of jigs before I saw this project.

The picture here shows the Woodpecker Saw Gauge that I bought a few years ago, and the dial indicator I just bought. I use the Saw Gauge to check the alignment of my blade and fence. It was rather expensive, but it does have that nice red color, it’s a clever design, it’s accurate (I believe), it has that nice black plastic case with foam to hold the instrument securely and safely (so that’s nice). The HF dial indicators are about $13 or $14. No case, just a cardboard box and Styrofoam packing material.

The two dial indicators appear to be virtually identical. The HF tool has the words “Made in China” on the face. No picture of Mao. The swing of the needle, and the units of measure are the same. I don’t know how the insides would compare, and I don’t plan on opening them to find out. They feel the same. The needle returns consistently to zero on each indicator. Consistency is pretty important.

I’m not an HF salesman, and I don’t play one on TV, but I feel like I’m getting consistent, accurate results without spending the money that NASA might spend for the same thing.

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

View JRAP's profile

JRAP

33 posts in 673 days


#5 posted 02-10-2014 09:31 PM

Great post garbonsai. The jig looks awesome, I love it. My only complaint is that the link to the sketchup file doesn’t work.

-- Life is all the other stuff you do when you're not in the shop. - http://www.woodshopshed.com

View garbonsai's profile

garbonsai

135 posts in 678 days


#6 posted 02-10-2014 09:33 PM

@JRAP: Fixed! Sorry ‘bout that.

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

View Jasonjenkins's profile

Jasonjenkins

41 posts in 326 days


#7 posted 02-11-2014 03:15 AM

michaelT77 thanks for the post. I agree don’t want this to turn into something other than the project but I think it helps put this confidently at the top of more people’s project list if they know it’s affordable and accurate. As a side note someone she start a post about this very topic (stuff worth the money that people have good results) on the review boards. I love the magazine bits that do reviews and have a top value… But they rarely go to HF. I would start one and link… If I knew how or had a review!

-- Growing a full beard is proven to instantly improve your handtool skills...

View Jason Peabody's profile

Jason Peabody

15 posts in 983 days


#8 posted 02-11-2014 03:55 AM

Very cool jig! Using it for the drill press like that is clever, too.

I have a question about your saw, though. I have a 113 Series Craftsman, and have tried to make ZCI plates for it. However the thin lip required around the edge makes this difficult. I’m not too happy with the designs I’ve come up with so far. Yours looks homemade; how did you do it?

-- When you begin to coast, then you are on the downgrade.

View Rick's profile

Rick

6911 posts in 1756 days


#9 posted 02-11-2014 05:33 AM

Very Nice Project Indeed! Thanks For Sharing.

Rick

-- LJ's "Be Nice" Policy. "Reach out and touch someone." NO! Not There!! ... ;-}

View CalgaryGeoff's profile

CalgaryGeoff

937 posts in 1205 days


#10 posted 02-11-2014 07:06 AM

Very nice build on the jig. I had hopes of making one, but then bought one for $10. I like the look your jig much more.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4345 posts in 1103 days


#11 posted 02-11-2014 07:37 AM

I started to build one similar to this then realized it could be done much simpler but mine doesn’t work on the drill press. Either way, the DI is the way to go for setting a fence, blade, or miter gauge.

Click for details

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View jakeprater's profile (online now)

jakeprater

65 posts in 312 days


#12 posted 02-11-2014 12:57 PM

Great post, I’m definitely adding your design to my”to-do” list! I also have the Harbor Freight dial indicator, but my temp jig had it’s own accuracy issues, so my results were inconsistent.

Keep the great work and good ideas coming!

Jake

-- All this sawdust.......wait........ what happened to my board???

View CrazeeTxn's profile

CrazeeTxn

150 posts in 673 days


#13 posted 02-11-2014 01:15 PM

Good looking jig. I’ve got a Vega on my 113 too. Soooooooooooo much better than the stock fence :) Have you thought about getting a set of PALs? I would beat mine into submission too and still could only get it so so within an acceptable range. Still trying to figure out which ones were a better purchase, the PALs or the fence :)

View savan's profile

savan

94 posts in 1114 days


#14 posted 02-11-2014 02:38 PM

CrazeeTxn, easy choice for me. Hopefully you only have to use the PALs one time but the fence every day :)

View bladeburner's profile

bladeburner

88 posts in 1810 days


#15 posted 02-11-2014 02:55 PM

Rick M., your design doesn’t allow for checking at 45 degrees. But neither does the pretty red $100 jig!

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