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Checking for table saw blade straightness

by Purrmaster
posted 460 days ago


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51 replies

51 replies so far

View gawthrrw's profile

gawthrrw

187 posts in 946 days


#1 posted 460 days ago

I just bought the wixey myself. Before that I was using a Starrett combination square. I havnt had the problems you are having as far as the wixey numbers moving around on you. Might be a dud. To check mine though I cut two strips of lumber than turned one around to match up to the other and looked at the seam on the end grain. if you do it on something flat like your tablesaw it will show you any variations.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#2 posted 460 days ago

I’ve read on this site that the Wixey can act funny in cold temperature, which it certainly is here. I know the batteries I put in there are fresh. The manual for the thing basically says changing the batteries is the solution to every problem it can have.

View gawthrrw's profile

gawthrrw

187 posts in 946 days


#3 posted 460 days ago

lol, of course right? Well, if that doesnt fix it I would return it for another one. Im in MI and work in an unheated shop most of the time and I have had no trouble with mine. I really like it for my jointer fence as well. I have noticed much tighter joints in my work by making sure my stock is perfectly square.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#4 posted 459 days ago

When you place yours on the saw or jointer table, how long does it take before the reading stabilizes? Or after you zero it out the first time?

I read that these things are kind of hit and miss. It makes me wish I’d bought the Harbor Freight one.

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

756 posts in 524 days


#5 posted 459 days ago

Seems unlikely, but digital meters may also be driven crazy by nearby magnetic sources, such as motor windings. You could try taking it inside a warm room, and see if it settles down.

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1008 posts in 631 days


#6 posted 459 days ago

I have to engage the “Zero” button a full second or a tad longer to get it to zero, then its dead on at 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees compared to drafting triangles. The cut or jointed edges meat nicely. Ensure the gauge doesn’t touch or engage a blade tooth. Also the counter balance washer on the saw probably has a routed grove that the nut passes through to tighten the blade to the arbor. I learned after several missed cuts that it has to be “FULLY” engaged to get the blade really true. So maybe its the blade installation v.s. Wixey that is not truthful.

But, when you have finished with its use Please take the battery out. If put in storage in the “Off” position according to Wixey tech support some tend to continue to search for “Zero” and run the battery down, so the next time you intend to use it you’ll find no power.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 1892 days


#7 posted 459 days ago

you say it right: ” in relation to the table”!!
That device is measuring the blade in relation with gravity BUT NEVER with your table saw, unless Isaac Newton is around your shop to level the machine 0.000000000 degreees.

Not even in large shops I have seen large table saws dead level in relation with space. remember we live in a planet that moves!

Best is, grab a certified square and simply check your blade IN RELATION with the machine top. that simple!!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#8 posted 459 days ago

Francisco

I believe he zero’s it out on the table first, then checks the blade for 90 degrees. Therefore the saw doesn’t need to be level.
I would stick with the precision square. I trust it over a digital device. Close enough for woodworking.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View Richard's profile

Richard

400 posts in 1190 days


#9 posted 459 days ago

I have one of those digital doodad’s and it’s jumpy, but seems to be reliable once it stops freaking out. But I double check it against my square. If I were getting conflicting results I would be inclined to believe my engineer’s square.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

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Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#10 posted 459 days ago

jim C is correct. I zero out the gauge when it’s sitting on the table. Then stick it to the blade. The same button is used to switch it off as to zero it. So if I hold down the zero button for long it switches off. So I have to do a quick zeroing.

I’ve tightened the hell out of the nut that secures the blade to the saw. And yes, the arbor has washers (one on each side of the blade).

Has anyone heard of cold temperatures affecting the Wixey? I’d read somewhere that somebody said that might be an issue.

Thanks.

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

550 posts in 876 days


#11 posted 459 days ago

Battery performances are impacted by temperature (low and high end).
You might try a new battery to see if it helps. Low voltage /power make electronics do funy things.

I have one of those Wixey and I love mine. I don’t use a square on my TS, Jointer, BS…... I am happy with mine.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#12 posted 459 days ago

I’ve tried several sets of fresh batteries. Same behavior. I wonder if I’m using the thing wrong somehow.

View DannyB's profile

DannyB

46 posts in 1920 days


#13 posted 459 days ago

They definitely do have a minimum temperature (though I can’t remember if they use a fluid or not).

I had one that started jumping around after about a year, and emailed Barry, and he replaced it no questions asked.
Just asked for my address and sent a new one. Didn’t even ask for the broken one back.

His guess was a loose connection.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

9529 posts in 1189 days


#14 posted 459 days ago

I wouldn’t “tighten the Hell” out of the nut that holds the blade. Excessive tightening can damage the arbor and/or the arbor nut. I just snug mine up as they will tend to tighten as you run the saw. As far as the Wixey, I must have gotten their best cause mine works great (and I don’t have the battery longevity that others report). Mine is over a year old and still on the original battery. I’d try a new battery in yours and if that didn’t fix it, I’d return it and get another. Those batteries are the same as the ones in most garage door remotes and readily available (WalMart). I trust my Wixey much more than my drafting square and my old eyes to read it!Once you get your blade set to 90 degrees, make sure to recheck it after you have locked the adjustment knob!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#15 posted 459 days ago

I use a precision square to make my blade normal to the top but I make sure that I am squaring on flat part of the blade. I need to check mine periodically because on my old saw the angle adjustment is connected to the sheet metal body of the saw and does tend to creep.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#16 posted 459 days ago

oldnovice
The best way to check is the way you are doing it.
As long as it is a precision square and not a combination square.
Close enough for woodworking.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4443 posts in 1076 days


#17 posted 459 days ago

Some times I use a couple of 1, 2, 3 blocks and check
both sides to see if there’s a variance.

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#18 posted 459 days ago

This one is the one with the level and takes AAA batteries. That’s how I’ve been able to try so many sets of fresh batteries.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

9529 posts in 1189 days


#19 posted 459 days ago

Ahhh, You have a very different model than I have (no level and uses one of those round flat batteries like a remote on the garage door thingy).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View DannyB's profile

DannyB

46 posts in 1920 days


#20 posted 459 days ago

@gfadvm
There was an updated version of it released. Among other things, it takes AAA now, has a flip top screen, and displays true level in addition to relative level.

Besides all of this, they fixed the most annoying thing: Even if you didn’t have the screen on, it used to still draw power, and the batteries needed to be changed every 6-9 months.

In the new one, when it’s off, it’s off, and it lasts essentially forever (well, until the AAA’s die from capacity loss or resistance increase)

View Loren's profile

Loren

6738 posts in 2147 days


#21 posted 459 days ago

Plane down a 4×4 and make a crosscut at maximum
blade elevation.

Check the cut wood for square. The cut is what
matters.

Most blade deviate out of flat and will be inconsistent
in relation to the table at various points of rotation.
Considering the speed a table saw blade spins at…

Forrest blades are flatter than most.

Throat plates can interfere with accurate squaring.

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Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#22 posted 459 days ago

I take the throat plate off when checking for square. The model described above is indeed the model I have. It shows an absolute level as well as the relative angle. And the screen flips.

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#23 posted 459 days ago

”The problem with the square is that it’s hard to get it 100% straight on the blade and table. ”

Trust your square. Get around the problem you stated above by doing the below:
(this was my FIRST video podcast – excuse the production crude-ness. The content is still golden)

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#24 posted 459 days ago

Jim, yes it it a precision square, not a combination and because it is a precision square it fits easily on my TS.

I have a set of these squares at 1-3/8”, 3-1/4”, and 5” that I use primarily for tool set up!

The video above is actually a version of an electronic setup tool that used the blade as a “switch” between two contacts and an indicator to show square.

This tool had a contact on the bottom, along with some non contact feet to keep it sitting properly, and a precisely machined button at right angles to make contact with the blade.

It works too but for me the square is easier as I am a firm believer in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#25 posted 458 days ago

@oldnovice: If you were ‘truly’ a firm believer in the KISS principle then you’d be using a handsaw instead of a table saw. Some things just make other things easier.

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#26 posted 458 days ago

GarageWoodworks,

I would use a hand saw but I have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and a hand saw just starts a flare up so I can’t use any tool so the TS allows me to enjoy my hobby without pain!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

9529 posts in 1189 days


#27 posted 458 days ago

DannyB- Thanks for the update. I really like mine and hope it lasts forever (or at least as long as I do)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#28 posted 458 days ago

DannyB, grad VM these units do not contain liquid for measurement as the use an accelerometer chip but, the LDC does have low temperature limits and the display may behave erratic.

The colder it gets the worse the display until it finally won’t display anything. Once the warm up they are OK unless they have been thouroghly frozen!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#29 posted 458 days ago

This thread has gone on far too long. Just spend the money on a good precision square, take care of it by handling it well and keeping it in it’s wooden box, and eye-balling the sawblade perpendicularity to it.
You ain’t building nuclear components people, you’re making wood hobbies! Jeesch!!!!!!

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#30 posted 458 days ago

Right on Jim!

Next we will build a wooden particle accelerator and send some saw dust into oblivion!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#31 posted 458 days ago

Jim,

As I indicated above, I do have this square:

http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=32601&cat=1,42936,42941

The 6 inch version. Is that considered a precision square? If not, what would be?

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#32 posted 457 days ago

I am not Jim but I am sure that he would concur and, in my opinion, that those are indeed precicion squares!

One of these is all you need to complete your alignment and get your blade normal to the TS top!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Purrmaster's profile

Purrmaster

773 posts in 592 days


#33 posted 457 days ago

The original question was which method is more trustworthy: The Wixey or the square? They don’t give identical results.

However, the Wixey seems to have calmed down…. for now. That is, the numbers weren’t hopping around as much last time I used it.

But the square has also been well cared for.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#34 posted 457 days ago

Purrmaster
As the Novice stated, that is indeed a precision square. It should have a “knife” edge on the blade so as to better see any light peeking through if there is any perpendicularity difference on what you are checking. i.e., Jointer wall, saw blade, or drill blank chucked in a drill press. It’s also great for checking any 90 degree glue ups (boxes/ drawers etc.) and checking how square your cross cuts are.
Well worth the cost.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#35 posted 457 days ago

For you “push a square against the blade” guys, consider this: The max height on a 10” table saw blade will be about 3” above the table saw surface (mine is anyway). For every 0.010” (10 thou) of gap that you can not detect in between the blade and the square you will have an angle error of 0.2 degrees. You older guys are going to have the most trouble (no insult intended). 0.2 degrees is enough to turn a potentially nice project into a not so nice project. To see what 10-thou looks like, get a digital caliper and create a 0.010 gap (or use feeler gauges). It’s pretty dang small. The dial indicator method prevents this problem of discerning small gaps.

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#36 posted 457 days ago

.010 is huge when looking at light between the blade and the knife edge of a square. The dial indicator is great as long as you have a known precision “square”, stable base, and the means to compare it to the blade.
Having all that, the time to set it up and check it is not worth the effort. We’re cutting WOOD, not medical instruments. A square takes literally seconds and I’ll bet money it’s within .003-.005 perpendicular for the length of the exposed blade.
Been there done that.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1657 days


#37 posted 457 days ago

I don’t entirely trust either, though my Wixey is as good a square, especially when my bevel stop is accurately set to begin with…and I use the Wixey to check to see if there might be something obstructing the stop. The trick is to get the stop set correctly to begin with…and I use Loren’s method for that. I don’t trust the square for two reasons…one is the potential out of flatness of the blade…but more importantly to me, to put a square on the blade you have to place it across the insert. From a safety standpoint the insert should be dead flat, but I suspect some homemade ZCIs might be tad bit unlevel or slightly dished. It certainly should be checked first.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#38 posted 457 days ago

@JimC By no means would I call a 10-thou gap “huge”.

I don’t get “stable base, and the means to compare it to the blade.”? Watch my video above. For a “stable base” all you need is scrap wood.

You will need and every woodworker should already have: dial indicator, granite surface plate (or flat plate glass) and a good square.

Accurately sighting for 0.010” in between a blade and a square is going to take more than seconds.

Watching a dial indicator move to the “zero” mark literally takes seconds.

I get that we are cutting wood. Like I said, 0.2 degrees is enough to cause problems. Been there done that.

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1657 days


#39 posted 457 days ago

“Granite surface plate”

Why am I not smart enough to have EVER thought of that?

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View jim C's profile

jim C

1449 posts in 1597 days


#40 posted 457 days ago

GarageWood,

I watched your video and I have no complaints with your process, as, having been a Tool & Die Maker we used the same process but with steel indicator bases. You just need to confirm the square you’re using is in fact “square”
(Same thing with the precision square I use)
We utilized “angle plates” that were 4” wide by 4” tall and were checked for squareness/perpendicularity often on a precision Moore jig grinder.
I do have and use in the shop, dial indicators, a granite surface plate and a complete set of “Jo Blocks”, as well as 1,2,3, blocks.
Makes life easy for setups and sizing.
I still contend that after having cut an angle on the tablesaw, as I’m cranking the blade back to 90, my square will show me when I’m “close enough” and that takes seconds.
My ZCI is a touch below the table, but my precision square has a base long enough so I make sure it’s flat on the table.
To each his own.
There’s more way than one to skin a….......knuckle!

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#41 posted 457 days ago

@Jim – With any method (that I’m aware of) we need to confirm that we have a “square” square.

Another advantage to the method I use (that I’ve heard from readers to my website) is that it’s easier for older fellers w/ bad backs (and bad eye-sight). They don’t need to bend over in front of the saw and gaze for 10-thou gaps.

Cheers.

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#42 posted 457 days ago

I have a couple of dial indicators, a granite block, a set of precision squares, and a squaring jig similar to that shown in the video with a ground steel base but I still fall back to my 5” square for alignment. The 5” square is tall enough to reach the top of my 10” TS blade!

But as Jim said, to each his own … after all, it wood be pretty drab if we all though alike!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#43 posted 457 days ago

@oldnovice – That would be great if your blade was 5” above the table. Most are only around 3” and this increases the amount of error per thou of gap. (results in a shorter side for the triangle in the arctan math)

Again – 0.2 degrees can make and break a project. And I doubt your eye-sight is better than mine :)

The method I used is fast and has the added benefit of being more accurate and for the older guys – easier on the back.

Give it a try if you have all the equipment.

Cheers.

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#44 posted 457 days ago

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen threads regarding the 5-cut method to square a table saw sled fence to within 0.0008 degrees of 90 (if you get your last cut off to within 0.001” w/ an 18” board), but when it comes to aligning our table saw blades to 90 – most just wing it and try for “close enough”.

:)

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#45 posted 457 days ago

GarageWoodworks, I would try it but it so cold _ (fill in the blank) today and I don’t want to be in the shop!

Some suggestions for the blank:
  1. My granite block is an ice block
  2. My dial indicator reads below 0°
  3. My TS blade has frost on it
  4. Whatever ….!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1008 posts in 631 days


#46 posted 457 days ago

When all is said and done the wobble in arbor and blade in conjunction with wood movement, will account for more than 0.010” or .2 degrees of error; so just use which ever suits your fancy or both and deal with it and be pleased. The glue will take up the slack.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

View GarageWoodworks's profile

GarageWoodworks

398 posts in 655 days


#47 posted 457 days ago

@Handtooler Assuming your saw has that much wobble (you can easily check your flange for run-out by the way) then all the more reason to reduce the error as low as you can before those other errors kick in.

0.000” (angle error) + 0.010” (from any wobble) is better than 0.010” (angle error) + 0.010” (from any wobble)

-- Subscribe on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GarageWoodworks?feature=guide

View Handtooler's profile

Handtooler

1008 posts in 631 days


#48 posted 457 days ago

Ha ha! Agree completely. That’s compound interst kicked in.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 bassboy40@msn.com

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2393 posts in 1742 days


#49 posted 457 days ago

The battery doesn’t last long in the Wixey. I take the battery out when it’s not being used. The way Rob does it is a good way.

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3249 posts in 1866 days


#50 posted 457 days ago

GarageWoodworks,

What do you consider wrong with using a 5” square with a 3.5” TS blade height?
Using your method you can’t get the blade any higher!

I just did a quick set up (‘cause it’s cold out there, ≈40°) using my square only method (actually that’s a lie, I use a white back light too) and I got mine to within 0.002” at 3.25” height and since I hardly ever cut with the blade at full height that at 3/4” cut depth I am only off 0.00043” which is not bad.

In my last job, before I retired, my product line was laser interferometers I think I will borrow one and see how these methods compare. My hunch is that is that it will be a wash!

I can tell by the way you attack measurements that you are heavily into math either by profession or hobby!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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