You know, it may seem like common sense to recalibrate your table saw every once in a while. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why I have not done so to mine over its five years of use! I think I just hoped it’d maintain that wonderful precision that I gave it the day I put it together. Maybe that’s why I put it off. I don’t know. I mean, I spent a lot of time on it so that it’d cut perfectly. And its metal! It’s not like it expands and contracts like the wood its designed to cut.
Alright. I admit it. I’ve been bad. But you may not understand just HOW bad, so let me put it in perspective. Over these years I’ve moved three times, one of those times was a 700 mile trek. And in two of those locations, every time I wanted to use it, I retrieved the saw from a storage unit across town or up a steep hill. (See more of this story in my first post) Much like what happens to my back, all that shaking around is bound to throw a few things out of whack. See, I’ve been that bad.
Now before you jump all over me, I haven’t exactly been doing a lot of precision type work, and when I have done some, I’ve used other methods to get clean, square cuts. (Where would we be without routers and pattern bits?) Most of the time however, close enough was, well, close enough. But being that I was about to build some jigs, starting with a long awaited panel-cutting jig, I thought it was time to recalibrate. My common sense finally kicked in just when I needed it most!
Alright, now that confession is over, how far out of whack was it? Well, the blade was maybe 2 degrees short of 90 (sigh) and 3 degrees out of parallel with the miter slot (ugh.) The fence veered to the right much like my golf swing (doh!) and, after straightening the fence, my splitter became a pincher (ouch.) It’s a wonder I didn’t notice this sooner. Did I mention I haven’t checked this stuff in five years? Oh, yeah.
Anyway, to bring a happy ending to this sad story, my panel-cutting jig turned out great and I have learned a valuable lesson: use some common sense and recalibrate your table saw. The question is, how often should a table saw be recalibrated?