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Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring #4: Thunked-up Skilsaw 3410-02 Fence Fix

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Blog entry by Paul Bucalo posted 09-23-2014 01:12 PM 3006 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Makita Banana Part 4 of Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring series Part 5: Pennysaver Acquisition: Delta Belt/Disc Sander & Scroll Saw »

About a year ago, when I finally decided a hammer and chisel wasn’t enough to remodel the house, I drove on down to our local Lowe’s and plopped down my hard-earned (credit card) money on the counter for a Skilsaw model 3410-02 Contractor Table Saw. I forget the amount of damage done at the time—it can be considered a foregone conclusion that this was the beginning of a huge tab to come—but while it was a lot of bananas for me for the cheapest of the table saws offered (and on sale at that), it was really, really, REALLY, a cheap saw. I fired it up once, then let it sit in our enclosed back porch while I moaned and groaned about the horrible winter that followed.

This summer I got busy with trying to set this baby up, gleaning what I could from YouTube Woodworking Gurus. The more I watched and learned, the deeper my perpetual frown became. Because…I bought a REALLY cheap saw. I spent hours adjusting settings on the blade and fence. Just when I thought I had things into alignment a post-cut inspection proved otherwise. I finally got the blade to within .20” alignment difference front to back with the right miter slot—that’s the best this sloppy-mounted direct-drive motor carriage would allow for—but was still crying over the fence’s stubborn desire to cock the back end in toward the blade no matter how I adjusted it. This morning I decided to tackle the problem.

The pictures that follow clearly illustrate the problem and what I did to mostly fix it.


This close up shows the degree of cant that would force the fence to misalign itself once the clamp was cinched down.


The cause? Poor (okay, let’s not sugar coat this – TERRIBLE!) designing of the clamping mechanism. The long bolt is barely half the width of the inner diameter of the spring. The spring has no choice but to swing to one side once pressure is applied.


Another angle…


And another. Notice the flaring of the bottom cut edges.


The (temporary) solution that came to mind was to find a tube that could act as a bushing to keep the spring centered. Thankfully, I am a hoarder as well as a tinkerer. Nothing gets thrown out that doesn’t have potential. The sponge rubber tube to the right of the spring (I think it came as one a several extras in a cell phone headset from years ago) was all I could find that would make a snug fit in the spring and around the long bolt.


I threaded the sponge rubber as far as it would go, then cut off the excess.


As you can see, it went on nice and snug. I had high hopes at this point that this would solve the problem.


The sponge rubber not only centered the bolt, it also decreased the play between the aluminum fence and the steel clamp. A nice bonus, indeed.


Okay, so it’s not perfectly square. You can’t say this isn’t a notable improvement.


I mounted the fence and first aligned it by running my fingertip along the fence bottom in relationship to the top edge of the right side of the right miter slot. A check with a sliding square showed I was close enough for government work. And the clamping mechanism doesn’t shift the back end of the fence now when I clamp it down.


I know it doesn’t look it here, but this is pretty much aligned with the miter slot. What makes it look off is the fact that the fence sits higher off the table at the front than at the back. Whatever. I feel safer now.

Other fixes that needed to be done like yesterday: 1) finding a safe way to make cheap zero-clearance inserts only 3/32” thick; 2) grinding the (ridiculous) tabs off the miter slots, and; 3) building a wood base with dust collection.

I think I’ll go and grab another cup of ‘joe’, instead.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA



8 comments so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

1177 posts in 1180 days


#1 posted 09-23-2014 03:05 PM

Clever fix there!
Like you i try to get by with mostly not-top-of-the-line-tools and end up spending a lot of time fixing them instead. Luckily i like tinkering and quite enjoy tuning tools and the like.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

626 posts in 826 days


#2 posted 09-23-2014 03:11 PM



Clever fix there!
Like you i try to get by with mostly not-top-of-the-line-tools and end up spending a lot of time fixing them instead. Luckily i like tinkering and quite enjoy tuning tools and the like.

- kaerlighedsbamsen

Thanks! Me, too. Tinkering is a way of life, I guess. I’d have it no other way. :)

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Richard's profile

Richard

1907 posts in 2157 days


#3 posted 09-23-2014 06:03 PM

Good fix for a Cheap TS. I just don’t like to have to do that on a Not Cheap TS or other tool. Now I do know that almost if not all tools like a Table Saw will require some setup out of the box and thats Ok , I just don’t want to have to redesign the thing to make it work if I spent a bunch of mony for it.

View thenetdog's profile

thenetdog

10 posts in 1726 days


#4 posted 10-02-2014 05:45 PM

It looks like you made a cheap saw into a better tool. As for the insert, I made a few from 1/2” MDF and used a router to clear out recesses to match the locations of the holding tabs on the saw. Mattias Wendel has a good example here:

http://woodgears.ca/delta_saw/insert.html

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

626 posts in 826 days


#5 posted 10-02-2014 05:51 PM



Good fix for a Cheap TS. I just don t like to have to do that on a Not Cheap TS or other tool. Now I do know that almost if not all tools like a Table Saw will require some setup out of the box and thats Ok , I just don t want to have to redesign the thing to make it work if I spent a bunch of mony for it.

- Richard

Agreed. That boils me! I understand the concept of value versus price. Usually, I accept and sometimes look forward to finagling with a cheap purchase to make it better. Expensive and quality stuff shouldn’t need my tinkerer ways. Finding the balance is the challenge. Not biting off more than you can chew is a big one, too.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

626 posts in 826 days


#6 posted 10-02-2014 06:09 PM



It looks like you made a cheap saw into a better tool. As for the insert, I made a few from 1/2” MDF and used a router to clear out recesses to match the locations of the holding tabs on the saw. Mattias Wendel has a good example here:

http://woodgears.ca/delta_saw/insert.html

- thenetdog

Thanks. It is a lot better than what I started with, but I am still not happy with where I am at. Before I get into that…

I follow Matthias and saw the reference you pointed to a short time ago. Unfortunately, Skil deemed it valuable and necessary (I say that sarcastically, as in oxymoronic) to make the recessed areas that support the insert require a thin, 3/32” metal plate. The only reference to fix for this that I have found is here:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-zero-clearance-throatplate-for-any-table-saw/

I’m not excited about the gaps fore and aft of the wood slot insert, but I’m sure with some thought a snug-fitting slot insert could be fashioned easily enough.

The only other way to get around this is to add a new top (as an added layer) or build a new top from thick melamine, attach the motor/arbor assembly to it, and encase it all in a new chassis. A lot of work, but doable.

I mentioned early on about not being happy? I found out earlier today that the extruded aluminum rip fence body is not straight and square throughout its length. It’s not off by a lot, enough so a square set on the table and butted up against the fence will show a little light either at the bottom, middle or top of the fence, depending on where I measure along the fence’s length.

On the plus side, I went back to adding two layers of blue tape to the inside clamping edges of the fence mount on the outside of the graduated rail. That helped a lot—it’s almost rock solid all along the fence.

I know most here would trash this and move on. I may have to, but not quite yet. I don’t like to lose battles, especially when I can’t afford to win the whole war.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

1177 posts in 1180 days


#7 posted 10-02-2014 07:31 PM

Btw have you concidered trying this: http://woodgears.ca/homemade_tablesaw/fence.html
- Might be worth the trouble if the rest of the machine is ok..

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

626 posts in 826 days


#8 posted 10-02-2014 08:13 PM



Btw have you concidered trying this: http://woodgears.ca/homemade_tablesaw/fence.html
- Might be worth the trouble if the rest of the machine is ok..

- kaerlighedsbamsen

Actually, I have. And some other designs I thought were solid and doable with my present collection (or lack thereof) of tools to get the job done right. It’s my opinion that if I were to clad both sides of the extruded rail with a thick and true material, I could salvage the current fence. If I am going to start over, I might as well built a new chassis and top, as well. That may happen yet.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

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