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How to align dial indicator with table saw miter slots?

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Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 1455 days ago 8923 views 6 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Vrtigo1

430 posts in 1586 days


1455 days ago

I have a dial indicator with a magnetic base, and am looking for the best way to accurately measure distance to the blade and fence from the miter slots. The magnetic base is no good because I have to move it from the front of the table to the back, and will never be able to get it in the same position.

Most magazines articles that I’ve read use some type of cast aluminum jig that rides in the miter slots and has a spot for the dial indicator to attach.

I’ve also seen some people online that just use a strip of hardwood to ride in the slots and then attach some sort of wooden jig to it in order to mount the gauge, but I wasn’t sure if this would provide enough accuracy.

Which method do you use? If you bought a jig, which one is it and where did you get it?


12 replies so far

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4136 posts in 1546 days


#1 posted 1455 days ago

Take a thin metal plate (maybe you have some scrap around) and attach it to a 3/4 strip to fit into the miter slot. The magnetic base of your dial indicator will attach to the plate and you can slide it up and down the miter slot.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View TheWoodNerd's profile

TheWoodNerd

288 posts in 1787 days


#2 posted 1455 days ago

Attach a piece of wood to a miter gauge, then attach the DI to that.

If (like me) you buy a nice aftermarket gauge, you can just leave the DI on the original one for occasional checks. The same rig can be used to check your fence alignment.

-- The Wood Nerd -- http://www.workshopaholic.net

View Vrtigo1's profile

Vrtigo1

430 posts in 1586 days


#3 posted 1455 days ago

I saw the TS Aligner, but just didn’t think it was worth the price at this point since I already have a dial indicator, and would really be spending $130 for the aluminum bracket. The miter gauge route looks to be a good suggestion, and I think I’ll give that a try as well as trying just a strip of oak to ride in the slot with a board on top to mount the gauge on, then see which of those two methods is more accurate. Thanks!

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5241 posts in 2180 days


#4 posted 1455 days ago

that can be done much cheaper than $130 bucks.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Vrtigo1's profile

Vrtigo1

430 posts in 1586 days


#5 posted 1455 days ago

Alistair I think you misunderstood me. The $130 I referenced was the retail price for the TS Aligner Jr jig, as linked above. It seemed to me that I ought to be able to find a simple aluminum jig that rides in the miter slot and has a spot to attach a dial indicator for about $15-20, but I guess I underestimated the cost of machined aluminum!

View mnguy's profile

mnguy

159 posts in 1993 days


#6 posted 1455 days ago

I suggest when you are using the miter gauge or wood strip method to always push the base for your dial indicator firmly to one side of the miter slot, the same side each time. This will help reduce errors attributable to any slop between the miter gauge / wood strip and the slot.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11036 posts in 1700 days


#7 posted 1455 days ago

Brandon and thewoodnerd said it about the simplest. That will work with the least effort building anything

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1839 posts in 2156 days


#8 posted 1455 days ago

I bought TS Aligner Jr. and consider it one of the best purchases I’ve made for the shop. It is much more than a piece of machined aluminum.

Several benefits:
It can be easily adjusted to take the slop out of the miter slot so you can make measurements hands-off.

It has many uses besides blade to to fence, blade to miter slot. For example blade angle, miter gauage alignment, fence perpendicularity, jointer blade height, and jointer fence perpendicularity to name a few.

Sure you can make shop jigs to do this, but TS Aligner Jr. will do it better. I’d rather be cutting wood than messing around with jury rigged stuff. ;)

-- Joe

View jcwalleye's profile

jcwalleye

288 posts in 1668 days


#9 posted 1455 days ago

Here is a dial indicator setup I use: It also works pretty good checking the fence to mitre slot alignment

Removing the mitre block and clamping the opposite end to a drill bit (actually a centering pin), lets me check how square a drill is to the drill press table.

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

View TheWoodNerd's profile

TheWoodNerd

288 posts in 1787 days


#10 posted 1455 days ago

To much slop in the miter gauge to work adequately

Depends on the miter gauge and how you hold it. The cheap one that came with my saw has spring-loaded ball bearings on one side that keep it tight. All you have to do is not push it the other way.

I’m all for buying expensive gadgets. I have a Festool T15 drill, so I’m not adverse to spending money. But $150 for a gadget you’ll use very rarely seems over-the-top when a $20 DI and a plywood scrap does the job just as well and just as easily.

-- The Wood Nerd -- http://www.workshopaholic.net

View Vrtigo1's profile

Vrtigo1

430 posts in 1586 days


#11 posted 1455 days ago

JC, that jig looks just about perfect for what I need to do. I think I’ll make one of those tonight and give it a shot. The only modification I think I’ll make is to widen the base a bit to make sure it doesn’t tip.

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4136 posts in 1546 days


#12 posted 1454 days ago

Here’s the system I use:

Dial Indicator 1

Dial Indicator 2

I have a strip of UHMW that fits in the miter slot snug enough so that there’s very little side-to-side movement, but can still be pushed up and down the miter slot. Attached to it is a 3/8 sheet of Baltic birch ply and a strip of maple to which I fixed the dial indicator. The birch ply gives a nice stable base.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

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