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Is it my technique or is it the saw?

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Forum topic by JohnTM posted 09-19-2017 03:10 PM 964 views 0 times favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnTM

89 posts in 116 days


09-19-2017 03:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw

Finally got around to actually using an older Craftsman table saw that I picked up very cheaply from Craigslist a couple weeks ago. I started to cut some very dense pallet wood, roughly about 2” x 4” x 40” – one of the 3 or 4 large pieces that make up the key support structure of most pallets. I have no idea what type of wood it was – but it’s definitely not soft pine considering it’s weight.

Anyway, I had crosscut 3 or 4 pieces down to lengths I needed to make a frame for wheels for the table saw and didn’t have anything unusual happen though it was tougher to push the wood through/past the blade to make the cuts than I expected. There wasn’t any unusual smell or slowing down of the blade.

Then I had to make a rip cut to trim similar pieces. I wasn’t rushing, pushing the wood slowly forward while listening for any stress put on the motor/rpm slow down. Somehow the blade got trapped between the fence and the wood. I stopped, backed out of the cut, adjusted the fence to make it slightly looser and then began to cut again.

That’s when I smelled burning and saw smoke…. Okay… something’s definitely not right here. Even a dullard/beginner like myself knows that.

Turned it off, backed out.. finished the cut with the circular saw… I let the table saw “cool off” and clear the smoke for abut 15 minutes… Then, I took another, similar piece and went to make a short(er) rip cut (maybe 1 foot long)...
Again there’s smoke and the saw bogs down.

But when I went and rip-cut a piece of store-bought pine about an hour later… it works fine.

I’m confused.

Is it me? The wood? The saw?

The one thought that makes any sense to me is the wood is wet – but it’s been sitting under my carport for 2 weeks, so it should not have gained any additional “wetness” than what it had when I first picked it up. (FWIW, humidity in SE Louisiana this morning is above 80% and will stay above 60% all day – typical late summer/early Autumn conditions.) But if this is the case, then I’ll never be able to cut the pallet wood – and why just on the table saw, no similar problems with the circular saw?

Should I consider the table saw “good money thrown away” if it can only cut absolutely dry, store-bought soft, yellow pine, not the pallet wood I want/need it to cut?

Any comments or advice would be appreciated.


46 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2714 posts in 1318 days


#1 posted 09-19-2017 04:20 PM

Several factors:

1) What kind of blade and how new? If you’re using a xcut blade to rip you will get burning.

2) Could be the wood has some stress in it that’s causing a pinch behind the blade. You should have a splitter installed behind the blade. I like the MicroJig.

3) Is one edge of the board straight? The side against the fence should be jointed.

4) The fence may not be parallel to blade. Typically you want about .003” wider at back of blade than front. Check youtube for instructions on how to do this.

Suggestions: Start by adjusting the fence (& hope it stays adjusted) and making sure you have a good sharp blade. Then put a true rip blade on and try again.

after that, cross your fingers because those 70’s and 80’s c’man saws have horrible fences, are underpowered & IMO are dangerous machines even in the hands of an experienced person. Anything that causes you to push wood harder through the saw maximizes the risk of injury.

I am giving you a caution now is this is the saw I’m thinking of and you are constantly fighting issues like this, get rid of it and buy a better saw. Be prepared to spend at least $500 minimum.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Harryn

57 posts in 2425 days


#2 posted 09-19-2017 04:25 PM

Chances are pretty good that you have reaction wood. Wood that is under tension and when cut bends toward the cut and binds the blade.Because the circular lsaw does not have a fence, it doesn’t bind.

View JohnTM's profile

JohnTM

89 posts in 116 days


#3 posted 09-19-2017 04:30 PM

Appreciate the response.

1) What kind of blade and how new? If you re using a xcut blade to rip you will get burning.
The blade is what was on the saw when I bought it. It has no readable markings.

2) Could be the wood has some stress in it that s causing a pinch behind the blade. You should have a splitter installed behind the blade. I like the MicroJig.
No splitter designed or incorporated for this saw…at least as far as I know. Definitely none installed. Saw is probably late 60s-late 70s vintage.

3) Is one edge of the board straight? The side against the fence should be jointed.
I don’t have a jointer. These were teh first cuts I’d made with the saw, period. I also tried cutting a straight line with it without using any fence….ha. Fat chance.

4) The fence may not be parallel to blade. Typically you want about .003” wider at back of blade than front. Check youtube for instructions on how to do this.
The fence was as parallel to the blade as I can get it – I used a square and a micrometer to measure… Was within .1 inch. No edge on the board was straight – see above response commenting that this was the first cut with the saw/on that board.


Suggestions: Start by adjusting the fence (& hope it stays adjusted) and making sure you have a good sharp blade. Then put a true rip blade on and try again.

after that, cross your fingers because those 70 s and 80 s c man saws have horrible fences, are underpowered & IMO are dangerous machines even in the hands of an experienced person. Anything that causes you to push wood harder through the saw maximizes the risk of injury.

I am giving you a caution now is this is the saw I m thinking of and you are constantly fighting issues like this, get rid of it and buy a better saw. Be prepared to spend at least $500 minimum.

- rwe2156


$500 for another tablesaw simply isn’t in my budget. At most I’ll spend $200 on a contractor’s saw, and that’ll be a stretch.

Again, thanks for the response.

View JohnTM's profile

JohnTM

89 posts in 116 days


#4 posted 09-19-2017 04:32 PM


Chances are pretty good that you have reaction wood. Wood that is under tension and when cut bends toward the cut and binds the blade.Because the circular lsaw does not have a fence, it doesn t bind.

- Harryn

You’ve lost me. Care to amplify?

Is there anything that can be done to “relieve” the stress/tension so that I can use the table saw to cut it? The whole point of the table saw for me was to make rip cuts and dados.

View Firewood's profile

Firewood

164 posts in 1471 days


#5 posted 09-19-2017 04:36 PM

Hi John – Well, it could be any number of things. Pallet wood is not known for it high quality. Watch out for nails! Given your description of the saw, I’ll assume there is no riving knife. It could be that the wood has a lot of stored energy that is being released as you cut causing it to want to pinch the blade. That will definitely cause it to burn.

It could also mean the saw needs a good tune up. Make sure the blade is perfectly parallel to the miter slot. The fence also needs to be parallel to the miter slot, but I keep the back end of mine kicked out about .005 – .010 away from the miter slot (farther from the blade) to prevent pinching. There are plenty of you tube videos and articles on how to adjust the saw.

The wrong blade can also cause burning. There are blades made specifically for different type of cuts and materials, but a good combination blade will do fine for what you are presently cutting. Also if the blade is gummed up it can cause burning.

Hope this helps

-- Mike - Waukesha, WI

View Bluenote38's profile

Bluenote38

219 posts in 226 days


#6 posted 09-19-2017 04:58 PM

Couple things you could do. First change your blade – 40tpi Forrest WWII is what I use to rip on a Craftsman 1990s saw. To joint the 2×4, screw it to a 40” or 50” strip of plywood with a known straight edge and dust off a 1/2 to a full blade width. That will give a very good edge to use against the fence. Take off and check for warp, twist, and cup If it has any of these I’d suggest you pitch it in the burn pile. If not then rip it (I assume into 2×2?) in three passes. First pass will be about 1/2 way through, second pass 3/4 and last is a through cut.

Three passes will tell you if the wood is moving when/while you cut it. If there is residual stress in the wood from drying then as you cut it, the piece will move/warp/twist and will bind the saw blade.

As far as a splitter you can use something like a Micro Jig Splitter but you will have to make a new Throat Plate (Or buy one)

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

867 posts in 1790 days


#7 posted 09-19-2017 05:06 PM

If $200 for a contractor saw is a stretch then I doubt you will be interested in dropping more than half of that on a Forrest WWII blade. Go to the big box store and get a ripping blade.

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

989 posts in 2813 days


#8 posted 09-19-2017 05:19 PM

The Irwin Marples at Lowe’s is good blade for the money. Whatever brand, be sure to get carbide tipped.


If $200 for a contractor saw is a stretch then I doubt you will be interested in dropping more than half of that on a Forrest WWII blade. Go to the big box store and get a ripping blade.

- Kazooman


View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

686 posts in 653 days


#9 posted 09-19-2017 05:35 PM

I used a Craftsman table saw like I believe you are describing for many years. It was slow but did a good job. Here are some things to consider.(1) That saw has a fairly weak motor and would benefit enormously from using thin kerf blades. My experience was it cut like I gained a half horsepower. It was that dramatic. (2) For weak saws, it is important that you select the correct blade for a specific job. For example, a real rip blade will perform hugely better than a general purpose blade when ripping tough wood. (3) you need to adjust your trunion so that the blade lines up as straight as you can get it with the miter slots. A few thousandths of an inch in the wrong direction will cause burning and poor cut quality. 0.1 inches is waaaaaay too far off. In general, I agree with the guy who said there is some benefit to angling the back of the blade a tiny bit to the left but I wouldn’t do that until you get a little experience. (4) You absolutely must align the rip fence to the miter slot. It is even more critical than lining up the saw blade. Nothing will cause burning and kickback faster than ripping with a fence that isn’t aligned with the miter slot. The miter slot is the unchangeable reference that all other adjustments must be made around. There are lots of good Youtube videos on how to do these things and Grizzly has a good video on their site that applies to contractor style saws in general.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

116576 posts in 3414 days


#10 posted 09-19-2017 05:43 PM

Lots of good points by rwe
I agree that a better blade might be a big help and 40 tooth is also a good idea here’s a list of saw blades that are not expense’
http://lumberjocks.com/knotscott/blog/36699
A few other ideas are to check the belt if your saw has one and either tighten it or replace it also check your motor for a burnt smell it could be on its way out or have dirt inside. It also helps you cut ruff wood if your table top on your saw is waxed well to help prevent drag on your wood. In the future you may want to make a cross cut sled if you don’t have one already,there’s plenty of examples to check out here on Ljs

To help prevent kick back on cross cuts it’s always a great idea to have a spacer block on the fence like this photo

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View clin's profile

clin

751 posts in 833 days


#11 posted 09-19-2017 06:21 PM



I also tried cutting a straight line with it without using any fence….ha. Fat chance.

- JohnTM

DON’T DO THIS AGAIN. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, you are saying you tried to rip a board without a fence, freehanding it.

This is really, really dangerous.

A fence for ripping or a miter gauge or similar for cross cuts are critical to safely using a table saw. Even with perfect everything, a slight twist of the wood and the blade will grab the wood. Maybe your saw is so under powered that you got away with it. But typically the wood will pinch the blade and be thrown back at you (kickback).

Kickback is bad becasue the wood can come flying back at really high speeds. Pieces have been known to fly back and penetrate into walls and plywood. Not to mention into the operator themselves.

Also, during the kickback, the wood can twist and turn in unusual ways, and it can pull your hand into the blade.

Keep in mind you are trying to make a pretty tough cut for a lower powered saw. Should be doable, but 2” rip through really dense wood is about as hard as it gets. And if the wood is reaction wood it is much harder.

Others have already said this, but I’ll add my vote:

new rip blade
thin kerf blade
add splitter
make sure everything is adjusted well

-- Clin

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14857 posts in 2456 days


#12 posted 09-19-2017 06:30 PM

- New blade
- Double check fence alignment
- Use the plywood-backer-with-straight-edge method Bluenote described and try again.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View jonah's profile

jonah

1465 posts in 3136 days


#13 posted 09-19-2017 07:22 PM

I really think the original poster needs to watch some videos on how to use a table saw safely. That he tried to rip a board free hand makes me think he might not understand how to cut safely on a table saw.

Youtube has a ton of table saw safety videos that are well made and informative. Spend some time there.

View JohnTM's profile

JohnTM

89 posts in 116 days


#14 posted 09-19-2017 07:23 PM

Okay. the consensus seems to be try a new blade first. Sigh… I guess I can always “transfer” it to another saw if I end up going that way.
Hmmm, maybe I should try the new 40T General Purpose blade I bought for my mitre saw on it first… Whaddya think?

-Firewood: To be clear, the blade was not burning the wood. The smoke came from “the saw cabinet/housing”.

-Kazooman: To be clear, my budget allows a max of $225 for another new-to-me saw… new, used, contractor style, real/cabinet table saw or otherwise (including homemade/upside down circular saw). I’m simply out of money for more tools. (I’ve spent a fair bit already starting from scratch a couple weeks ago and was trying to save money/make-it-on-the-cheap with this saw. Sometimes, going cheap doesn’t work out and this may be one of those times.)

-clin/jonah: At one point, I used the mitre “fence” to push the board thru… no fence parallel to the blade. I understand the concern about and safety issues with kickback, but there is no provision for a riving blade (I mistakenly called it a “splitter” above. Sorry about that). People used saws without riving knives for years; all I can do is be careful…(or buy a new saw which seems extreme if this one actually works).

-Bluenote38: Hadn’t heard of the Micro Jig Splitter. That might be doable on my saw. I’ll take a look at it.

-a1Jim: Thanks for that list of blades. I’ll look at that.

To everyone who made comments and suggestions…first, thanks. I really do appreciate the feedback.

What I have now/already checked on the current saw is that:
- both right and left mitre slots are parallel to each other (less than .1 inch, it’s a cast iron top so it is what it is).
- the blade can be adjusted “parallel” to the mitre slot and fence itself (I got it within .1 inch as I said above) when using the right mitre slot. I had the fence “absolutely in line” with the mitre slot visually [after the trouble, I measured it with feeler gauges and got the .1 inch figure which I accepted as reasonable to me).
—-That’s not as parallel as some of you like/advise, I know. But, if the saw won’t rip for more than 12” without smoking, is it really worth the effort to try to “true it up” more than that? I guess, I’m asking at what point does it become advisable to just say a mistake was made buying this used saw if it generates smoke during what I consider to be a “sort” rip cut? (Remember I also said it doesn’t smoke when crosscutting the same piece of dense wood.)
—-Note that right now I’m just trying to make a 4-piece frame to hold wheels for the legs of the table saw – the rip length is only 40” at most (ultimate frame piece length after I crosscut it is going to be only 28”).

Currently, I am most concerned/alarmed/confused about the smoke. Could be a burnt motor/stator that only shows under higher loads. That would be beyond my “repair ability”/desire-to-repair though I used to be an electronics tech in the Navy (decades ago). I’m just not into repairing electrical motors any more.

I’ll try Bluenote’s plywood backer idea when it cools off later this afternoon. 89F, 65% humidity and no wind outside under the carport where I work right now…...

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

116576 posts in 3414 days


#15 posted 09-19-2017 07:26 PM

I think you must have missed this part jonah?

“I stopped, backed out of the cut, adjusted the fence to make it slightly looser and then began to cut again.”

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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