Table saw Set-up/Tuning

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Forum topic by 12strings posted 11-14-2012 08:49 AM 1478 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 2412 days

11-14-2012 08:49 AM

Hi all,

I just inherited a small craftsman Table saw, the first I’ve owned. (something like this one: ...except mine is probably around 10 years old…without a stand…which I plan to build.)

What kinds of things should I do to prep the saw for decent work?

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

14 replies so far

View jeff's profile


1081 posts in 3492 days

#1 posted 11-14-2012 09:39 AM

not sure what is adjustable on that saw but make sure the blade is aligned with the miter slot and the fence is parallel to the blade.probably could use a thin kerf saw blade for easier may be limited on what you can do on this saw.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#2 posted 11-14-2012 12:03 PM

Clean up. I like to do this with a new (or recently bought used I should say) saw by getting as deep into a disasssembly as possible. This is necessary, but a good idea if you have the time and mechanical ability.
Be sure the blade is perfectly parellel to the miter slot.
Make sure the fance and miter gauge is perfectly parellel to the miter slot.
For makeing sure these things are parellel, that’s a matter of preference to technique and differs on how to from machine to machine. I’d try getting an owner’s manual from the sears website. The owner’s manual usually goes into detail about how to adjust these items.

The last thing I think some people overlook is to make sure the blade is at a perfect ninety degrees to the table top when the bevel gauge reads zero, and at a perfect forty five when the gauge is at forty five.
Then you have some paranoid people like me. I don’t even trust the gauge. I check that it correct each time I change the bevel.


View johnstoneb's profile


2942 posts in 2200 days

#3 posted 11-14-2012 12:17 PM

The most important thing is make sure the blade is aligned with the miter slot. When aligning the blade to the miter slot make sure the tilt wheel is unlocked and not against its stop. The miter guage on that saw is a guide only. You will always have to check it manually (Like William I don’t trust any guage mounted on any saw of any kind). The same thing goes for the fence you will always have to make sure it is square to the miter slot before any cut. I have a craftsman 10” contractors saw. It does a good job.

Boise, ID

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#4 posted 11-14-2012 12:37 PM

I also never trust that the fance stays square.
I’ve had too many issues with different saws in the past.
Almost daily, I don’t pull out the precision tools, but as a quick check, here is what I do.
Bump the fence over to the miter slot and lock it in right on the edge of the slot, so that it should be flush down the fence into the miter slot edge. Usually, if anything has moved, you can see it. This doesn’t get you accurate down to the thousands of an inch. It’s just a quick check.
Now move the fence over until it just “kisses” the blade. Now, don’t look at the blade body itself. Look at the teeth. What you’re looking for is that one tooth (at least) “kisses” the blade at the front and one at the back. If you can see llight past the tooth at either end, it is off.

Also, I watch for burning and pulling.
With expeience, you’ll start to feel the pulling. If the back of the fence has moved away from the blade, something won’t feel right. The blade will be literally pulling your stock away from the fence.
If the fence has moved towards the blade, you’ll experience burning. This happens expecially in hard woods from my experience. You’ll get burning on the wood edges, the edges that are cut by the blade.

Another thing, if you plan on using this saw for a long time, don’t skimp on the blade.
By a good blade first and you won’t regret it in the long run. I used to buy cheap blades thinking I was saving money. Over time, I bought enough of these blades that I decided to try a good quality blade. The life of the quality blade is long enough that it is money and aggrevation saved over the constant replacement of crap blades.

If all this seems daunting, don’t worry. It isn’t always the case.
Although I check both my saws regularly, my Ridgid seldom needs any adjusting. On the other hand, I have a Craftsman (circa 1950s) that has to be adjusted and retuned, on average, about once a month.


View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3403 days

#5 posted 11-14-2012 01:59 PM

Get a decent blade (~ $30 and up), and align the fence parallel to the blade. You might consider building a sled for crosscuts.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3186 days

#6 posted 11-14-2012 02:15 PM

I used a very similar model for quite a few years. Hated it. But that is largely because I did nothing to enhance it capabilities.

In order, do this for better results and for better safety.

1. Attach it permanently to a bench/stand – These saws will move on you if the stock is too big…and unfortunately you won’t know it’s too big until you cut it. I’d strongly consider surrounding it with a larger surface area/enclosure, like many people have here at LJs. More than anything this will increase its functionality and safety.

2. Get a bigger fence – In connection with a bigger workstation, I’d upgrade to a larger t-style fence.

3. Use a sled – The miter gauge stinks…and you can’t buy nicer miter gauges because the miter slots on these saws are non-standard…at least that was true of mine.

4. Good blades – Huge difference in performance.

5. Ear protection – I hated this saw because it was so freaking loud. Scared me to death.

And of course, make sure it is aligned properly. That’s a big deal.

-- jay,

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2412 days

#7 posted 11-14-2012 02:27 PM

Thanks for all the advice…Here’s where I am right now (haven’t done anything except stick it in the garage so far).

1. Blade: The saw came from my father-in-law, who got it when his father passed away. My Father in law told me he put a better quality “combination blade” (which I assume means rip & xcut) on it to replace the cheap one it came with. I have not examined the blade, but I trust him since he has build all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets for 2 houses on his (nicer) table saw. He lives about 4 hours away, so I won’t have him around to show me stuff on a regular basis…which is why I’m asking you guys.

2. He also told me to not use the mitre gauge, but to build a sled…he showed me the 2 he uses, so I have some idea of what that would look like.

3. I have some good ear-muff type protectors that I already use with my router & Snapper mower.

4. I will probably see how it works after aligning the blade & fence and doing all the fixes I can before I consider building and expanded tabletop. I think my primary use will be for long rip cuts…most short crosscuts will probably still be done with the hand saw…it’s just faster.

5. Thanks again for the feedback…I”m something of a power-saw newbie…I still think I will prefer hand saws for the quietness and simplicity…but when it comes time to rip something, I’ll probably reach for this thing.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Stargazer's profile


49 posts in 2967 days

#8 posted 11-14-2012 02:47 PM

After you do all the cleaning and adjusting remove that 10” blade and replace it with an 8”. You’ll be limited to about only 2” of height but that saw is not likely to rip anything thicker.

The smaller blade makes cutting harder woods much easier. I struggled and burnt oak and maple for several years trying to rip just 3/4” inch thick stock. Then an old cabinetmaker told me to put a skillsaw blade on the saw and it will cut oak like butter, I did and it did. I then permantly started using 8” blades and never had any ripping problems after.

I have a Delta Unisaw now for my main cabinet saw but I still have a couple of old Craftsmans I use for rough cutting or sanding.


View toolie's profile


2134 posts in 2656 days

#9 posted 11-14-2012 09:39 PM

@cosmicsniper …....... that saw has an integrated fence system. the guide rails are part of the saw table, so replacing it with a larger fence system is, to the best of my knowledge, impossible.

@artiemax ......... saws like that of the OP have thin, irregularly shaped throats. making a ZCI is really challenging and are not, to the best of my knowledge, available commercially. i know because i have a little saw like that hanging on my shop wall for when friends need a hand. it now performs well, but it was harder to set up than either of my emerson built 10”CI TSs and a unisaw. and making ZCIs for it? that took all day. contractor and cabinet saws are much easier.

@12strings ….... here’s a way to use two scrap hollow core doors to make an outfeed table for a saw just like yours:

good luck with that saw. they can work well, but it takes quiet a bit of effort to get to that point.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3403 days

#10 posted 11-14-2012 10:22 PM

How old is the blade that’s on it? They don’t stay sharp all that long depending on usage and the quality of the blade. At the very least, take the blade off and give it a good cleaning. It doesn’t take much to improve on the stock blades, but I wouldn’t assume that what’s in there is an upgrade that’s suitable for furniture building. If you’d like to take a pic of it, someone could probably tell you what it is, and if its worth keeping or resharpening. Blade technology has evolved a lot since they saw was purchased, and a good blade can make more difference than anything else you do to the saw… they start at < $30.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3186 days

#11 posted 11-14-2012 11:00 PM

@toolie – Notice I said a new fence in the context of building a fixture around the saw. As such, you would bolt fence rails to the fixture, not the saw. But yeah, it’s not like you’d bolt a big Bies to that puny saw.

-- jay,

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2216 days

#12 posted 11-15-2012 09:00 PM

The saw on the link is only $120 at Hard to believe it will have much of a fence at that price. In my experience, fences that clamp both front and back are almost impossible to keep aligned. That’s why Bill Biesmeyer invented the now legendary Biesmeyer fence that every other guy has copied.

Decent is certainly a relative concept. This saw can probably cut fine for carpentry but I wouldn’t want to use it for the kind of accuracy you need for good woodworking.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2412 days

#13 posted 11-15-2012 09:54 PM

Again, thanks for all the good advice…

As I said, this saw was free…I have no plans of buying a better one any time soon. If it turns out to be impossible to get accurate cuts, I will just have to plan on cleaning them up with my hand planes.

Truth be told, I’ve considered never getting a table saw and getting a Grizzly 14” bandsaw instead.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 2265 days

#14 posted 11-15-2012 11:47 PM

Try this link. You may need to sign up (it’s free) to use it. Good luck!

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