Checking for table saw blade straightness

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Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 01-12-2013 05:27 AM 2317 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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915 posts in 2145 days

01-12-2013 05:27 AM

I’m trying to make sure the blade on my table saw is accurate in the 0 degree (straight) position in relation to the table. It came pretty straight but it looked a little off to me.

So I recently got the Wixey digital angle gauge (the 365 model). And I’ve had one of these 6” engineer’s squares for some time:,42936,42941

I’m trying to figure out which one to trust. The square and the Wixey result in different blade tilts.

The problem with the square is that it’s hard to get it 100% straight on the blade and table. That is, the narrow blade portion of the square doesn’t want to stay in place while I’m eyeballing it with a light.

The problem with the Wixey is that it seems to jump around a lot. I just laid it on the table and zeroed it and the numbers on it went crazy for a while. Sometimes they wouldn’t settle down at all. I’d hit the “zero” button and it would zero out. Then it would end saying 25 degrees, even though it hadn’t been moved a millimeter on the table.

I’ve used a straight edge on the table and the cast iron table is flat, so I trust the table.

But I don’t know which (or either) of these instruments to trust. I also have an Empire aluminum try square and an Empire 12 inch combo square and a Swanson 16 inch combo square. I haven’t used those, figuring they would be less accurate than the digital gauge or the engineer’s square.

So which would you trust?

51 replies so far

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2499 days

#1 posted 01-12-2013 05:35 AM

I just bought the wixey myself. Before that I was using a Starrett combination square. I havnt had the problems you are having as far as the wixey numbers moving around on you. Might be a dud. To check mine though I cut two strips of lumber than turned one around to match up to the other and looked at the seam on the end grain. if you do it on something flat like your tablesaw it will show you any variations.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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915 posts in 2145 days

#2 posted 01-12-2013 06:19 AM

I’ve read on this site that the Wixey can act funny in cold temperature, which it certainly is here. I know the batteries I put in there are fresh. The manual for the thing basically says changing the batteries is the solution to every problem it can have.

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207 posts in 2499 days

#3 posted 01-12-2013 06:24 AM

lol, of course right? Well, if that doesnt fix it I would return it for another one. Im in MI and work in an unheated shop most of the time and I have had no trouble with mine. I really like it for my jointer fence as well. I have noticed much tighter joints in my work by making sure my stock is perfectly square.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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915 posts in 2145 days

#4 posted 01-12-2013 08:03 AM

When you place yours on the saw or jointer table, how long does it take before the reading stabilizes? Or after you zero it out the first time?

I read that these things are kind of hit and miss. It makes me wish I’d bought the Harbor Freight one.

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2779 posts in 2077 days

#5 posted 01-12-2013 08:40 AM

Seems unlikely, but digital meters may also be driven crazy by nearby magnetic sources, such as motor windings. You could try taking it inside a warm room, and see if it settles down.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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1599 posts in 2184 days

#6 posted 01-12-2013 11:31 AM

I have to engage the “Zero” button a full second or a tad longer to get it to zero, then its dead on at 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees compared to drafting triangles. The cut or jointed edges meat nicely. Ensure the gauge doesn’t touch or engage a blade tooth. Also the counter balance washer on the saw probably has a routed grove that the nut passes through to tighten the blade to the arbor. I learned after several missed cuts that it has to be “FULLY” engaged to get the blade really true. So maybe its the blade installation v.s. Wixey that is not truthful.

But, when you have finished with its use Please take the battery out. If put in storage in the “Off” position according to Wixey tech support some tend to continue to search for “Zero” and run the battery down, so the next time you intend to use it you’ll find no power.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

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Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3445 days

#7 posted 01-12-2013 11:53 AM

you say it right: ” in relation to the table”!!
That device is measuring the blade in relation with gravity BUT NEVER with your table saw, unless Isaac Newton is around your shop to level the machine 0.000000000 degreees.

Not even in large shops I have seen large table saws dead level in relation with space. remember we live in a planet that moves!

Best is, grab a certified square and simply check your blade IN RELATION with the machine top. that simple!!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

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jim C

1472 posts in 3150 days

#8 posted 01-12-2013 12:05 PM


I believe he zero’s it out on the table first, then checks the blade for 90 degrees. Therefore the saw doesn’t need to be level.
I would stick with the precision square. I trust it over a digital device. Close enough for woodworking.

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 2743 days

#9 posted 01-12-2013 12:22 PM

I have one of those digital doodad’s and it’s jumpy, but seems to be reliable once it stops freaking out. But I double check it against my square. If I were getting conflicting results I would be inclined to believe my engineer’s square.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

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915 posts in 2145 days

#10 posted 01-12-2013 01:03 PM

jim C is correct. I zero out the gauge when it’s sitting on the table. Then stick it to the blade. The same button is used to switch it off as to zero it. So if I hold down the zero button for long it switches off. So I have to do a quick zeroing.

I’ve tightened the hell out of the nut that secures the blade to the saw. And yes, the arbor has washers (one on each side of the blade).

Has anyone heard of cold temperatures affecting the Wixey? I’d read somewhere that somebody said that might be an issue.


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651 posts in 2429 days

#11 posted 01-12-2013 01:17 PM

Battery performances are impacted by temperature (low and high end).
You might try a new battery to see if it helps. Low voltage /power make electronics do funy things.

I have one of those Wixey and I love mine. I don’t use a square on my TS, Jointer, BS…... I am happy with mine.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

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915 posts in 2145 days

#12 posted 01-12-2013 11:36 PM

I’ve tried several sets of fresh batteries. Same behavior. I wonder if I’m using the thing wrong somehow.

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46 posts in 3474 days

#13 posted 01-12-2013 11:57 PM

They definitely do have a minimum temperature (though I can’t remember if they use a fluid or not).

I had one that started jumping around after about a year, and emailed Barry, and he replaced it no questions asked.
Just asked for my address and sent a new one. Didn’t even ask for the broken one back.

His guess was a loose connection.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2742 days

#14 posted 01-13-2013 02:51 AM

I wouldn’t “tighten the Hell” out of the nut that holds the blade. Excessive tightening can damage the arbor and/or the arbor nut. I just snug mine up as they will tend to tighten as you run the saw. As far as the Wixey, I must have gotten their best cause mine works great (and I don’t have the battery longevity that others report). Mine is over a year old and still on the original battery. I’d try a new battery in yours and if that didn’t fix it, I’d return it and get another. Those batteries are the same as the ones in most garage door remotes and readily available (WalMart). I trust my Wixey much more than my drafting square and my old eyes to read it!Once you get your blade set to 90 degrees, make sure to recheck it after you have locked the adjustment knob!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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6943 posts in 3420 days

#15 posted 01-13-2013 03:42 AM

I use a precision square to make my blade normal to the top but I make sure that I am squaring on flat part of the blade. I need to check mine periodically because on my old saw the angle adjustment is connected to the sheet metal body of the saw and does tend to creep.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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