Aligning TS without breaking the bank

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Forum topic by kirghizstan posted 01-20-2015 07:24 PM 1284 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 1221 days

01-20-2015 07:24 PM

I purchased a Craftsman 315.228510 TS off of craigslist. I’ve been looking online as to how to fine tune the alignment, but most of the time I see people using tools that cost a bit of money, yet will be rarely used. what is the best bang for the buck way to get everything into alignment.

13 replies so far

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1223 days

#1 posted 01-20-2015 07:30 PM

Dial caliper or dial indicator. Caliper: measure the miter slot to the blade frt and rear and tweak to fit. Indicator mounted to the miter gauge and measure frt and rear. Thats all I do. I actually checked mine with calipers and it was within .001. I was amazed. I would search for reasonable instruments on amazon.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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23 posts in 1221 days

#2 posted 01-20-2015 07:31 PM

Do you recommend a specific brand(s)?

View JayT's profile


5619 posts in 2204 days

#3 posted 01-20-2015 07:37 PM

I used the videos on this website to align my table saw. The videos (links are on the left of the page) are old, but the information is still valid and he uses nothing more than a scrap of 2×4, a screw and a dowel to do the alignment. Works very well and costs almost nothing.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3129 days

#4 posted 01-20-2015 08:19 PM

The best bang for the buck in my opinion is an inexpensive dial indicator, even from Harbor Freight. You will then find you need to make a stick to hold the indicator in a position appropriate for what you want to do. In addition to aligning your table saw blade to the miter gauges, there are many other applications such as: setting the blade perpendicular to the table precisely and quickly, squaring the fence of a miter gauge or panel sled, making fine tuning adjustments to fence positions. You just need to come up with the right stick that holds the dial indicator where it needs to be in order to make the measurement you need.

I have an expensive alignment kit. I like it and use it at least a few times per year when I want to be as precise as I can. But I still use my Harbor Freight dial indicator-on-a-stick for routine things. Its measurements are not as consistently reproducible as the indicator in my alignment kit, but still far more precise than necessary for most woodworking setups and inexpensive enough that I’m not paranoid about messing it up.

-- Greg D.

View knotscott's profile


8004 posts in 3368 days

#5 posted 01-20-2015 08:36 PM

Per Howard Acheson:

”Make 3/4×3/4×12” hardwood stick. Drill a hole somewhat centered in one end and insert a brass #8×1” round head fine thread machine screw about half way. UNPLUG THE SAW. Raise the blade completely up. Clamp this board in your miter gauge (if you determine that there is some slop in your slot to miter gauge, use a playing card to take up the slop) so the screw head just about touches the blade at the front. Now rotate the blade by hand and determine which tooth is the closest. Adjust the screw in or out until it just touches this tooth. Mark this tooth. Rotate the blade so the tooth is now at the back of the table and move the miter gauge/stick assembly to the back and see if it touches the marked tooth to the same extent. If it doesn’t, adjust the trunnion (if a contractor saw) or the tabletop (if a cabinet saw) until it does.

For a contractor saw, first use a small c-clamp on the rear trunnion and cradle to keep the assembly from moving. Then loosen the two rear trunnion bolts and one front trunnion bolt. Slightly loosen the other front trunnion bolt and use a stick to tap the trunnion until the blade and screw lightly touch. The blade does not move directly around the center so you will need to repeatedly go back to the front of the blade, readjust the screw, and then again measure the back. Be sure to check after tightening the trunnion as the trunnion frequently moves when being tightened.

The same adjustment gauge can be used to set the fence parallel to the miter slot. Slide the miter gauge to the front of the table and move the fence over to the screw head and insert a playing card between the screw head and the fence just so you can move the card as it touches both the fence and the screw head. Now move the miter gauge to the back of the table and see if you have the same feel when you insert the card. I like my fence absolutely parallel—if you want to have a slight opening to the fence, you can easily estimate the opening by adding a thickness of paper to the card.

I always show my students with a dial gauge that their adjustments are within .001 – .002.

You can also use the same gauge to measure blade runout by using a $5.00 feeler gauge.

Finally, after you are satisfied with the above adjustments, check the position of the splitter to make sure it is exactly in line with the blade.

Bottom line, there is no need to spend more than the $0.05 for the brass screw.”

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

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6695 posts in 2192 days

#6 posted 01-20-2015 08:56 PM

The wood dowel trick works just fine.. but is somewhat limited in the fact that it pretty much is a single use item. For about $30, you can get a dial indicator, magnetic base and additional point set which can be used for a boatload of different things; from aligning your table saw to measuring runout on your drill press or setting knives on a jointer/planer.. and a whole lot more. If you don’t think you will ever need it, then go with the block-o-wood and dowel.. but I am constantly finding new uses for my indicator and wouldn’t want to do without it.

Here is a good set on Amazon for under $30:


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View toolie's profile


2121 posts in 2621 days

#7 posted 01-21-2015 03:29 AM

any snug fitting miter gauge adn a $10 dial gauge will allow for dialing in balde alignment to one miter slot adn then alignment of the fence to that same miter slot. here’s my set up (yea, it’s an incra 1000, but any snug fitting miter gauge will due)

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

View TheFridge's profile


9435 posts in 1479 days

#8 posted 01-21-2015 04:00 AM

I got a indicator and magnetic base off of amazon.

Harbor freight indicator has worked well for most though.

Cheap stuff can’t take abuse though.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1215 days

#9 posted 01-21-2015 05:15 AM

With a DI that Mr. Unix shows, a couple pieces of pine, a 12”X5” piece of 1/4” ply, 2 1/4”X1” machine screws w/washers and wing nuts, a small combo square, double sided tape or hot glue, a couple brads, a drill or drill press and your TS and you can make your own setup.

The written instructions will take longer to type out than it will be to make the jig and may read as way more complicated than it truly is.

Rip a 12” section of pine to fit just shy of snug so that it’ll slide without slop. Cut the 5X12” 1/4 ply. Separate the primary shaft from the magnet then remove the DI retainer from the 2ndary shaft retainer. Remove the 2ndary shaft retainer from the primary shaft retainer and install the DI retainer on the primary retainer, (the larger diameter shaft is easier to grab/pinch).

Center the primary shaft along the 12” length. I taped a 2 1/2”X 3/4 block square to the end of the small combo square to hold the primary shaft parallel and centered. I then taped 2 3/4X3/4X4” blocks to either side of the primary shaft. You’ll have about 1 1/4” remaining outside the blocks, locate and mark 5/8” off the blocks with stops 2” from either end of the 1/4”ply use the TS, position the 1/4” over the TS blade the raise it up through the ply, do both sides then reposition the TS fence 1/8” and repeat.

Center and square the 1/4” ply to the 12” miter slide and mark the slots. Center the marks on the slide then drill up from the bottom of the slide. Ensure the bit diam is smaller than the machine screws then counter sink the under side of the slide enough to cover the screw head. This’ll require you screw the screws in. Install the ply to the slide and washers and wing nuts. Install the DI and position it to read the edge of the blade tooth then tape or glue a small block behind the primary shaft to prevent it from moving.

Your ready to go and you have enough variety (8” of adjustment) to check pretty much all your shop tools with beds.

-- I meant to do that!

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1215 days

#10 posted 01-21-2015 11:33 PM

I posted to this thread so late last night I didn’t have the gumption to go down to the shop and take a pic of the DI jig to show how simple and inexpensive it is to make. The SST screws and nuts maybe cost $5, already had the washers. 2 things, the DI angle doesn’t matter just don’t mess with it or the distance from the 1st meas

-- I meant to do that!

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1329 days

#11 posted 01-22-2015 12:00 AM

I started by making sure my fence was slightly open measuring with a tape measure and confirming with a story stick and feeler gauge. At front of blade the story stick touched the blade tooth and the fence. At back of blade I could fit the feeler gauge between the story stick and the fence. Just a smidge. Maybe .001. Then I ripped a board. And it worked. I think I got lucky. That was ten years ago or so. Since then I’ve bought a bunch of dial indicators including the TS Aligner Jr and the Oneway and a magnetic base with a dial indicator. And my table saw fence is still dead on at .001 or so. Go figure.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View DIYaholic's profile


19618 posts in 2668 days

#12 posted 01-22-2015 01:16 AM

When aligning the blade…. it can get tedious when you go to tighten the trunnion bolts. Seems the trunnion likes to scurry about, when you wrench on the bolts. In-Line Industries has the answer…. Contractor Saw PALS
These make adjusting the trunnions easy. That and they also sell the machined pulleys and link belt (although the HF link belt is a better deal), to help reduce vibration.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View jsuede's profile


69 posts in 1217 days

#13 posted 01-22-2015 01:50 AM

That indicator jig is sweet, but I gotta throw my vote in for getting a dial caliper and starting with that, you will find yourself using it often. I myself have a LONG list of jigs on my to build list so that indicator jig would be put off, but a caliper will get you on your way too setting up all your jigs and tools fast and accurate. I am on my 2nd CF tablesaw and I also found the hardest part is keeping your adjustment when tightening the trunnion bolts. My technique is to get them just snug, actually pretty tight and tap the trunnion with a deadblow and scrap, then tighten the bolts slowly and alternately. I also recommend blue (242) loctite. If you get it on the first try you are better than me, but if you don’t, be patient it is worth the effort now. Kickback, wonky cuts , burnt wood, v belts, and blades will be your punishment for rushing it.

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