A table saw is a carpenter’s best friend if the saw is not well maintained, that table saw can quickly turn from being your best friend to your worst enemy.
A table saw, if not well maintained is not going to work too well, it’s going to make a lot of noise, it can create bad smells, and potentially smoke. The bottom line is that a table saw with parts that are not taken care of can end up being quite dangerous. Luckily for you, we are here to discuss how you can take care of the various parts of your table saw, so it will remain your best friend for years to come.
Before we get into the ins and outs of maintaining the various parts of your table saw, it is important to note how often you should be performing these maintenance checks.
The more you use the table saw, the more you will need to maintain it. If you use the saw for at least 1 hour on a daily basis, you should perform these quick maintenance checks every week, or every 2 weeks at most.
Some things, like making sure that the miter gauges and fences are aligned properly is something you may want to do every time you start up your table saw.
It is better to do too much maintenance than too little, and if you notice any problems occurring, never hesitate to do maintenance.
Sawdust can end up being fairly dangerous for your table saw, it can clog electrical circuits, clog the electric starter, it can obstruct moving parts such as your belt drive, the pulley, and various parts in the motor, and an excessive buildup of it may even cause smoke and fires. Therefore it is extremely important to clean away any and all sawdust that you can find.
On a side note, other debris such as chunks of wood, ceramic, metal, and anything else that you cut with your table saw may also invade the various nooks and crannies that make up your table saw.
Before you do anything, make sure that the table saw is unplugged and has no power flowing through it.
You want to take apart anything that sawdust may be able to get into. This includes things like the fence, the miter gauge, the sawdust collector vacuum and the collector tube, the housing on the saw, the various parts of the motor, and the saw guard.
An important thing to note is that an effective sawdust collection system will drastically reduce the amount of time that you need to spend cleaning away sawdust. When you do sawdust cleaning, don’t forget the collection system itself.
You should use a shop vacuum to suck up as much of the debris as you can, and then follow that up with a damp cloth to wipe up the rest of the sawdust.
On a side note, you should not use compressed air to blow away sawdust because the strong air may damage electrical components, it may even blow sawdust further into the cracks as opposed to removing it.
After you have removed sawdust from as many places as is humanly possible, you want to lubricate all of the moving parts of your table saw. A high-grade lubricant will ensure that things continue to run smoothly and will keep them from wearing down too quickly.
The miter gauge is, of course, the tool that you use to make a cross cut with table saws and to keep making cross cuts accurately you will need to keep it in working condition. You need to check that the miter bar fits snugly against your table, but is also loose enough to slide back and forth properly.
If the bar is too snug, it won’t move right and will cause you problems when doing cross cuts. On the other hand, a bar that is too loose will move back and forth to quickly, and may also cause your wood to move in unwanted directions when making cuts.
To get this right, you can use a small Allen wrench to adjust the insert to the right snugness. Some miter bars may not have this feature, in which case you can always replace the original miter bar with a steel bar that does have this adjustment feature.
The second check that you need to do is making sure the miter gauge slots and the saw blade are parallel. If the two items are not parallel, you can cut as you will, and you will never get the accurate results that you are looking for.
The simplest way to check this aspect is by using a special table saw parallelism checking tool. This is a tool that fits into the miter slots and then gives you readings of the parallel against the saw blade. If the reading is different from the front of the slot to the back of the slot, your blade and miter slot are not parallel.
Another option regarding checking the blade and miter slot parallelism is to clamp a piece of square cut wood down over the slot, with the front touching the saw blade slightly. Now move the piece of wood from the front of the slot to the back, and thus from the front of the blade to the back.
If there are any differences in spacing in between the wood and blade from front to back, your miter slot and saw blade are not parallel to each other. On a side note, to make sure that any discrepancies in parallelism are not caused by a warped blade, turn the blade 180 degrees and take measurements again.
If the measurements are different when the blade has been turned, the miter slot and blade may actually be parallel, and the differences in measurement are actually due to a bent blade.If this testing shows you that there is more than a 0.003 inch discrepancy between the front and back of the blade when compared to the miter slot, you will want to realign the miter and the blade.
You can reset the parallel on your table saw by shifting the position of the table saw’s rear trunnion on the underside of the table saw. You can move the trunnion left or right to make the necessary adjustments.
Make sure to tighten the bolts of the trunnions securely once you have made adjustments. Once you have done this, redo the test to see if the blade and miter slot are now parallel to each other. Remember to add some lubricant to keep the miter gauge moving properly.
One very important part of your table saw is the belt, which is the item that connects the belt drive on the motor to the pulley on the saw blade. The belt is one of the parts that can wear away quickly.
If the belt shows any sign of wear and tear, you will probably want to replace it because it may snap after prolonged use.
The place where the belt is connected to form a loop is fairly susceptible to forming lumps, something which will make the belt not run smoothly and will make a lot of noise, it may even cause the belt to fall off the drive or pulley.
If your belt has lumps or dents, you will also want to replace it, as fixing it is nearly impossible and replacing it is not all that expensive.
Since the belt is connected to the drive on one side and the pulley on the other, you will also want to make sure that the two are well aligned. If the belt is crooked or bent when attached to both the motor’s belt drive and the pulley, you will need to do some realigning.
This can be a fairly difficult process, one which will require you to read the user’s manual on your table saw to figure out which tools you will need and what process you will need to follow to complete the realignment.
Something that you really don’t want is a fence that is closer to the blade in the back than it is to the front because this may cause the wood or other material you are cutting to pinch against the blade, and that will cause inaccuracies when cutting and can also cause the wood to fly up into your face.
The easiest way to check if the fence is parallel to the blade is by putting two pieces of wood which have been squared and are identical in length at the miter slots closest to the fence, both at the front and back of the miter slots.
Now lock the fence down with the pieces of wood just a little bit away from it. Check the distance from each piece of wood to the fence to discover any discrepancies in distance. Ideally speaking, the back of the fence should be something like 0.001 inches further away from the wood piece than at the front of the fence, something that will allow you some clearance when making cuts.
You can use a plain old measuring stick, a measuring tape, or a feeler gauge to accurately measure the distance between the wood chunks and the fence. If the gaps aren’t ideal, you can loosen the fence by loosening the screws or bolts which hold the fence down, reposition the fence as needed, and re-tighten the bolts or screws.
One thing that you should always check on your table saw is the blade. After all, without a good blade, you aren’t going to get accurate and smooth cuts. Make sure that it is sharp, and if it isn’t, your best bet is to bring it to a professional for sharpening.
If any teeth are chipped or even broken off, your table saw blade will definitely need replacement. When the teeth of your table saw are not in good condition it can cause kickback and rough cuts, things you definitely do not want.
You should also make sure that the various components, such as the nuts and bolts, which hold the blade in place are in one piece and firmly secured.
Loose nuts and bolts will cause your blade to wobble when you make cuts, which is, of course, something else that you don’t want. Just make sure that everything holding the blade in place is attached securely.
Another important aspect of maintaining your table saw is to do with the various wires which pass the electrical current from the outlet to and through the motor. This may require you to look at the user’s manual, but checking the wiring is a pretty important thing to do.
You will want to take the housing off of the motor as well as the electrical box to ensure that all wires are firmly connected and that there are no rips, tears, or any kind of damage to the wires. Any type of damage to the wiring should be immediately fixed, probably with the help of a professional.
Keep in mind that wires aren’t too expensive, so if they are damaged, replacement is most likely your best option to go with. The thing about maintaining the wiring is that most people only do it when something goes wrong or the table saw won’t function anymore, but if you really want to stay on top of things you should check the wiring every few months at a minimum.
Your table top and outfeed should be as smooth as can be. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to put anything on the table top that may scratch the surface, as this will make smoothly passing the wood through the blade a challenge.
If there are any scratches, you may want to gently polish them away, while also remembering not to compromise the overall quality and form of the table top. Also, use some warm water and a polishing agent to remove and residue or sticky debris which may be getting in your way.
Another problem that you may encounter with your table saw’s top is rust. If you notice any rust building up, you can use some wax, de-rusting agent, and a piece of fine sandpaper to remove it.
Maintaining your table saw is the best way to keep it operational for as long as can be, and maintenance should often be performed to keep more serious issues from arising.
All of the major components which we discussed above should be checked and maintained on a fairly regular basis to keep your table saw from turning from your best friend into your worst enemy.
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