Woodworking Tools

Making a Performance Table Saw Part 1

"There are basically four types of table saws, 1) Bench or Portables , 2) Contractors , 3) Cabinet and 4) Sliding Table Saws used by large commercial outfits. The portables and contractors are the most popular because of their price point, space required and movability. The problem with portables and contractor saws is very often they just don't do the same quality job a cabinet table saw does. This is because they are not setup. No one has taken the time to set these saws up so they can make quality, accurate cuts. Well ... I have news for you. With a bit of work, your portable or contractors saw can often do the same or even better work than cabinet saws three or four times the price.
Click below to read more

Table saws are the work horse of the workshop and spending some time on yours can make a huge difference to your work and lower your level of frustration at the same time. All it takes is a bit of time and investing in some quality parts and your inexpensive or used table saw can perform most cuts with incredible accuracy.

The main purpose of any table saw is to rip wood, and the secondary purpose is cross cut wood. Ripping wood is very important in woodworking. It is critical to get a good cut or else you will spend your time compensating for the poor cut throughout the rest of the project. If your rips are not correct, I can guarantee your cross cuts will also be off, adding to even more frustration and poorer quality of work.

To rip any wood it is critical that the fence be absolutely parallel to the saw blade. You can tell if it is not parallel because the back teeth of the table saw will also be cutting the wood and will be throwing sawdust up in the air at the back of the blade. Something that shouldn't be happening if your blade and fence are parallel.

Everything on a table saw is aligned with the mitre slots. That is the law of table sawing. When everything is aligned with the mitre slots your cuts will be accurate and you won't have to spend you time trying to align the fence with the blade on each cut.

Most portable or contractors saw will use something called a "trunion system" to hold the saw blade assembly within the saw. Trunion systems also allow the saw blade to be elevated and lowered as well as to be tilted in one direction or the other.

If the saw is a any kind of a decent saw, this trunion system will be somewhat adjustable. There should be two sets of bolts, one at the front of the trunion system and one near the back (see arrows in picture). To set your trunion system parallel with the mitre slot on the table saw top, you will need a very accurate form of measurement. I purchased a dial meter (these are not expensive and will be useful many other measurements for years and years to come).


I attached the dial meter FIRMLY to the mitre gauge with a shop-made jig the took a couple of minutes to put together. With this assembly I could measure the front and back of the blade by sliding the mitre gauge back and forth at the same time as I adjusted the trunions. Use a very good quality full kerf blade for this, AND make a mark near the edge of the blade and use that mark to measure the distance both front and back.


This will mean you will have to rotate the blade a half turn each time you measure. We do this to make sure our measurements are as accurate as possible by using the exact same distances.

Re-tightening the trunions can be tricky, I have found that slightly tightening the middle bolts first helps stop the trunion assembly unit from moving slightly. We are dealing with thousands of an inch here so accuracy IS important. Take the time to do this job properly and you will not have to re-do it for a long time.

Aligning the tunions is the one of most important things you can do to "tune" your saw. When your trunions and saw blades are parallel with the mitre slots you can now adjust your fence to the mitre slots.

I came across a used Biesemeyer fence and decided for $125 is was work upgrading the fence. Attaching the fence was a bit of work because none of the holes lined up with my table saw but after drilling three new holes and performing some minor adjustments I had an incredibly accurate fence on a now "tuned" table saw.

In Part 2 - We will discuss the rest of the things you can do make your old table saw perform even better

Copyright  Colin Knecht



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Making Performance Table Saw - Part II

If you haven't read Part I "Making a Performance Table Saw" of this series first, we recommend that you read that article as well because together these two articles complete this topic.
As a woodworker, you can only do so much upgrading of your table saw without spending some money. This article will tell you how to make your table saw really "sing", it may cost you a few dollars.
The real differnce in tuning up your table saw will be in the quality of your work and the reduced frustration by making sure your cuts are true, parallel and at right angles. It really make woodworking more fun and rewarding when things go together as they should, but click below to read more ...

 I will start with the least expensive and move up. If you have never heard of a Power Twist Link Belt, now might be the time to think about this upgrade ... but while you are at it, if you have some of those inexpensive aluminum pulleys between your motor and your table saw arbor, throw them out as well and get some balanced steel pulleys.

Between these two items, not only will your table saw run smoother, it will also cut better because there is less vibration and the connection between the motor and the arbor will be stronger thereby eliminating any slippage.

The reason this combination works so well is that the design of the Power Twist Link Belt is such that vibration between the motor and the saw=s arbor is minimized by the many individual links of the belt. This combined with "balanced" steel pulleys makes HUGE difference. Link belts are purchased by the foot so you actually make up the length you need exactly. These belts come in different sizes so make sure you check your pulley size before your purchase the belt, or purchase the belt and the pulleys together.

The next component to look at is the fence on your table saw. There are a variety of after market table saw fences, some I have used and some I haven=t so I can only recommend those I have used. If you can find yourself a Biesemeyer fence system, or equivalent, to fit your table saw you will not be disappointed. Lets face it, table saws are used most for ripping wood and if you don=t have a very good ripping fence on your saw two things will happen, either your work will suffer in quality (and you with the frustration), or, you will begin to abandon woodworking because your tools are frustrating the daylights out of you.

 From experience I can tell you there is no better feeling than putting a new fence on your saw, aligning it to the mitre slot, then test ripping a piece of wood and finding it come through perfectly the first time. It is an experience like this that gives one the courage to tackle bigger projects.

One of the biggest purchases you may need to make is a new motor for your table saw. From time to time I am cutting two inch oak, so any motor under 1.5hp is inadequate.

I decided to upgrade to a 2hp (110/240V ... motors that show this designation on their labels can be switched internally to run on either 110volt or 240volts) I had my electrician come over and install a couple of 240 plugs for me, switch over my motors (I could have done this myself, but since he was there and experience at doing this). The advantage of moving to 240 volt is the amperage drop you can get. At 110 volts the 2hp motor draws 20 amps, at 240 volts it only draws 9 amps. This means the motor will run MUCH cooler, thereby lasting much, much longer. Heat is the main enemy or motors (and saw blades).

I saved the best for last, and this could even be one of least expensive upgrades you can make to your table saw, and that is the blades. Notice I said BLADES ... as in more than one blade.


If you are doing more than cutting garden stakes and fence pickets you NEED to invest in some decent table saw blades. This one item alone separates the woodworkers from the woodhackers. You cannont buy one blade and expect it to do everything you need .. AND give you quality cuts with everything at the same time. You need to have proper blades in order to make quality cuts.

I make no apologies for preferring Freud Saw Blades (and router bits too). Freud make a wide variety of blades to choose from, they are excellent quality and they are a bargain in terms of long term ownership. I recommend that you purchase AT LEAST 3 different blades, namely a good, dedicated ripping blade, a good crosscut blade and general purpose or combination blade.

Ripping Blade - This should be a blade with only 20 to 30 teeth. If your saw is a bit underpowered I recommend a thin kerf. If you are using primarily three quarter inch stock (and not thicker than one inch) and you want blade that you won't even have to joint your wood after you have cut it on your tables saw, pick up one of Freud's "Glue Line Rip" blade they are everything they say!

Crosscut Blade - Even if you have a dedicated cross cut saw, you should still have a good cross cut blade for your table saw. Cross cut blades will normally have 60 to 80 teeth, such as the Freud Ultimate Cut Off blade , and generally the more teeth the better the cut (this also depends on the material you are cutting).

Combination Blade  -  You might be asking yourself, "why if I have dedicated blades would I need to bother with a combination blade"? The answer is this, sometimes you will be doing work that is less critical and you will want a blade that will do a decent job of both, that is what a combo blade is for, to save you time switching blades. The other time to use the combo blade is when you are cutting "questionable" wood. If you hit a nail or other foreign material, better to do this with a less expensive blade.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to cut wood and make projects like any pro. Remember the quality of the tool has no bearing on the quality of the work if the tool is out of alignment, or is improperly tuned. I have seen woodworkers make absolutely stunning projects with inexpensive, often "used" table saws, that have been properly outfitted. On the other hand, owning a lovely Delta Unisaw does not guarantee quality woodwork.

Copyright - Colin Knecht

The Work Sharp 2000 Review

 "The only reason I hate sharpening chisels or plane blades is because I don't know how to do it, and I never know what sharpening equipment to select to do the right job. The whole sharpening thing to me is complicated, confusing and frustrating. For these reasons I was very excited to try out one of the sharpening tools for myself to see what kind of a job it can do.

If you are like most woodworkers, or at least like me your plane blades and chisels are probably not in the best shape, probably not that sharp and as a consequence, not used as much as they should be because they are dull and hard to use.
Right out of the box I liked the size. I don't have a big shop so smaller tools are more welcome. I decided I better read the manual as this might give some sort of an idea what I will be in for. The manual itself was short and concise and gave me good instruction on how the media (grinding or sanding disks) are applied to the wheels so as to avoid getting grit between the back of the disks and the wheel.
 The WorkSharp 2000

Unfortunately for our readers, I selected my worst chisel to try out the Work Sharp 2000 on, and never gave any thought to taking a "before" picture. I just wanted to try something out to get the feel of how it works. I couldn't believe how quickly my chisel was transformed from a beat up old scraper back to a precision wood chisel.

 The instruction manual says if your chisels are in really bad shape to start off with the 80 grit sanding disks, which is what I did. If you have a number of blades that need work, I recommend picking up some extra 80 grid disks. This will make your chore of getting these blades back into shape much quicker.

One trick I learned to see how much you are taking off with each grind is to mark the edge with a felt pen. This is a great way to measure your progress and to make sure the entire surface is getting ground and sharpened.





 The WorkSharp 2000










Here is the plane blade from much much cherished wooden plane getting sharpened.










Thats the kind of results I like to see !!! Unfortunately Internet posted pictures do not show the true sharpness that this Work Sharp WS2000 can deliver. I then tried some of my smaller plane blades and in no time they were back in excellent shape. The Work Sharp uses a sharpening port at the front of the tool as a guide to slide the blades upward to touch them against rotating underside of the wheel. I found these were good for touching up my cold chisels and punch chisels.





I like the idea that I was working well over top of the work being sharpened. Quite an innovative idea that also helps to control flying debris. The tool only has one fifth horsepower motor, which I discovered is actually good. The purpose of the slotted wheels and slotted grinding media is because when you are sharpening from below you can actually see through the spinning slots and watch the metal being ground down ... a very cool concept.

Most of us have the old "shop standard" the half, three quarter or even one horsepower grinder and are used to grinding the living daylights out of everything because there is lots of horsepower there. These big grinders are OK for some jobs but for fine work they can very easily take off too much material, at the wrong angle, not to mention heating the tips up too quickly and changing the composition of blade metal.

When using the Work Sharp 2000 tool it is suggested to "plunge" the chisel against the grinding disk a for only a half second at a time. This is sufficient to grind material off but not enough to get the blades heated up and change the tempering. A very important consideration and it works amazingly well thanks in part to the technology of the composite grinding disks.

After using the Work Sharp 2000 for a while, I found myself looking for more things I could sharpen. I just couldn't believe it was so simple and so effective to sharpen tools. If you are one of the fortunate few who know how to sharpen chisels and blades and maybe you even have Tormek grinding system then you are in good shape. If on the other hand you simply want sharp tools again and don't have the time, energy or need to understand all there is to know about sharpening ... then the Work Sharp 2000 is for you. If you want to take a little step higher and get an even better Work Sharp 2000 tool with even more features we highly recommend the Work Sharp 3000. It is still very reasonably priced but even more versatile.

worksharp 2000

Copyright Colin Knecht

Incra Mitre Gauge V27

Save time, wood, and most of all frustration with the exciting new Incra AngleLock System. Most woodworkers use their table saws for ripping and
cross cutting. Many of the mitre gauges that are supplied with table saws
do not have the features and ease of use required by modern woodworkers.
The Incra V27 is an outstanding value that will make your cross cutting
accurate and easy with it's abundance of features." 
Incra has taken the best core features of their premium precision miter gauges and engineered them into an affordable "everyday" miter gauge. Combining the exclusive AngleLock system with the patented GlideLock miter barassures that this incredible accuracy shows in every cut you make.

Gauge has 27 laser cut presets for perfect angles in 5 degree increments over a full 120 degree range, special stops at 22-1/2 degrees, and a continuous slot to set any angle in between.Use it in any standard 3/4"x3/8" miter slot, from your table saw to your router table, band saw, disk or belt sander.universal mounting slots on the verticle face of the gauge make it easy to attach auxiliary fences or jigs. Steel miter bar and gauge head.
Made in the USA!