The table saw is an amazing tool and with few modifications and accessories it can do so much more than simply ripping wood, which is what it was designed for and still does an awesome job of it, but before all things, the table saw needs to be set-up properly and maintained and when this done, it will continue to give amazing results.
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My table saw is often subjected to a wide variety of experiments and adaptions for all sorts of different projects that I get involved with but the one thing I always come back to is both fear and respect for the table saw and making sure I think every cut through before I make it and that way I reduce the risks of any mishaps and just knowing how it operates goes a long way to safety ...
Cutting Thin Materials
Table saws will cut almost any material, but the thinner the material, the finer a toothed blade is required and when you get very thin, there is a risk of the material jamming or getting stuck between the fence and the saw top, especially at the beginning of a cut it seems. Table saw fences need to have a gap so that when the fence is moved back and forth, it not going to get caught in the mitre slot every time. There are 2 quick solutions to making slim cuts and both involve adding and temporary accessory fence, which could be something as simple as straight, flat board, or it could be in the form of a plastic fence with associated "J" clamps that can be easily put on and taken off as needed.
And speaking of using a dedicated plastic fence, here is an example of how adaptable it can be. Using a board and clamping it to the existing fence will not work in this situation because the clamps will interfere with the wood being pushed through.
As can be seen in the example, this table saw set-up is one way of trimming edging on wood like plywoods or MDF materials where a thicker piece of wood has been glued to hide the plys but is left proud of the plywood so it can be trimmed flush later on. Here the plastic fence has been elevated slightly by using a couple of screws front and back, close into the fence so they also won't impede the cut and now you have the fence that will make a flush cut to trim the edging of panels.
Checking Trunion Set-up and Blade Warpage
This simple to make, but effective little jig can be used to make sure your table saw's trunions are aligned and you can also use it to check table saw blades that may be warped which can happen when wood is inadvertently caught up or jammed in the blade.
Trunion checking should be done with a Full Kerf blade because they are thicker and tend to be truer blades. The way this works is you mark one tooth only and use the jig to measure the distance to that one tooth at the front of the saw and again at the back, but it must be the same tooth and you are measuring the steel just behind the carbide tooth, not the tooth it'self. If both measurements are the same your tunioins or table saw blade holding mechanism is aligned and fine.
Blade checking is done with the jig but this time every tooth or every other tooth is measure all the way around the blade with the jig in the same place. If the blade is warped (which can happen, particularly in thin kerf blades) this will often show up quite clearly when a number of teeth are clearly at a further distance from the marking pin. If you find your blade is bent, it is probably best just to purchase a new one, or keep it on hand for rough cutting or cutting boards with suspected nails. Trying to straighten table saw blades requires experience and knowledge, not to mention extremel precision equipment to measure it.
Spring hinge for a feather board
Fence alignment the easy way
The one that can go out of alignment on a table saw is the fence. Some saws fences are worse than others at going out of alignment, it depends on design and amound of use, but in any case checking and re-aligning from time to time is critical. The quickest and best way I have found to do this is to make a jig that likes flat enough on the saw that you can actually see where the jig touches the fence and where there might be gaps. This is an easy jig to make and it does an excellent job of helping to align the table saw fence.
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Copyright Colin Knecht