56 – How to Setup & Tune a Tablesaw (Part 2 of 2)

Voiceover: The Wood
Whisperer is sponsored by Festool, faster, easier,
smarter, and by Powermatic, the gold standard since 1921. Marc: The next adjustment that we can make is the blade bevel angle. Right now, it’s set at 90 degrees. I have it all the way
up as high as it can go, and I can double check it. The way I do this is
using a machine is square, or you can use an adjustable square, as long you have a
really decent quality one that you know is 90 degrees. I site down from the front. What I’m looking for is
the little tiny strip of light that peaks through. When that square is perfectly
even with the blade, the light goes away. Honestly, that’s really all it takes; no fuel or gauges. Don’t get real fancy with it. Just wait for that light to disappear and you’re exactly 90 at that point. Most saws have a stop
that’s inside the cabinet that basically stops that whole
unit from going any further. It locks you down at a preset
position for 90 degrees. You also have one at 45 because those are the two most common angles
that we’re going to use. That way you can just kind of blindly turn it all the way until it stops. Now we’re 45, bring it all
the back until you’re at 90. The problem that I have
with that is a lot of times, dust, debris, oil, residue, whatever, gets stuck on either
the unit that’s moving or the stop pin that’s in there. Although I do adjust it
now and make sure that it’s exactly 90 degrees,
the other one is exactly 45, I know that over time,
that’s not going to give me exactly the accurate
number that it once did. Every time I change my
blade and bring it back to the home position at 90 degrees, I will always check it with a square to make sure it’s dead on. Same thing goes for 45. I never assume that it truly is 45. I use anything that I have
that’s at a 45 degree angle and use that to check it and make sure it’s exactly
the angle that I want. I don’t really stress
out about setting those two things up dead on
accurately because I’m never going to count on them in the first place. Now let’s take a look at the insert. See, as you push wood over the table saw, you’ll want to make sure, the most important thing really, is right in the beginning
and right at the end. You don’t want to get
caught in the insert. At the end, you don’t want
to get caught on the table. Most inserts have little hex screws. You can use a little Allen
wrench to make the adjustments and raise and lower it. What I like to do is span
a straight edge across. Hear that? That means that there’s
some play in there. You want to make adjustments
slowly, but surely. This one has one, two, three, five points of adjustment that you can sort of move the insert around however you’d like. Once you have it so that it’s below or perfectly even with the surface, you are in good shape. Now, this may just be
the easiest adjustment we’re going to make on this saw. The fence has a couple set screws, here. These are actually just this sort of plastic or nylon material. They just take a little hex key. You just turn them left and right. What it does is adjusts
the face of these screws and how they rest on the fence itself. Basically, in a nut shell, it’s
raising either the left wing or the right wing, which in turn, adjusts the angle of attack. What we’re looking to do,
is have this, of course, just like the blade, be perfectly
90 degrees to the table. From what I see here, I’ve
got a little bit of a line. I can see some light
peaking through the bottom. What I need to do is
raise up the left side. It doesn’t take much,
just a light little turn until the light goes away. Now, you’ll notice when
you tighten it down, it may shift a little bit. It’s a good idea to make
the adjustment first, tighten it down, and then fine tune it when it’s nice and tight. That looks great. One of the most important
adjustments that we’re going to make today is
the angle of the fence. We want it to be parallel with the blade and also parallel with this miter slot. The cool thing is since
we’ve already adjusted the miter slot to the blade,
we can use the miter slot as our reference point
to adjust the fence. Honestly, personally,
I find it a lot easier to set the fence to the miter slot than the fence to the blade itself. All of the methods that
we discussed before when we set the miter slot
angle, all of those methods are still applicable to
setting the fence, as well. If you have a dial indicator,
if you want to use a square, whatever you have on
hand, all of those methods are just as valid for this, as well. For me, the adjustable square method is the way that I’m going to go. I will take the fence over. I also want to point out,
here, there are a few adjustment screws on the fence itself. You see, we’ve got one here and one here. What that does is apply pressure to pads on the inside of this piece of angle iron and it pushes up against the fence rail. Thereby, creating sort of an
angle one way or the other. That’s where you have
to get into your head which one of these you tighten in order to get the result that you’re looking for. Let’s see how far off we are. Let’s see if we got lucky. Basically, I’m going to keep it about three or four inches from the miter slot. Loosen the square. I’m going to push the square
all the way up against this side of the slot, the right side. Also push the adjustable
ruler into the fence. The fence is locked down
at this point as well. If you make this adjustment
with the fence loose, by the time you lock it down,
everything’s going to change, so you have to make these
adjustments in the locked position. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. We’re pretty tight up against
the fence at this point. As I move it forward,
all the while pushing in this direction, I see the
gap opens up a little bit to the point where just guessing maybe we have a 16th of a inch out. It’s not bad. I didn’t really make any adjustments yet. What I need now is for
the front of the fence, I guess it depends on what
side you’re standing on. This side of the fence needs
to go that way just a hair. In order to do that, I
either loosen this screw or I tighten that screw. I am going to opt for
tightening this screw. It really does not take much. That was maybe an eighth of a turn. We’ll do the same test. It didn’t really move at all,
which tells me this screw is probably not even
engaging the material here. I’ll just keep going with
a light turn each time. That time, I went about a quarter turn. If you go too far, you
could always go back. I think we may have nailed it. See, it’s even all the way across. There’s no gaps. It’s not forcing the square to the left. Sometimes, in this case, it looks perfect. Sometimes, it’s actually
easier to visualize if there’s a little bit of a gap there because then you can, with your eye, monitor the gap and see if
it gets smaller or larger. I’m going to do just that. A few taps and I’ve created probably another 16th of an inch gap. Now we’re going to make sure that that gap is consistent from the back to the front. That looks pretty good. Could you be more accurate than that? Sure. There are tools out there that exist. If that’s the type of work you like doing and you want to spend more
time getting this really, really dialed in, have at it. This is your fun time if
that’s the kind of … A lot of us are sort of
that engineering personality and enjoy spending time
setting up machines to be precise and accurate as possible. That’s perfectly fine. I just personally think that this is enough for most woodworkers. You don’t really need to go any further than that to produce quality work. It’s up to you how far you want to go, but for the Wood Whisperer
shop, that is enough. The final adjustment that I’m going to make today is the riving knife. I want to make sure that this riving knife is in the same plane as our blade. Otherwise, it’s not going to do its job. If it’s too far out this way, it’s going to get in the way of the cut. If it’s too far this way, it’s not going to stop a
kick back from occurring. It’s very important that it’s lined up. What I like to do is grab my straight edge and I line the straight
edge up with the teeth. Make sure the front and
the back are both resting on one of the car bide teeth. Then, I make the adjustments. Every saw is going to be different. Make sure you read your
manufacturers instructions for how to make that adjustment. On this one, there’s, what else? A hex key, four adjustment
screws that sort of allow you to control the
tilt and the total direction of where that thing is lined up. Again, you just make
sure it’s nice and even with those teeth and you
should be good to go. It’s a relatively simple adjustment. Usually, you set it once and never really have to set it again, unless you change blades
or go to a thin kerf blade or something like that. That’s really about it. A very simple, but very,
very important that that gets adjusted properly. That pretty much wraps it up for table saw tune up and set up. It’s no secret that if you
want to take your craft to the next level, you have to know how to tune up your tools. It’s really our connection
between us and the material. If those things aren’t tuned up, the road to better craftsmanship is
going to be a very bumpy one. If you have everything
tuned up really nicely, it’s going to be so easy. You don’t want to have to blame the tool for something going wrong. You want to be able to blame yourself and see where you can learn
how to do things better. I remember the first
time somebody allowed me to use a well tuned plane. Compared to the little
block plane that I had, my little Stanley that I
never did anything with, I took it out of the box
and started using it. I never even sharpened the blade. It was a night and day difference and it was a real eye opening experience. The same thing applies to our power tools. We need to keep them tuned up, we need to set them up
right the first time, and we need to remove that
as a variable for what might go wrong in our future
learning experiences. Once you do that, life is good. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time. Take care.

71 thoughts on “56 – How to Setup & Tune a Tablesaw (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Thanks man! Believe it or not, most Powermatic saws are just made like that. All I have to do is maintain it. Trying to get the average cast iron table top to look like that would take a lot of time and effort I think.

  2. Yup. Check out my bandsaw setup/tuneup video that I just recently uploaded. I go over the system I use in that video.

  3. @jbmccord I would probably use the same technique. Snug up the bolts and give a few taps with the dead blow.

  4. I love your videos. Very easy to follow and you shop is amazing from what i could see in the backrounds. I'm a custom boatbuilder by trade and I always learn something new everytime i see these videos.

  5. I believe Freud makes calibration discs / blades which are precision ground blades with no teeth. They are very inexpensive. They are nice to use for alignment and squaring. I use mine all the time. Also note that not every table saw table and miter slot are created equal. Time and temperature can change things

  6. If you leave the out-feed end of the fence a fraction away from the blade and measure your cut from in-feed end of the blade where the fence is slightly closer it will prevent snipe at the end of the wood.

  7. @BradburyGuy If you do that you will cut a taper. The reason you are getting snipe is because the fence is closer to the blade at the back of the cut. If the blade is parallel to the miter slot you won't get snipe.

  8. @bobmedic3214 That's actually not accurate. If the fence is just a hair further from the blade at the back, it won't create a taper. The wood follows the fence, not the blade. This method is commonly used to get cleaner cuts and decrease the chance of kickback. But you only want to be a difference of a few thousandths.

  9. @TheWoodWhisperer True if it's only a few thousandths. If it is too far away the blade will pull the workpiece away from the fence like drift on a band saw. I love the videos keep up the good work I have learned a lot from watching them.

  10. having the blade, fence and mitre slot perfectly parallel is ok for some operations BUT 90% of the time the NO HEEL set-up is better.. this is the mitre slot on the left drifts away from the blade at the back and the fence drifts away on the right… this is very little, maybe a thou or two.. it stops the back of the blade rubbing on the "keeper" side of the cut..

  11. Learned a couple things here, but have something I'd love you to try. I've found that intentionally setting the fence up to be about 5/1000 wider at the outfeed end makes for far less blade chatter.

  12. everytime i see ur shop, it brings a tear 2 my eye..its so beautiful!..Excuse Me!! *sniFfle* (turns head, fights back tears)

  13. Have you ever found that the parallel tolerance stack-up that comes from adjusting the fence to the slot, which was adjusted to the blade, could result in chatter?

  14. I add a piece of snug fitting scrap wood in the mitre slot and then push the fence against it. Then do the adjustments to the fence, works every time and is quick, also if you keep the scrap wood you can check the fence every month of so. But I guess everyone as there own way.

  15. So many good tips as always, you're my workshop guru!

    You've got a really engaging way of making the videos easy to watch.

  16. Thanks! I just got a Ryobi as a starter saw and it does not go all the way to 90 degrees. It's close… but not close enough. The throat plate is not adjustable. Do you have any advice about how I might adjust the arbor? It's affordable, but really needs to be more accurate.

  17. @joliekarno Im sorry but I'm not familiar with that unit. You might call their tech service line and see if they have any advice for you.

  18. Great video. I did exactly according to your video. My cuts are perfect and I mean "dead nuts". I do have an issue and that is the blade almost cuts on both ends. The back end seems to leave some cutting marks (nothing light sanding won't cure). Is that supposed to happen? If not, any advice on what to do? Thank you ahead.

  19. You might try tilting the fence out at that back by about .001-.002". This gives the workpiece a little extra breathing room as you push it through. Lots of folks do this to also help prevent burning. Also, consider trying a different blade to see if that makes any difference.

  20. I love all of your videos… I just came across your channel in the past month and it is amazing how comprehensive your tutorials are. I do have a question though… Unfortunately at this point in time we do not have a garage or space for any type of workshop indoors =(! My husband is a contractor, so our tools have to be portable; which lead us to finally investing in an enclosed tool trailer a few years ago but here is where we run into trouble…

  21. when we purchased a table saw we got an awesome deal on the Dewalt 10" portable job site saw & we mounted it on the rolling Dewalt stand… which is a lot easier for daily set up at the jobsite etc. However, the standard fence is a POS, and there are no extensions or wings really to support large/ medium stock. I just purchased the work piece extension rails, but I am hesitant to install as I have seen a few other rail/ fence systems that seem much more reliable. So finally to my question…

  22. I have the Beis but im concidering getting the verysupercooltools fence, that I noticed you have in another video Marc.. Which fence do you prefer now?

  23. This is very poor and dangerous information. ¬†The rip fence should be off set a slight amount to avoid kickback. ¬†He should look at the Fine Woodworking video and book Mastering Woodworking Machines so he learns about woodworking. ¬†This guy is not a real woodworker. ¬†His talent is self promotion….not woodworking….

    His techniques are very clumsy and inaccurate.  Plus he does not understand that 
    for years major manufactures such as Delta have recommended that the fence be offset about about 1/64" from front to back to avoid kickback.

    There are some very simple techniques that are virtually fool proof for adjusting
    machines.  He should learn how to be a woodworker before he gets in front of the 

  24. Good philosophy!  I'm sorting out a Wadkin 10" but you know how it is, forgetting stuff?  Thanks for this!

  25. I own a cheep Craftsman Table saw, Most would probably say just get a new saw but unfortunitly a good table saw in mexico is more or less 2500 USD so its not in my buget atm. Could i use this method with that table saw as well.  The one thing i did notice is that my blade is mounter right on the motor.

  26. Great Video I agree that some woodworkers use their tools "Out of the box" without checking to see that they are properly setup and then the don't understand why the work they are doing doesn't come out the way they planned.
    I own a folding table saw and when I bought it I followed your Video for how to build a "Crosscut sled" and at the same time I tuned the saw with a machinist square and a Carpenters square this gives me much greater accuracy since I do most of my work in an apartment. I still check the accuracy and basic settings whenever I start a New Project, I find this gives me a great starting point to being as Square and as Safe as I can.
    Keep cutting your Videos inspire me to do or at least try things that I didn't know how to and you give me a small sense of confidence in myself. Thanks

  27. Decent video but you really cannot properly set up a saw without a setup plate installed.  Either a square one or what is essentially a blank saw blade.  This is an essential tool for even beginning to set up a saw.

  28. Great video – practical, not overly forum-style anal and the perfect level of 'close enough' for the work that most of us do.

  29. always enjoy your videos Marc.. You mentioned that many tablesaws have a 90 degree and a 45 degree stop for the blade.  I have a homemade insert for my powermatic contractor saw and  the blade will not go lower than the top of the tabletop.  consequently when I am using the saw for something the blade scratches my wood.  the insert is level with the top. I cant get the blade to go any lower.   any suggestions?. 

  30. Look at all those effing clamps! ALLL HAIL THE CLAMP MASTAH! ūüėõ Awesome video. Thank you for the tips!!

  31. awesome!!  in the first 30 seconds of this vid I picked up something I did not think about before but makes so much sense  cheers!!

  32. Thanks for the video. What about lubricating the table top? I've heard that makes life a lot easier. I'm deciding between TopCote and Johnson Paste Wax. What would you recommend?

  33. I have read all the comments listed below and I think it`s unfair for Marc. The sled groove has nothing to do with the rip fence So I agree with Marc that the sled groove should be exactly parallel with the blade and the rip fence adjusted for kickback individually

  34. thanks mark for showing misaligned parts and gauges, alot of other videos show the amazing and improbable "right the first time" with no mention of how to adjust. If your to proud and your ego is too big to show mistakes, what the hell is learned?! i certainly appreciate your if/then approach.

  35. also i've been using top coat for my steel city granite top table cabinet saw, my uncle has granite tops and treats it with granite counter top stuff. i used the top coat because i think the granite treatment has oils in it i don't want on my bare material. your thoughts?

  36. Very good tutorial (both parts).  The BEST take-away, in my opinion, is your closing statement about keeping tools tuned being step one toward fine work.  Thanks very much!

  37. Heck! I almost fell asleep watching this video. Not that it was boring at all. You are a great Teacher of the Shop, and I do intend to watch as many more as I can.

    I can only attribute my tardiness to being overworked at work. I'll get over it. Good thing with YouTube is if you fall asleep… you just need to hit the refresh the video to watch it over again, eh!

    Thanks for sharing your tips with us. They should assist getting my own saw in tune for better cuts down the road.


  38. Just wanted to say thank you! I have watched many of your videos over and over. From tuning the table to making a sled. You have helped me and immensely. You have eliminated most of the struggles and problems I have had with my projects which were mostly due to tools out of wack, thinking I could not fix them, and generally having too much trust of tools out of the box. Your techniques are straight forward and I love that you give a few options when taking on a task. Thank one more time, you are my modern day Norm.

  39. Hello Marc,
    On day I will upgrade my Ridgid 4512 to a Powermatic PM2000 but until then I must contend with what I have. My question is how often do you have to align the blade to the table on your Powermatic. I have to constantly check mine and adjust about every 2 to 3 months depending on use. Is this normal? what is?

  40. Thanks for the info… QUES: My riving knife came with the saw as did the carbide blade for a perfect match. Obviously, that knife won't work with thin kerfed blades. Do you use other knives then or do you simply go without?

  41. I know this video is many years old now, But it's the 1st time I have watched it. Being an experienced woodworker with about 40 years of work behind me, I find your videos very informative. You simplify the methods very well, even for people without much experience. One question I have for you is about the riving knife on table saws. Now whether it's considered a NOT safe or dangerous practice by the safety marshalls or not, I use it very frequently. Plunge cutting . I find with all the various types of woodwork I do, Plunge cutting on the table saw is fairly common for me . Weather I'm working on , framing, trimming or doing millwork and cabinetry, I find plunge cutting on the table saw to be a time saver, and most importantly, it produces a very accurate and square cut very quickly. It also eliminates getting another tool out and setting it up to produce the same accurate cut. Don't get me wrong, I am very safety conscience about the table saw and ALL tools and tasks! Also, with that said, I would NOT recommend plunge cutting on a table saw to a person who does not have many years experience using the table saw. Question to you is, do you keep the riving knife on your saw at all times because you can not make plunge cuts with it on. I have to say, I take it off for most of the time and only put it on if I know I'll be doing a lot of ripping and not plunge cutting. I do understand, that it is much safer to have it in place …. All the time.

  42. WOW…. What a great Tip !!!!
    i discovered that may table saw blade was out of tune by about 2MM . always had a problem with cutting straight lines and always blamed my fence
    i had to disassemble my whole table saw and Bridge that gap
    Now am back to track again with perfect cuts
    Thanks a Ton

  43. I also want to thank you for investing the time and effort in producing such a good instructional video. You have a talent for giving clear and simple yet fully comprehensive and detailed explanations. One of the best on YouTube in my opinion.

  44. Thanks for the video Mark, I bought a new tables saw 2 weeks ago and thought I tuned it up, but now realize I didn't even start yet….lol Thank for the tips brother…

  45. What model is this Powermatic? When is it worth to invest in one like this? I am just starting out with my Dewalt DWE7491RS

  46. I like your approach. Measuring the blade with gauges to .001 is absurd and will not hold. And of course if you work on site you simply can's deal with that anyway. For a fine shop saw it's different.
    Of course your fence is finely adjustable. Most cheaper saws have little or no adjustment. But it good to know that you may be able to adjust the fence.
    Many DIYers just use the saw as it comes out of the box. Spending time to tune it 1st can make a difference.

  47. How much was your table saw? I'm just looking at getting a portable jobsite table saw. In a head to head video I saw that the saws face plate on some models can be uneven (allowing light to pass under straight edge). If this is the case i run into on the saw i buy how would i go about adjusting that? Also what if the miter slots are not in a straight 90¬į angle? Your video is great but with less expensive saws I think there are even more adjustments/fixes to potentially run into.

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