Vintage Tools...Still the best choice #1: The table saw...


This is part 1 in a 1 part series: Vintage Tools...Still the best choice

  1. The table saw...

Probably the most important tool in the shop, next to yourself with a relaxing beverage, is the table saw. As most, I drool over the new Unisaw, then the sawstop, move over and eye up the new powercraft. The main thing is , no matter what quality tool you have, if it is not setup properly set up, the tool is useless. So…lets go out an get alignment kits, new fences, miter gauges with digital readouts , dial indicators and the like. Now I just spent between 300 and 1000 dollars, on stuff I could buy new blades, dado sets, and quarter sawn lumber.

First things first….

The first thing one needs to do is set the blade to zero. a simple speed square on the table tells me the blade is 90 degrees to the table…once satisfied I reset the indicatot on the bevel guage or wheel to the 0 mark.

The next thing you want to do is make sure your blade is not bent nor does it have play (wobble) when you try to move it. This would mean a bearing is worn, or something is loose. This needs to be fixed before proceeding. To some ANY play is to much, but a thousandth or 3 is generally acceptable. I have a very inexpensive alignment tool for our next step, which is to set the blade parallel to the miter slot. I have a 2″ × 6″ piece of red oak, which I clamp to my miter guage, with a round head screw in the end by the blade. after choosing a tooth on the blade and marking for reference, I turn the blade till it is at the front of the table. I move the screw head as clost to the tooth as possible and measure with feeler gauges the distance. rolling the blade to the back side, I slide the miter guage to align the screw with the tooth on the back. the differences in measurement tell me how to adjust the blade. If the gap is smaller on the backside compared to the front, this may cause a kickback due to pinching the piece between the blade and fence, guage, guide etc.

Every saw adjusts differently, consult your user manual. I have a Rockwell model 10, so this is what I did. the blade assembly is on trunions, so after loosening the bolts , adjusting etc about 100 times. I broke down and bought a set of PALS from peechtree. this allows a set screw to adjust the side to side movement and hold it steady when you tighten the trunion bolts……BEST 20 I ever spent… PATIENTS is the most important tool here.

when your blade runs true to the miter slot, adjust your fence square to the blade. I put a new Blade on my saw to do this, The old blade was pretty beat up when I bought it, so it was being replaced anyway.
while a new saw GENERALLY does not need this done, I would check it anyway, My Rockwell will cut with the best of them. I added a couple of extra things also to upgrade the performance


a measuring setup (board and screw)
feeler gauges, sheets of paper, matchbooks, (as long as the front matches the back your ok)
basic wrenches, mallet, screwdriver
small square
cocktail of your choice

Options I added
new blade – Freud thin rip
PALS kit from peachtree (precision alignment locking system?)
drive belt – link belt from rockler…cuts vibration about 75% from regular v-belt
larger safety shutoff switch from woodcraft

total investment
saw 150
blade 59
belt 30
pals 20
switch 20


Good luck and keep working wood


Mike Evens