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Old 03-01-2012, 10:06 AM   #1
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


I recently purchased a used table saw from a garage sale, a Craftsman model 137 that looks like this.


I am having problem when I use this saw to cut plywood at a wider width. For example 16" or 18" width.

When I need to do this I need to pull out the extensions to the right, and move the fence over to it. I am not sure how to make sure the fence and blade are exactly parallel as it seems most times when I feed the sheet in, about half way or so it wouldn't go any further and actually pushes back.

I think this is because the fence was locked in such that it is slightly narrower to the back of the saw and as I feed the sheet it won't go further.

The extension has two locks one for each rod, but has some play in each, the fence also has some play on either end. Is there any trick involved in ensuring I have everything aligned for a cut of constant width?

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Old 03-01-2012, 10:29 AM   #2
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


Make sure all the screws are tight.
Make sure the guides in the front are clean and not damaged.
Make sure the back lock is not bent.
Most saws have adjustment screws at the front of the guide.

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Old 03-01-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


I have a small Ryobi saw which is similar to the Craftsman. I was pushing the plywood in and it would go halfway and stop. I found that I was starting out with the fence parallel to the blade but by keeping the stock tight to the fence the front of the fence would move about 1/8" away from the blade even though it was locked down. I solved the problem by putting a woodworking clamp on the front of the fence and clamping it to the rail when I set up for a cut. I don't have the extensions on my saw so I don't know how to get the play out of them.
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


You're probably going to want to order a manual, if you don't have one, but I would start with the blade itself; check that the heel is adjusted such that the blade is running true with the table, i.e. parallel with the miter slots. After that, you can use the miter slots as a reference point to measure your fence at the front and back of the table. If it is not true, first check that the guides for the fence are in good order, then, as Joe said, I believe that the heel on your fence can be adjusted. These things I would do regardless, to ensure that things are straight and true. As far as your sheets fighting you though, I would be more inclined to suspect that a table extension and/or outfeed table is the ultimate solution. Without proper support, the tendancy is to compensate with a little extra lift here or a little extra push there, which not only makes the operation less safe, but also provides less desirable results.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:01 PM   #5
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


Be careful using the saw until you get it properly adjusted as that is a kickback waiting to happen! And I you don't know what a kickback is just look on YouTube for "tablesaw kickback." this happens when the material gets wedged in between the blade and fence due to misalignment of the fence or material and causes he material to become a projectile.

When you find a manual and learn how to adjust the fence, you should adjust it so that it is 1/32" further away from the blade at the back then the front. This will not effect how your cuts will be as all the cutting happens at the front of the blade which will be set as 0" difference between blade and fence. However, that 1/32" will prevent any binding as the material gets past the rear of the blade as long as the operator keeps the material against the fence.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:09 PM   #6
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


I have a very similar Sears table saw. The fence is not too good, there is absolutely no way mine stays parallel to the blade unless I manually set the distance from the front edge of the blade to the fence to be the same as the back edge of the blade to the fence. Then I can tighten the fence down. No amount of adjusting allows the fence to autoset correctly. I live with it, simply means I have to carefully align the fence each time.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:22 PM   #7
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


Material closing back up on itself right after the blade passes through also causes kick-back as the wood grabs the blade.
Not with plywood so much.
If the plywood lifts just a little bit though, it will grab the blade everytime.
Rest a straight-edge up against the blade to take parallel measurements from.

Last edited by titanoman; 03-01-2012 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:25 AM   #8
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


After setting the fence for your width-of-cut, try measuring from the extreme left edge of the table (not the extension) to the fence at both the front and back edges. They should be the same, close is not good enough.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:41 AM   #9
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


sell that saw and get a better safer saw with a square fence and a riving knife
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:37 PM   #10
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


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Originally Posted by Tom Struble View Post
sell that saw and get a better safer saw with a square fence and a riving knife
yeah......or keep it for it's portability, but get a REAL saw for ripping larger sheets and heavy lumber.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:00 PM   #11
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


I have an in expensive table saw, I have ripped a 1/2” off a 20’ 2”x4”with it. Here is how I make sure the blade is square to the rip fence. First with a framing square make sure the blade is square to the table. Then lock the rip fence in place and check it from front to back with the framing square, if it is square good. If not try and adjust it. After you confirmed that the blade is square to the table, use a speed square to check your rip fence set up front and back. Also you can use a Sharpe and draw a reference line on the table with the framing square in line with the blade.

Writer’s information is for discussion purpose only and should be confirmed by an independent source.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:19 PM   #12
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


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Originally Posted by Hardway View Post
I have an in expensive table saw, I have ripped a 1/2” off a 20’ 2”x4”with it. Here is how I make sure the blade is square to the rip fence. First with a framing square make sure the blade is square to the table. Then lock the rip fence in place and check it from front to back with the framing square, if it is square good. If not try and adjust it. After you confirmed that the blade is square to the table, use a speed square to check your rip fence set up front and back. Also you can use a Sharpe and draw a reference line on the table with the framing square in line with the blade.

Writer’s information is for discussion purpose only and should be confirmed by an independent source.
Although your approach to making the saw usable is accurate, that type of setup is particularly time consuming for a contractor just to make one cut. Accuracy is generally built in in larger heavier saws, but the smaller saws are fine when portability is more important than accuracy...if you have nothing better to do than align it for each and every cut.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:34 PM   #13
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Table Saw Fence Alignment


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Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Although your approach to making the saw usable is accurate, that type of setup is particularly time consuming for a contractor just to make one cut. Accuracy is generally built in in larger heavier saws, but the smaller saws are fine when portability is more important than accuracy...if you have nothing better to do than align it for each and every cut.
The op did not say he was a contractor. If you are a contractor buying tools at a garage sale, what does that say? It takes 2 seconds to lock fence in place and check with a speed square. If you are using any tools to make money and don't buy the best shame on you.

I have the in-expensive table saw, which is a big step up from the hand made wooden bench with a skill saw screwed underneath.

Writer’s information is for discussion purpose only and should be confirmed by an independent source.

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