If your table saw’s performance isn’t up to your standards, you may need a new blade. But before you head out and buy one, take the time to make sure your saw is adjusted correctly. If your blade is out of alignment with your fence and your miter gauge, you won’t get smooth cuts no matter how much you spend on a new blade. Here’s some quick advice from widely read woodworking author Michael Dresdner on tuning up the centerpiece of your shop — courtesy of the Woodworker’s Journal eZine (2002 archives).
There are quite a few good books on table saws, and they all have sections on setting up the saw. Until you get one, here’s a quick version of how to do it.
If your saw has table slots, first align the fence so that it is perfectly parallel to the slots. Most fences have adjustments that allow you to do this. Check your manual for the adjustments for your fence.
Unplug the saw, raise the blade, and check it with a square to make sure it is at 90 degrees to the table. Now move the fence over until it touches the blade. If your cut is burning, chances are the fence will touch the back of the blade before it touches the front.
Underneath, you will find either three or four bolts that hold the trunnion carriage to the top. Loosen them, and shift the trunnion carriage slightly so that both the front and back of the blade touch the fence at the same time. Tighten them back up, and check it again. As long as that blade is dead parallel to the fence, you should get a clean cut.
If you want to take Michael’s advice and really get to know your saw, Rockler has a number of table saw books that cover advanced techniques, along with everything you’ll need to know to keep your saw running safe, smooth and true.