Making sure that table saw fence and miter gauge are true

You probably rely heavily on your table saw for accurate cuts, every time you use it. Here are some easy checks you can do on your saw to make sure it's cutting perfectly.

This approach makes your saw super accurate because you're doing the tests with the machine running, instead of with the blade standing still. This simulates what will be happening when you're actually making cuts.

Square the Miter Gauge

Setting table saw miter gauge

Here's a trick I learned way back in my high school shop class. Square up your miter gauge by loosening the head, turning the miter gauge upside down and, with the bar in the slot, pushing the head against the rip fence rail. It may not be perfect after this, but it'll be close. We'll make it perfect in the next step.

Using miter gauge to aid in board crosscutting

Now fine-tune your miter gauge. Joint one edge of a board so that it is flat and square to the top face. Then, with the jointed edge against the miter gauge, crosscut one end.

Marking cuts for table saw on board

Mark the cut end to make sure you can keep track of it. Repeat the process on a second board.

Gap between two boards after the same cut

With the jointed edges on the table saw, slide the two cut ends against each other. If you can see a gap, you're not making perfectly square cuts.

Perfectly square cuts on two boards

Adjust your miter gauge and keep making test cuts until the end cuts close up. The wider the boards you use, the more accurate this test will be.

Square the Blade to the Table

Checking the squareness of a table saw blade

Next, do a similar test to see if the blade is square to the table. You'll need to use narrower boards. The width of the board has to be less than the maximum height of your saw blade. With the jointed edge down, cut and mark one end of the board. Repeat the process with a second board.

Gap between two boards cut on the same table saw

Push the cut ends together. As before, they'll close up when the cut is perfectly square. Check your owner's manual to see how to set the blade for square.

Set the Fence Cursor

Locking rip fence on table saw

Lock your rip fence down at the 4" setting.

Ripping board against table saw fence

Rip a board. Don't move the rip fence.

Checking width of freshly ripped board

Check the width of the resulting cut. The more accurately you can measure, the better. It's hard to beat a digital caliper for this test. In this case, the ripped board is 1/16" narrower than my cursor setting.

Adjusting the cursor on the table saw fence

With the fence still in its original position, loosen the cursor and move it to match the reading you got when you measured the board. In other words, make the cursor match the width of the board you just ripped.

Follow these simple steps, and your saw will be making perfect cuts in no time.

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