Archive for the ‘Alignment’ Category

Table Saw Blade Alignment

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Last Friday, I published a video describing how to make and use a dial indicator jig to align your table saw blade to 45 degrees.  The jig is incredibly easy to make, and if you made my 90 degree alignment jig, you might be able to use the same jig for 45 degrees as well.

I have been using a form of this type of dial indicator jig for close to 10-years and a few of the most popular criticisms I receive for using them goes something like this:

  1. “This is woodworking, not metal working. We are not building Space Shuttles, so this degree of accuracy isn’t required for woodworking!”
  2. “Because wood moves, you don’t need to machine wood to within a thousandths of an inch!”
  3. “We only need to align our tools to the accuracy that is required for the project we’re working on!”.

The first two arguments are meant to imply that I am using dial indicators to align my tools because I want to be able to machine wood to within a thousandths of an inch, which is fallacious.  I cannot stress enough that it is NOT my goal to use dial indicators so that I can machine wood to within a thousandths of an inch, but rather to use them so that I can align my tools quickly without making test cuts.  The high degree of accuracy that comes along with using dial indicators is just a side effect; it comes along for the ride as a freebie.

The third argument above I sort of agree with, but if you are going to align your table saw blade to 90 degrees why not align it to a degree of accuracy that would accommodate ALL of your projects (you might forget to re-align it)?  My point above regarding speed applies here nicely; that is, if it’s just as fast or slower to align your table saw blade with a lesser degree of accuracy (by using a square against the blade) then you’d be sacrificing accuracy for no logical reason.

I think you’ll find that pushing a dial indicator jig against your blade (after it’s calibrated – which is a quick process), is just as fast as pushing a square against your blade.  The difference is that the dial indicator jig will offer you greater accuracy.

Jointer Alignment – Parallel Tables

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

When I first purchased my jointer, around ten years ago, I never checked for parallelism between the infeed and outfeed tables.  Although the jointer has been performing ok, I’ve often wondered how close to perfect they were aligned.  A popular method for checking for parallelism involves purchasing an expensive straightedge that can span both tables in conjunction with feeler gauges.  Alhough I’ve never tried it, the straightedge method appears to be a time consuming process.

I’ve often wondered if it would be possible to check for parallelism with a dial indicator, but I never came up with a solution; until a couple days ago.   The method that I came up with utilizes a dial indicator and a shop-made alignment tool (a dial indicator magnetic base is also used in the process).  The tool is very easy to make and the process turned out to work very nicely and was quick.

Over the years I have demonstrated several different alignment uses for a dial indicator.  If you don’t own one by now then I’d suggest that you’d be a happier woodworker if you bought one.  Dial indicators can be purchased for less than $20 and you’ll use it over and over again.

See the build and demo video here.


Align Your Miter Saw

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

A couple of years ago a viewer of my podcast asked me if it was possible to align his miter saw using a dial indicator jig.  I actually never thought of doing this until he asked.  I thought up a jig that might work and sent him a quick email reply never to hear back again.

As I was building a gate for our fence with my father-in-law, he realized that my miter saw was not square.  I remembered the jig idea that I sent to that viewer and decided to finally make the jig from scrap wood.   I filmed the build and demo how to use it.  In the video I make the alignment from one contact point on the blade.  This is because there are likely to be high and low spots (0-10 thou on a decent blade) on the blade and you will drive yourself nuts aligning the fence from multiple contact points.  An alternative would be to take readings at multiple spots on the blade and average the error.  And then use the average error in the fence alignment.


A viewer on YouTube was curious why I didn’t use my smaller “fat edged square” to align my miter saw.  Well, it doesn’t fit either.  It makes contact with the blade teeth from either end of the square.  And when you rotate the blade up a little to move it out of the way, another tooth comes up from below to make contact.