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View Full Version : SETTING UP TABLE SAW: TS Aligner Jr, home made tools or other?



Mike Dowell
10-01-2015, 12:24 PM
I was thinking of buying a TS Aligner JR http://www.ts-aligner.com/tsalignerjr.htm to help set up my table saw. It seems like it works pretty well(brand new PM2000) but being the anal, picky-pants guy that I am, I'd love to know it's set up with amazing accuracy. I found this guy who uses a dial indicator and homemade jigs too. http://www.garagewoodworks.com/Alignment.php


I was wondering how you all go about these settings/measurements. Also, what is the official order of operations for setting up a table saw? i.e. 1) adjust table square to blade 2) adjust blade square to fence, etc...

Thanks!

(http://www.ts-aligner.com/tsalignerjr.htm)

James Gunning
10-01-2015, 12:50 PM
Build something similar to the garage woodworks gauges. You can buy an inexpensive dial indicator and mag base for just a fraction of the cost of the ts-aligner. It would be capable of measuring accuracy far tighter than you really need for wood. That said, I too love well made gadgets and the ts-aligner looks interesting.

The order of operations in setting up a table saw would depend on the type of saw. IE-full cabinet saw, hybrid, contractors, etc.

Check metal working websites and they will usually have advice on how to use a dial indicator in many applications. I have a metal lathe and milling machine in addition to the woodworking stuff, and I do use a dial indicator on the wood machines where it would make adjustments go more quickly.

Mike Dowell
10-01-2015, 4:05 PM
Will do! I'll grab a Dial Indicator from Harbor Freight the next time I'm around there. Thanks!

Mike Wilkins
10-01-2015, 4:26 PM
Get your hands on one of the table saw books from Taunton and learn all you need to know on setting up a table saw. You can purchase some pricey tools to do the job, but simple is better.

Bruce Wrenn
10-01-2015, 9:35 PM
Woodsmith / ShopNotes featured a simple alignment tool using DI. I have made a bunch of them, and given as Christmas gifts to fellow wood workers.

Mike Dowell
10-01-2015, 9:37 PM
Woodsmith / ShopNotes featured a simple alignment tool using DI. I have made a bunch of them, and given as Christmas gifts to fellow wood workers.

Have any pictures?

Mike Dowell
10-01-2015, 9:38 PM
Get your hands on one of the table saw books from Taunton and learn all you need to know on setting up a table saw. You can purchase some pricey tools to do the job, but simple is better.


This? http://www.amazon.com/Tauntons-Complete-Illustrated-Tablesaws-Taunton/dp/1600850111

glenn bradley
10-01-2015, 11:27 PM
Have any pictures?

I do ;-)

Shop made has done fine for me through three different saws.

322598 . 322599 . 322600 . 322601

I made it with adequate reach to use from either miter slot.

Stanley Thigpen
10-02-2015, 10:10 AM
Glenn, that is a fine/simple looking tool. What are you checking with the blade set at 45 in the photos?

Mike Dowell
10-02-2015, 12:44 PM
That tool looks great! I'll definitely be making one of those. So you use that to first align the table/miter slot to the blade, then you could also use it to align the fence to the miter slots right?

Ian Moone
10-02-2015, 12:55 PM
I tried to buy a TS Aligner Jnr about ~12 months ago.

Offered to pay in advance. Sent My CCard details & address etc

Never got a reply!

Never got charged

Never got the tool either.

Guy is really anal about you following him up and pestering him etc... with subsequent emails & essentially says if you do, you go to the bottom of the list or never get one ever!

Best read THIS page if you intend trying to buy one.

http://www.ts-aligner.com/reseller.asp



I personally make each and every TS-Aligner myself. They don't come in a big container load from China and they aren't available in stores or catalogs. I do all the machining, assembly, calibration, packing and shipping. I answer the phone and the email. My current production capacity is limited by my time and financial resources. I work alone and I have a day job. So, purchasing a TS-Aligner product isn't like walking into a store or calling some mail-order catalog - it's a process.
I make these products because I believe in them and want to promote more intelligent woodworking methods. I am not in this business to get rich and it certainly doesn't do anything good for my health! Most of the people who purchase my products are equally serious about their woodworking and are looking for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of their work.
The waiting list for TS-Aligner products is very long. Please don't ask me how long - answering such questions is a waste of time and makes the wait longer for everyone. I have provided a description of the process below. Each step involves elements that can cause indefinite delays beyond my ability to predict or control. People who have more resources (facilities, labor, funding, inventory, etc.) can easily produce delivery estimates. I can not so please don't ask me to. Call me to find out where I am in the process. Call me with questions about woodworking or machinery. Call me about the weather. Call me to make sure that I didn't die or flee to Canada (living the good life on TS-Aligner money in Saskatchewan!). But, don't call me asking for an estimate on delivery. If you pester me about it, I'm likely to get annoyed with you and give the most definite answer I can: "never".
If you want the best woodworking alignment tools and are willing to wait for them then your order is more than welcome. I will do everything I can to minimize the wait but I will not sacrifice quality and accuracy. People who think that they are special and deserve to receive their order ahead of everyone else should not call. People who think that their demands and threats will make me want to give them priority over others who placed their orders earlier should think again.


I just figured out, that after a year or so - it ain't likely coming anytime soon.


I use a wixey magnetic digital angle gauge on my tilting arbor blade to set the degrees I want!

http://www.wixey.com/anglegauge/

It is what it is - I can't ring the guy about the TS Aligner Jnr coz I'm half a world away and what with time differences I'd probably wake him in the middle of the night and just make him even angrier.

If someone doesn't want to take your money, you can't force them to!. :)

glenn bradley
10-02-2015, 1:51 PM
Glenn, that is a fine/simple looking tool. What are you checking with the blade set at 45 in the photos?

If you mean the tool, it is the same tool. If you mean "why check at 45*" that is another discussion. No tablesaw alignment is complete without blade to miter slot/fence at 90* and at other angles. Generally if you're good at 90* and good at 45*, you're good. I say this because if you are good at 90* and good at 45* but off at 38*, there is a problem with the tilt mechanism of the saw that lies outside of normal adjustments. Did that get you your answer?


That tool looks great! I'll definitely be making one of those. So you use that to first align the table/miter slot to the blade, then you could also use it to align the fence to the miter slots right?

Correct. Any stable hardwood will do. I used scrap from . . . I think it was white ash . . . well, it doesn't really matter; you just want something very hard and very stable. I could have sworn the original magazine I saw it in was Wood but, I am not able to find the article. I have never found a need for anything more involved than this little guy.

Stanley Thigpen
10-02-2015, 4:46 PM
That was my question, Glenn. Thanks for the clarification.

Mike Dowell
10-03-2015, 9:09 PM
I tried to buy a TS Aligner Jnr about ~12 months ago.

Offered to pay in advance. Sent My CCard details & address etc

Never got a reply!

Never got charged

Never got the tool either.

Guy is really anal about you following him up and pestering him etc... with subsequent emails & essentially says if you do, you go to the bottom of the list or never get one ever!

Best read THIS page if you intend trying to buy one.

http://www.ts-aligner.com/reseller.asp



[/FONT][/B]I just figured out, that after a year or so - it ain't likely coming anytime soon.


I use a wixey magnetic digital angle gauge on my tilting arbor blade to set the degrees I want!

http://www.wixey.com/anglegauge/

It is what it is - I can't ring the guy about the TS Aligner Jnr coz I'm half a world away and what with time differences I'd probably wake him in the middle of the night and just make him even angrier.

If someone doesn't want to take your money, you can't force them to!. :)

Wow - that guy sounds like a JERK! I wouldn't do business with someone like that out of sheer principle. Even if I *needed* what they were selling, I'd find a way around it.

Mike Dowell
10-03-2015, 9:16 PM
I say this because if you are good at 90* and good at 45* but off at 38*, there is a problem with the tilt mechanism of the saw that lies outside of normal adjustments.

Absolutely brilliant. This is exactly the type of stuff you only learn from a salty dog.(no offense, that's a term we used in the Marine Corps which describes a wise Marine -usually a Gunny- whom always had advice you wouldn't hear from Marines in your rank. Honestly, I would have just checked it at 90 and been done with it. I would have just considered the quality of my table saw and assumed everything was perfect.

On the topic of salty dogs, I'd just like to take a second to point out that Sawmill Creek is completely full of these type of folks - it's the reason I came here in the first place. I would Google search for something, and almost every time, Sawmill Creek Forums would be in the search results. Lots of seriously smart people on here and I love that.

Kyle Foster
10-06-2015, 9:15 PM
Maybe it's just because I'm a novice at this still, but why would you need a dial indicator to set up the table saw? I use an engineers square and a speed square to align mine and never had a problem with it.

Also, the gauge looks quite nice. I prefer shop made tools over bought tools any day.

Kyle

glenn bradley
10-06-2015, 10:18 PM
Maybe it's just because I'm a novice at this still, but why would you need a dial indicator to set up the table saw? I use an engineers square and a speed square to align mine and never had a problem with it.

Also, the gauge looks quite nice. I prefer shop made tools over bought tools any day.

Kyle

If its working for you, it works. Many saws will burn when cutting miters and this is generally related to poor alignment of fence or blade. In the case of a contractor saw, the design can pull thing out of alignment when tilting the blade and motor. Don't let me start an argument. There are of course high-end exceptions just as there are good and poor of any design. Any type of square is going to become awkward or require some accessories once things aren't on the planes it is made to measure. You can rig a brass screw in a hardwood carrier and adjust your tilted alignment. You can do this for 90 degrees as well. Sure its a little fussy but, once aligned a decent machine will stay aligned if not moved about too much. Its also an easy way to do a quick go, no-go check to see if you need to go further.

Kyle Foster
10-06-2015, 11:10 PM
If its working for you, it works. Many saws will burn when cutting miters and this is generally related to poor alignment of fence or blade. In the case of a contractor saw, the design can pull thing out of alignment when tilting the blade and motor. Don't let me start an argument. There are of course high-end exceptions just as there are good and poor of any design. Any type of square is going to become awkward or require some accessories once things aren't on the planes it is made to measure. You can rig a brass screw in a hardwood carrier and adjust your tilted alignment. You can do this for 90 degrees as well. Sure its a little fussy but, once aligned a decent machine will stay aligned if not moved about too much. Its also an easy way to do a quick go, no-go check to see if you need to go further.

Thanks for the clarification. Now I will have to go and check my saw.

Mike Dowell
10-06-2015, 11:24 PM
And as for me, I'm a ridiculously anal/analytical person. For me, when it comes to setting up equipment, if there is *any* room for improvement or a more accurate method, I want that. To me, it's a mental thing. If I have my miter aligned to the blade as close as .005, but I know if I just work with a it a little bit, I can get it closer - I will. The reason is because if I don't, every time I am using the saw, I'll be thinking "I really ought to align this the best I can". I'd consider it to be a major personality malfunction quite honestly.

Ian Moone
10-07-2015, 8:06 AM
I don't wish to confuse the sound advice already given but would add one thing.

If the saw is part of a "combination machine" e.g. the Robland X31, then this alignment of the saw blade to the miter slot/slots remains critical, including when tilted, HOWEVER - it is only a small part of the over all set up of the machine & needs to be done in the right order.

With such a machine... almost every adjustment affects some other function.

So - as an example...adjusting the saw blade to the table miter slot - will alter the saw blade alignment to the sliding table. Thus, once the miter slot adjustment is completed - then the sliding table needs re - adjustment! The "rails" that the sliding table runs on are adjustable in 3 directions... and come set from the factory using special 'jigs'. they are a night mare to get right without after market micro adjusting attachments. Changing the blade adjustment to the miter slot - commits you to then adjusting the sliding table rails in 3 directions at each end - which just committed you to a world of hurt if you don;t have the right method and gear to do so.
Not just that either.. the saw bench table top height is achieved from the planer infeed and out feed tables once they are aligned.

So the point is, in a combination machine... should I alter the blade alignment pillow block settings, if it's already aligned to the sliding table but not so the miter slot.... which do i I use most often? Do I cut miters with the miter gauge and slot OR just put a wixey digital gauge on the tilting arbor blade and wind it over to my exact 45 degree cut & turn my stock up on edge to the fence on the sliding table, and cut the miter that way - avoiding using the miter slot?

The Miter gauge has 1 degree adjustments... and anything beyond that, is a "test cut and best guess bye eye" proposition, the miter slot often isn't all that tight and wobbles a little as it travels giving a not very smooth cut off the saw blade... compared to the tilted arbor and sliding table/ fence method - when set with the magnetic Wixey gauge which will adjust to 0.1 of a degree.

Some people just find "better ways" than using the miter slot and don't pay a lot of attention to whether it is 100% parallel to the blade... In an ideal world it would be nice if everything was 100% spot on but I find with used machines they seldom are once they have been moved and dis-assembled / re assembled by subsequent owners without benefit of manuals and set up guides or specific knowledge of the specific machine set up order procedure.

So the caveat is if it's a combination machine and your going to alter a setting coz you read about it on the intranet, just be aware that almost every setting is interdependent of all other settings on the machine and doing just one (blade arbor) independent of all others and out of the right order - can then make many other settings no longer work as they once did - ergo sliding table (and fence) that runs of rails...

Just thought I'd throw that in - having made the exact same error myself early on with a new (to me) X31 machine, and having to do weeks of research and re-adjusting / set up, following the correct order procedure to get it all back to "ticketty boo" on every function.

Obviously a plane old standard stand alone contractors saw this likely won't be an issue - but I can just see someone with a combo - thinking to themselves... "I should do that to my saw" and not understand / realize the interdependence of every other function on the machine once you start altering factory settings.

YMMV

(Your mileage may vary).

David Cramer
10-07-2015, 3:32 PM
I don't wish to confuse the sound advice already given but would add one thing.

If the saw is part of a "combination machine" e.g. the Robland X31, then this alignment of the saw blade to the miter slot/slots remains critical, including when tilted, HOWEVER - it is only a small part of the over all set up of the machine & needs to be done in the right order.

With such a machine... almost every adjustment affects some other function.

So - as an example...adjusting the saw blade to the table miter slot - will alter the saw blade alignment to the sliding table. Thus, once the miter slot adjustment is completed - then the sliding table needs re - adjustment! The "rails" that the sliding table runs on are adjustable in 3 directions... and come set from the factory using special 'jigs'. they are a night mare to get right without after market micro adjusting attachments. Changing the blade adjustment to the miter slot - commits you to then adjusting the sliding table rails in 3 directions at each end - which just committed you to a world of hurt if you don;t have the right method and gear to do so.
Not just that either.. the saw bench table top height is achieved from the planer infeed and out feed tables once they are aligned.

So the point is, in a combination machine... should I alter the blade alignment pillow block settings, if it's already aligned to the sliding table but not so the miter slot.... which do i I use most often? Do I cut miters with the miter gauge and slot OR just put a wixey digital gauge on the tilting arbor blade and wind it over to my exact 45 degree cut & turn my stock up on edge to the fence on the sliding table, and cut the miter that way - avoiding using the miter slot?

The Miter gauge has 1 degree adjustments... and anything beyond that, is a "test cut and best guess bye eye" proposition, the miter slot often isn't all that tight and wobbles a little as it travels giving a not very smooth cut off the saw blade... compared to the tilted arbor and sliding table/ fence method - when set with the magnetic Wixey gauge which will adjust to 0.1 of a degree.

Some people just find "better ways" than using the miter slot and don't pay a lot of attention to whether it is 100% parallel to the blade... In an ideal world it would be nice if everything was 100% spot on but I find with used machines they seldom are once they have been moved and dis-assembled / re assembled by subsequent owners without benefit of manuals and set up guides or specific knowledge of the specific machine set up order procedure.

So the caveat is if it's a combination machine and your going to alter a setting coz you read about it on the intranet, just be aware that almost every setting is interdependent of all other settings on the machine and doing just one (blade arbor) independent of all others and out of the right order - can then make many other settings no longer work as they once did - ergo sliding table (and fence) that runs of rails...

Just thought I'd throw that in - having made the exact same error myself early on with a new (to me) X31 machine, and having to do weeks of research and re-adjusting / set up, following the correct order procedure to get it all back to "ticketty boo" on every function.

Obviously a plane old standard stand alone contractors saw this likely won't be an issue - but I can just see someone with a combo - thinking to themselves... "I should do that to my saw" and not understand / realize the interdependence of every other function on the machine once you start altering factory settings.

YMMV

(Your mileage may vary).



Okay, my head hurts and I need to lay down now:)

Mike Dowell
10-07-2015, 5:18 PM
Here is one that I just made. I didn't feel like making it adjustable because I'm feeling lazy. It DID get the job done though.322960

So here's a question: How can you cut a strip of wood for the miter slot if your saw is not aligned??? I had to finish my strip on the belt sander because it was it was coming out a bit crooked. Actually, now that I think of it, the fence and blade must be out.... because the miter slot would have had nothing to do with ripping a strip that was smaller at one end than the other.

glenn bradley
10-07-2015, 9:35 PM
So here's a question: How can you cut a strip of wood for the miter slot if your saw is not aligned??? I had to finish my strip on the belt sander because it was it was coming out a bit crooked. Actually, now that I think of it, the fence and blade must be out.... because the miter slot would have had nothing to do with ripping a strip that was smaller at one end than the other.

The miter bar is actually made shallow and thinner than the miter slot.

322981 . 322980

You then add screws to adjust the height so that the unit does not teeter-totter.

322982 . 322983

You add similar screws to adjust for a perfect miter slot fit.

322985 . 322984

I notice now that this unit is not made of ash. It is made out of that Chinese white wood that the furniture at Wal Mart is made out of ;-) You are correct about the blade to fence measurement. As discussed; align the blade to the slot that you use the most (many slots are not parallel and this is the left slot for me), then align your fence to the same slot.

James Gunning
10-08-2015, 11:32 AM
Mike, what you made is really all you need to align your saw. The only accuracy variable in your tool, is how tightly it fits the miter slot. As long as it's snug, that shouldn't be an issue.

The one thing that can't be adjusted is the relationship of the miter slot to the table as a whole. It's necessary to match the saw blade to the miter slot as you show in your photo. Then, all you have to do is flip the tool around the make sure the rip fence aligns with the blade and miter slot. Some actually move the top end of the rip fence away from the blade a thousand or two. It supposedly helps keep the burn marks down on some woods prone to it like cherry. I've never noticed a problem with that so my rip fence is set up parallel with the blade.

You probably saw that you can get an indication of how much run-out your arbor/blade has by turning the blade and watching to see how much the dial indicator deflects. When you set up your parallelism between the miter slot and blade, remember to use the same spot on the blade. I put a dot with a magic marker on the blade and measure at the rear of the blade and then rotate to measure the front using the same spot on the blade.

Mike Dowell
10-08-2015, 2:43 PM
Thanks James - totally understood. I didn't check the arbor runout but I will.

John Donhowe
10-10-2015, 4:09 AM
Okay, a little late to the party, but the one book I'd highly recommend is John White's "Care and Repair of Shop Machines". Full of really practical techniques for tuning table saws, as well as most other common woodworking tools.

mark kosse
10-19-2015, 10:08 PM
Or you can get one of these if you have a dial caliper. If not a caliper is more useful than an indicator and about the same price. I like it as much as anything else I've used.

http://www.rockler.com/mag-dro-mitre-slot-base

Bob Wingard
11-04-2015, 8:55 PM
Here's a setup I made several years ago ... ... 324692324693324694324695

The center bearing on the dial indicator base is spring-loaded, so it always maintains the same contact with the three bearings within the miter gauge slot.

The plate is ground aluminum, and gives me a little more than double the resolution I could get by indicating off of the exposed portion of a blade's plate.

Ben Rivel
12-09-2015, 4:24 AM
Check out the Betterley UNA-Gauge, itll help calibrate your table saw and pretty much every other tool in the shop as well. Well worth the money considering how many uses it has.

Art Mann
12-09-2015, 2:07 PM
If you go to the Youtube website and query tablesaw tuning and similar topics, you will get hundreds of videos that clearly show how to tune a saw. Another source I ran across just recently is a video put out by Grizzly tools. Obviously, they are demonstrating how to tune their brand but the information is just as useful for other brands. In my own experience, a cheap Harbor Freight dial indicator, a precision square and a precision straight edge is all the specialty equipment needed. An adjustable square is also useful but you probably already own one of those. Those high dollar specialty kits will make the job a little more convenient but not more accurate. The job is easy enough without them.

Bruce Page
12-09-2015, 2:22 PM
Here's some info on the subject: Checking a TS using a Surface Gauge (Lotsa Pics)
(http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?32315-Checking-a-TS-using-a-Surface-Gauge-%28Lotsa-Pics%29)

Christopher Clark
09-10-2016, 4:32 PM
Sorry about replying to this old thread. I use a holder for my calipers to align the table and fence. Works great. Cheap too!
343833 343834
http://www.rockler.com/mag-dro-mitre-slot-base?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_content=pla&utm_campaign=PL&sid=V9146&gclid=Cj0KEQjw3s6-BRC3kKL_86XDvq4BEiQAAUqtZzk7MOvaOpYmTe896e_6haADoJ z36fYLml4DXga35Y4aAj8O8P8HAQ