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Thread: Table Saw Not cutting 90* (HELP!)

  1. #1

    Question Table Saw Not cutting 90* (HELP!)

    I am having a problem with my table saw that is about to make me lose my mind (up in here, up in here). I am about to finish my first year of woodworking. I have a 90s model craftsman table saw that I have had for about 9 months. It is the 315.228390, essentially the same thing as this I can't decide if this problem has existed since I purchased the saw and I have just gotten to the point where I notice something small like this, or if it is a new problem.

    I cannot cut a 90 degree cut. The cuts look angled or rounded, like there is a slight swoop to them, with more material removed from the bottom. If I rip a small piece of wood, something like 3x10 and then stand the piece on the side that was ripped you can see that the piece is leaning a couple degrees. Putting a known square triangle square up to the piece, while standing on edge, makes it very apparent.

    It happens on both rips and miters. It happens with plywood and softwood, haven't tried hardwood yet.

    Here is what I have checked so far (not necessarily in order):
    1) Checked blade for square with table with a known good square
    2) Checked blade for square with magnetic digital angle checker (Wixley)
    3) Ensured insert is level with table
    4) Checked table surface for flat with a quality straight edge and a feeler gauge. Had a couple of spots between .01-.03 out of flat. Basically flat except for scratches in the surface.
    5) Tried a different blade<br>6) Attached the magnetic digital angle checker (Wixley) to the blade and moved the blade all the way up and down. Digital angle checker said 89.8-90.2 throughout even while in motion.
    7) Checked arbor for wobble by using dial indicator, less than .01 off
    8) Took the insert out and ripped a piece of 10x20 scrap plywood, was still off

    What else should I be checking? What am I missing? Is there some other part of setup I have forgotten?
    Last edited by Kenny Southerland; 05-18-2020 at 9:10 AM. Reason: Edit: I had a bunch of html tags in my text for some reason

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Stone Mountain, GA
    So the cut surface is not straight? I think this would come from either the blade flexing or from the table not being flat. The specs you gave for table flatness are not very good, 0.03 is 1/32" and that will cause problems if you are trying to dial things in precisely. If you meant 0.003", then that's pretty good.

    With a table that is not flat you can get a different squareness reading if you place the square on the left vs. right side of the blade. So you might be checking on the left side and then feeding the work on the right side. Additionally you can get a different squareness reading depending on how long of a stock your square has. A 2" square might read perfect 90, but a 12" square is off. The same would apply to the width of the piece you are ripping. Might be square on a 3" piece but noticeably off on a 18" wide piece. It all depends on exactly how the table is not flat, whether its convex/concave, and in which directions.

    With the saw off and blade retracted, if you place a flat workpiece on the table where you'd be commonly feeding for a rip cut, then push down on either edge or either end of the board, does it rock? If so I'd suspect this is most of your issue, the piece is rocking and changing its angle to the blade as you feed it through. You might have to be very careful about where you apply pressure during a cut, to keep the board rocked the same way throughout. And you might have to compensate the angle of the blade a bit to get a square result, even if it doesn't check out with your angle gauge, and that compensation might change with different sized workpieces.

  3. #3
    Does the offcut show the complementary angle?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Always unplug your saw before doing any of the things suggested that do not call for the aw to be operational. Remember to take all of this advise as constructive and not as a criticism. It is easy to become insulted when someone states something plainly, it can appear harsh. Not our intention.

    There can be so many correct suggestions and additional questions to this. Don't get frustrated by the amount and variation of things people offer. First off it is good to understand that the tablesaw primarily tries to cut a single plane through the material. That is, when operating properly the blade does not deviate, the line of cut does not change. What makes this possible is that the material is moving through the cut along a consistent path, the blade is operating correctly and there is no gross problem with your technique.

    I agree (or hope) that you are reporting .03" when you mean .003". IMHO a saw that is off 1/32" from the start is good for framing a house but, not much else. The reference surfaces during a rip operation are the table and the fence. For a typical 90 degree rip cut the table and fence should be perpendicular to each other with the fence parallel to the blade. Even if this alignment is perfect the feed path will be irregular if the material is not properly milled prior to heading for the tablesaw. For rip cuts you want one face jointed flat and one edge jointed perpendicular to that face. This assures a true face and edge to ride against the true table and fence surfaces.

    Any deviations in the material's face and edge will attempt to be transmitted to the cut. Transmission of irregularities is not always possible because the blade only wants to cut straight. When presented with more path deviation than it can tolerate the blade will kick back at worst and leave tooth marks at best. Other common indicators of a poor feed path are burning, difficulty feeding and rough cut results.

    One possibility for the results you are reporting is that the material is not true and the blade is allowing path deviation. You mention that you swapped blades but, did not mention what kinds of blades or their condition. Swapping a well used blade for another well used blade may not provide you with a new test, just another similar one.

    Here's an article on aligning a contractor type saw. Pay special attention to the saw blade being parallel on the plate, near the same tooth (mark it with a felt pen) at the front and rear positions. Also, check your 90 degree stop to be sure it is not limiting your adjustment. I generally set my stops a degree or two past 90 and 45 as these "positive" stops are not always . . . well . . . positive ;-)

    Once you have gone through these steps, let's revisit the issue. A new quality blade would help if you do not have an alignment plate but, let's not go spending $100 if we don't have to. A dial indicator, a combo square or a piece of wood with a brass screw in the end can all be used to confirm that your blade is spinning true. Just touch the tip of the square or screw to the side of the blade in a secure position and rotate the blade by hand. The contact should be consistent; no waves or wobble. Please let us know what you find.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 05-18-2020 at 10:40 AM. Reason: caps
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Are you sure you are measuring the blade body and not the teeth?
    Bill D.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    A digital angle checker is far from an accurate tool. If it is a one decimal place version, it can be .09 degrees off before the display changes to the next digit. Craftsman table saws are not known for their accuracy. .01" is a lot of wobble, max should be half that. Your table flatness numbers are horrible. A different blade doesn't indicate the quality nor sharpness of any of your blades. It doesn't indicate if you are using thin kerf or full width blades. I'm going to need a sketch to understand what you mean by "rounded" or "swoop" cut. That surely sounds like a dull or harmonic issue blade to me.

  7. #7
    Let's start with the basics!

    Have you aligned the saw blade to the miter slot with your dial indicator mounted on a block of wood attached to your miter gauge?

    Have you aligned the fence with the same miter slot and checked it for repeatability?

    What sort of cut do you get when you cross cut a board?

    What blade are you using? Your problem sounds typical of a thin kerf blade or a blade that is dull that is dull. I run a Freud full kerf glue line rip blade on my Craftsman saw ( model 113.298720 14 amp motor) and it works great and my rip cuts are square every time even when cutting 3/4" hickory.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 05-18-2020 at 11:09 AM.
    Lee Schierer
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  8. #8
    To clarify to those asking, yes I meant .01-.003. Sorry for the typo.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Modesto, CA, USA
    This weekend I bought the HF dial indicator to align my tabletop. It was under $20 out the door. I made a simple wooden mount for the miter gauge to set the groove parallel to the blade. I suggest you do that first. I do not really care about the accuracy, just repeatability. Once that is set then start to measure the angle to the table. A blade stabilizer may help.
    Note that all measurements are made with the power off, rotate by hand only.
    Bil lD

  10. #10
    Oh, that I didn't think to check. I'll try that this afternoon.

  11. #11
    Is your fence square (vertically) to your table top? If your fence and table top are not 90 degrees and you push the workpiece against the fence you may tilt it off the table top so it is no longer flat on the table top. The taller the workpiece the more this will matter. (Although you #8 suggests this is not the issue). Did you check the blade for square at several points?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Tucson, Arizona
    Some photos of your saw and test setups would be helpful.

  13. #13
    When you adjust the blade 90* to the table, make sure you to rotate the blade and check that in several spots on the blade. Any kind of arbor wobble will cause a variation in the blade angle. Accurate and consistent blade adjustment was one of the reasons I moved up to a good cabinet saw.

  14. #14
    Based on what several of you sent over here is what I have done. Also, several of you asked for pictures of what the cut looks like I have added a couple of those. The first two show the issue with the cut. The 3rd is the piece stood up on the edge that was just ripped against a square.

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg

    1) I just happened to have purchased a new blade that was on sale just prior to this whole thing starting. Its a Freud Industrial, not Diablo, 60T multipurpose blade. It was sealed in the package and I had to remove the lubicant they spray on the blades to prevent them from rusting, so I know its not been used previously. Used the digital and a small machinist square to verify the blade was 90 degrees to the table before running.
    2) I used some Russian birch plywood scraps for my tests so that I would have a fairly stable material I was working with, 12mm 9 ply. Its almost voidless, but still not quiet as good as the real thing.
    3) I made a couple rip cuts, using my fence, and they came out the same as the older blades. Curved, rounded, swooped cuts. Most of them look like a Nike swoosh with the fact curvy part at the bottom and the point straight up. I got a couple pictures
    4) I made a tight runner for the miter slot and mounted my dial indicator to it. Its an analogue iGaging dial.
    5) Made a mark in the center of a gullet with a felt pen on the blade and put the dial indicator on it with the mark at the front of the table. I rotated the blade around to where he mark on the blade was on the back of the blade and moved the dial indicator to sit on the mark. It was a difference of 0.001. I moved the dial indicator and blade back and forth several times and got the same result over and over. From what I have read on here it seems there are a few of you out there that says .001 isn't good enough, but it took me over an hour to get that, and I am pretty sure any attempt I make to make it "better" than .001 will result in me actually making it worse and possibly burning my house to the ground. I want to do that as few times as possible in this lifetime.
    6) I noticed while I had the blade all the way up that the motor was pressed as far against the mount as it could be putting A LOT of tension on the spring. My table saw is a 90s contractor saw where the motor is mounted out the back on a hinge and it pivots up and down as you raise and lower the blade with the vbelt creating the tension for it to go up and down.
    7) My thought was that there could be too much tension on the vbelt, so I removed a link from the vbelt and put the saw back together. When I ran another rip on the same piece the blade stalled, I had burning almost the entire length of the cut. So I put the link back in the vbelt.
    7a) I also made cuts with the blade ever so slightly above the piece after changing the vbelt. I normally do a score cut of ~1/16 (2mm) and then raise the blade to full height on a second pass. Please note I only do this with plywood and laminates, not with hard or soft wood. One of the rips with the tip of the blade teeth ever so slightly above the piece came out absolutely perfect following the second pass. I thought maybe I found the problem. I moved the fence in slightly and repeated the cut, went back to having the problem. Tried several times and could not get another proper cut.
    8) I put the dial indicator back in the slot and placed the needle where it could turn on the blade without hitting any of the scores on the blade. I turned the blade multiple times by rotating the pulley on the motor. The dial indicator did not move more than .0015 in either direction. So that made me think the arbor is pretty true.
    9) Used the dial indicator to measure the fence, and that is when I found out my fence is complete crap. I knew it wasn't good, but gugh. Had play of .05 in both directions going the length of the fence, and it jumped all over the place while traveling back and forth, even when I moved the runner the dial was mounted on slowly. So I think my fence is at least part of the equation.
    10) At this point I went and grabbed the miter gauge. Since I can't make rip cuts I can trust I'll just make miter cuts. Miter cuts do the same thing as rip cuts
    11) Verified again that the miter gauge was square to the blade and made another cut. Same thing.
    12) I used the bottom of my triangle square to make sure the insert was flat to the table at the front and back of the insert. It was.
    13) I took the insert out and cut miters without the insert by clamping the piece to the miter gauge for safety. Same result.

    At that point it was getting late enough that I felt I needed to stop running the table saw, which I have been using on my driveway, due to how late it was getting and the fact several of the neighbors have small children.

    I also remember someone asked if i took the cut off and laid it next to the piece if they look joined, like they match. The answer is "kinda-ish", until I flipped one of the pieces upside down and then it was really off.

    One other thing I noticed tonight was that when I made rip cuts I could hear a change in the tone of the cut when the piece reached the teeth at the back of the blade. I am pretty sure that is due to the fence. I also noticed some consistent burn marks in the middle of the cuts that were all the same distance from the end of the piece closest to me, not much longer than the length of the exposed part of the blade.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Tucson, Arizona
    Hi Kenny,
    I have a late 70's vintage Craftsman table saw purchased new that looks a lot like the one in the photos from the link you provided. Here is one of the photos from your link.

    I just went out to the shop and did a test cut on a piece of 3/4" plywood to see how square the cut is. I have never done anything with the blade tilt adjustment other than using a small square to bring the blade to 90 degrees. The cut edge is very square to the board surface - as measured with a small square. The board also sits upright at 90 degrees when resting on the cut edge. It seems fine to me.

    20200519_222258_resized.jpg 20200519_222318_resized.jpg 20200519_222427_resized.jpg

    The motor on this saw is hinged as you described. The blade is a Freud (I can't remember, but I think it is a rip blade) that is fairly new.

    20200519_222403_resized.jpg 20200519_222328_resized.jpg 20200519_222413_resized.jpg

    Even though you have squared your blade to the table, perhaps you could make some small adjustments with the blade tilt knob on the right side of the saw to see if you can make a small adjustment that will bring your cut edge into square. Just a thought.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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