Georgina Shaffer Table Saw July 30th, 2018 - 18:02:45
I'd like to take a minute to talk about the features that you should be looking for and what these features will mean to you after you unpack and set up your new table saw. These features include: motor horsepower, blade size, trunnion construction, tabletop flatness, tabletop size, arbor size and arbor bearings, sawdust extraction, ease of operation including raising, lowering and tilting the blade, tilt of the blade (left or right), the necessity of a magnetic switch and the importance of its location, ease of access to the interior of the cabinet, accuracy and ease of operation of the fence, the amount of rip space to the right and the left of the blade, safety features and table saw mobility around the shop. In addition to the table saw itself, you may want to construct an outfeed table around the back of the saw, if space permits. We'll talk about that, as well.
The quality of the table saw surface (or "bed") is extremely important to the overall performance of the machine. The table surface needs to be reliably flat and rigid to properly support the workpiece during a cut. As one of the most massive parts of the saw, the table surface also plays a major role in absorbing vibration. Because of the need for mass, rigidity and flatness, cast iron is the material of choice for the top of a table saw. On a quality saw, the table is made using a hefty quantity of cast iron and state-of-the-art foundry methods. The end result of the casting process is then precision ground to flatness in the .0005'' tolerance range.
Needless to say, the table must be exactly the same height as the top of the table saw table and you may need to extend the slots for the miter gauge into the beginning of the top of the outfeed table. If your saw extension table extends 50 inches or so to the right of the blade, so should your outfeed table and it should extend along the entire back edge of the table saw to the left of the blade. The saw should ideally be oriented so that you can bring long lumber through the shop door and directly onto the saw table without having to turn a corner.
Most table saws use the miter gauge and miter slot system to allow for crosscutting. A miter gauge consists of a cast metal protractor head attached to a length of metal bar. The bar rides in corresponding "miter slot" in the table saw's surface. Protractor on the "no frills" miter gauges that come with most table saws can be set to crosscut stock at any angle between 90 and 30 degrees and, if well made, do a serviceable job with most "routine" crosscutting.
The trunnion determines the accuracy of your cuts so you want to be sure that it is well built and accurately machined. The saw blade must always be exactly where you need it to be. Furthermore, the trunnion must be easy to operate. It should not require Superman to raise or tilt the blade. As time goes on, you may find that it is harder to turn the wheels or cranks that operate the trunnion. This is usually because of sawdust contamination of the gears and/or lack of lubrication. Some better saws have ways of eliminating sawdust from the cabinet into an external dust port before it can get into the gears. Other saws come with self-cleaning gear teeth.
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