Real Life Review – Craftsman 218331 Tablesaw – Part 3: Adjusting the blade alignment

As mentioned in Part 2, the saw didn’t arrive with the blade perfectly aligned to the miter slots. Per the manual this looked to be a relatively easy task, so with a fairly short window of shop time today and no more pressing projects ahead of it, I decided it was a good day to get that done.

There are multiple ways to check the blade to slot alignment; I prefer having numbers to work with rathar than gaps, so my preference is a dial indicator mounted on the miter gage I will be using with the saw. I didn’t have an indicator with me, but amazingly Harbor Freight had a 20% off coupon for one…. With some miter gages it becomes a bit of a trick to do this, but the combination of a magnetic indicator stand and the steel base of the Incra made for an easy time of it on this go-around. With the indicator mounted to give a reading along the length of the blade, the next step was to put a dot where I wanted to measure so I would have a consistant and repeatable reference point to work with during the process.

Setup

The dot
Once setup, the alignment check began by measuring the blade with the dot at the front of the saw, then moving the measurement to the rear of the saw. Turns out I was out of parallel by just under 0.02 inch. It doesn’t sound like much, but on a longer piece it can add up.

start_frontstart_back

Next came the alignment part of the task. To do this, the back panel needs to be removed, a fairly straightforward job of removing 6 screws. Then there are 3 bolts which hold the blade and motor assembly to the table to be loosened. These are fairly tight bolts, and I’d be surprised if anyone can get them off with the Allen wrench provided with the saw. The one at the front is a bit of a bear to get to with enough access to do anything; I used a 18” breaker bar with a hex drive socket and a wobble extension to get below the blade guard and avoid the angle adjustment rack – which is rathar inconveniently placed for this task. The two at the back are easier to get to, but the welded frame crosspiece is in exactly the wrong location to be able to use the hex drive socker, so I had to use the Allen wrench with a bit of a cheater. Note that all that is needed is to loosen the bolts maybe a quarter turn, they shouldn’t be removed.

Bolt 1

Bolts 2 and 3

Once loosened, the process was simply to tap the back of the blade and motor assembly one way or the other, then measure, then repeat… I used a 3 lb sledge hammer and a piece of half inch dowel. After about 4 rounds I had it lined up within 0.002, which is good enough for my purposes.

end_front

end_back
Tightening the bolts was the reverse of loosening. No torque value was specified, nor would a torque wrench have been able to get to the bolts, so between the breaker bar and cheater I tightened them to what felt similar to the initial breaking torque. The unit is massive enough that there was no change in alignment during the tightening process.

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