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by Ridge Gilmer
I purchased most of my main shop tools from The Cutting Edge in 2002-’03 and haven’t done much with them since in the way of maintenance. So I was pleased when Fine Woodworking (FW) came out with a flyer about their publication “Tune up your tools” - apparently originally published by Taunton Press in 2011. I obtained a print copy of this and also consulted the recent articles, contributed to FW magazine by master teacher, Marc Adams. (See FW Issues 233, 235, 236 & 240)
The first chapter in the publication is “Tool Kit for Tune-Ups” that includes a good straightedge, precise combination square and a magnetic base dial indicator. The next chapter covers several test cuts to check accuracy of the saw blade, miter gauge and crosscut sled. I was advised to hold off these tests until after the cleaning and lube was completed.
So - on to the “Tablesaw Tune-Up” chapter and my Delta contractor saw. I had noted increasing difficulty in raising/lowering and tilting the blade and figured that they were sadly in need of both cleaning and lubrication. In my case, it was necessary to turn the saw upside down for access to the two worm gears that control up/down and side tilt. Before turning (with help!), I removed the blade and the Uni-Fence and unhooked and removed the motor. I have a Bench Dog cast iron router table mounted on the left extension, but left that on.
Once exposed, it was only the dirty job of cleaning - an old toothbrush came in handy - and spraying heavy duty lubricant, mainly on the two worm gears. With both turn wheels exposed, I was able to run both gears through their full range and to feel the marked improvement in action. After more cleaning underneath, we turned the table back upright and reattached the motor. I had changed out the drive belt to a link belt several months ago, so that much had been done. When I turned it on, the saw just hummed sweetly and I again ran the two blade adjustments through their ranges with ease. So I replaced the Uni-Fence and splitter.
So now it was time for the accuracy checks that involved the usual steps of checking the raised saw blade for square, same for the mitre gauge and then more checks when using the crosscut sled and the fence. All these checked out and then I used the dial indicator to affirm virtually no runout on the raised and tilted blade.
At this point, allow me to refer readers to Marc Adams articles in FW # 233 and 235 for excellent recommendations on safely using the table saw and his slightly modified crosscut sled to make accurate cross and rip cuts.
I skipped the next article about dust-proofing table saws and moved on to the chapter on the bandsaw, which is a Delta 14” of same vintage. This piece is different in that the author highly favors using a single 1/2”, 3 tooth/inch blade for virtually all cuts. I’d had my 3/16” blade and the Carter guide on my saw so long that the narrow blade had grooved my already once replaced wheel tires, so that had to be done again. This time, I acquired heavy duty tires from Circle Saw. Removing the upper wheel was easy and facilitated changing out the tire. Replacing them is not as big a hassle as appears, but I’ve been unable to remove the lower wheel, so doing that one was tough. The trick is to clamp the tire to the wheel at one or two points, then stretch the remaining tire over the rim. I found it helpful to take a small piece of wood to press the edge of the tires firmly onto the wheel, inside the rim ridge.
The inside of bandsaws accumulate lots of sawdust - the so-called dust vent is the most useless piece on the saw and constantly gets in the way. But a combo of compressed air and wiping gets the job done. I also changed out the belt for a link style. The table saw belt is about 48’, but the band saw’s is 60”, so needs additional length. Prior to adjusting blade guides, I made at least preliminary adjustments to the tension (moderate) and, most importantly, the alignment or tracking. Using the alignment adjust, track the blade in the center of the tire.
Then I tackled changing out the blade guides and adjusting them, both upper and lower. The upper guides are easily accessible and fairly easy to replace and adjust, but the lower ones are a pain. It helps to tilt the table 45 right to gain better exposure, but some type of light source is badly needed when working down there. Be sure to set the guide blocks or roller guides just barely behind the tooth gullets on the blade and also the vertical roller guide or thrust bearing just barely behind the blade. The old bandsaw ran more smoothly and cuts just fine now.
The Drill Press chapter was the simplest in my case, since I’d already made a satisfactory accessory wood table with adequate hold-downs and fence. Mostly I just needed to clean and lube the rack-and-pinion mechanism and raise/lower it through the usable range. Some suggest replacing the rubber belts with link style, but I passed on that. Checks for vertical square alignment are simple and I found no need to check the runout on the drill chuck. The author includes a plan for a wood accessory table, if needed and Rockler sells a nice one as well.
My final task involved my Bosch sliding compound miter saw - about five years old. The biggest issue here was a thorough cleaning, using various combinations of shop vacuum, compressed air, wiping cloths and toothbrush. There are many crevices to find and clean, even though knowing that they’ll be dirty again soon. After cleaning, careful lubrication as directed - using both spray lube and wipe-on smoothes out the sliders.
Check the blade for vertical squareness to the table and also for exact alignment with the central slot when traveling the sliders. Also check at least the 45 degree horizontal angles and the 90 & 45 degree bevel settings. Adjustment methods are described if needed.
The remaining miter saw piece describes a variety of accessories that may or not be useful. From one of Marc Adam’s articles, I made a zero clearance insert to replace the metal one and this helps keep sawdust and wood fragments controlled. I also had previously made a separate miter saw bench with extensions built on both sides to support longer stock. The main problem has been to maintain the same plane of level between the metal saw table and the plywood extensions that also carry a set of Kreg sliding stops that work well.
My final step required serious resolve - to drag out all my scrap wood, accumulated over at least the past ten years and put it out for heavy trash pickup next morning! I’ll be looking for some of those cutoffs soon, but guess I’ll just have to start a new supply.
I hope that some of my fellow WWCH members find this report useful and trust that they will find a copy of the Taunton Publication for reference. It’s work - and a lot of it’s just downright dirty! - but the rewards of a much cleaner shop and improved condition of older machines is well worth it.