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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 11:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3029
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
I tried to make a web page, but my software isn't working right. :( So, the pics will all go in here, OK? If someone has already created a thread like this, LMK and I'll delete it.

Most of us have probably had the experience of tuning up our miter saw or table saw, then making something like a frame and discovering it isn't as "tuned" as it needs to be. The following Cutting Tests provide the proof of the pudding, and are essential to being sure things are set right, especially if you're about to make a frame, or something else where any small errors accumulate and mess the piece up.

The basic idea behind the tests is to make a cut, then rearrange the 2 pieces in such a way as to show and magnify any error that has been made. I'm using a miter saw for these pictures, but the same tests can be done on the table saw.

All lumber used should be milled flat, straight and true. Forgive me for using a 2x4 for some of these tests, but I'd just tuned up my saws about 3 weeks ago and didn't have the heart to destroy any more hardwood. :shock: Also, the stock cannot move! or it will throw off your test.

The first test pictured is to check that the Blade is 90° to the Table. Use a piece of wood that's fairly thick, as the height of the wood is what magnifies the error.

Make an "X" where you're cutting, just to keep the pieces straight later, cross-cut the board, and then lay it down on a flat surface. Roll one side over (half-X faces down) and put the pieces back together. Any deviation from 90° to the table will be doubled in the gap that appears.

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The next test is to verify the Blade is 90° to the Fence. For this test, you want the board to be fairly wide, I like 3-4". This cedar board is much wider than that, overkill :shock: . Same deal -- X, cut, roll over, match up. It's helpful to butt the edges up against a straight flat surface such as a jointer fence. The error will show clearly.

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Now comes the fun stuff -- bevels and miters. To check for bevel, tilt the blade to your 45° stop, clamp the wood down solid, and cut the bevel. Then flip one side over to form a corner. Slide in a square and square the corner. Any deviation will show (doubled) in the joint (in pic, look toward the top of the joint, you can see the gap ).

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To check for the miter stops being accurate, cut a fairly wide board at 45° and make a corner again. This cedar is way wider than needed, it was just a handy piece.

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No, I didn't throw my saw out of alignment for y'all. I simply put a folded up piece of paper on the stop, or over-rode the detents, to throw things off a half-degree or so.

If anyone sees a gross error, please LMK -- I've had a little eggnog tonight, so might not be totally "here." Any questions, I'll try and answer too. Some day I'll redo the page with really nice wood. :D


Last edited by forestgirl on Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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