Checking for Square Cut on Chop Saw

Topics Covered
1. Checking For Flatness
2. Squaring It Up
3. Adjusting Left Fence
4. Lining Up Right Fence With Left Fence
5. Testing For a Square Cut
6. Conclusion

This post will cover adjusting your chop saw to ensure the cuts you make are square, and checking the actual cut for squareness.

The Photo below shows the tools I used. The trouble-light shown is especially useful (for me anyway). The clamps came in handy for holding the level (my straightedge) against the left fence while adjusting the right fence to be coplanar with the left fence.

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Checking For Flatness
My table saw cast iron tabletop is my standard for flatness.

I place my try square on my table saw top and check both legs of the square for flatness. If, I cannot slip my 0.002” feeler gauge between each leg of the try square and the tabletop: then I deem the two legs to be flat.

Next, I placed my straightedge on my table saw top and check for flatness between the straightedge and table saw tabletop. Again, if I cannot slip my 0.002” feeler gauge between the straightedge and the tabletop: then I deem the straightedge to be flat. I had to go thru several different straightedges in my shop before I found one that met the above flatness requirement: My 48” length aluminum level ended up being my flattest straightedge.

Squaring It Up
Position blade angle for a zero degree cut. I move my blade from a non-zero degree position to zero degrees. I stop when the blade position snaps into the zero-degree slot and tighten the handle, which locks the angle set in place.

Next, check to ensure that the angle between the left fence and face of blade is 90*, for a zero degree cut. I use the square and 0.002” feeler gauge shown in the following photo. If, I cannot slip the 0.002” feeler gauge between the try square and fence, or between the square and blade. Then I deem the angle between the fence and blade to be 90*.

In the photo below, ensure that the leg of the try square against the blade makes contact only with the plate of the saw blade. And, not with any teeth on the saw blade.

Just for comparison, the thickness of a sheet of paper from a telephone book is approximately 0.002”.

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Adjusting Fence on left Side
If the angle between the left fence and blade is not 90*, then adjust the left fence as follows:

Step 1 — Loosen the left fence bolts located on the back of the fence. The following photo shows the location of the bolts.

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Step 2 – What I like to do next is to wiggle the left fence as req’d to get the try square flush against both the blade and left fence. Next, tighten the left fence bolts (my saw’s left fence has two bolts). Tighten up outside bolt (left one) and re-adjust the fence if it moved while tightening up the bolt.

Step 3 — Finish up by tightening the second bolt. Re-check that the left fence and blade are still square to one another. If a 0.002” feeler gauge cannot slip down between the try square and both the left fence and blade; I deem the left fence and blade to be square to one another.

Lining Up Right Fence With Left Fence
To ensure that the right fence is coplanar with the left fence, place a straightedge (I used my 48” level) across the left and right fences. If there is no gap/s between your straightedge and your fences, then your two fences are coplanar with one another.

The following photo shows the feeler gauge used to test for gaps between straightedge and fences.

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However, if there is a gap/s between straightedge and either or both fences, then adjust the right fence as follows:

Step 1 — Loosen the bolts on your right fence. Place your straightedge flat against the left fence and wiggle the right fence flush against your straightedge. Now with the two fences flat against your straightedge, snug up the outside bolt (the rightmost bolt on the right fence), and re-adjust the fence if it moved while tightening up the first bolt.

Step 2 — Finish up by tightening the second bolt. Re-check that the right fence is still coplanar with the left fence. If a 0.002” feeler gauge cannot slip down between the straightedge and either fence, I deem the fences are coplanar to one another.

Testing For a Square Cut
Cut a piece of wood and check for a square cut, as shown in the following video.
Checking for Square Cut on Chop Saw – YouTube

This next video will show why the checking for square cut method works.
Explanation of Square Cut Check Method – YouTube

Conclusion
The nice thing about the above method (checking for a square cut) is that it is a relatively simple technique. You just need to ensure that the wood side against the fence butts up flat against the fence.

 

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Until next time, Take care
AL

 

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