Table saws are a popular way of creating consistent, even cuts. Many people wonder if the table saw itself needs to be level or inherently a part of the table saw. Understanding the different elements of a table saw and if it needs to be level will be necessary for your final product.
A table saw does not necessarily need to be level. It will help, but it’s not imperative for the table saw to be level. You want to ensure the table saw is steady and secure. Still, you can utilize different leveling tools to create a level environment, rather than insisting the table itself is perfectly level.
This article will cover specifics on how to get an even cut and what you need to know about the placement of your table saw. We’ll teach you some key differences in the positions of your table saw.
How to Level Your Table Saw
Depending on the type of table saw you have, you will most likely have table inserts to help in the leveling process. These table inserts will be helpful because they can level out your surface without worrying as much about the actual table.
Knowing that the tabletop doesn’t need to be perfect may come as a relief to those working in an unfinished basement or out on an outdoor site where the ground may not always be level and cause the table to tilt slightly.
The table inserts should also fit flush with the tabletop. In most cases, you will find small screws or knobs to adjust the table inserts. You’ll find these leveling screws or knobs on the inserts in the corners. Those screws will help to adjust the height.
These four screws can be used to ensure each of the four corners are entirely level. So, if your table sits on an uneven surface or the table itself has become warped or damaged over the years – the inserts will help even everything out for you.
What Comes Next?
Pro Tip: If the table doesn’t have leveling screws, you can make your own. Using multiple layers of thick tape like duct or electric tape will work great. You can use these layers underneath to help raise it. You could also even try filing down some of the inserts to level it where necessary.
Drafting triangles(Check out this one on Amazon) will typically be your best bet when testing the table after you believe it is level. Use the triangle at a 90-degree angle over the miter slot. According to Wood Magazine, you should bridge the insert in the front and adjust the triangle until it reaches the triangle. You can then move it to the back of the table to try the same.
Lastly, use the triangle to sweep it over the whole surface of the table. If you notice it catching or slowing down anywhere, you will still need to make further adjustments. But if it’s smooth sailing, you have a nice even surface.
Why Your Table Saw May Not Be Cutting Straight
Many times, the first assumption will be that the table itself is off-kilter or uneven. But in most cases, it will have to do with other factors. And as much as we hate to admit it, it could be as simple as user error and come down to poor form in our technique. But one of the most common things to look at if your table saw is not cutting straight will be the blade alignment.
You could have a perfectly straight tabletop, but you will have an inferior final product if the blade alignment is off. The miter slot should always be parallel and perfectly flush to the fence and blade on the table saw. You still want a 90-degree angle between the table and once the edge has been raised.
There could also be issues with a warped blade or various elements that have been misaligned. Doing a thorough check of the whole system now and again is always worth it. You may find some loose holding nuts or a fence that is no longer aligned properly. This doesn’t mean that the table saw is not level, but it could affect the cut.
Any of these things can lead to an uneven cut, even if your tabletop is level. Gizmo Plans has a great article covering some of these issues more in-depth and how you can fix them.
Being Level vs. Coplanar
When we look back at the idea of a table saw needs to be level or not, there are a few things to keep in mind. The difference between the table being level or coplanar can make all the difference.
As we mentioned, the table saw doesn’t necessarily need to be level. But it should be coplanar. Making sure it is coplanar means that multiple points on the table should all be on the same plane. It is a geometric expression that means several issues exist within the same geometric plane. Here is a great, quick YouTube video explaining coplanar points.
A table saw that is slightly off or not quite level can still be completely functional and work well if you ensure that the extension table, tabletop, and extension wings are all coplanar. (Or as close to coplanar as possible). All of this to further reiterate that your table saw doesn’t need to be level. But keeping it aligned on the same plane will help make the job go smoothly.
Leveling Tools for Your Table Saw
When working with a table saw, you can choose from plenty of tools to aid in the leveling process. Digital magnetic levels or angle finders are the perfect companion to your table saw to ensure precise cuts.
Even if your table saw is slightly off-kilter, you can utilize these tools to ensure you are getting the correct angles and depths to your cuts.
Using a magnetic angle finder, you will be able to correctly calculate the angle of your blade, no matter the evenness or level of your tabletop. The level grabs onto the blade using its magnetic force and will let you see exactly what angle the blade is at.
While this helps to make cuts at different angles, it can also be beneficial when needing to make sure your blade is at 90-degrees for normal cuts. When you first set the tabletop level, you may see that it is not perfectly level. If you see it is off, you will know you may need to make up for some of that when you use it to calculate the blade’s angle and level.
The Power Tool Website offers a great look at different magnetic levels and the best ways to utilize them on your table saw.
Having a perfectly level tabletop is not imperative to woodworking. But, ensuring your table is secure and safe is. It doesn’t have to be perfectly level, but it does need to be stable, steady, and secure.
Whether you are using slotted stretchers, figure-eight connectors, z-shape clips, or any other tools and methods to secure the tabletop, make sure you take the time and effort to ensure its security. Not only will this make it safer, but it will also help create a stable environment for cleaner cuts.
Having a Level Table Saw
Of course, no one wants their table saw to be very unlevel. But it is nice to know that even if it is slightly off, it won’t be the end of the world. You can still use that table saw effectively, especially with the help of leveling tools.