Aligning table saw fence

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28 Oct 2015
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Is there a certain way to align the fence to the blade on my Startrite TA 165? It’s slightly closer at the far end, leading to pinching.

I’ve shimmed the fence rail on the right-hand side, to ‘rotate’ the fence clockwise, but it’s not quite enough. I wondered if there’s a proper way to do this, eg a screw I’ve missed?
Hi, I had the same problem with my saw. The only way to cure it properly is to go back to basics, which is that the table is probably not aligned with the blade. If your table has a slot in it, you can use that as a reference. If you have a depth gauge, vernier etc, you can go from the face of the slot to the blade. Raise the blade to its greatest height, and mark it in one place. Use the vernier to find the distance to the mark with it at the front of the saw, and then turn the blade so that the mark is at the back, and measure again. If you are lucky enough to have a digital vernier or depth gauge, you can zero it on the first measurement, so the second will just give you the difference. You then need to loosen three of the bolts holding the top to the base, and slightly loosen the fourth. move the top very slightly- a blow with a rubber mallet is good- and remeasure. Carry on till you get it right. Tighten carefully and check again. After that, you can move on to truing up the fence if it needs it.
It's pretty tedious but worth it!
Good luck
Some people deliberately skew the fence away from the blade by a few thou. It does leave a clean cut on the workpiece side, but can burn the off-rip side. I've recently had to fettle mine again (second time in 3 or 4 years). It was 10 thou out, which is too much.

Personally I'm not a fan of the practice (though a few thou splayed is much better than a few thou pinching) for the above reason and the fact that I cut tenons on my TS so one cheek would be clean the other not. So I aim for dead parallel. Mine is currently less than 2 thou out, half the thickness of a human hair, and both halves of the cut come out clean.

So my procedure, and this is what I teach on my Tablesaw series of films, is to adjust the trunnions so that the blade is parallel to the mitre slots (a DTI is useful here, though mounting it is not always very easy), then adjust the fence for parallel. A good fence should have adjustment for roll as well as yaw.

Only when you have the TS set up properly like that should you start to worry about your stops. They should be easy to adjust (once you have actually been able to access them!) and they should have a lock-nut on them so that, once set, they do not move.

Just checking before the following advise. The fence should only ever be used in this saw when it’s on the right hand side of the blade. It was originally setup to have a few degrees of tilt away from the blade when on this side of the blade which is why it can’t be used on the other.

If the fence is on the right side (literally) and you still have problems then:

The top of the saw should be pinned with two roll pins through the top into the casting that has the rise and fall hand wheel poking out of it. Firstly check that these two pins are present.....they can have been removed at some stage in the saws life! If they aren’t present, you need to get a couple and replace them. This will ensure that the top is properly aligned with the blade.

Next, if roll pins are present, slacken off the four bolts at either end on top of the fence itself. Release the fence lock and then just push the fence the way you want to adjust it. Whilst maintaining pressure retighten the four bolts. There is normally at least a couple of degrees of play in the fence to be attained this way.

If this hasn’t corrected it, take out all the spacers between the bars that the fence runs on and the table top and check that they are all the same height. There may have been one or two lost and home made efforts used as replacements. If they are not all the exactly the same thickness (providing the same spacing) you need to file the offending one or two until they are.

If this is all good, take of the startrite badge on the front of the saw, there should be two press fit studs holding it on or bolts. This gives you access to the third (bottom) trunnion bolt. Check all three bolts are actually tight / and the L shaped brackets are properly adjusted to fit into the groove (if you grab hold of the mechanism and with a lot of strength as you have to go in from the sides if not removing the top, you can detect slight movement when wiggled). There are two upper ones. Basically you twist the L shaped brackets to remove play in the trunion mechanism. I’ve only ever done it with the actual top off, but it might be possible to do it without. If you need to take the top off it’s very easy, there is a bolt underneath at each corner to remove and four bolts holding the casting with the rise fall handle to the top. You also need to remove the 2 roll pins.

You definitely should not need any shims.
deema":15kt7akg said:
Just checking before the following advise. The fence should only ever be used in this saw when it’s on the right hand side of the blade. It was originally setup to have a few degrees of tilt away from the blade when on this side of the blade which is why it can’t be used on the other.

No, no, NO!!!!

A few degrees is MASSIVELY too much. If you have to do this, a very few THOU is what you should be aiming for. As I say, I've recently done mine. It was 10 THOU out and that was giving me burning on the waste.

But, as I say, I set mine as close to parallel as I can get, so that there is no burning on either side. And it also means that I can use my fence on the Left, which is handy when bevel-ripping, so that the workpiece cannot get trapped. It's much safer.

Of course, if you have a modern left-tilt saw then that becomes unnecessary.
Yep, Steve is correct, my error. They were set to approximately 0.18 degrees. Or 0.8mm over 255mm (1/32” over 10”). They were not designed to use the fence on the left.
OK, but TBH, I would say that that was still considerably too much. That is 32 thou, and over 10" not even over the length of the fence.
I would say that that needs fettling.
I'm not saying that it would not cut, but I would say that it is very far from optimal.
The amount of offset that the fence would have been set to by the factory may or may not be optimal, but it is what the table tops were pinned to. It’s exactly the same amount that the Wadkin AGS range were also set to. You can find the fence setup up offset in their manuals.

Not wishing to create a debate over the amount of fence offset, I’m only highlighting what the saw was pinned to and what the user can expect when everything is setup back to how it left the factory.
Thanks all for your replies. I’ll have to revisit the saw and have another look, perhaps taking some photos, as there are several things that need correcting.

It was sent on a pallet, lying on its back against the back fence rail. Somehow, the left-hand front fence rail mounting had been broken away, and the push stick supplied with it was jammed underneath and had broken in half. It’s amazing how carelessly people treat other people’s things when they think no-one’s looking.
I’ve had another go with the saw - popped the table off and found that the two front corner allen bolts are missing, as is one of the hex bolts holding the saw assembly plate to the table.

I’ll order some replacements. In the meantime, I replaced the table with the bolts loose and with only one roll pin fitted, so it could rotate. With the blade raised and set at exactly 90deg, I set a combi square in the mitre slot such that the rule just brushed a tooth at the front. I marked this tooth and rotated it to the back and re-checked. By tapping the table clock or anticlock I got the blade square to the mitre slot.

But as I tightened the table bolts, the thing would skew off again, and not in a predictable direction. I tried for hours, tightening the bolts in different orders and trying to compensate, but no joy. It’s ended up a hair looser at the back of the blade. I used it to rip some 1/2” thick, 5” wide panels from a rough block (in a double pass) so it’s not too bad.

When the new bolts come, I’ll do it all again, but should I put some washers on the bolts, to help stop them skewing as they tighten, or perhaps try to ream out the second roll pin hole and fit the pin before tightening?
Hello Guinea fowl
I know its last Sept when you Guys had this discussion but we are also in the process of fine tuning our Startrite 175 table saw as well , we've ordered the riving knife kit from ALT and wondered if any of you have used it and how easy is it to install .
Maybe it will come with instructions but reading all your comments it doesn't look all that straight forward .
Any help from your experiences would be very much appreciated. Thank you
You need both roll pins fitted, do not try to change the holes as they would have been drilled with the table and fence set properly. They create a proper reference, something else is loose. With the roll pins inserted and the casting with the hand wheel bolted up (it won’t move with the roll pins inserted) nothing else holding the table to the base maters for fence alignment.

It sounds like someone has been ‘playing’ with the saw. I’d next check the L shaped brackets are tight and adjusted properly.
Someone has indeed been playing with the saw. There are bolts missing, blobs of weld on the arbor, and the riving knife carrier had come loose.

So I’ll loosen off, install both pins, then tighten up again, starting with the hand wheel casting. I’m just waiting for some bolts from ALT, but he’s on holiday at the moment.
Hello Guineafowl
We are now waiting for the Riving knife kit to arrive from ALT in the next few days they've said , in the meantime we have lifted the top off to see what we've ordered and found a terrible mess of welding .
It looks like we've got a pretty tough job ahead , We'll be having a go at it Sunday morning , I'll keep everyone in touch with our progress and I hope some of you will give us some help too. Good Luck to You All desmo11225
Hello Al
As I said earlier!!! We've had a go this morning with our new fittings from A L T , the parts they have sent are very good ,a bit expensive though . three parts of the work has been done but the circlips three of them next to the bearings are very difficult to take out , is there a special Circlip Pliers to do this ????? we have a couple of circlip pliers but they wont do the job and of course it's Sunday morning and every where is closed , Ah Well!! Half way home any how. desmo11225
@desmo11225 I take it you have the same crappy circlip pliers as I do. You may need three hands, but if you can get enough clearance with the pliers to hook in a small flat screwdriver, that should do the job. Put your thumb over the work to stop the circlip pinging off.
Hello Guineafowl
The riving knife kit has arrived and is now installed , all very good engineering ,we fitted new bearings as well as the riving knife arm , the saw is greatly improved ,pretty expensive though.
We would still like to fine tune it though but loosening the bolts and carrying out the instructions , giving the table taps with a hammer ,does'nt seem to move it .any advice pleased desmo11225
Hello Guineafowl.
Sorry I've been slow replying , had to have a new computer but the Riving knife kit has now been fitted and has worked very well ,it is a bit expensive but will be worth it, we too had to cope with awful welding ,which made it impossible to do a decent job of alignment. All the Best desmo11225

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