Much needed maintenance on the General 350.

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           Click pictures to enlage.

Hello All,

After completing the latest kitchen cabinet build, it was obvious to me that there were a number of maintenance issues with my table saw that needed my attention.

First and foremost was the issue of the electrical cord running from the table saw’s motor to the magnetic switch. This cord  has become brittle, was starting to crack in a couple of places and replacing it is the only safe option I have. Next was the magnetic switch location, I’ve never liked where the switch was located and since I need to change the power cord from the switch to the motor, now is a good time to change the switch’s location. Cleaning and lubricating the internal components of the table saw is another maintenance issue that needs attention from time to time and it’s now time. And since the cast iron top will be off the saw, I’ll need to align both the blade and fence parallel to the miter slot when I re-install the top. I have a quick and accurate way of doing these last two procedures and if you’ve ever been intimidated by aligning your fence or blade parallel to the miter slot, hopefully the procedure I’ve used here will give you the confidence to tackle this adjustment.

Here’s the saw as it looked when I finished a recent kitchen cabinet build. Notice the switch location, I’m going to be relocating it to the left side of the saw’s body.

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Here’s the saw stripped down to its bare essentials, namely the cabinet, internal components, switch and power cord. And yes, the cast iron top is heavy but I prefer to remove it in one piece, it’s less work than breaking the top down into three pieces and easier and faster to re-install as one piece.

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Looking down into the saw you can see the trunnion assembly and motor and arbor assembly. There’s a lot of beefy cast iron under the hood of this saw. After lubricating the manufacturer’s suggested lubrication points with a dry, graphite powder spray, it’s time to turn my attention to that power cord that needs replacing.

 

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I removed the old power cord and wired up the new one to the motor.  Being careful to note where each wire needed to go, it’s a good practice to take one step at a time. In the past I’d gone so far as to make a wiring diagram or even snapped a couple of digital pictures to refer back to in the event I lost my way through a wiring maze.

Changing the power cord’s location wasn’t that difficult to do, it was a matter of simply drilling the new hole location with a step bit, re-installing the rubber grommet and running the wire through the grommet.

 

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With the cast iron top re-installed and the 4 bolts that hold the top to the cabinet snuggly ( but not tightly) installed  , I’m now ready to align the blade to the miter slot. Accurate alignment makes for accurate and safe cutting so now’s the time, to take the time and get it right.

There are a number of methods used for setting the blade parallel with the miter slot and I’ll be covering them in an upcoming post but for now, this is my quick and accurate method that I’ve been using for a while and I really like it’s speed and accuracy. At the heart of this method are two pieces of hardware, the digital or dial caliper and the miter slot caliper holder. This miter slot caliper holder is available at Lee Valley and other suppliers and it costs less than $8, that’s right, less than 8 dollars. The digital caliper attaches to the caliper holder and the caliper holder fits nice and snug into the miter slot.

I take a marker and make a mark on the table saw blade body near any tooth as seen in the picture below and then measure the distance to the blade. I then rotate the blade to where the mark come up through the table saw top at the back of the throat plate and then move the caliper and holder to that location and take another measurement.

 

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To adjust the miter slot parallel to the blade, I take a dead blow hammer and gently tap on the front or back corner of the table top to move the top so that the miter slot and blade are perfectly parallel. It takes a little gentle persuasion but it’s not that difficult to get it dialed in perfectly.

Here you can see with just a few minutes of careful persuasion, I’ve managed to set the front of the blade and the back of the blade perfectly parallel to the miter slot. I know it’s perfect because the front and rear measurements using the digital caliper are the same, 0.467″.

 

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With the table saw blade and miter slot perfectly aligned it’s now time to put the rest of the saw back together including fabricating a bracket to hold the switch and wiring it.

 

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The next step is to install and adjust the fence parallel to the miter slot. This is another job for my digital caliper and miter slot caliper holder. Using the same method as I did earlier to adjust the blade parallel to the miter slot, I proceed to set the fence parallel to the miter slot.

I check the measurement at the heel of the fence and then check the measurement at the toe of the fence. Adjust the fence where necessary and when the measurements at the heel and the toe of the fence are both the same, the fence is parallel to the miter slot.

 Measuring at the heel (front) of the fence.

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Measuring at the toe (rear) of the fence.

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With the fence and blade parallel to the miter slot, general maintenance complete and the switch location now changed, this saw is once again ready to take on a hard day’s work. In real time, I started after lunch and finished before dinner, not bad for a Saturday afternoon’s work.

All the best

Gord

 

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