Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to put off a tune-up to the point where your cuts aren’t accurate or the controls become stiff and stubborn to adjust. But there is an upside. Keeping your table saw clean, well-adjusted, and lubricated doesn’t take all that much effort, time, or a lot of specialized tools. In a short afternoon, you can have your table saw running great, with smooth and precise cuts to show for your efforts.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your table saw in top shape is a simple cleaning once a month. If sawdust, pitch, and resin are allowed to build up inside the cabinet, it won’t be too long before worm gears are gummed up and cranks become difficult to operate. This can be a constant source of frustration any time you try to adjust the saw blade. To start the process, the first thing to do is unplug your saw and then use an air compressor to blow off sawdust trapped around the trunnion area, below the table top, and inside the cabinet. Then once that’s complete, you can go right to work on the trunnion with a toothbrush and solvent to scrub away the pitch and resin build-up.
Just about any shop solvent will work here. Just be sure to avoid lacquer thinner which can strip the paint off the metal. And keep the solvent away from any bearings. The solvent can penetrate the bearings and dissolve the lubricants inside, shortening the life of the bearings.
With the inside of the saw all cleaned up, this is a good time to add some lubrication. I like to use a dry lubricant (like the one in the photo above) because it’s less likely to attract dust and chips.
At this point, you can turn your attention to the top of the table saw. Although it’s not likely to be caked with pitch and resin, it can have a different kind of build-up — rust.
The most effective way to deal with this is to use a fine grit (400 - 600) and paper or abrasive pads. I like to use mineral spirits as a lubricant and “wet sand” any area with rust on it.
Once all the rust is removed, apply a coat of paste wax to the top of the table. And while you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to wax the fence rails, and fence face. You’ll notice the difference when adjusting the position of the fence or sliding a workpiece along its face.
Download a free article with even more tips and techniques to tune up your table saw here: Table Saw Tune-Up
Download a free, how-to article on giving your cast iron table saw top a new makeover here: Table Saw Makeover