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Table saw blade height

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  • Table saw blade height

    1. I'm ripping maple/birch-faced 3/4 inch plywood using TS3650/80 teeth Freud blade which is raised just above the surface of the plywood panel. I'm not happy with the resulting edges - raised fiber, slight chipping,etc.
    Question: What is the optimal blade height for
    this particular application?
    2. What is the optimal speed of the panel infeed (how fast do I want to push the panel)?
    I'm building European-style frameless kitchen cabinets- I know that squareness of the final cabinet is a must:
    3. What is the best way to determine that the my cuts are square- perfect 90 degree cut?
    4. What is the best way to determine that my final cabinets themselves are square as well?

    Sorry for so many questions - I'm just starting out and very anxious about my results. Thank you in advance to anyone who answers.

  • #2
    There are several considerations regarding your questions. The first is the condition of the blade itself. Saw blades accumulate wood resins during use. The buildup isn't very obvious but if it's there, it causes lots of quality problems with the resultant cuts. Before you cut any premium lumber, you should remove the blade and soak it overnight in a suitable cleaning solution. I use Goof Off which is an adhesive remover. After soaking, go over all tooth and gullet surfaces with a brass brush and then wash and rinse completely. Resin buildup is more frequent on blades with lots of teeth that are not extended very far out of the cut. As for blade height, you should expose the entire tooth and at least 3/4 of the gullet (space between teeth). It sounds like you have your blade set too low. Generally speaking, most fine cabinetry work is done by oversizing the cuts by a 1/16th" and finishing on a jointer. If you don't have a jointer, you can also use a router with a good quality straight bit. It's really hard to get high quality finish cuts on a TS blade. As for squareness, I highly recommend a Starrett 505A-12 ProSite Protractor. Use it for setting up the saw and for checking cuts. Overall squareness is best achieved using self-squaring clamps during final assembly. They are available in both strap clamp and bar clamp varieties. Hope this helps.

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    • #3
      To check if the cabinet is square measure the diagonals if they are equal the cabinet is square

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      • #4
        Generally, I don't use 80 tooth blades on my table saw, unless I'm cross cutting solid stock. I would look into a plywood specific blade from Freud or another reputable blade manufacturer. They are designed to make the smoothest possible cuts in plywood.

        I use a good quality machinists square to check if my edges are perpendicular to the face. I also use the same square with the blade raised at full height to make sure the blade is set at 90.

        When I make a cut, I try and have the blade set about a tooth height higher than my stock.

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        • #5
          Measuring square is not as easy as it sounds. Go buy a combo square and simply check it--right! Not quite so easy. First, many combo squares aren't square to begin with and even if they are one drop of a concrete floor usually ends that. I have a Starett combo but reserve it for cases where I actually need a combo square. I have a set of machinist's or engineer's squares (2", 4", 6", 12"). Mine are made in India but manufactured to British standards and the way they're designed they can take more punishment than a combo square or try square (forget a ww try square if you want square). But to measure if a board is square edge to face, you have to have square. As mentioned in a post above, measure diagonals for box type construction.
          In addition to the problem with squares, it's hard to be sure that an edge is in fact square unless your straight reference surface, usually the edge. Obviously, if the reference surface isn't straight, even the most accurate square is not going to help. Here you need either a precision straightedge or some other edge (maybe melamine or MDF) to use as a reference. I have a 24" Starett straightedge and wish I had a 48" one, but the 24" is about $60 and the 48" is about $200, so forget that. There are 48" carpet squares available for around $25, but I don't know of their accurancy.
          Of course, you can pray that your jointer is giving you a straightedge, but if you don't have a known straightedge to check it, then I don't know how to determine that. Bottom line is that if an edge is not machined square (pray for that too), it isn't very easy to keep something perfectly square, but maybe it doesn't have to be "perfectly" square. However, I've found it impossile to do good work without square reference surfaces.

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          • #6
            For me, the first step in squaring anything is to dress the lumber. I shave all edges to ensure they are perpendicular to the flat surfaces and, if it's a board, resaw to remove dimensional variations. This is really important if your using home center quality lumber. A thickness planer simplifies things but if you don't have one (I don't) a properly adjusted saw works too. Next, you have to be sure you have at least 2 parallel sides on the longest dimension. I use a digital caliper on boards and a drafting T-square on sheet goods. Once you have parallelism, squaring on the crosscut is easy if your miter and fence are straight. That's where the expensive protractors or squares really pay for themselves. I never use a combination square for final cuts or for saw setup. I have found that if you exert sufficient effort to make sure the indidual pieces are square, squaring the assembled piece is pretty easy. The self-aligning clamps and the diagonal measuring technique mentioned above will yield the results you want.

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