Why Does My Table Saw Not Cut Straight?

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“Why does my table saw not cut straight?” is common among beginner carpenters from time to time. This issue might originate from two things: mechanical problems in your table saw or your skill level.

This article will take you through instances when your table saw might give you uneven cuts and what to do to solve this.

These are the most common reasons, assuming that you have the right expertise. They also apply when you’re using the correct procedure to cut your piece of wood. Now, let’s discuss what you can do to solve these issues.

Wood about to be cut using a table saw blade

How Do You Correct a Table Saw that is Not Cutting Straight?

Note that the correction method for your table saw will be unique to every case and model. However, we can provide a general explication of how you can rectify each mistake named above.

1. Misaligned Blade

One critical factor with using the table saw is that your blade must stay inline. Always ensure that your miter slot stays parallel to the blade and the fence. You only need a framing square to get your blade back to where it should be.

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The Blade is Not Parallel to the Table

When aligning your blade, raise it halfway above the table so that you get the angle right. Place the framing square at a perpendicular angle. One side should be against the blade and the other against the table. Ensure there’s no gap between the court and the blade as the square sits flat on the table.

You can get the blade back to 90 degrees by adjusting the tilting apparatus below the table. Check on the angle markings and set it at 0 degrees. After that, tighten the blade to make it stand perpendicular to the table. Ensure that you use the carpenter square to determine the right angle.

The Groove is Not Parallel to the Blade

Sometimes you find that your miter is not well aligned to the table saw. You can use a miter gauge and a carpenter square to determine this.

Insert the miter gauge into the groove and out the square against the blade and the miter gauge.  Ensure that there is no gap between the two bordering sides. If there is, then you have to adjust the miter gauge to set it correctly at zero giving you a square cut.

2. Blade Not Attached Properly

In general, table saw blades are attached with motor arbor. The blade is also positioned at the middle of the table by just uprising its head. To achieve a specific cut, you should align the head of the saw blade to the top of the table saw.

But achieving this position is quite a challenge and many carpenters may not do this properly. As a result, they will have a misaligned saw blade. Furthermore, wrong positioning of the saw blade will not make the desired straight cut.

3. Misaligned Fence

The alignment of your table saw fence is one crucial factor that will determine whether you are getting straight cuts or not. A misaligned fence can also bring about table saw kickbacks, exerting unnecessary pressure on the blade, forcing it to counter. It might cause the timber to dangerously fly across your workshop.

Person using a table saw to cut wood

You only need to check this if you continue to get irregular cuts even after checking the blade and arbor nuts. It is important to note that more extensive miter gauges will give you a better reference. They also provide better surface hold than smaller ones.

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To check on the alignment, use a carpenter square. One side should be against the blade, and the other side is sitting on the table to ensure it is 90 degrees. You can also use a miter gauge or a crosscut sled, or both. You can slide either across the fence. If the fence is off, adjust the alignment and try it again.

4. Warped Blade

The irregularity in blade alignment may come due to differences in the wood texture. Some of the wood is soft, while some are hardwood. Another cause of warped blade is the fact that we have to alternate between rough and fine cuts.

If your saw blade is not suitable to use in your specific wood texture, you will end up with a warped blade, which will affect your cuts. When this happens, you must replace the buy a new blade for your table saw.

Possible Causes of Warped Blades

  • Your table saw blade might develop bent edges after working on hardwood or material. At times they might even lose their teeth. The problem is common when using a wrong saw blade to do the job.
  • The second cause comes when you fail to press the wood properly against the fence and flat to the table. When you inappropriately ram the wood to the table saw, you might end up bending the blade.

5. Blade Nuts Too Loose or Too Tight

You must ensure that the nuts holding your blade are tight enough to get the perfect efficiency. An over-tightened blade might stop spinning correctly. A loose blade might tremble and vibrate, causing uneven cuts.

The nuts and bolts occasionally loosen with time. To avoid this, you need to perform regular service on your machine. Ensure that you have the right skills to get the proper grip.

6. Poor Form

Using a table saw might be tricky, especially for amateurs. Applying incorrect procedures will not only give uneven cuts, it can also be dangerous. Spend some time cutting random pieces to practice before you work on a massive project.

Table saw having trouble cutting wood straight

For safe and straight cuts, remember these two tips:

  • Always maintain the wood flat on the table
  • Always push the wood flush up against the fence

What Can a Crooked Table Saw Guide Cause?

Although the blade may be angled at various degrees, the guide that is used can also be angled. This enables the blade to stay straight, but the piece of wood can be angled in odd ways. However, this may mean that you need larger guides when cutting pieces of wood.

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This mainly happens when you have to cut oddly shaped wooden shapes or have pieces of wood that must be cut at precise angles that may not use only a straight guide. Most people create sleds for using on their table saws and this means that you just have to alter the angle of the blade and not the guide.

Can You Use a Sled to Set a Blade to 90 Degrees?

You can use a homemade table saw sled instead of a miter gauge to set your blade to 90 degrees. The accuracy you get will depend on the sled you construct about your table. A perfect sled should be between 0.005 inches for a 24-inch board.

Can You Get Perfect 45-Degree Angles with a Table Saw?

Table saws with bevel capability can cut precise 45 degree angles. You can improve the accuracy even more by using a sled. 45 degree angles are popular for many woodworking projects like creating picture frames, doors, or windows

Can You Make Angled Cuts with a Table Saw?

All table saws allow users to change the angle of the blade that you are cutting with. You can use a winding wheel on the side of the table to easily change the angle of the blade and make angled cuts.

Angled cuts are ideal for more experienced and skilled woodworkers to help create hidden joints or for more complex projects.

Bottom Line

Uneven cuts from your table might be disappointing and can derail your progress big time. However, the problem is not permanent. You can always correct it with the tips mentioned earlier. With the right carpentry and a few mechanical skills, you can still get your table saw back to perfection.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.