Tune your miter gauge
Your miter gauge can be your best friend in the workshop, so keep it in top-notch working condition with this seven-step maintenance plan.
Step #1: Clean it
Just as with any tool, a miter gauge can get gummed up with dust, chips, and debris. So disassemble it and clean all the components, using a brass bristle brush and solvent. On tough buildup we used Boeshield Blade and Bit cleaner. Lube all movable parts with a dry lubricant, such as Empire Dri-Tool.
Step #2: Keep it straight
Check your miter-gauge bar for straightness with a long steel rule. Look toward a bright light or window; light will shine through any gaps between the bar and rule.
Step #3: Keep it straight
If it has any crook in it, the bar will wear unevenly against the sides of the miter slot, as shown by the shiny ends of this bar, as shown at left
Step #4: Straighten the bar
Straighten a crooked miter bar--or one that fits too tightly in a miter slot--by rubbing the concave edge on 120-grit self-adhesive sandpaper stuck to your tablesaw top. Don't overdo it; check with a straightedge after five passes.
Step #5: Tighten the fit
To make a slightly undersized bar fit tighter in the slot, peen one side of the bar with a hammer and center punch. Peen it at four or five equidistant points. If it's still too loose, peen the other side. If that makes it too tight, sand one side lightly to fit.
Step #6: Adjust the screws
Some newer miter gauges come with bars that can be fit easily to a slot without peening. Following the manufacturer's directions, adjust the setscrews until the bar slides easily in the slot without any side-to-side movement.
Step #7: Set for square
If your miter gauge's 90° stop proves inaccurate, correct it by first using a reliable square to set the angle, tightening the head in place, and then adjusting the stop screws snug against the bar or flipstop, as shown left. You might also need to reset the cursor to align with the 0° /90° reading on the miter scale.
Step #8: Set the miter stops
Check and set the 45° miter stops by using a drafting triangle. Attach MDF blocks--ripped to 1 1/2" wide--with double-faced tape to the triangle, making sure to align one edge with the square's edge. To set the stops, rest one block against the miter bar and the square's long edge against the head. Tighten the screw against the flipstop; then do the same for the other side.
Tool cleaner: Boeshield Blade and Bit, 81⁄2 oz., #128479, $11, Woodcraft, 800-225-1153 or woodcraft.com.
Tool lubricant: Empire Dri-Tool, 8 oz., #147038, $14, Woodcraft, 800-225-1153 or woodcraft.com.