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Fine-tuning your Ryobi BT3000/BT3100/BT3K table saw
When properly aligned, the BT3K cuts as precisely as the finest cabinet saw.  The saw's manual does a very good job of laying out alignment procedures that get it "close enough."  Considering that the writers of the manual had to assume the only calibration tool at the disposal of the reader was a square, I think their work is quite an achievement.

Of course, "close enough" isn't good enough, and we want our saws to be perfect.  If you've flipped through woodworking catalogs at all, you've no doubt noticed tools for aligning table saws.  These are typically aluminum bars that ride in the miter slot and which hold a dial indicator perpendicular to the slot.  Here is a link to a typical design.  They allow users of contractor saws to align the blade to the table with great precision.  But wait, the BT3K saws don't have miter slots.  And you can't adjust the relationship of the blade to the table, either.  The BT3K is unique, and requires a unique approach.

That is what I offer here.  With a 3" x 10" block of 3/4" plywood, a bolt & cross-dowel, and an inexpensive indicator (digital or dial), you can align your BT3K to perfection.

 

This is my BT3K alignment block.
Made from a 3/4" piece of BB plywood.  I used a cross-dowel and two holes drilled 1/2" from the edge.  This allows me to arrange my indicator in the three different configurations I use.  The small piece of 1/4" BB at the bottom acts as a fence when aligning the SMT base.
No precision machining is necessary, the only prerequisite is that the indicator is securely held.

 

Procedure #1, Check the arbor/blade runout

Assemble the alignment jig in the fashion shown in the photo.  The small block of wood (a.k.a., "the fence") is UP.  Set the saw's fence 5-1/2" from the blade and insert the jig.  Zero the indicator.  Carefully rotate the blade while observing the indicator for the range of values.
My combined (arbor + blade) runout is .004" (four-thousandths of an inch).  Assuming the blade is perfectly flat (they aren't), that translates into .0005" of arbor runout [that is .004" / 8" (the radius point on the blade where you measure times two)].
If your total measured runout is more than .005", I suggest removing the blade and cleaning the arbor nut, washers, spacers, and flange.  Clean them with Formula 409.  Reassemble and try again.  If you are still measuring significant runout, try a different blade.
I experienced excessive runout (I could see the blade wobble while it was spinning down) and discovered that my spacers weren't flat.  Replacement spacers from Ryobi fixed it right up.

Procedure #2, Align base of SMT to the blade

Your SMT base need to be perfectly parallel to the blade.  Follow these steps to check its alignment:  (1) Configure your jig as in the photo to the left.  The jig's "fence" is DOWN.  (2) Raise the blade as high as it will go, then back it off about .1".  (2) Mark a tooth with an "X" and rotate the blade so this tooth is towards the front of the saw.  (3) Push the indicator point against the "X" until the jig's fence is flat against the SMT base.  (4) Zero the indicator.  (5) Rotate the blade so the tooth you marked with an "X" is at the rear of the saw.  (5) Move the jig to the rear of the blade and push the indicator point against the "X."  Your  indicator should read zero (0), showing no difference in measurement from front to back.  If not, try again a few times until you are comfortable with the procedure and to make certain you get repeatable results.

 

Use the instructions in the manual (bottom of p. 33), "MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO SLIDING MITER TABLE ASSEMBLY/TO ADJUST THE MITER BASE" to make any necessary adjustments.  Once you have made the necessary changes repeat this section to verify your base is parallel to the blade.

Procedure #3, Align the miter fence to the blade

Install the miter fence on the sliding miter table and set it to 90-degrees (make certain you use the orange indicator shown in the photo at left).  The graduations are rather thick, so I place the orange indicator to the top of the graduation.  You can use the top, middle, or bottom, as long as you're consistent.
Now place your square against the blade and the fence and check your alignment.

 

Use the instructions in the manual (top of p. 34), "MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO SLIDING MITER TABLE ASSEMBLY/TO ADJUST THE MITER FENCE" to make any necessary adjustments.  Once you have made the necessary changes repeat the steps above to verify your fence is square to the blade.

 

Procedure #4, Verify alignment of SMT to blade

In procedure #2 above we made certain the SMT's base was parallel to the blade.  Having done that, the sliding miter table should automatically slide parallel to the blade.  But we may as was well check.  [Trust, but verify.]
Use the following steps:  (1) Configure your jig as in the photo to the left.  The jig's "fence" is UP.  (2) Raise the blade as high as it will go, then back it off about .1".  (2) Mark a tooth with an "X" and rotate the blade so this tooth is towards the front of the saw.  (3) Push the indicator point against the "X."  (4) Zero the indicator.  (5) Rotate the blade so the tooth you marked with an "X" is at the rear of the saw.  (5) While holding the jig against the fence, carefully slide the table towards the back of the blade until your indicator point rests on the "X" again.  Your  indicator should read zero (0), showing no difference in measurement from front to back.  If not, go back to "Procedure #2, Align base of SMT to the blade" and check your work.

Procedure #5, Align the rip fence to the blade

We're almost done!  We just need to align the rip fence to the blade.  The fence should either be perfectly parallel to the blade, or toed-out (away from the blade at the back) by a couple thousandths of an inch.  Toeing-out the fence is less important if you use a splitter.  I shoot for parallel.
Here is the procedure:  (1) Assemble the jig as shown in the photo.  The jig's fence is UP.  (2) Raise the blade as high as it will go, than back off by about .1".  (3) Mark a tooth with an "X" and rotate the blade so the tooth is towards the front of the saw.  (4) Lock the fence approx. 5-1/2" inches from the blade.  This allows the jig to slide between the blade and the fence, so the indicator point is always in contact with the blade and the right edge of the jig is always in contact with the fence.  (5) With the edge of the jig against the fence and the indicator point against the "X," zero the indicator.  (6) Rotate the blade so the marked tooth is towards the rear of the saw.  (6) Slide the jig to the rear of the blade and place the indicator tip on the "X."  Take a reading on the indicator.  It should be zero (0).

To make adjustments, follow the instructions on top of p. 29 of the manual ("TO CHECK THE ALIGNMENT OF THE RIP FENCE TO THE BLADE").  Once you've made any changes, repeat the steps in this section to verify the fence is now properly aligned.

Procedure #6 (Optional), Check the blade for 90-degrees

Extra Credit:  The five procedures above don't really require that the blade be set to 90-degrees to work correctly.  However, most of my cutting is done at 90, so I like to make certain I have my blade set correctly.  I use my Wixey Digital Angle Gauge to do this.  Set the gauge on the table and zero it.  Then attach it to the blade and adjust the blade until you read 90-degrees.  Spot-on!

Some final thoughts...

(1) Depending on where you keep your SMT on the rails, you may need to adjust the size/shape of your jig.  My SMT is to the immediate left of my table, so that is how I arrived at the size/layout of my block.

(2) I have found that raising the blade all the way to the top (where you begin to feel resistance) causes up to .006" of distortion from the front to the back of the blade.  All you have to do to correct this is lower the blade about .1"

(3) It is necessary for the SMT table to slide on its base with no side to side play.  See p. 33 of the manual to eliminate play in the table.  If you have any difficulty moving the table after this, wax the edges of the SMT base (use some wax paper, or some Johnson's paste wax, or my favorite, Waxilit).  If it is still difficult to move, you tightened it too much.  :-)

(4) When taking readings using the jig, it is possible to distort the readings by pushing down or sideways on the jig with any force.  Apply the minimum pressure necessary to get an reliable reading.

--Phil
phil@cgallery.com

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