What to Look for When Buying a Used Table Saw (Helpful Tips)

When it comes to stationary power tools, table saws are quite often one of the ones you want to consider your used options before buying new ones. This isn’t a small investment, so the worst thing you can do is buy a used saw that ends up giving you problems down the road.

There are some things to look for when buying a used table saw. Ensure the blade is perfectly aligned and the riving knife is in line with the blade. Check that the fence is in line and square to the table. Setting the 45 and 90-degree stops will also be beneficial in the future.

Whether you are new to table saws or have a lot of experience using them, sometimes it can be tricky to determine what to check and look for when buying a second-hand table saw. This article will fill you in on some important things that you should double-check and maybe even triple-check.

what to look for when buying a used table saw

Here Are Some Things To Check When Buying A Used Table Saw.

Make Sure That The Blade Is Perfectly Aligned.

The most critical thing, mostly for safety and a high cut quality, is checking the blade. This is because sometimes you’ll see that you’re getting burning, and there’s no reason you should be, but it could be because the blade of the used table saw is turned inwards. 

A blade turned inwards would cause a pinching motion as you do rip cuts. So, it is important to first make sure that the blade of the used table saw is aligned to the miter slot. How this check is done will be different for every saw. 

For example, cabinet saws vs. contractor saws will be different, but all of them can be adjusted, except maybe the cheapest of saws, but even with those, there are ways that you could probably align the blade.

table saw blade

On all cabinet saws, the cast iron top, which is the part in the middle with the two wings on either side, can be turned any which way, whereas the blade and the motor will remain stationary. 

So, you need to measure the blade, and to do that, you need to check that the fit of the blade is parallel to the miter slot. There is an easy way to check without using a test dial indicator.

You can use a combination square ruler and a tooth on the saw blade. Make a mark using a marking pen on the saw tooth. Place the marked tooth at the front of the cut, take the combination square and rest it against the marked saw tooth, just slightly underneath it.

It is recommended to have a miter gauge roughly the same height as the surface the blade is protruding from so that the square is exactly even with the tooth. Now you can lock the square into the gauge and start rotating the blade backward, not forwards, because the blade’s tooth could bite into the square when it comes into contact.

table saw miter gauge

When you rotate the blade backward, you almost feel it just barely coming in contact with the square. Now rotate the marked tooth to the back of the cut, glide the square to the back of the cut, and place it by the marked tooth again. Rotate the blade backward again and check if it barely comes in contact with the square. It should feel and look the same as the front. 

If it does, the blade is perfectly aligned. If the blade was not aligned well, you would be getting more contact, and you would hear a rougher sound. You also don’t want the blade to not touch the square because the front part could be cutting, but the back part isn’t.

If you’re not getting the same contact, underneath the saw, you’ll find a couple of bolts that you can adjust, which will shimmy the table back and forth to adjust the blade.

Is The Riving Knife In Line With The Blade?

table saw riving knife

You may also want to ensure that the riving knife is perfectly in line with your blade. When it isn’t, it will push the cut piece against the fence, which will cause some binding. Ensure that the riving knife is the correct width for the blade you are using.

Double Check That The Fence Is In Line With The Miter Slot.

The next step is to check the fence and ensure it aligns with the miter slot. This is the same method you used to check the blade alignment. Ensure that the fence is locked in and the square is pushed up against the fence, just barely coming in contact. To do this, set the square against the fence before you tighten it down.

Make sure that the square is nice and flat and not tilted.  Glide the square to the back of the fence and repeat the same process. If the fence isn’t perfectly in line, you can easily adjust the T fences on cabinet saws by adjusting the bolts and guards.

Make Sure That The Fence Is Square To The Table.

table saw fence

The first thing to do is ensure that the fence is locked in. Place the combination square straight up against the fence, with the part that you lock in on the surface of the center part of the cast iron. Shine some light onto where the fence and the square meet. 

If there is much more light showing at the top than at the bottom or vice versa, that means that the fence is slightly off-kilter. To fix this, go to the adjustment nuts found on either side of the fence. Adjusting those nuts will raise or lower the fence. Check which side seems higher or lower and adjust the bolts accordingly.

Set The 45 And 90 Degree Stops.

The next thing you want to set is the 45, and 90 degree stops. This makes your life way easier down the road when you make cuts. A small combination square can come in handy here. The trick is to make sure that the square ruler is in between two teeth to get an accurate measurement because the teeth are welded on and stick out further.


Although the example used was a cabinet saw, these are things that you can easily look out for in many different kinds of table saws. Now that you know what to be on the lookout for when buying a used saw, you don’t have to worry about having to go back and forth with a faulty saw. 

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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About The Tool Square

James Thomas

Hi, I’m James. I created The Tool Square to help as many understand and know how to use Table Saws, and many other tool-related products. About Me.

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