Intro: Tweaking a Cheap Table Saw, So It's Safer and More Reliable.
Let's face it, not everyone can afford to drop $1000- 5000, on a top of the line table saw. That doesn't mean that cheaper more economical table saws can't work just as good, and safe. Here's some quick tips to help you use your cheap table saw.
Step 1: Flatening Your Tablesaw Deck.
(Tools required for this step are a straight edge and a rubber mallet/ dead blow mallet)
Cheap Table saws usually do not have a machined flat cast metal deck. Instead they tend to have a pressed sheet metal deck. Although when your table saw left the factory the deck was most likely reasonably flat. However due to the rigors of shipping, you'll notice that the leaves may have a slight sag(usually on the right side). Using a straight edge(I used a drywall square)placed diagonally, check to see if it can be rocked back in forth. If it can identify which side has the least gap when pressed down. Then adjust the opposite side by lifting the corner off the ground and using your mallet to lightly hit the center. repeat this until little or no gap is visible. Repeat these steps for the other diagonal, front, center, and back of the deck. This should leave you with a reasonably flat work surface.
Step 2: Mapping Your Deck Surface.
Tools required for this step are your straight edge and 2 permanent markers(I used red and black)
Unfortunately your table saw doesn't have a fancy feature that stops the blade when it is about to cut your fingers off. So you have to adapt. This is why you map out the blade starts and stops. This is simply drawing a line using your straight edge at the beginning and end of the blade(with the blade raised all the up). I took it a step further and created no finger zones in red. These areas remind me to grab my push stick.
Step 3: Setting Up Your Fence to Make Your First Cut.
Tools you may need for this step is a wrench, a measuring tape/calipers and a piece of wood you need to cut.
The fence to your table saw is a far cry from a Biesemeyer fence, that doesn't mean you can't make accurate cuts. First lock the fence down then shake it back and forth to see if it moves. If it does tighten the adjustment nut on the back of fence until it no longer can be shaken loose. Now with your blade raised to the desired height. Take your measuring tape and make sure the fence is the desired distance by measuring from the fence to the blade teeth at both the front and back of the blade(for fine adjustments it may help to apply a little pressure to the locking lever while you slightly move/tap the fence). After locking the fence double check your measurements to make sure locking it didn't move the fence. Your fence is square to the blade. Now you are almost ready to make your fist cut. First make sure the board you need to cut is longer then your blade slot. If its not either get another board or use a zero clearance insert. If you can attach your safety guards and anti-kickback paws (In the example the board is too thin to use them but in most cases you should be able to use them). Now you can turn on your saw. With your left hand add pressure to slightly push the board into the fence (your left hand should not move during this operation you're merely applying enough pressure to keep the board against the fence) as your right hand pushes the board toward the blade. Once you have pushed the board all the way onto table, use the push stick to push the board the rest of the way through the blade. Turn off the saw before retrieving your freshly cut board.