In this article, i’m going to take a look at common table saw problems and how to fix them. It does not really matter if you own a dewalt, ryobi- this post is relevant to YOU. Have you noticed a weird smell? Is your tablesaw motor making strange noises? It won’t turn on at all? No problem.
Would you like to save a lot of money and get back to your project fast and easy?
Continue reading this step-by-step guide on how to fix your table saw problems!
Troubleshooting: Perform a basic checkup!
Captain obvious says that the first step to troubleshooting any power tool that runs on electricity is to make sure the tool is plugged in, the power switch is on, and to make sure that the circuit breaker is on. Every manual and troubleshooting department hotline will tell you to check those first. If you didn’t have enough coffee before you started your project or had a lot of interruptions, double check the obvious. Make sure the outlet works. Make sure a mouse didn’t chew the wire. Keep in mind that the amps of your outlet and gauge of your extension cord can create problems as well. If you have a new extension cord or are using a new outlet see if you can repeat the problem with a different cord or outlet.
What is less obvious is that many models of table saws have an “overload” switch. That means that if the motor is struggling, it will automatically shut off. Sometimes letting the motor rest and turning it off and on again is a simple solution, particularly if you were just doing some heavy or speedy sawing. There might also be a reset button on your tablesaw, but it might be hidden deep within the motor housing.
Do your research – read the users manual!
To find out if your machine has an overload switch or reset button, and to find out other troubleshooting answers from the manufacturer of your tablesaw, go to the manufacturer’s website and look up the model of your table saw. Somewhere on that page should be an owner’s manual and parts list. If it’s not on the product page, look it up in the Support or Technical Information sections. Save those documents – especially the parts list – for future reference. Dewalt, Ryobi, Craftsman, Porter-Cable and Bosch (and probably any other major manufacturer) all have free downloads of manuals and parts lists on their website. If it’s an older model from your great-grandpa, you might have trouble finding a parts list or manual.
If you have a fairly recent or very common model, the parts list (sometimes it’s within the owner’s manual, sometimes it’s a separate document) on the manufacturer’s website will give you an “exploded” view of your table saw and motor, and it will label every part with a name. Whether you are mechanically inclined or not, this parts list will help you identify parts to your particular model. If you’re going to diagnose your table saw motor and attempt to fix it – you want your table saw parts diagram.
Accumulation of dirt: A common cause of tablesaw motor problems
The second most obvious cause for a table saw motor problem would be that an accumulation of sawdust, grit and grime has collected within the housing of the motor and on gears and other mechanisms. This could cause the motor to stop, it could cause the motor to smell like it’s burning, or it could create unusual sounds when the motor is running. Since table saws naturally create excess particles floating around looking for a place to land, regular table saw maintenance can help prevent this and maintain the life of your table saw motor. As you’ve probably noticed, your dust bag or shop vac will not collect all the sawdust you create. But there is also unnoticeable resins and chemicals and airborne particles that collect over time and inhibit the precision and accuracy of your tablesaw and interfere with motor operation.
How to clean your table saw motor
Since your motor is giving you trouble right now, the first thing to do is clean it. Cleaning it not only prolongs your saw, but it gives you ample opportunity to look for problems. Make sure your table saw is unplugged and then take the housing off, or unscrew the motor from the bottom of your benchtop saw. If you have a benchtop or small portable table saw you can slowly turn it upside down for easier access. (Do it slowly so you don’t accidentally loosen any electrical connections.)
Using an air-compressor is often not advised because you can blow the dust to interfere with other crucial parts. You also run the risk of blowing electrical connections loose. A vacuum can help you get through the first layer of sawdust if you haven’t cleaned out your tablesaw in a while. To get out gooey stuck on residue, use a cleaning brush with stiff bristles that won’t come loose. (Or you’ll have more potential problems to diagnose.) For stubborn stuck on gunk in narrow spaces you can use a screwdriver. Use a damp cloth for initial and final cleaning, but do not use any cleaning solutions.
Collect all the dust, and scrape off any accumulated residue on the blade, in the blade arbor, around the motor, the fan and motor shaft. Look at all the gears and shafts and make sure they are clean and debris free. Clean out any junction boxes around wires – particularly if you’ve seen sparks or smoking. It’s possible that sawdust has caused the sparking. Make sure you check for ripped or melting wires while you’re cleaning in there. Often a starter switch can be clogged and just needs cleaning. Even if accumulation isn’t the cause of your current problem, this procedure is good for the health of your tablesaw.
What about loose screws?
While you’re cleaning, see if there’s any loose or dented parts. If you’re hearing unusual sounds or your motor suddenly shut off after a loud clunking, check to make sure the fan isn’t dented or the shaft isn’t misaligned. Or, it could be a simple problem of a stray sliver of wood jamming motor movement. If your motor is belt driven, check to make sure the belt isn’t broken or worn. If it’s a direct drive motor (no belt) check to see that your “brushes” aren’t impeding the table saw motor. These do not look like regular brushes. They are small. Their job is to transfer electrical current. Most models will have a mark to show you when they need to be replaced. (If you don’t see a mark, look at your parts list to identify them.) Loud noise table saw problems can also be caused from bad ball bearings, incorrect blade placement, and chipped or misaligned gears.
Help! My table saw motor stinks!
If your table saw started smoking like a bad cigar, it’s possible the capacitor needs replacing. If the motor hums instead of runs or runs like it’s choking on a cigar, it’s very likely the capacitor needs replacing. Replacing a table saw capacitor is a relatively simple project, and if you can build a shelf you can replace a capacitor. If you have a volt-ohm meter you can test it before you buy a new one by seeing if the reading remains a steady zero when set at RX100 scale. A steady zero reading means there’s probably a short circuit. If you get high readings and it jumps from zero to high numbers, there’s an open circuit. Look at your parts list to see where your capacitor is located. The model number should be on the capacitor. Replacing a capacitor for a table saw is just a matter of taking it off and replacing it with the correct model. Buying a capacitor is far cheaper than replacing the whole motor. (Chances are the manufacturing company will suggest you buy a new motor even if you only have a capacitor problem.)
A novel could be written on electrical problems and motor problems, but with any motor problem it’s always best to start with the most likely and most obvious problems. With a table saw motor, the most likely problems are excessive accumulation of sawdust and residue, damaged or loose parts, or a capacitor problem. Cleaning out your table saw motor, checking the capacitator, and getting a parts list and owner manual is your first step. Checking to make sure it’s plugged in and the power switch is on is always the most obvious. You did plug it in, right?