Adjust a Table Saw Fence Using a Dial Caliper

Today I found a new use for my dial calipers that I thought I'd share.

I'm in the process of making several drawers for some built in cabinets in my shop. The bottom of the drawers will be 1/4 inch plywood. Of course, 1/4 inch plywood is not really 1/4 inch. It's more like 3/16 inch.

I couldn't use my stacked dado set to cut the grooves in the drawer sides, since there is no way to make it narrower than 1/4 inch. Instead I made two passes on my table saw using my combination blade.

The first pass was easy. I simply set the rip fence to the distance between the bottom of the drawer and the bottom of the dado, set the height of the blade to 1/4 inch (half the thickness of my drawer slides) and made a pass to cut a 1/8 inch groove.

To make the next pass, I could have slid the fence over, made a test cut, adjust the fence, make another test cut and so on until the width of the dado was correct. Instead, I used my dial calipers to move the fence once and end up with a dado the perfect width.

I started by measuring the thickness of the plywood with the dial calipers. In this case, it measured 0.187 inches thick, give or take a thousandth or two. Then I placed the end of the dial calipers against my table saw fence and slid the movable head out until the inside of the jaw was against the miter slot. After locking down the head, I zeroed out the dial. I then opened the dial calipers an additional amount equal to the difference between the plywood thickness and the width of my table saw blade -- 0.062 inches in this case.

Now I could move the table saw fence. I moved the fence to the right, held the jaw of the dial calipers against the miter slot, and then moved the fence until it just touched the end of the dial calipers. A test cut confirms the fence setting and I was ready for the second pass to make my dado.

So the next time you need to adjust one of your tools, think about using your dial calipers, it just may help you adjust things correctly the first time, without a lot of trial and error

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