Are Your Shop Tools Accurate?

What good are tools if they aren’t accurate? In this video I cover how to check for accuracy on 7 most used shop tools. 


Starting with probably the most used tool… a tape measure. Usually it is the hook that goes bad. To check it’s accuracy, mark 8” on a board, then burn two inches.

It should read exactly 10”. If it doesn’t then your tape is off.

Now you can check with a corner application…push the tape against a scrap and see if your mark still lands on 8”. 


For a speed square, place the square against a straight edge such as a factory edge on plwyood, and draw a line.

Now flip the speed square and compare. If it doesn’t line up then the square is off. 


To check level on level, place a it on any flat surface.

Use a shim to shore up one side until the bubble reads exactly level.

Now while holding your hand on the shim to mark the levels placement, flip the level 180 and read level again. It should read the same. 


To check plum on a level, you do the same process but on a vertical surface.

It’s important you mark the location the level falls on the shim so it can be placed in the same spot when you flip it. 


On a miter saw, most fences are one piece and rarely a problem but you can check it with a straight edge jus to be sure.

Set the saw to zero and make a cut. Flip one piece from the cut over and realign the cuts. No gap means it’s cutting accurate.

To show what would be an off saw, I placed my saw on 2 degrees and repeated. Look at the gap created. 

You can do the same with an upright cut against the fence. If you show a gap here then your saw is slightly tilted. 

Then last thing is to repeat with a 45. After making your cut, take the two pieces to a workbench and place them together. Now use a square to check it’s accuracy. 


Lets move on to the table saw. First lets make sure the blade is parallel to the slots. To do this, fully raise the blade then clamp a long level to it. Now clamp a scrap with a point onto the miter gauge so that the point is touching the level at the front.

Move the miter gauge along the level and see if the point gaps or becomes resistant at any point along the level. 

When you know the slots are parallel to the blade you can use slots to set the fence. Set a 3/4” scrap in a slot then move the fence against as a reference.

Adjust your fence as needed. Note: I prefer to have my fence with a slight toe out so I place a small spacer up front before setting my fence. 

Now you can check the blade for acurrancy. Set it to zero then make a cut using the miter saw. Since the cut off might want to flip and lose orientation for checking…make two marks on the scrap before making the cut so that after the cut you can flip it and check that there is no gap. 

I’m going to go ahead and leave out how to check the bandsaw as it’s the same process as the miter and table saw where you make a cut and flip the piece to look for a gap. The same exact test goes for the circular saw as well. 


Moving on to the drill press. You can grab a short scrap of wood and drive a screw through. Now flip it over and drive in another screw.

Both so the threads punch through a good 3/4”-1”. Chuck one thread into the drill press now raise the deck so that the other screw tip  is resting lightly on a washer that’s placed on the drill press’s deck.

If you’re table is flat you should be able to move the washer to any spot on the deck and it lightly be toughing the washer.

If yours is slightly out, then loosen the table and adjust so the point is touching the washer the same amount no matter where it’s at. 


Of course, if you find a tool that is out of accuracy, whether it be the fence on a table saw or the bevel on a miter saw, then just look up your specific brand of that tool and part and figure out how to make the adjustments. Every brand has slight variances.

I hope that you learned something and I’ll see you on the next one.

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