In Shop Blog, Techniques

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My tablesaw screeches like nails on a chalkboard whenever I adjust the blade. WD-40 made the noise go away for a while, but now it’s back. What do I do?


That sound can drive you crazy! It’s a clear sign that the gears under your saw are due for lubrication. The original lubricant has either hardened or worn off, so now you’re hearing the bare steel of the worm gears scrape the bare cast iron of the tilting trunnion and raising gear. You’re unlikely to wear out the gears this way, so it’s not a cause for alarm, but the noise will continue to get worse.

The best fix is to lubricate the gears with lithium grease, the same stuff they use at the factory. You can buy a lifetime’s supply ($6 for a 1-lb. tub) at an auto supply store. An alternative is powdered graphite, available at a hardware store or a locksmith’s shop for about $2 a tube. One advantage: it won’t attract dust and chips the way grease does.

Clean the gears with a small brass brush or an old toothbrush and WD-40, which helps soften the grease. Apply a thin layer of new grease to the teeth of the raising gear and the trunnion. Turn the handles a few cranks to transfer the grease to the worm gears and enjoy the sound of silence.

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  • G Kruyer

    I recently had the same issue with my old Delta table saw and had been dealing with it as you prescribe.
    The problem kept coming back on the height adjustment. The final solution was to remove the crank handle shaft sand off some friction burrs and grease the shaft. After reinstalling the shaft, it was like a new saw, the blade could be raised and lowered with ease.
    G Kruyer

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