Dial Indicator Quick Tip

Another quick tip for you all.

Have you ever had the need to move your table saw fence a precise amount? This tip will allow you to make adjustments as fine as 0.001”. You are probably asking “do I really need to make such fine adjustments”? The answer is rarely, but when the need arises you should be prepared.

This is the magnetic base dial indicator setup I use for making micro adjustments.

The indicator setup shown above is the tool that I use to make fine adjustments when needed. However, any indicator with a magnetic base can be used.

Here is the indicator setup I use on the table saw.

Set your indicator with magnetic base on the machine table with the indicator point against the fence you wish to adjust. Be sure that the travel of the indicator is parallel with the table and perpendicular with the fence to be moved. This ensures accuracy.

To make micro adjustments unlock the fence and tap it gently in the direction you wish to move watching the indicator needle. When the indicator needle has moved the desired amount lock the fence.  If the indicator reading changes when you lock the fence simply unlock it and make any corrections needed and lock the fence again.

Here is the setup I use to precisely cut a tenon.

This method works great for cutting a tongue to fit a dado, or to cut a tenon to fit a mortise, or anywhere you need a precise fit. I use it to make sliders to fit my table saw slots.

If you don’t have a magnetic indicator setup you should. You can find the low profile magnetic block that I use here, but they have become pricey. If you don’t already have an indicator they too may be found at MSC Industrial Supply. You can also find these indicator setups at flea markets or Ebay.

Once you have a magnetic base indicator setup you will find more uses for it. It can work on a router table, or even a drill press, anywhere you need to make micro adjustments.

A good indicator setup coupled with a good 6″ dial caliper that reads in 0.001″, not fractions will allow you to make very precise fitting joints

If you have read my post on using decimals instead of fractions then you already know my feelings about fractional dial calipers. If you haven’t read the post take a look.

As always, thanks for visiting!


Professional furniture maker and restorer. Dealer and collector of vintage and antique woodworking tools.
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