How to Smooth and Flatten a Tablesaw Table

A palm sander will do a decent job of removing scratches, but you can also have the thing professionally ground flat. April 27, 2007

I recently acquired an old Delta and the table surface is all scratched. How do I get it back to smooth?

Forum Responses
From contributor F:
If this were mine I would sand with emery cloth to reduce anything that sticks up. I would then buff with auto polishing compound and wax.

From contributor G:
Hit it with the old palm sander. Use whatever grit you think you need, then coat with paste wax. I take it that this is a table saw. Table saws don't need to be to the millionth of an inch. I use 150 grit. Alignment is far more important. If the wood slides smoothly and the table doesn't cause scratches, it's good enough. It will get even better with use.

From contributor J:
I agree with the previous posts, but I wouldn't waste too much time with it. Get rid of anything that will stick or impede using the saw. But don't worry about surface scratches that are just cosmetic. It's a machine - it doesn't have to look pretty; it just has to do the job. Carefully tuning it up will be time better spent.

From contributor B:
You can take it to a machine shop and have it flattened and resurfaced for about $100. Find a shop that can resurface or grind it flat. The machine shop we've used skims the bottom of the table for a flat registration surface, then flips it and surfaces the top. If you do this, take the top to them with any bolt-on wings assembled so that the whole surface is ground together. And be very careful when you reattach the top so that your miter gauges are parallel to the blade and the top is not cocked front to back. Verify this by checking distance to the fence with the blade at 0 deg., and also at 45 deg. I didn't do this, and set the top correct for 0 deg., then when I tilted the blade to 45 it caused the work to bind and I got a bad kickback. Had to shim the back of the table up to get the geometry right.

From contributor P:
Just to add to what contributor B said, that type of grinding is called blanchard, and if you do have the top reground, then prepare to have the miter slots re-machined because they won't be .375 deep anymore.

From the original questioner:
I really appreciate all the info. I think I'll try the palm sander first, but if I'm not happy I'll take it to get machined. Had to do that with another table I bought 7 years ago.