Throat Plate Tweak for Laser-Guided Sliding Table Saw

Advice on a shop-rigged throat plate for a sliding table saw to augment the laser guide, and tips on zeroing in the laser for accuracy. June 18, 2010

I recently bought the 8.5" Hitachi with the laser but Iím having a difficult time getting used to it. It seems like I spent more time trying to remember if the waste was on the left or right of the laser. I removed the "throat plate pieces" and fabricated a replacement from some 1/2" birch ply. It's about 2 1/4 x 16. I used a 1/2" bit to make the counter bore for the screw head then a 5/16" for the screw. I made several, one for miter and another for straight cuts. Essentially this is a zero clearance throat plate so it's an easy matter to draw the line on the edge of the board, line it up with the kerf on the throat plate and make a very accurate cut. This way it doesn't matter if you're on the left or right side of the blade because you simply set your line on the edge of your board to the kerf. Maybe the laser is "teaching an old dog new tricks" but I've found this to be an easier way to cut accurately. One plus to the laser though is when I need to scribe an odd angle, simple draw the angle on the board, switch on the laser, then rotate the table until the laser lines up on the angle. Works for me, try it and let me know if it works for you!

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor G:
You might also consider tossing the black plastic factory fence, and making a burlier hardwood one - it's one of the few poorly designed parts on the Hitachi 8 1/2. I had to chime in because my Hitachi miter saw is the only power tool I feel almost sentimental about. Its kept its settings longer than the entire lifespan of some of the saws friends have owned. Big yellow saws and fancy looking blue saws show up at the job site and the blade guard is toast in six months. They fall apart in a couple years, and get tossed, while the little green one just keeps going!

From contributor D:
I've found the laser encourages safe usage. I often see people holding the guards up with a thumb and squinting down the side of the blade, or worse, rigging them up or taking them off completely. I have a big Hitachi these days and can stand up straight and even look from the side and cut dead on the line with the laser. The guard is always safely down.

From the original questioner:
Contributor D - I agree with you about the laser and not having to lift the guard to line up the blade. How do you adjust your line? It seems to me that it changes depending on which hand you use to hold the piece and then which side is waste. Do you line the laser directly on the line? It seems that would still result in some inaccuracies. Making the throat plate helped with bevels and didn't seem to matter whether the piece was bevel up or down. I'm thinking that if the waste was always on one side or another it would be easier. By the way, Hitachi is sending a replacement saw so I'll want to set it up for the most accurate work. Any hints you can give are appreciated.

From contributor D:
Just clamp your stock in and turn on the light. Then, with a very sharp pencil mark right on the laser line, then cut. If you cut the pencil line off the light needs to be adjusted to the left. If the pencil line is still there you need to adjust to the right. New saws we get in the 66,000 square foot shop I work at never come aligned from the factory. I do a few test cuts to get the saw kerf just to the right of the line since all saws are right handed and so are all the employees here. It's great for cuts like the 15 degree bevel where elliptical brickmould meets a sill nose on a window (we make thousands of these), where typically someone has a six foot long curved piece precariously held up with their left hand while sighting hunched over to get the cut just right. The lasers made OSHA happy, believe me.