Articles - Table Saw Measuring Tape
10/13/2017
For years now I've been "suffering" with this worn-out measuring tape on my table saw. I seem to remember name-brand replacements costing a lot of money many years ago. I just couldn't justify the expense. However, I still needed to make sense out of the measurements, so I resorted to making inch-tickmarks on the rail using a permanent-marker!
Table Saw Measuring Tape
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I even marked off the whole-foot numbers! Then, one day I came across a video by "Words n Wood", Art Mulder's YouTube channel, which I enjoy watching, in which he described the exact same situation!
Table Saw Measuring Tape
Like Art, I decided to look for the root cause of this problem and also noticed that my plastic indicator was scraping right on the original tape that came pre-installed on my Powermatic table saw. I think eventually some dust or dirt gets under the indicator and as you slide the fence left and right, it rubs along the tape, wearing off the numbers. So, I decided to put washers under the plastic indicator to raise it up just a bit.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
Before ripping off the old tape, I marked where its zero was.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
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The tape ripped off just fine, but it left a lot of adhesive residue. I used some Goo Gone and some elbow-grease to remove it. The Goo Gone then leaves an oily residue, so I used some plain old soap and water to clean that up. After wiping it dry, I left it to dry. The permanent-marker tick marks are kind of embarassing now, so I wanted to get rid of those, too. It turned out that using a regular (pencil) eraser and some more elbow-grease did the trick. It didn't quite get rid of them completely, but good enough (the photo shows the "before" shot). I then had to wash the fence rail again because the eraser left some residue and I wasn't sure if that was going to affect the adhesive on the measuring tape.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
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I did some research on Amazon and settled on the Starrett measuring tape. There are various lengths available, and whether or not you want to have English or metric units, or both. My tablesaw's extension table can have the fence go out to a bit over 53", so I needed the 6-foot tape. It reads from left to right. I don't care about metric measurements, so these all helped me narrow-down my choice.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
The tape was a near identical replacement for the Powermatic original one. The tape has a strip on the back that protects the adhesive, so you have to remove that little by little as you place the tape on the fence rail. The key here is to make sure that the strip is applied as straight as possible, and that you start zero at the mark you made on the rail. That is actually the hardest part of this project, in my opinion. Mine isn't quite 100% straight, but I think it will work.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
The tape has reached the end of the fence rail.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
It is just a matter of cutting it off. Most people cut it to length before installing it, but I decided to cut it after I had installed it.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
I then put the fence in position, locked against the blade.
Table Saw Measuring Tape
And double-checked the zero-mark. It was spot-on. However, when I did a test cut, the board I cut was just a bit short when I measured it with my roll-up tape-measure. That is where making some minor adjustments to the relative position of the plastic indicator will come into play. All in all, this was a small project to tackle. It was the first time I had done this, but there is no reason to postpone this, and definitely not something to be intimidated by. If your tape shows signs of wear, replace it; it is an easy project to do.
Table Saw Measuring Tape