Using a Table Saw to Resurface a Cylinder Head

Using a Table Saw to Resurface a Cylinder Head

Hey guys, welcome back. So last time I welded this cylinder head here
and if you haven’t seen that video, you might want to go check that one out. What I did was I used my MIG to fill in some
places where it blew out at the coolant passages and then I used a wood router to flatten those
welds down. It looks pretty good. Like I said in the last video, I had to make
another pass of the welder, so I did that and then came back over again with the router
and took a look. There’s one place right here where I still
got a little bit of an imperfection, but we’re going to get rid of that when we flatten this
whole cylinder head here. I haven’t checked, it’s probably, I don’t
know it’s probably pretty flat. Maybe it’s warped a little bit, but in any
other case we’re going to clean it up. There’s some pitting, you know, from where
the gasket was and stuff. Oh yeah, so this part here, I’m not super
happy with how close this passage ended up to the ceiling surface of the combustion chamber. If you look down in there, I think I might
have gotten a little bit carried away with the Dremel when I was widening this out, which
is stupid because if you look at the gasket, these holes, they’re not even completely
used. It’s just a little teeny pinhole to let
the coolant through, so I didn’t even need to grind it out much. My thought was that if I left the welds how
they were, there’d be places for crap to collect behind there and you know, so I wanted
a smooth transition. This might have actually been a little bit
more corroded out at this point anyway. I wish I had noticed that as I was doing it,
but I think it will be okay. I think it’s going to hold at least for
a little while. So let me show you how I’m going to flatten
this and I’m going to use my table saw. I’m going to use the cast iron table that’s
on it. So these cast iron tables were ground flat
at the factory so they’re a nice, good reference surface to use. I just cleaned it up, there’s a little bit
of surface rust, but it’s nothing, it’s just staining, so I used a little razor blade
just to get any high points off. Then, came over with the 3M pad. An old machinist once told me that your finger
can feel a millionth of an inch, which is crazy, but it makes sense if you, you know,
you can feel like a tiny little hair and just the things that you can perceive. This feels pretty good to me. So we’re going to use some 3M spray adhesive
here, this is called Super 77, and it’s just like a spray contact adhesive kind of
thing. And then I’ve got some 80 grit sandpaper
and we’re going to put this down. I’m not sure, the back of this stuff has
kind of like a tacky kind of surface on it. I might be able to get away with it, let’s
see, oh yeah I don’t need to spray the back of the sandpaper either. That sticks really well. Yeah. The important thing is that they don’t overlap
of course. There can be a little bit of a gap, that’s
fine. So here’s the idea, and let me get that
last piece on and basically just going to rub the cylinder head against it until it’s
all cleaned up. Let’s give it a shot. [ Metal rubbing sound ] So you might not know,
but I know this from woodworking, you can actually take a flat surface and sandpaper
and a flat piece and end up putting a curve into it, if you’re not careful with how
you put pressure into the piece. This thing is pretty heavy, so it’s easy
to just kind of rock it back and forth. So I’m not too worried about that, but it
is possible if you were to say, like leaning on one side more than the other, you could
actually sand off one side more and then it ends up not being flat. So the key here is to just kind like, let
the weight of this thing do it, you know, help you out, and just apply horizontal forces,
then try not to push down on it at all. [ Metal rubbing sound ] Yeah you can see,
I don’t know if you can see, I can see that this end, and up over here, kind of getting
a little bit more scratches in it than some places in the middle. Like right here, right here, you can see that
must have been a low point. So it is warped a little bit, so it’s good
we’re doing this. This will get it all down to a flat surface. And I’m going to clean the sandpaper often.This
stuff is actually brushing right off. A Vacuum would be good here, and maybe a dust
mask. [ Metal rubbing sound ] We’re getting there. All right, well you get the idea. So it’s looking like it’s a lot elbow
grease, but uh, it’s how it goes when you don’t have a mill. Someday. So, I’m going to have to keep doing this,
but it’s getting late and I gotta get ready for work. So it’s going to be the end of this video. I am planning, I’m not sure though, I was
planning on coming back with 120 grit sandpaper, but you know, they don’t sand it from the
machine shop, they just leave a machine surface. I’m thinking this 80 grit is even smoother
than what we need really for a gasket surface. In fact, I think you do want a little bite
for the gasket to seal properly. So yeah, I’ve got a little bit more here
to go. There’s still some corrosion here I want
to get down to, so it’s clean now and it’s pretty flat. and It’ll probably fine, but
I do want to just get rid of some, a little bit more, to make this all bright metal. So all right, then after that I got to clean
the whole thing, I haven’t figured out the best way to clean it yet. Probably just brushes and acetone or something. Probably going to be a very manual process,
but um, I wish I have some kind of tank to dip it in of uh, not water this time, but
some kind of solvent or something. And then, even before I do that, maybe I’m
going to clean up the valves and make sure that the valves are clean, clean up the seats
and the guides and make sure the valves are still sitting here properly and didn’t warp
that, because if that’s the case, then I got to go bring it and have a valve job done,
which is some money I didn’t want to spend. Then I might end up buying an aftermarket
head at that point if it comes to that. So we’ll see. All right, a little bit long-winded, but thanks
for watching. I hope you found this somewhat interesting,
and if it helped you at all, let me know in the comments. If you think this is stupid, let me know that
in the comments too. I always like to hear those, honestly. It’s good to hear from you guys. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. If you're disappointed, check out my latest video where I use the saw blade to cut a flat surface on a head –

  2. Looks like the size of the holes in your head gasket, is causing the problem with the coolant journals.

  3. You could do a water wash but would want to use compressed air to blow out the water and oil galleys then slowly heat it up to evaporate the rest of the moisture, I'd then hose it down in WD-40 or other very light oil

  4. i wanted to see the table saw cutting something. i have different peices of thick glass .i do this all the time and works great. no machine shop prices. ive even did a 4 cyl. block just like you did.

  5. Youtube certified Master technician right there. If you cant afford the machine shop you need a better job. COMPLETE HACK

  6. My buddy has a head shop so I get it done for about the cost of that glue and sandpaper. It's about the same principle. His head surfacer looks like a grocery store check out. Instead of a conveyor belt it has a big sandpaper belt. You just set the head on it and turn the belt on. There's a stop at the end to keep the head from flying off. Then you let gravity do it's thing. Pretty neat operation. I always thought there was special milling machines but old school works.

  7. Please tell me he is going to use a fiberglass gasket and not a steel one. You should never sandpaper the surface of the cylinder head. Why do that when a shop will machine surface it for cheap and correct.

  8. As someone who actually worked in motorsport for ten years I can a) confirm that this works fine as long as the surface is flat and b) even some race heads are prepped this way if being reused after a rebuild, done on an actual surface table and with some skill this will actually yield a flatter surface than many machining processes

  9. Should have used a "figure 8" pattern and blown off the paper every ten passes. They make lapping tables with 45 and 30 degree cuts in them, the first for roughing, and the next for finishing, or just toss it on a Blanchard and be done with it.

  10. I hope you are going to line bore the cam journals , as if the base of the head is warped so will the journals , or you will damage your camshafts !

  11. I know this is an old post, but if you had used the 'engeneering 'blu' the dye which is applied to metal and if you had painted a thin coat all over and allowed to dry, then you MIGHT have been able to see more easily where the high and low points were and rubbed till it was all removed? Only a thought.

  12. Correct way to make a flat surface is to just use 3 slabs of aluminium (or steel if you have more patience and want a longer lasting result), put grinding compound between A and B, grind them against each other for a bit, then grind B and C against each other, then grind A and C against each other, then repeat many many times through this cycle. Then you get PERFECTLY flat surfaces to grind heads, cylinders, pistons, angle irons, jewels, gold, brass, whatever, against.

  13. Never heard of this guy, but I'm 2:45 into the video and I decided this guy is probably insane. Im a carpenter and the table saw is probably my favorite tools especially with the gazzilion jigs that I've made to shit like turning it into a lathe and so many other things. I had a limited knowledge of Automobiles and Engines until lately, however with my new found combined knowledge it still haven't the slightest fucking clue how he's going to pull this off. It will be even more nuts if he does, so I'm subbing on this shit

  14. good way ro ruin a head causes uneven thickness and cam bearings no longer in line and will burn cam bearings and lead to camshaft breaking from bending, Look at spec for unevenness 0.030" or more, head flexes when torqued down.

  15. I always just dropped the heads off at my machinist and he hot tanks them, checks them, machines them if necessary etc.

  16. In all reality wouldn't the gasket material compensate for the insignificant amount of surface material you removed this way? This is NOT an Indy Car. This could have easily been accomplished with a palm sander and a less aggressive grit. As a former welding inspector Im not EVEN going to comment on welding on a head with a mig. Whats interesting is how the mindset of using a mig to weld on a head is INCONSISTENT with worrying about truing up the same head. Using liquid gasket material to fill the holes and then to make up the difference seems to be more consistent with the line of thinking that drives someone to weld on a head. Either way for under 50 bucks and virtually NO time investment you could had something that was professionally done. Not that you always get what you pay for but as a general rule reputable machine shop dudes are usually pretty anal about their quality of craftsmanship.

  17. That's why it got to hot and cracked to begin with no coolant can circulate through those pinholes punch the new head gasket out so the coolant can circulate.

  18. Thats wrong paper, you need wet sand paper and a rough grit to start. It actually looked pretty clean at the end .

  19. A bit of wd40 or something similar would have made the job so much easier. Never sand dry whatever circumstance for me.

  20. I'm attempting this tomorrow on my newly acquired 6.2 GM Diesel V8. Its going from a retired CUCV into a 1971 GMC Tilt Cab revival. Thanks for sharing this video. I might film mine too. Did the sand paper come off easily?

  21. Perhaps you should test the flatness of the table first? You just assumed it was flat! Maybe stretch a piece of string over it.

  22. I enjoyed this video. It took a little of the mystery out. How much time did you spend on it? Because, even for $35, you might have to wait a couple of days to get your part back. This way, you can make good progress through the day and weekend. Plus, we’re all too lazy and fat. This will burn some calories!

  23. Used to flatten small block heads the same way on my mother's Granite counter top, and an old piece of oversized belt sand paper.
    I would glue it with spray adhesive, then use lacquer thinner to get the glue off.
    She never knew a thing.
    Granite is very straight! 🤐

  24. A machine shop, 50 bux (or whatever) and have it milled properly?
    Naw, that would be no fun 🙂

  25. You are right about the flatness depending where you apply the pressure it happend to me on a steam turbine case.

  26. Brilliant!
    I've been wrenching for as long as most of your commenters been scratching their daddy's zippers, never seen this trick.
    I always had a palm sander do the dirty work and torque the bolts an extra 25lbs, never had any problems myself, but I would use this trick if I ever have to do another one!

  27. I used this method in 59 or 60 when $8.00 was out of my reach, worked then, works now. good for you although it's a bit harder with cast iron, no pun intended.

  28. You shouldn't mimmick other peoples videos if you have no clue what the hell is going on. your gonna have people fukin up their heads…oy vey…friggin youdouscher wannabe

  29. Far from stupid. 👍👍I overheated and warped the head on an engine driving cross continent. Being in the middle of the prairies with camping gear, basic tools and little cash, I used a big file to file out the warpage. The old gasket didn’t sustain any damage so I torqued every thing back down. Drove out the next day. That engine repair lasted till I sold the car. About 50,000 miles!

  30. This maybe fine for a yard project, but not advisable for high compression engines. By the time you spent the money on supplies, and replacing the head gasket when it leaks, plus cleaning the crap off of your table saw….just take it to the machine shop…this is called the halfassers club! Do it right, and do it once and take it to the machine shop!

  31. I have done this several times on motorcycle heads. I used this method, then switched to finer grit. Works great. Its not rocket science.

  32. Use the surface wet. So the paper does not clog up. Maybe some emory cloth and spray it with water regularly and it should cut much better and not end up with "buildup " in spots on the paper and stay flat as possible. But what a great "budget " idea u have there!

  33. That's a super idea. Kind of similiar to how they resurface Black granite surface plates only they use large flat diamond hone jigs instead of sandpaper. That will come out really flat depending how flat the table saw surface is. I would also turn the head around 180 degrees once in a while just to make sure it's an even grind. 80 grit should work Great.Thumps up on this one. Thanks 🙂

  34. Thick glass on flat table works check with straight edge and bright touch. Also texta scribble on head surface to watch wear pattern..two people oppisite each other and rotate head 180 degrees at measured strokes.

  35. I can't believe all the thumbs down this got. Most people don't know that the most precision machines are hand scraped to a flat reference surface. This is probably better work than a lot of machine shops produce. Elbow grease and ingenuity. I'm going to resurface my engine block in a very similar manner except I'll be attaching the sandpaper to a 6x8x2" granite plate. The plate is accurate to .0001 of an inch in all directions. There ain't a machine shop within 100 miles of me that'll spend the time to get it as good as I will. But, it will take some time.

  36. If you were pulling a large lump of concrete or pushing, which would be easier? Exactly. You agree then. Pulling it easier. Your method of pushing cylinder head will take more from front end for sure. Physics

  37. Who would have thought it would be possible? But at the end of the day providing its level (straight) it should actually work. Maybe use a machinist ruler to check it’s actually flat.

  38. This is not how this works….AT ALL. Never ever in the history of Everdome has this been a good idea. You want honesty, well here it is from someone that has been building cars and motors for 25 years, this is the 3rd most misinformative video on the internet. Congratulations on coming in 3rd and saving $40 and not having a perfectly flat & correctly angled head.

  39. and to think I just put $20k into my 314rwhp turbo Harley Twin Cam when I could have sent it to you. What the hell was I thinking ?! lol I`m wondering if the vehicle this was off of is running still ?

  40. As a automotive machinist with 25 years of experience, as long as you can find a surface that is true 0, it will work fine for most heads. It won't be a true 0 finish, but close enough for use. Most engine builders don't realize how much the head gasket will compensate for 1 to 2 thousandths difference over all. But the use of a mill or stone resurfacer is recommended for most performance engines. As the higher rpm's require a better fit, or the increased pressure from the combustion stroke firing more often, will push right thru the gasket.

  41. Elbow grease, applied correctly has to be the best money saver/maker out there! Nicely done! I was skeptic at first but I wouldn't be afraid of this process. Theory seems sound to me.

  42. c'est encore la préhistoire pour rectifier les culasses , et mon ami tu fais des progrès 🛴🛴🛴🛴⚓⚓⚓⚓🏝🏗🌦🌦❄❄❄🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

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