Learning how to make a table saw fence can extend the versatility of this workhorse of the shop. Sometimes a project calls for an unusual cut or you find yourself dealing with a large piece of stock. Being able to make your own rip fence saves you from buying table saw accessories that you'll seldom use.
Characteristics of a Good Table Saw Fence
To be functional, a homemade fence must hold the wood parallel to the blade and be easy to position at the desired distance from the blade. A fence is useless if it won't rip the width you require, or if it can't be secured tightly to the saw.
Mounting Your Own Rail
If your saw has a narrow table, you may want to consider extending the table to accommodate a custom table saw fence. This is the simplest way to make a secure fence, since you'll be able to mount hardware directly on your table. Use thick plywood with a smooth top surface and add any framing that's needed for support.
Once you've completed that project, attach a rail across the full length of the table to secure the custom fence. The fence can connect to this rail on glides or wheels, allowing you to slide the fence along the rail and secure it where it's needed when you rip wood.
The rail is one of the most important parts of table saw fence construction, so experiment with the rail to be sure you position it properly. An improperly positioned rail, or one that isn't square with the table, can produce a fence that isn't parallel to the blade, or one that doesn't glide smoothly along the rail. Experiment with rail layout before you secure the rail.
Construct the T-square
Using a t-square is the easiest and most efficient way to build a table saw fence. To construct a t-square, cut a piece of squared metal piping to the length of your table, including an allowance on the end for the rail. Weld a squared metal angle to the end of the tube. The metal angle fits over the guide rail to adjust your table saw fence, so make absolutely sure it's squared with the fence and welded securely to the tube that will become your fence.
You can use a simple cam to attach the table saw fence to the guide rail, to secure it on the rail and clamp it in position when you're ripping wood. Once you've attached the fence tube to the rail, attach a sacrificial wood fence to the tubing to provide a wood surface that you can replace as it wears. This way, you won't need to make a new fence in a few years; you can simply replace the wood surface, and continue to use your fence.
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