What is A Table Saw Fence?

The table saw fence is a pretty important part of the table saw. Without it you won’t be able to make straight cuts. By not having one you risk getting injured. In this article you gain some insight as to why you may want to upgrade the saw fence.

Also you gain a better understanding as to why the fence is placed on the right hand side of the table as you’re facing the blade. Plus why it’s possible you can use it on the left.

Should the Fence Always be Used on A Table Saw?

A table saw fence should always be used for a few reasons. The biggest reason to use the fence is because it’s a safety feature. If you cut without it you could seriously be injured due to blade binding or kickback.

It’s also possible when the blade binds it could pull you into the moving blade. 

The fence is made so that cuts are straight. Your cuts won’t be straight without it. You have to have support from start to finish all the way through the cut. The table saw fence should only be used for ripping boards.

If you need to crosscut, you should use a crosscut sled or the miter gauge

Should A Table Saw Fence be Upgraded?

There’s several reasons why a table saw fence should be upgraded. Depending on what brand of table saw you buy the saw fence might not be as good as others that you can buy separately. Some of the common problems with the fence that came with the saw are as follows:

  1. The fence doesn’t lock in place parallel to the blade.
  1. Maybe it doesn’t have an accurate measuring scale to tell you what degree the fence is set at.
  1. You can’t make a straight cut on longer boards if the fence is too short.
  1. You find yourself checking the alignment more than you should have to.
  1. They can be challenging to finely adjust.

Table Saw Fence Length

The two common length table saw fences are thirty inches and fifty inches long. Some people like the fifty inch because they do a lot of ripping along the full length of plywood and boards. The problem with this situation is you might not have the room or want to save room in your workshop.

The thirty inch table saw fence is a better option. They cost less and why spend the money on something that you might not need very often. If you run across a situation where you have to cut a longer length you can clamp a 2X4 along the length and use a circular saw.

A track saw is also great for cutting down the length of sheet goods if you have one of those. 

Having the Fence on the Right Side of the Table Saw

Why put the fence on the right side of a table saw? With most people, the right hand is dominant. You always want that hand to guide the material into the blade. The job on the left hand is to keep the wood firmly against the saw fence. 

If you look at your table saw, you’ll notice that the blade isn’t centered in the middle of it. You’ll always have more support on the right hand side of the saw. So explain it in simpler terms, always keep the larger piece of wood to the right hand side.

Can A Fence be on The Left Side of A Table Saw?

All table saws give you the ability to put the table saw fence on the left side if you happen to be left handed. You do need to find a way to support the cut off end if that end is longer than what the saw will support. 

My advice is to get somebody to support that end so you can concentrate on the cut. 

How Accurate Should A Table Saw Fence Be?

The table saw fence does have to be accurate. If it’s not aligned properly to the blade, you’ll run into problems. The cuts won’t be accurate. When you rip boards you’ll find that one end will be wider while the other end is narrower. This is known as tapering. 

Also, the cuts won’t won’t be as clean if the fence is off by just a little bit. Tapering can also cause kickbacks, burning of the wood and gouging. 

Should the table saw fence be parallel to the blade?

Yes, the table saw fence has to be parallel with the saw blade. The fence also has to be parallel with the miter slot. If it’s not as perfect as you can get it the ripped board is going to be off from start to finish. 

Once the fence has been aligned, you shouldn’t have to constantly check for alignment. A good rule of thumb is to check the alignment when starting a new project. The most common way that the fence becomes misaligned is through constant use.

There’s a few ways that you can tell if the fence isn’t where it’s supposed to be in relation to the blade:

  1. To check for an obvious misaligned fence is to slide the fence to the miter slot. Use your finger to see if there’s a gap on the front or rear side of the fence. 
  1. A better way to check alignment is to cut a runner out of wood. Make sure that the runner when placed in the miter track is raised a little above the table. Loosen the bolts on the fence and slide it up to the runner. If you see any gaps either on the front or rear end, then just slide the fence to where it touches the runner and lock the fence into place. 
  1. For more precise alignment, use a dial indicator. Place the indicator into the miter slot. Measure the distance from the front to the fence. Then measure the distance from the rear to the fence. As long as you’re under 20 thousandths you’re good to go. 

Table Saw Fence Not Square to Table

If the table saw fence isn’t perfectly square to the table itself that’s fine. Just as long as it’s not so far off that the fence won’t move easily when adjusting for different widths of material.  What’s important is that the fence is square to the saw blade. 

How Can I Make My Table Saw Fence More accurate?

The easiest way to check how accurate your saw fence is to follow just a few steps.  

  1. So the first thing to do is set the cursor to four inches. This   should give you four inches from the blade. Once the fence has been set do not move the fence at all. Everything will become clear at the end. 
  1. Use a board that’s around six inches wide with a jointed edge. 
  1. The next part of the process is to rip the board. Once that’s done, you should have a board that’s now under six inches.
  1. From here, take the four inch wide piece of wood and measure the width with either digital calipers if you have one. If not, a tape measure will get you where you need to be.
  1. If you find that the measurement that you take isn’t at four inches, loosen the screws on the cursor and move that to the number that you got when you measured the width of the board.

Watch the video below to get a better understanding of how to make a table saw fence more accurate.

How Can I Make My Table Saw Fence More accurate

References:

Learn how to make your table saw fence more accurate.