Table Saw Fences: A Short Introduction
An aftermarket table saw fence, also known as a rip fence, is the perfect upgrade to your table saw. Often even the best table saws come with very basic fences. You will want to replace these or get one with more features. Another great addition to your workshop is a sliding miter saw.
A table saw fence is essential when using a table saw. It provides a perfectly straight edge and helps with safety. When choosing an aftermarket fence, it must be suited to your specific table saw.
Top 5 Best Table Saw Fences In 2021
1. Vega U50
Stand Out Features
- Fits perfectly with existing hole patterns for many table saws
- 50-inch maximum rip
- Full adjustment from fence mounting
- Micro adjustment possible after installation making it easy to install in under 30 minutes
There is no doubt that the Vega U50 table saw fence is a fantastic and professional upgrade to any table saw.
It is a strong and durable fence ready for commercial production, whilst also being perfect for the average woodworker. This retrofit fence system comes in a variety of available sizes from 26-inches, 40-inches, to the one we are reviewing, the 50-inch fence.
The reason we have voted this fence as our number one is that it is specifically designed to fit a wide variety of table saws. By using the pre-existing bolt holes there is no need to drill out your own fitting holes and is much faster to install accurately. Out of the box, it is ready to fit Contractors Saws, Powermatic Model 66, Delta Unisaws, and most Sears 10-inch saws.
Even if you aren’t that accurate with your installation it doesn’t matter as there is a mounting system for the fence is fully adjustable. The Vega U50 provides up to 50-inches to the right of the blade as well as 8-inches to the left if needed. It has a bar length of 36-inches which is plenty for most cutting applications.
With all of its fantastic features, it far exceeded our expectations, especially when it came to installation. If you are looking for a strong, reliable, and precise table saw fence we highly recommend the Vega U50.
2. Shop Fox W2005 Classic Fence
Stand Out Features
- Fine positioning knobs on either side
- Comes in 25-inch or 54-inch rip sizes
- Fits most major table saws on the market
- Accurate and durable
When choosing an aftermarket rip fence you have to take price into consideration and this is where the Shop Fox W2005 Classic Fence stands out from the others. If you want the safety and functionality provided by a table saw fence but don’t have the budget then you should consider this accessory.
Even with its cheap price, it has a high build quality and the reviews talk for themselves. Its rip size of 25-inches means that it can easily cut a 4-foot by 8-foot board in half. You can also get optional long rails which increase the rip to the right of the blade to 54-inches (W2006 version).
An easy to operate handle clamp makes positioning this fence quick and easy. We almost forgot to mention the fine positioning knobs on either side of the clamp for accurate alignment.
Unfortunately, this fence only works with table saws up to 27-inches and some woodworkers have had to make some adjustments to the mounting holes. If you have a larger saw I would check out some of our other fence options. Taking everything into account this is a great table saw fence and definitely worth the money.
3. Shop Fox W1716
Stand Out Features
- 30-inch maximum rip
- Fits most table saws easily
- Quick single locking lever
- Made from steel and aluminium for strength and reduced weight
Shop Fox is a well-known brand run by Woodstock International. Woodstock International was established over 30 years ago in 1989 and offers over 3000 tools. They are known for their quality and professional finishes to their products and accessories.
This is clearly shown in the Shop Fox W1716 it is durable, rugged, and built for precise cutting over and over again.
It uses an excellent locking mechanism at the front of the fence to keep it securely against the rail. Its aluminum and steel construction shows that it is built to last, as many reviews have shown. Its clever design means it can easily fit most table saws easily.
Once the rails are attached the self-adhesive measuring tape is quick to place accurately, plus its built-in magnified cursor helps with perfect alignment. We think that this saw is worth every penny and a great upgrade to any table saw.
4. Shop Fox Fence W1720 With Long Rails
Stand Out Features
- 50-inch maximum rip
- Steel and aluminium fence body
- Magnified cursor lens
- Adjustable fence wear pads
Much like the Shop Fox W1716, the Shop Fox W1720 is an excellent table saw fence. The W1720 differs in that it offers a 50-inch maximum rip to the right of the blade. It has very long 79-inch rails which if needed can always be cut down to size to fit in your shop. When installed it is possible to reduce it’s length if we need to in the future.
The long rails have supports that allow you to use the gap in between for another tool, such as a retractable router table when the table saw isn’t in use. Much like the Shop Fox W1716, you don’t need to do any drilling to fit this to a table saw. It is well made from extruded aluminum and steel, this helps to keep the weight down but provide the strength and durability required for precise cuts.
If you are weighing up between the W1716 and the W1720 we would recommend the W1720 as they are very similar fences. However, you have the extra benefit of the much longer rails with the W1720. It has the same self-adhesive measuring strip and a magnified cursor that can be adjusted to suit your needs.
5. Delta 36-T30T3 Fence System
Stand Out Features
- Easy to install
- 3-point locking system with twin hairline pointers for accuracy
- 30-inch maximum rip
- Competitively priced
This is a strong and sturdy table saw fence and it looks great. It has a maximum rip to the left of 13.5-inches. Maximum rip to the right is 30-inches. It featres a 37-inch fence and 57.5-inch rail. All around decent specs for a well-priced product.
This table saw fence has a 3-point locking system with twin hairline pointers to ensure the fence is parallel to the blade and accurate to within 1/64 of an inch. It creates quick precision ripping and sqaure cuts, and the fence clamps securely allowing for additional attachments.
Craftsmen noted that once correctly fitted the fence rolled well and has a good locking action. It is relatively easy to install, however, appears to work mainly with Delta and Craftsman models of tablesaw. Customers have noted a few issues with delivery of this fence, as well as some concerns over product quality. For this reason, although a generally competitive product at a good price point, it appears as one of the lower-rated table saw fence in this review.
Table Saw Fence Buyer’s Guide
After reviewing many table saw fences, we soon realized the disappointments professional and hobbyist woodworkers alike were having with their stock table saw fences. We put together this guide to help you find the best aftermarket table saw fence for your machine.
When spending a large amount of money on a product, I always want to know that it will be suitable for the job. I also want it futureproof for my workshop. My garage air compressor is an example of a tool I use all the time. You might upgrade your table saw so make sure it is able to fit onto different tables if needed.
There are a few things you need to consider when shopping for a table saw fence. I’ll take you through these now.
When purchasing an aftermarket table saw fence you should have a good idea of the size of the cuts you will be needing to make routinely. It also depends on the space you have in your workshop.
Some of our reviewed fences offer extended rails that allow up to 50-inches of adjustment. This is larger than most full-sized sheets of wood. So, make sure you check what you really need, and don’t forget you can always flip the board over.
A smaller 25 or 30-inch rail will still be more than enough for ripping a standard 4 foot by 8-foot sheet in half. Depending on the material you are ripping will determine the best type of table saw blade that you require.
Ease Of Installation To Your Existing Table Saw
Not all table saws are the same. So, finding a perfect aftermarket table saw fence for your machine is often tricky. Most table saw fences are made to fit a wide variety of table saws.
When fitting the rails you may have to drill new holes. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you are proficient with most tools. Just make sure that you correctly align the rails to the blade orientation when installing.
Table Saw Size
As well as checking how wide your cuts need to be, make sure you check the size of your table saw bed. Most fence systems as mentioned are designed to fit many different table saw brands. However, make sure to check the fence you are looking to purchase. Some need to be latched on the front and back. Others only need to be latched on the front.
When picking a table saw fence it is always worth checking what type of material it is made from. You want to make sure it is a strong and hardwearing material such as steel for the main section.
The main section provides the rigidity and precision for a straight cut. The rest of the fence can be made from ply or aluminum. These materials provide a good surface whilst not increasing the weight. The best fences also include adjustable wear plates. So that even after repeated use your table saw fence is still accurate.
If you are looking to upgrade your table saw then a table saw fence digital readout is the perfect addition. A digital readout can easily mount onto almost any rectangular or round rail. You can quickly change the units between inches or millimeters.
We recommend the Wixey WR510 as it is extremely easy to install, move between table saws, and calibrate. It has both absolute and incremental measuring units and even retains its calibrated setting when turned off.
Table Saw Fence FAQs
Why would you upgrade your table saw fence?
When purchasing a table saw you expect a high-quality rip fence, as the main function of a table saw is to rip wood. Unfortunately, these stock fences are often poorly built and are completely inadequate for the needs of a professional woodworker or DIYer.
Due to repetitive use, the supplied fence can become warped or worn down. This is when you lose the precision you need when making rip cuts.
Aftermarket fences solve this issue by being made out of much stronger materials and to higher standards than the factory fence. There are many different fence models, as reviewed above, that offer different features depending on your needs.
Another tool that is worth upgrading in your workshop is a drill press. Similarly, a better manufactured, more sturdy drill press is much more precise.
What is the correct way to use a table saw fence?
The correct and safest way to use a table saw fence is dependent on the type of rip you are attempting to make.
First of all, it is important to mention again the importance of a push stick or push block when using a table saw as it keeps your hands and fingers away from the blade.
A table saw fence is used as a constant and straight surface to rest the material or wood stock up against. There are no hard and fast rules about when you should and shouldn’t use a push stick but we recommend using one when cutting any narrower than 8-inches between the blade and the fence.
Using Your Fingers To Guide
When cutting a piece of material that is more than 8-inches between the blade and the fence your hand can rest with your little finger gliding along next to the fence. Your fingers apply downward pressure on the material and your thumb helps with a constant forward motion.
If you are looking to create a miter cut with your table saw, then there are specialist tools that can assist you with this. Don’t try and use a standard table saw fence for a miter cut as it isn’t built for this purpose.
It is also to take into consideration the length of your table when ripping a board. If your board is long you have to take care that it doesn’t fall off the backside of the table. To safely catch the board we recommend creating a small table that is the same height as the saw or purchasing a roller stand. A roller stand can often be height adjustable to support the outfeed lumber and allow for you to create a perfectly straight cut.
What are the main advantages of an aftermarket table saw fence?
As mentioned previously the main advantage of upgrading your table saw fence is to buy a fence with higher quality construction. Make sure that it uses strong materials such as steel for the bulk of the tool and provides strength. For the fence edges, laminated plywood or aluminum is suitable.
Another advantage of upgrading is having a more secure and faster-locking function. Any aspect of a tool that saves you time when adjusting alignment means making fewer errors and more time building.
The fence that comes with your table saw might be difficult and frustrating to adjust. So by upgrading it will be a joy to use your table saw and you will be much more efficient.
Do you only need one section or a whole system?
Depending on your table saw you might need to buy an aftermarket table saw fence that is a single piece or a completely new system. The benefit of having a complete system such as the Shop Fox W1716 is that they come with the rails to mount the fence too.
There are further advantages of a complete system such as a more precise fit and wear and tear replacement sections. Also, additional features such as digital readouts for improved accuracy can be added to a complete system if needed.
How can you be safe with a table saw fence?
It is always essential when using any power tool that safety is the number one priority and a table saw is no different. Gloves, goggles, and a face mask should be worn at all times when operating and a push block is highly recommended.
A rip fence is designed to help with the ripping of materials, often wood or chipboard. It helps support the material along one fixed edge, allowing you to concentrate on the cut and keeping your hands in the correct positions.
To assist with supporting your material feather board attachments are often used. They provide constant tension against the material from the opposite side of the fence. This constant pressure allows for the stock to be held tight to the fence.
For more information on safety equipment, check out our comprehensive article. You can also read up on table saw safety features.