Table Saw Fences: A Short Intro
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 that you will want to replace 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 as it provides a perfectly straight edge and helps with safety. It is important that when choosing an aftermarket table saw fence that you choose one that is suited to your table saw.
Top 5 Best Table Saw Fences In 2020
1. Vega Pro 50
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 only 15 minutes
There is no doubt that the Vega Pro 50 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 retro fit 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 because 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 mounting system for the fence is fully adjustable.
The Vega Pro 50 provides up to 50-inches to the right of the blade as well as 10-inches to the left if needed. It has a fence height of 2.5-inches and a bar length of 42-inches which is plenty for most cutting applications. We found that the fence moved smoothly on the rails and the micro adjustment feature was great to move the fence just a little when dialling in a cutting point. With all of it’s fantastic features it far exceeded our expectations, especially when it came to installation. We did have to tidy up a bit of the finish but this wasn’t an issue when it came to how well it performed. If you are looking for a strong, reliable and precise table saw fence we highly recommend the Vega Pro 50.
2. Shop Fox W1410
Stand Out Features
- Fine positioning knobs on either side
- Slides on ball bearing guides
- Fits most major table saws on the market
- Cast iron
When choosing an aftermarket rip fence you have to take price into consideration and this is where the Shop Fox W1410 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. It’s rip size of 25-inches means that it can easily cut a 4 foot by 8 foot board in half.
Perfect sliding on ball bearing guides and an easy to operate handle clamp make 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 saw up to 27-inches and we did have 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 were established over 30 years ago in 1989 and offer 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 as we found 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 aluminium and steel construction show that it is built to last and our tests proved this. It’s 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 we installed this on our own table saw we liked the idea that we could 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 we didn’t need to do any drilling to fit this to our table saw. It is well made from extruded aluminium 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 magnified cursor that can be adjusted to suit your needs.
5. Delta BC30T2 Table Saw Fence
Stand Out Features
- Manufactured from steel body and laminated 9 ply sides
- Fits the Delta Unisaw
- 50-inch maximum rip
- Simple 3 point locking system
This is a strong and sturdy table saw fence and it looks great, however don’t be fooled into thinking how it looks makes it a good product. We ended up having to do a lot of work to make this fence fit our table saw. We had to drill multiple holes to get the scale to line up correctly as the instructions included were for mounting to a Delta table saw.
This is a Biesemeyer T2 fence system rebranded as a Delta system. It is constructed form 14-gauge steel which helps to make it very sturdy. It should be noted that the edges are made from laminated ply and over time can become worn down.
Once we had shimmed and correctly fitted the fence to our table saw it rolled well and has a good locking action. It was just a shame that it took so long to install and for that reason it is our lowest rated table saw fence.
Buyers Guide and essential questions.
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.
I always want to know when spending a large amount of money on a product that will be suitable for the job as well as future proof 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.
When purchasing an aftermarket table saw fence you should have a good idea in the size of the cuts you will be routinely needing to make. 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.
Ease of installation to your existing table saw
Not all table saws are the same and 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 may 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. while 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 WR700 as it is magnetic that allows for it to be quickly moved between table saws and calibrate it. It has both absolute and incremental measuring units and even retains its calibrated setting when turned off.
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 loose 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, sturdier 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.
Use 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 provide 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 benefits of having a complete system such as the Shop Fox W1410 is that they come with the rails to mount the fence to.
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 to 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 table saw fence or 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 form the opposite side to the fence. This constant pressure allows for the stock to be held tight to the fence.