Rip Fence Tips–Choosing the right Rip Fence for your Table Saw

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to complete a cut on a table without a rip fence. It is a table saw accessory that helps you to align and guide your workpiece when cutting correctly.  

When using the table saw, having a rip fence could solve a lot of potential hazards. Furthermore, it will eliminate any chance for wood movement or kickbacks to occur, which is dangerous. 

Therefore, paying keen attention to choosing the best rip fence is a must. In succeeding paragraphs, you would learn the necessary tips to choose a rip fence that best suits your needs.

Figure 1: Table saw with professional Fence

Table saw with professional Fence

Section 1: Why do we need the table saw Rip Fence Tips?

1.1What exactly is a rip fence?

A fact is that a table saw allows the cutting of large and complex workpieces. However, during cutting, many things could go wrong, and a rip fence prevents them. A table saw rip fence is a tool or accessory added to a table saw to help guide your workpiece. For smooth, accurate, and straight cuts, you can always count on the help from a table saw rip fence.   

1.2 Why do you need a table saw fence?

Whether you are a beginner, amateur, or professional, you must keep a table saw rip fence handy. Firstly, it guarantees better accuracy, allows you to work faster, thereby saving you time and allowing you to do more. Secondly, with a table saw rip fence, you are 100% sure nothing can go wrong. It ensures that you are safe when working and do not get injured unnecessarily. 

Many things could go wrong when a table saw rip fence is missing from your table saw. To start with, you could get injuries from kickbacks. Also, without a table saw rip fence, you might not find it easy to use a push stick. Its absence would cause the workpiece to dabble as it comes into the circular saw blade. It implies that you could lose a finger or more when your hand comes too close to the circular blade. 

Finally, the possibility of racking is high when a table saw rip fence not install.  

Figure 2: A rip fence guiding a rip cutting process. 

A rip fence guiding a rip cutting process.

Section 2: Rip Fence TipsHow to make a home-made table saw fence?

Asides from the factory-made table saw rip fence out there; you could decide to make one for yourself. On the other hand, you might desire some added feature that only you can customize. Thus, it would help if you understood how to make a table saw rip fence in your workshop. Below are three simple steps required to make yourself a table saw rip fence:

2.1 Making plywood strips

First, gather tools needed for the entire exercise: threaded pipe, clamp kit, and plywood pieces. Furthermore, measure the width of your table saw. Again, get a couple of four-inch-wide plywood strips; you would need them for a square tube. Besides, you would also need some 2-inch strips of plywood. Most importantly, trim these strips of plywood to fit the measurement of the table saw. 

By now, the plywood strips should be ready, and you can cut them into two equal squares. Nonetheless, bear in mind that the two squares must have a width of ½-inch and satisfactory length. Finally, you should end up with two pieces of each for the 2-inch and 4-inch plywood strip. Also, you must drill a hole at the center of each strip.

2.2 Building square tube and pipe clamp

Table saw tearing fence shaped like a square tube. It consists of two 4-inch strips on opposite sides and 2-inch strips at the top and bottom. Go further by fastening these pieces of strips together into a one-piece. 

Now, at one end of the square tube, position a square plywood piece to flush with an extended edge. Follow up with wood screws to lock the plywood in place.  

Inside your 4ft pipe, thread one end of the clamp and slide into the tube. Ideally, the pipe should run from end to end of the square tube, and you should fasten the clamp’s end. 

2.3 Placing the saw and using it.

The table saw rip fence should be ready for use. Remember that the cracking end of the pipe’s clamp should face your direction. The pipe’s clamp jaw should also point downwards, and the saw should touch both ends. 

With this positioning correctly done and clamp removed, the table saw rip fence is ready to guide your workpiece. The full assembly should slide back and forth effortlessly and adjustable depending on the size of the workpiece. 

For accuracy, always measure the distance between the table saw rip fence and the circular blade. Accordingly, tighten the pipe clamp. Generally, the measured distance should be such that it allows the workpiece to pass through during cutting. 

Figure 3: A home-made rip fence in action. 

A home-made rip fence in action.

Section 3: How to choose the right Rip Fence Tips for your table saw?

Purchasing the best table saw rip fence is quite easy, although you need to follow some steps. Primarily, the steps involve checking for some essential qualities and features that will suit your needs. These features will highlight and discuss below.

Figure 4: A professional performing cross-cutting with a rip fence.

A professional performing cross-cutting with a rip fence.

3.1 Manual or Electric?

If you are just a hobbyist, then a manual table saw rip fence should do for you. It is because you do not have to use the table saw frequently but just occasionally. However, if you are a professional in woodworks, you need a table saw rip fence to save you time and energy. Surely, it is more expensive than the manual rip fence. Nevertheless, as a pro, you will reap the return on your initial investment in the long. 

In essence, for continuous and non-stop cutting from time to time, consider getting the electric table saw rip fence. 

3.2 Rip Capacity.

Table saw rip fence comes with its specific rip capacity and it varies according to the table saw size. Thus, the rip capacity of your fence should correspond to the size of the workpiece. Get the maximum rip capacity fence for convenience when working on large projects, especially. The best rip capacity ranges from 18 to 36 inches.   

3.3 Accessories.

It is always exciting to have a table saw rip fence with all the necessary accessories. It surely makes your work easier and faster since you do not have to improvise at all. Hence, in your quest for a new table saw or rip fence only, always pay attention to the accompanying accessories. These accessories will go a long way in determining the ease at which you will operate the fence. Even though you might have to part way with some extra dollars, it will later pay off. 

3.4 Compatibility.

When purchasing a table saw rip fence, getting one fits different table saw is advisable. This is simply because it saves you the stress of finding compatible table saw tracks and guides. Thus, if you have to change your table saw, the rip fence will still fit in seamlessly.

3.5 Choose a Well Reputed Brand.

Just like every other aspect of life, a great table saw rip fence is not free. In exchange for quality, you have to pay handsomely. Nevertheless, the joy is that you get maximum satisfaction from what you bought with your money. So every money spent will turn into an investment only if you purchase a well-reputed brand. Well-reputed brands of a table saw rip fence have an unrivaled quality and durability. Hence, it is not just enough to spend money but to spend wisely by purchasing reputable brands in the market. 

3.6 Warranty.

A warranty is a basic control measure system put in place on new products to cater for problems. It ensures that if problems occur within a specified period, it will be taken care of by the manufacturer. The warranty period varies from brand to brand, and you should consider this when choosing. 

Section 4: Rip Fence TipsWhat is the best way to use a table saw fence?

The design of a table saw rip fence is simple and for one particular goal. It is to make straight rip cuts along the grain of the wood. Nevertheless, to successfully achieve this goal, some steps have to be taken and put in place, as discussed below.

Figure 5: A properly aligned and parallel workpiece and rip fence. 

A properly aligned and parallel workpiece and rip fence.

4.1 Is Your Rip Fence Up to Par?

It means that your table’s parallel alignment saw rip fence to the saw blade by up to par. A good rip fence not meeting this requirement of being up to par is not reliable for any work. With the rip fence’s lock feature, the rip fence must remain perfectly parallel to avoid accidents and errors.

 4.2 Checking for Parallel Alignment.

Judging alignment of the rip fence and the saw blade by eye is not enough; an alignment tool is necessary. 

4.3 Aligning the Table Saw Blade.

With the precision alignment tool and the information from your table saw manual, you can make the necessary adjustment. The tool used here is known as the table saw gauge. It can test several dimensions on your table, such as rip fence alignment, blade alignment, arbor shaft runout, etc. Now to align the table saw, do the following;

Raise your saw’s blade to its highest position once mounted on the arbor. 

Lay the straight edge of the gauge on the table’s surface and tighten against the blade plate. Ensure that when you tighten, the straight edge is not resting on the teeth to avoid damage.

Measure the distance between the straight edge and the miter slot at each end. If the distance measured from each edge does not agree, then there is misalignment. You would need to loosen some bolts that attach the trunnions to the saw to adjust this misalignment. After that, you can perform the necessary alignment and then re-tighten the components. 

4.4 Checking for Parallel Fence Alignment.

With the saw blade properly aligned, you can check the table saw rip fence parallel alignment. You can check this by setting the rip fence at different distances from the blade and measure the distance, respectively. All measurements must correspond when taken from the front and back of the straight edge. 

If there is still misalignment, then use the rip fence’s adjustment feature till the alignment is right. With these steps, you should have a perfectly aligned blade and rip fence. 

Section 5: Rip Fence TipsShould you upgrade to a professional fence?

Well, this decision is all up to you; if your job requires frequent usage of a table saw, then you must get a professional rip fence. If otherwise, then stick with a simple/home-made fence. 

Summary

In conclusion, we believe you have got all the key information and extensive knowledge about the rip fence. Thus, selecting the best rip fence should not be a problem for you if you have digested this article’s content. At NCCuttingtools, we offer the best cutting tool products and services. Should you need further guidance or assistance, reach out to us now.

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