Introduction: DIY Table Saw Rip Fence
This distinctive bright orange beast is a Triton MK3 saw bench; a fantastic Australian invention that easily converts a standard hand held circular saw into a table saw. I think mainly popular here in Australia and also the UK. The Triton bench is now 30+ years old - it dates from an era when table saws were horrendously expensive and even circular saws weren't cheap. The one design limitation to my mind is the rip fence - a thin aluminium thing that locks down into two parallel slots turned at 90 degrees to the blade. Trouble is that there is nothing to keep the rip fence aligned to the blade - so for each new rip cut you need to move the fence, set it parallel to the blade and then lock it down with two clamping knobs. Fiddly...time consuming and needed a fix on the cheap
So I looked at many of the DIY table saw Instructables and decided to make a sliding T square style fence. Apart from the Instructables community, inspiration also came from two Online woodworkers: Stan Sullivan (Simply Easy DIY) - http://www.simplyeasydiy.com/2014/01/diy-rip-fence.html?m=1 and Wooden Tool Man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6_O9AeQQHc&sns=em
Step 1: Build the Fence
I ripped a 1.1m long melamine board into three strips around 8cm wide using my circular saw and then screwed them together to make a u-shaped profile. Square scrap pieces of MDF are then screwed into the inside of the assembly to stop the melamine warping inward. This is strong, rigid and due to the melamine, reasonably heavy. This makes for a very stiff and square section that will become the fence. Unlike some fence builds it means I can rip cut on either side of the fence.
Step 2: Build the Fence Guide Channel
Nice and easy - just scrap timber formed into a u shaped profile and bolted to the end of the saw bench. This creates the mounting point for the rip fence to slide within.
Step 3: Putting It Together - Part 1
Ok so now we have a fence and a guide channel. To join everything together I cut more scrap MDF. The final shape is a fat inverted T - this will be screwed to the rear of the fence and drops into the guide channel. I built the channel to the thickness of the MDF T piece to ensure a tight fit - any less than firm hand pressure to move the MDF piece in the guide means there is too much room for the fence to pull out of square.
Step 4: Putting It Together (part 2)
A fence that isn't aligned to the blade is both useless and dangerous - best case is that you friction burn your timber - worst case is that the timber binds and you experience kickback. I used the metal ruler of a sliding square to ensure the fence was dead parallel to the blade and then screwed the fence and T shaped mounting piece together with LOTS of wood screws - I started thinking that 3 would be adequate but finished up using around 7 or so for maximum rigidity. After going through this I realised hardwood might have been better than MDF but that's an upgrade for another day. Any misalignment at this point will likely impair every future cut you make on the fence so take it nice and slow at this point
Step 5: Locking Mechanism
Using the slots for the original fence system allows for an easy way to lock the fence - basically a tee nut in a block of wood and a bolt creates a simple locking mechanism. The bolt is threaded through a hole drilled up through the underside of the rip fence. Tightening the wood block pulls the fence down to the table top for a very firm hold
Step 6: Finishing Up
So this won't win any prizes for the prettiest project but was literally made with wood scraps lying around the shed and under $10 for the melamine and a tee nut. Rip cuts are now quick and so much easier compared to the original fence system. I also love using the fence (basically a long box with compartments) to keep my marking and measuring tools close at hand but safely stowed while I work