Retrofitting a Delta T2 Fence to a Craftsman Table Saw

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Introduction: Retrofitting a Delta T2 Fence to a Craftsman Table Saw

If you have one of these older Craftsman table saws, you already know two things:
1) With a little tweaking, they're surprisingly adequate saws.
2) The fence really sucks. Like, a lot.

Luckily there are a lot of options out there to upgrade that shotty old fence. In this instructable, I'll cover the procedure for installing a Delta 36-T30 T2 fence & rail system onto a Craftsman 113.298762. This is a popular upgrade for these old saws, but the documentation out there on how to do it is pretty sparse. Hopefully this little guide will help a few folks.

Step 1: A Note About Compatiblity...

The Delta 36-T30 fence & rails are a bargain no matter how you look at it. Its basically a clone of the ever popular and ever expensive Biesemeyer fences. Those can run upwards of $300-400+. The T2 is sold by Lowe's for around $150. A true bargain. But here's the thing...

The Delta T2 rails are supposedly universal, but none of the pre-drilled holes line up on Craftsman saws. There's lots of drilling and nervousness involved, so be forewarned. If you take your time and measure, measure, measure, this works great. If you try to rush through it, you could damage the fence and render it unusable...and un-returnable.

The saw in this instructable is a Craftsman 113.298762, but this process should apply to most other Craftsman table saws.

Step 2: What You'll Need...

To do this properly you'll need:

Combination Square
24" Carpenters Square
7/16" Drill Bit
3/8" Drill Bit
5/8" Countersink Bit
Flat Head/Phillips Head Screwdrivers
Wrenches (various sizes)
Socket Set
Various Clamps
Drill
WD-40

Note about the drill:
I used a drill press for all the drilling in this Instructable, and recommend you do the same if you have one available to you. The accuracy and repeatability of a drill press made this go a lot smoother. You could certainly do this with a hand held drill, but make sure to use a center punch so your bit doesn't wander.

Step 3: Establish the Zero Reference Line...

The fence's guide tube has an integrated measuring tape, so you have to take care to make sure that it lines up properly. Here's how I went about that.

Go ahead and attach the guide tube to the front rail. Using your square against the front edge of the guide tube, find the "Zero" line and transfer a pencil mark to the front rail. Now, butt the back rail up to the front rail and transfer the mark. Set the back rail aside.

Now go ahead and pop the fence onto the front rail/guide tube assembly. Line up the sight on the fence with the zero line on the guide tube and lock it down. Raise the blade up to full height...you did unplug your saw, right? Of course you did. Lay the fence on the table and slide it firmly against the saw blade. Also make sure that the front rail is firmly against the front of the saw. Use a couple small clamps to make sure that the front rail is fairly level and that everything is secure.

Now transfer the pencil mark from the front rail to the front of your saw table. Remove the fence and front rail and set them aside. Now, using a small square, extend that pencil mark up the front of the table. Using a larger square, extend the pencil mark all the way across the top of the table, and then down the back of the table. Now we have all the guides we need to line the scale up properly.

Note: The fence's sight is adjustable a few millimeters from side to side, so you have a small margin for error in this step.

Step 4: Mark the Front Rail for Drilling...

There are a couple different ways to go about making this fence fit. You can use the pre-existing holes in the front rail and drill new holes in the saw table. Or, you can use the pre-existing holes in the table and drill the front rail. I chose the latter simply because I can't get my table saw onto my drill press.

First, we need to get the front rail/guide tube into position. I just propped the whole front rail assembly up on a saw horse and slid it up to the front of the saw table. I lined up the line I drew on the front rail with the line I just marked on the table. I then used a combination of scrap wood and paper to shim it up to where I wanted it. I would occasionally clamp the front rail in place and pop the fence on to check it for clearance over the table top.

This required a LOT of trial and error. If you position the rail too high, the fence will ride really high over the table. If you position it too low, you'll have to drill too close to the edge of the rail. Take your time and find a good equilibrium. On my saw, 13/16" from the top of the saw table to the top of the rail was the butter zone. I used a combination square to make sure that this measurement was constant across the entire length of the rail. That gave me just enough room to drill, and the fence rides a mere 1/16" over the table.

Note: Another thing to look out for are the little nylon adjusting screws on either side of the fence. If your fence is riding too high, they will actually be above the level of the table top and will interfere with your work piece.

Once the fence was where I wanted it, I used a Sharpie marker to mark the drilling locations. I just crouched down beneath the saw table and marked through the existing holes in the table top. Once I was confident that everything was marked correctly, I disassembled the front rail & guide tub and headed for the drill press.

Step 5: Drilling the Front Rail...

To simplify things at the drill press, I set up my makeshift fence. Its just a piece of aluminum angle that pivots on a bolt on one end and is secured by a c-clamp on the other. Its crude, but it works well. I actually drilled into the back of the rail since that's where my marks were made. I used a couple of blocks of wood to elevate the rail off the table and referenced the bottom of the rail against the fence (see the first pic for clarification).

I used a 7/16" drill bit for all the holes. Its roughly the same size as the pre-drilled holes in the rail, and it gives us a little wiggle room for fine tuning later. When drilling the holes, be sure to keep a can of WD-40 handy to keep things cool. Also, be sure you've got your safety glasses on as you'll be flinging around lots of metal shavings. After the first hole is drilled, just slide the rail down and drill the second hole.

Next, mount a 5/8" countersink bit into the drill press. Countersink the holes just until the screw heads sit flush. The front rail is done, just mount the guide tube to it and bolt it to the saw and make sure everything lines up as it should.

Step 6: Drilling the Rear Rail...

Go ahead and put the fence in place. Because of the motor sticking out of the back of the saw, we have to approach the rear rail a bit differently. We can't get the saw horse up to the saw, so we have to use clamps to hold it in place. Luckily, the rear rail is lighter and much less cumbersome, so its pretty easy to just clamp it in place making sure to line up your zero reference lines. With a clamp on each end, just loosen one end at a time and bump the rail up until the fence is raised off the table evenly with the front (in my case, 1/16"), and even across the back of the saw. On my saw, the top of the rear rail was 11/16" below the table top. Once you're confident everything is where it should be, mark the holes for drilling just like you did on the front. Using a similar set up on the drill press, drill the holes. However, it is not necessary to countersink these holes since the bolt heads won't interfere with anything. Now bolt the rear rail on and install the fence.

One thing to note, I actually used a couple of smaller diameter bolts I had laying around the shop for the rear rail. This gave me a little more room to tweak and fine tune things.

Step 7: And That's It.

Now, just make sure everything is lined up as it should be. Raise the blade and slide the fence over until it touches the right side of the blade. If the sight on the fence doesn't read "Zero" on the scale, just loosen the two screws on the sight and line it up.

And there you have it. If all has gone well, this thing should be solid and glide like butter.

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60 Comments

I can't find a schematic or info anywhere. Do you have the center to center holes for the manufactured two bolt holes that secure the front/rear to the table top? I have an older Rockwell with holes 16" on center and can't get any confirmation as to whether the t3 rail has holes 16" on center. I'd rather not drill anything.

Thank you for the very helpful instructions! I just installed the Delta T3 on my 113 series Craftsman and love it! Delta even provides a Rail Alignment Gauge with the T3 fence kit for easily setting the front and rear rails at the correct distance from the saw table. That made the installation a cinceh.

Thank you for the detailed instructions. I installed the Delta 36-T30 T3 on an old Delta Super 10 model 34-470 table saw. Without your instructions it would have been a disaster. The only holes that lined up were the ones on the stamped extension wings. I drilled the rails verses the table. The top of the table is thin and shallow in depth but I was able to get about 1/16 clearance between fence and table top. The fence really isn't square, sides are scalloped but not horribly. I was able to square one side of the fence to the table however it caused the screws holding the fence site to protrude above the level of the table top. After unsuccessfully looking for low profile screws, I opted to grind the top of the screws to prevent the screws from interfering with the work pieces. Because the table depth was less 27" I moved the rear metal clip and nylon guide to correct this.

Thank goodness for the internet and people like you who take the time to post detailed instructions with pictures! Thanks again!

To JohnL289: if I can do this (62 yr, 5'2" female with limited experience with tools), anyone can! Be patient, double check your measurements. It'll be worth it.

does this work with the Delta 36-T30 T3 as well or is there another retro fit for that one as well?

I have an older model, the 113.298051 with aluminum table and sheet metal extensions. I have done a similar modification to mount this fence. A big thank you for your section on marking the zero position on the table. This tip saved me a lot of re-drilling and head scratching. After reading your installation guide, I made allowances for my installation. One major consideration to me was that, since the table was aluminum, I did not want to do any drilling into the table. I have documented my install, if anyone wants to see it. If there is a way to upload the file, I'll be happy to do that, too.

Are you still active? I would like to download your info on the Craftsman saw and fence conversion if it's available. Thanks

I have a Craftsman 113.24167 and new a up-grade fence for it. Will the Delta t-2 work on this model as well? Any help would be appreciated much since I can't afford to buy a new table saw on my SS income.

I started my retrofit tonight and couldn't do it without this.

However I am really disappointed as the Delta fence I received seems to be either defective and/or damaged. First the holes in front rail do not line up very well in the holes in the guide tube. This resulted in an uneven gap between the rail and guide tube, 3/8" on one end and 3/4" on the other. When I tried to put the fence onto the guide tube it wouldn't go on. After pushing very hard it went on but is basically locked in place and won't slide and yes I have the lever up. I will be calling the place I bought it from tomorrow to find out why I am having these problems. I am wondering if Delta quality isn't what I thought it would be. And damn this thing is heavy, I am going to need help putting it on the saw while I figure out where the mounting holes go.

Ok after reading the Delta instructions I was able to get fence on and sliding by adjusting the two allen screws on the fence. One was way too far in. I am still not happy about the gap not being even between the rail and guide tube, its off by about 1/16" from one end to the other. Hopefully the screws to adjust the fence square to the saw will make up for that. If not then I will have to slot the holes in the front rail even through they already have tons of slop.