Introduction: My Ultimate Table Saw Fence
If you want to get the most out of your table saw's rip fence and increase your capabilities at the table saw, you should consider making an auxiliary fence. These instructions walk you through how I made my auxiliary table saw fence as well as shows you some of the jigs I attach to my fence to get the most out of it. There are downloadable plans for this fence if you would like help making one of your own.
Downloadable project plan: https://gum.co/mAsRS
Where to Follow along with my work:
My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://mwawoodworks.com
My YouTube (all my build videos): https://youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks
My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff): https://instagram.com/mwawoodworks
My Pinterest (things I find inspirational) : https://pinterest.com/mwawoodworks
3/4" Baltic Birch Ply
1/4 20 Hex Bolts (1" & 1 1/2")
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Introduction
Ever since I built my ultimate table saw fence a few years ago, people who have seen it on social media have asked questions about the design and how I built it. This article is written to do that. I'll walk you through the features and design of this fence. I also have plans you can download below if you want to make your own.
Why Do You Need An Auxiliary Fence?
The rip fence that comes standard on every table saw is good for doing what it was designed for, making rip cuts. A good rip fence is rock solid, doesn't move out of calibration after a few uses and is easy to adjust when needed. The better biesemeyer style fences will have a 3-4" face on them and that's enough to clamp some very low profile things like stop blocks to but at the end of the day there just aren't a lot of things a standard rip fence can help with outside of it's core function. What you really need if you want to transform your fence into the best version of itself are two things: HEIGHT and VERSATILITY.
Height allows for better support of vertical cuts on the saw. Think about making raised panels at the table saw. You really need a solid vertical support to move a door panel across your saw blade. Or think about cutting the cheeks of a tenon.
And if you're going to add all that height, you might as well build some way to attach other things to it. That way your fence can hold things for you while you work.
My ultimate table saw fence was built to accommodate just about every type of operation I might want to do at my table saw. It has an almost 1 ft high face, it bolts solidly into the sub fence for rock solid stability and has a t-track and miter track built into it to allow for all sorts of attachments anywhere along the length of the fence.
I also thought about storage. If you have all that space on top of the fence, you might as well keep your most used tools close at hand right? More on this later.
Step 2: The Sub Fence
The core of this whole thing is the sub fence. It provides the stability and basic attachment points for other things like the tall fence. You want to make sure to take care in making the sub fence snug to your rip fence. The key here is you don't want it moving or rocking on you, especially with that tall fence attached to it.
The sub fence is made entirely of 3/4" (19mm) baltic birch ply and consists of two vertical parts that are 6" tall.
Those are screwed to a horizontal piece that is made of two strips of the baltic birch laminated together. I used two strips in order to give a solid surface to screw into and a nice flat 90 degree reference for the vertical sides. the horizontal strip should be the exact width of your rip fence minus a tiiiiiiiiny bit. Maybe 1/128". This makes it so when you screw the sides to it, it will pull snugly to the rip fence making a piston fit.
The front and back also have small pieces screwed in so that the entire fence doesn't slide but fits on the rip fence like a glove. You will have to cut a notch out of the front side to allow for the lever on the rip fence to come through. This is going to be different for every saw, so just make the notch fit your fence specifically.
You can see here that I countersunk some 2" screws into the sides to assemble the sub fence. Make sure to countersink them so they don't interfere with the operation of the fence.
Here you can see how the sub fence slips over the rip fence. I recommend chamfering the inside edge of the subfence by 1/8" to make the process of slipping the sub fence on and off easier.
Step 3: Attaching the Large Fence
Another key feature of the sub fence are the tee-nuts I put into it. There are four tee-nuts on each side of the sub fence to allow me to bolt on my tall fence. These tee-nuts are countersunk in from the opposite side prior to assembling the subfence.
You can see here how this tee-nut is countersunk into the side from the back.
Step 4: The Tall Auxiliary Fence
The tall fence is made of 2 pieces of the 3/4" Baltic birch laminated together and skinned with formica. The formica is optional but it provides durability and toughness as well as a smooth easy to clean surface that you can make very visible reference marks on.
One side of the fence has a t-track in it. This allows for adding all kinds of attachments to the fence.
The other side has a notch cut out at the bottom to allow you to make flush cuts at your table saw.
And the top has a miter track built on it. This is to aid with jigs that require sliding across the blade (I'll show you a couple of my jigs below).
Step 5: Completely Reversible Design
Those tee-nuts allow me to bolt on the tall fence easily and securely.
The way that I positioned the tee-nuts allows me to bolt the tall fence on from any position. I can turn it around to use the notched side. I can do the same on the opposite side of the blade. Its fully reversible for maximum versatility.
The two top hex bolts are spaced 12" apart and the bottom two are 24" apart, all on center. I use 1/5" bolts to secure it to the sub fence. If you use longer bolts you will run into the underlying rip fence and cause the auxiliary fence to warp or distort.
Step 6: Feather Boards
So the first thing I recommend as an attachment to the ultimate table saw fence are feather boards. Feather boards are like a pair of extra hands that can provide downward pressure on the work piece as it passes through the saw blade.
One feather board is good, but two is better. That way you can have control of the cut before and after the blade.
Step 7: The L-Fence
Another very versatile attachment is the L-fence. The L-fence makes quick work of rabbets and straight or tapered cuts, miters, bevels and making precise cuts on awkwardly sized parts. My L-fence is just two boards fastened along their edges at a right angle. One side is attached to the fence; the other side extends horizontally for a work piece or template to ride against. And because this fence floats over the blade, it doesn’t get damaged like a sacrificial fence would.
To make a tapered cut on your work piece, just mark the beginning and end points of the taper.
Then get something with a straight edge (I'm using a piece of hard maple that I verified was straight). A straight edge works too.
Attach it to your work piece using two-sided tape. This tape makes a solid, non destructive bond. Make sure the saw blade height is just high enough to cut through the work piece. Also, position the rip fence so that it sits just above the blade without touching it and make sure the edge of the L-fence is flush with the outside edge of the saw blade.
Now with the edge of the L-fence flush with the edge of the saw blade, keep the runner in contact with the L-fence as you pass the work piece across the blade. Anything beyond the runner will be cut by the blade.
And there you have it. a clean cut taper using the L-fence!
Step 8: Flush Trim Cuts
You can do a similar type operation using the notches side of the fence. Again position the outside of the blade just flush with the fence and under the notch.
Now if you have something to cut flush like edge banding can be done so easily. Press your work piece against the fence as you pass over the blade and anything that sticks under the notch will be cut off.
It's a simple way to make flush trim cuts!
Step 9: The Tenon Jig
The top miter track is perfect for jigs that have to slide across the saw, like a tenoning jig.
I made the slider that has the mating rail which slides in the miter track. The slider has tee-nuts embedded in it that can be used to bolt anything you want to the fence.
As you can see here, my tenon jig allows me to make safe and accurate vertical cuts, like tenon cheeks easily.
Its super easy to attach different jigs using 1/4 20 hex bolts.
Step 10: Miter Spline Jig
Another commonly used "sliding" jig is a spline miter jig. This jig allows you to make slot cuts into miter joints safely. You can glue splines into the slots to reinforce the miter joint!
This is a very common joint in picture frames and can also add a nice decorative touch if you use a contrasting wood.
This jig is the same size as the tenon jig but instead of having a tall fence 90 degrees to the table it has a 90 degree "V" fence that cradles your work piece as it crosses over the blade.
Step 11: Tool Caddy
I keep every tool that I commonly use at my table saw right at my fingertips. I use magnets to make sure my steel tools don't shift around during operation. This is key for safety as well as organization. If I'm in the middle of using my table saw I want to be able to grab something without sorting through a pile of unorganized tools. Distractions not only waste time but can become unsafe.
Step 12: Magnetic Tool Blocks
To make a magnet bar just drill some 1/2" holes into a strip of hard wood. Add a couple magnets to each hole you drilled.
Then add some fast drying glue and add a thing 1/16th thick veneer over the magnets like so. This will conceal the magnets and hold them in place.
Now you can glue as many of these as you want into the tool caddy! I have one long magnet bar that holds my rules, tape measure, riving knife and anything else made of steel that is small and that I want to keep safely in place.
I also made this other block which isn't magnetic but does hold my square, pencils, markers and my router table height adjuster (I have a router table in the wing of my table saw). I also added a custom holder for my push stick. With all the small stuff secured I can throw other things like my safety gear in there and they wont get tangled up with the other tools. This makes the ultimate table saw fence truly ultimate!
Step 13: THANK YOU!!!
I hope you found these instructions helpful! If you'd like to see more detail, check out this video where I walk step by step through the build!
Remember you can get downloadable plans for this build here--> https://gum.co/mAsRS
If you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful, you can see more of my work in the following places:
My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://www.mwawoodworks.com
My YouTube (all my build videos): https://www.youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks
My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff):https://www.instagram.com/mwawoodworks
My Pinterest (things I find inspirational): https://www.pinterest.com/mwawoodworks