Homemade table saw fence #1: Front guide assembly

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Blog entry by Bram Couttouw posted 01-31-2012 10:35 PM 21735 reads 3 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Homemade table saw fence series Part 2: Fence tube plug and squaring angle »

About 1 year ago, I’ve purchased a cheap benchtop table saw, in fact, it was the Jet JTS-10. For the small projects I’ve made 3-4 months after the purchase, it served me well. But when I wanted to cut some thick lumber with the stock blade, I immediatly heard the sound of an underpowered table saw motor.

I really wanted to cut thick lumber, so I could cut my own wood for a project. If I can’t cut my wood out of bigger and thicker boards, it means that I need to get them cut at my local wood supplier, which i really don’t like since I like to lay out every part of my project on the boards and take my time to do that.

That problem got fixed just by buying an ultra thin kerf blade from CMT which has a sawkerf of 1.7mm wide.

The next problem that I’ve experienced was the dust collection. The table saw has a DC port of 30mm in diameter. Everyone knows that that’s way too small. So I’ve made a table saw station with integrated dust collection that gives me a port of 120mm in diameter. This gives excelent suction and I will make an overarm blade guard in the near future that will suck up even more dust.

Sure there are some other problems with that saw, but I don’t want to waste your time by telling you all the defects of a benchtop table saw.

Except for this one: The fence. Everybody knows that the fence on a benchtop table saw is worthless. in fact, my table saw had the worst fence that I’ve ever seen.

I could go the easy way and buy an aftermarket fence, but those are all way too long (50” or 30”), way out of my budget at the moment and since I live in Belgium, I have no idea where to buy one.

So I decided to make my own. I did lots of research on the internet to get some idea’s. I’ve made up a list of the materials needed and went to my local steel supplier. I thought that I would need to pay more than 40 euro’s, but in fact, I only had to pay 16 euro’s. With my fence, I will have 20” to the right of the blade.

So let’s start!

Those are the profiles that I’ve bought.

First of all, I deburred every piece, so it feels smooth and I wouldn’t cut myself (which wouldn’t be the first time).

Then I’ve cut some wooden spacers to put between the front rail and the guide tube. I’ve used 19mm plywood as a spacer. You want this space to be pretty consistant so the guide tube will be parallell to the front of the table.

Next, I’ve marked the holes to be drilled, so my drill wouldn’t walk around.

Then I drilled the holes…

... that eventually get’s tapped for M10 bolts (M10 because i have tons of those).

All done, with the bolts inserted

...and with the front rail attached to the table saw (note the steel plates that I had to weld to the front rail, well that’s my fault because I’ve bought the L- profile too small).

well, that’s it for this part. So far, it has been very easy.

7 comments so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7604 posts in 2828 days

#1 posted 01-31-2012 11:01 PM

Often the problem with making your own table saw fence is finding perfectly straight iron tubing. If that front rail has even a slight bend in it, the error will really show in the fence. It might be parallel to the blade in one setting, but off on another. It’s impossible to get it aligned.

I hope you found a good source for precise material, because the off the shelf stuff is rarely suitable!

Looking forward to seeing the finished result!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View DocSavage45's profile


8603 posts in 2870 days

#2 posted 02-01-2012 12:54 AM

Good Luck,

sometimes the measuring on a commercial guidebar is off as well!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2703 days

#3 posted 02-01-2012 03:28 AM

StumpyNubs, I agree on the straightness of the metal being critical. I think if you will look at ornamental iron or ornamental metal it will often be straighter than the mill stock.

View gavinzagreb's profile


210 posts in 2347 days

#4 posted 02-01-2012 12:35 PM

This just what I needed to see. I recently bought a very similar cheap tablesaw from Lidl of all places. 1700 watts though and it came with 2 semi decent blades.
I will also build it into a better table and make a fence so I will be watching this space carefully for ideas.
I was planning to use some aluminium rails my wifes uncle has laying around. I have found aluminium extrusions to be surprisingly straight.

View Bram Couttouw's profile

Bram Couttouw

42 posts in 2344 days

#5 posted 02-01-2012 03:50 PM

Stumpy, the front rail is only 3 feet long, so it’s pretty straight. If it would be over 6 feet long then there is a bigger chance of not being straight. I’ve also got “first choise” (or whatever) steel profiles, so i’m not really concerned about it not being straight.

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2358 days

#6 posted 02-04-2012 09:03 PM

worst stock fence you’ve ever seen? You never saw my little Hitachi fence then. I’d thought about building my own fence system, but it really isn’t worth the bother for my saw. I did go with a thin kerf blade for mine too and that did make a huge difference in cut quality and power shortage. I’m on the lookout now for a decent used contractor or hybrid. Depending what I end up with, I’m going to either build or buy an aftermarket fence. Whether I buy or build will depend on what I end up spending on the actual saw. Great build though, I hope it works out well for you

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View Bram Couttouw's profile

Bram Couttouw

42 posts in 2344 days

#7 posted 02-05-2012 11:21 AM

I’d love to buy a conctractor or hybrid saw but those are way out of my price range. So I had to make the best of what I have right now.

I highly recommend to make your own table saw fence. If you find a good supplier then you could buy your materials for like 30$ or so. If you compare this price with the aftermarket fence then you will see the big difference.

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