Feeling a little restricted by your table saw’s small rip capacity, but don’t have the room for a 52” rip setup? If you’ve got a Biesemeyer or Biese clone style fence and a left tilt table saw, it’s very likely that you can gain in the range of 10” of rip capacity for next to no cost, and with minimal effort. There’s not many opportunities to rip on the left side of a left tilting saw, so if you’ve got a steel t-square style fence like a Biesemeyer or similar, you can rob capacity from the left side and add it to the right side by sliding the front rail tube over farther to the right. The same modification could work with a right tilting saw, but you’ll typically loose the ability to rip on the left side of the saw, which is a common practice for bevel cuts with a right tilt saw. The Biesemeyer Commercial, Biesemeyer Homeshop, General T-fence, Jet Xacta, Xacta II, PM Accufence, HTC, Shop Fox Classic, Steel City Industrial, Saw Stop Industrial, Delta T2, Jet ProShop, and several other similarly designed fences should work well. There are three steps involved, steps 1 & 2 are very simple, step 3 is a bit more involved but might not even be necessary depending on your setup….read all three steps before proceeding, and apply common sense as needed….every setup is just a bit different. I’ve successfully added rip capacity to my Biesemeyer Commercial fence, and my Shop Fox Classic fence for final rip capacities of 40” and 36” respectively.
If you pursue expanding the rip capacity by sliding the rail to the right, it might open another opportunity for creating a crosscut extension too.
Step 1: With these fences, the front rail tube is bolted to a steel angle bracket using several bolts. By unbolting the front rail (leave the front angle bracket untouched), you can easily slide the front tube farther to the right by the distance of one bolt hole (assuming the holes are evenly spaced). Then rebolt the tube to the bracket using one less bolt. You’ll basically be cantilevering the rail a bit further beyond the angle bracket. There are usually 4 or 5 bolts involved, so you’ll be reinstalling the tube using only 3 or 4 bolts, which still provides plenty of strength for most common operations. This step can be completed in just a few minutes.
Here’s what the left side of a stock setup should resemble on a Biese/Biese clone style fence. Note where the rail lines up relative to the angle bracket.:
Here’s what it looks like after the rail is slid farther to the right:
Step 2: You’ll need to either reposition or replace the measuring tape if there was previously one adhered to the rail tube. It’s as easy as setting the left face of your fence flush against the blade, marking the rail, then installing the tape so that the zero reference point on the tape lines up near the cursor. Most cursors have fine tuning adjustments so you can dial in the zero mark precisely after the tape is installed. My measuring tape had a max reading of 26”....you can buy a new tape that’s longer, or can get creative and add an extension.
Step 3: Since most of these fences ride along the main table, you’ll need to install an extension table in the newly expanded gap between the front and back angle brackets for the fence to ride on. The options for extension and router tables and methods for installing them are varied and plentiful….you can search Google, LJs, and other forums for ideas. Some of you may already have a stock or shop made extension or a router table installed, so you’re set. Some form of leg support may or may not be necessary depending on the specifics of your saw, but adding them is a safe conservative approach, and isn’t difficult to do.
One caveat is that some of these fences have a rear foot that rides along the rear angle bracket instead of the body of the fence riding on the main table….if that’s the case with your fence, the length of the rear angle bracket will limit how far you can slide the front rail. Work arounds could include removing the rear foot on the fence and adding a nylon pad to slide on the main table, adding a longer rear angle bracket, or moving the angle bracket farther to the right proportionately to the front rail.
Here are some examples of a router/extension tables:
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