For those who don’t have the Ridgid Model R4511 or have never seen one, the stock fence is a T-square type — sort of a mini-Biesemeyer configuration, very loosely speaking. This configuration is somewhat similar to the Delta T-2, which a number of folks have purchased to replace the stock fence on this saw. It has a square tube front rail, bolted to a formed steel angle which is screwed to the front of the granite table top. For ease of shipping, the front rail is split in two pieces, with a plastic coupler fitting between the two halves. Like the Biesemeyer, the fence body straddles the rail and a cam lock mechanism pulls the body against the steel tube rail. This mechanism seems to lock the fence position quite well. The fence itself is a 2” square steel tube, which has a “hook” fitting on the rear end that catches underneath the rear angle rail.
There have been quite a number of folks who have found the original rip fence on the Model R4511 to meet their needs and expectations very well. And of course there have been a fair number of folks who have had difficulties with the fence — issues related to the two piece front rail, alignment front to back, excessive height off the table, etc. I didn’t have any major issues with the fence except the excessive height off the table, altho I think the 2” square tube is too small to be useful for a lot of ripping applications on thicker/longer stock. In addition, I could not get used to the debris-catching space between the front rail tube and the rail support angle — it seemed like I was always losing a pencil in that space and it was always full of sawdust!
My biggest problem with the original fence was a historical one! I had been using a Delta Unifence for the last 20 years or so, and I just couldn’t get comfortable using a difference fence. In addition to the “perceived deficiencies” mentioned above, I missed some of the features of the Unifence — especially the unique feature of the Unifence which allows the fence extrusion to be retracted to a position in front of the blade so it can be used as a stop block for uniform length cross cuts.
The Delta Unifence I purchased for use on the Model R4511 had a 30” rail, allowing a maximum cut of 30” to the right of the blade and 9” to the left. The total length of the front rail was about 60”. Unfortunately, since I purchased the one for this project, it seems like the Unifence is either no longer made or is in very short supply. I suspect that since Delta bought Biesemeyer, they would rather sell only the Bies. — which is indeed an excellent fence, as many of you can probably attest.
The Unifence is a three-piece rip fence — an extruded aluminum front rail, a machined cast aluminum body, and an extruded “L”-shaped aluminum fence. The fence body is supported by the front rail, and a nylon tipped “foot” that rests on the table top — there is no attachment to the rear rail. A steel bar running in a tee slot in the front of the rail is cam locked to the face of rail to lock the fence position. The fence extrusion can be positioned on either side of the fence body, allowing left-of-blade cutting.
The fence extrusion can be mounted to the body in two ways. To accommodate this feature, two index lines are provided on the clear plastic scale cursor, with an icon to show which one applies —therefore, it is possible to read the wrong cursor line if one isn’t paying attention…... :-( DAMHIKT...........!!The following photo shows the fence extrusion in the Low Fence Mode, (my favorite) providing a 1/2” high fence surface and allowing space for hand holding the workpiece without obstruction from the higher part of the fence.
This view shows the fence positioned in the High Fence Mode providing a 3 1/2” fence face.
The addition of an After Market Auxiliary Fence extrusion allows the use of feather boards or other hold down devices. However, the use of such devices does require the fence extrusion to be clamped down to the table or rear rail, which is easily accomplished.
Mounting of the Unifence proved to be challenging. The Unifence was designed to be attached to the front face of a cast iron table, which typically has a flange around the edges of the table. Bolts with heads inside the flange and nuts inside integral tee slots in the back face of the fence extrusion are used to secure the fence to the table. However, the Model R4511 has a solid granite table with no edge flanges. So I had to dream up an alternate mounting method.
This installation required the mounting of a new steel rail support angle to the front edge of the table, using the original hole pattern, which I transferred from the original fence rail — the cheapo transfer punch set from Harbor Freight worked like a champ for this application. I used 1/8” x 2” x 2” angle stock from Home Depot. In retrospect, I wish I had used 3/16” or even 1/4” thick stock, which would have made it more rigid. The thinner stock is adequate, however — sometimes bigger is better! In addition, I replaced the stock rear fence support angle with a 1/8” x 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” steel angle I had lying around the shop to provide support for a right hand table extension to fill the space between the fence rails outboard of the granite table.
To accommodate the radius between the rail angle legs, I fabricated a maple filler. The filler was attached to the rail extrusion with 1/4” machine screws and either speed nuts and hex nuts. The speed nuts were used to accommodate the large upper tee slot, which was designed for 3/8” hex nuts in a normal installation. I didn’t have room for the large heads of 3/8” FH machine screws in the face of the filler.
This view shows the rail support angle, filler, and rail extrusion installed on the front of the granite table. Note that there is no channel between the table and the fence rail to collect debris — or lose pencils…. :-)
The Unifence rail extrusion was attached with 1/4” machine screws tapped into the bottom surface of the fence rail, as shown in this view. Altho the fence rail extending beyond the edge of the right hand granite table extension was unsupported, it is so rigid as to not pose a problem.
Since installing the Unifence, I have felt much more at home using the saw—kinda like putting on an old pair of slippers…........ :-)
Well, that’s about it for this chapter. Stay tuned, there is lots more to come….....................
-- Paul, Auburn, WA