|Review by MoshupTrail||posted 03-26-2012 01:55 AM||12401 views||5 times favorited||15 comments|
A few weeks ago I started a forum topic about fixing the lame fence system that came with the Ridgid 4511 Granite top table saw.
The problem with the Ridgid’s fence is that the guide tube is split and joined in the middle with a cheap plastic part. The plastic part forces one of the tubes to be slightly offset from the other making it impossible to adjust the fence angle. When the fence slides from one tube to the other the angle will change slightly.
Initially I was thinking to simply replace or repair the guide tube. And that might have worked. But I also looked into replacing the whole fence system and came across the Biesmeyer fence system. Nice, but I wasn’t prepared to spend over $300 fixing a saw that cost less than $500.
From my forum post, Cato suggested I look into the Delta T-2. I did, and found that for $150, I could get a pretty nice fence as well as fix the split guide tube problem.
However, if you’re thinking of doing this, you can, but it’s not a slam dunk. I’ll explain why…
The Delta T-2 came in a large box, well packed in Styrofoam and neatly laid out with directions right on top. The tube is exactly the same size as the Ridgid tube (cross section) but it’s a full length tube, no joint in the middle!
I laid the parts on top of my saw and immediately began to see some issues. First, the holes would not line up. Well, OK, I didn’t really expect them to. Second, the rails are a completely different size. The Delta rail (1) are about 1 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches. The Ridgid rail is almost 3” high by 1 1/2 inches out. This is not a “fault” of the Delta fence system, just a fact that complicates the installation.
Here’s a compare picture of the two rails:
So part of what’s going on is due to the granite top. The granite top is 1 3/4 inches thick, and the screw holes for the rail are in the middle, 7/8” below the table surface. Probably the average table top is only 1” thick and the holes would be only 1/2” below the table surface. Also, the two fences are different:
The bottom of the Delta fence is designed to sit 2 1/2 inches above the bottom of the tube.
The bottom of the Ridgid fence is designed to sit 2 3/4 inches above the bottom of the tube.
So after making a lot of careful measurements I determined that I would need to mount the Delta rail about 3/8” lower than the pre-drilled holes would do. That would mean 4 new holes, and VERY close to the top of the rail. But it works! Here’s what it looks like:
The problem is, while the Delta fence is sold as a replacement fence, it’s not a universal replacement, and there are not suitable adjustments to raise and lower the fence to accommodate different table saw dimensions. So you, as the installer, need to make all the measurements and adjustments or the fence will sit 1/4” to 1/2” above the table top! Not good.
The other problem with using the default holes is that the Delta rail could end up blocking your miter slots. That’s what happened with the rear rail. It doesn’t affect my sled, but a standard miter gauge won’t make it. I’ll need to grind out a small channel about 1/16” to allow that.
I was not able to lower the rear rail like I had the front so without modification the fence would have ended up 1/4” above the table surface.
Luckily, Delta used a rather thick nylon cushion block. I ended up slicing 1/4” off the block, re-countersinking the holes so the screw heads would not protrude and scratch the rail, and then re-attaching it.
With the modified block re-installed it was dead on; the space under the fence being a good deal thinner than my combination square.
Here it is, finished. I was able to level the fence face by taking advantage of a little bit of play in the attachment of the fence face to the fence tube. It’s not much, but enough.
Tuning the T-2 is easy. There are basically two adjustments (after setting the fence height), setting the fence angle parallel to the miter slots, and perpendicular to the table surface.
To set the angle, there are two hex head screws on the back of the piece that grips the guide. Adjusting those slightly changes the fence angle. I use a simple technique of setting my combination square in the miter slot. The edge of the face pressed against the right side of the slot as shown below. Sliding the combination square up and down the miter slot, you can just listen for the end of the ruler to brush against the fence face. You can also see the tiny gap between the ruler and the fence – it should remain constant from one end of the table to the other.
To set the vertical fence angle there are two nylon set screws in the top of the piece that grips the tube. You can see one in the picture above. I just used a small marking square like this:
Having completed these adjustments, I used the saw several times the next day. The biggest difference is the solid tube – no bump in the middle. The horizontal angle stays constant!! But the fence itself is much nicer than what I had before. It’s nice to see no spaces in between the fence face and my work piece. It’s straight and true.
The fence is great. For the price, it’s a good upgrade for this table saw. However, if you try this upgrade, plan on spending more time than the 1 1/2 hours estimated by Delta. The one complaint I had with this kit, is it’s not really a universal replacement kit. The instructions don’t give any indication what to do when things don’t quite fit. And the fence doesn’t have it’s own adjustments to compensate.
On the other hand, if you do want to upgrade your saw, this is a good, economical way to do it.
-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.