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Cutting with a fence on the left side of the blade?

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Forum topic by Mark Colan posted 08-12-2010 03:53 AM 2161 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Colan

209 posts in 1495 days


08-12-2010 03:53 AM

My Delta Contractor saw allows cuts on both sides of the blade, and the Unifence can be used on either side, but only the right side has a measuring rule. For that reason, when using the rip fence, I generally use the right side of the blade.

Why would you want to cut anything on the left side of the blade, when the right side has a longer support table?

I can only find two reasons:

1. You are using a rip fence with the blade tilted. If the fence is on the right, you have a much greater chance of snagging the work in the blade – kickback etc is possible, since the work is trapped by a tilted blade and the fence.

2. You are doing a crosscut (or several) on a long piece, but need short pieces. In this case I put the miter guide on the left of the blade with a stop for repeated cuts. Having the stock to the right supports it better.

#1 is the only case I can think of where I would use a rip fence and want to have it on the left. Are there other reasons for having the fence left of the blade?

“I’ll see you on the left side… of the fence.” —Pink Floyd

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA


13 replies so far

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2280 posts in 1576 days


#1 posted 08-12-2010 04:21 AM

Mark, I think I have used my Unifence on the left side of the blade only a couple times, and the reason you state is the only one I can come up with.

I have an Excalibur sliding table on the left side of my saw, so use it for repeat cuts.

I guess you already know to use a stop block which will keep your material from sliding along the fence when you use a miter guage, preventing kickback…

Welcome to Lumberjocks!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View rance's profile

rance

4132 posts in 1810 days


#2 posted 08-12-2010 04:43 AM

Mark, I expect the prime example would be for lefties. Unless of course the material length played a part.

Secondly, note that all TS blades do NOT tilt in the same direction. A right-tilt might benefit from fence to the left of the blade.

Above comments assume we’re talking about having the fence to the left most of the time. Does this make sense?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1724 days


#3 posted 08-12-2010 04:47 AM

In a perfect world, the blade and the fence would be perfectly parallel. In the real world, they may be off by a hair or less. If you are not perfectly parallel you want the fence to tilt away as the wood goes through the blade. Otherwise, you could create a binding situation.

If the fence is tilting the slightest bit away from the blade on the right side, it will be tilting slightly into the blade on the left side.

That is why I never move my rip fence to the left side.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1495 days


#4 posted 08-12-2010 05:01 AM

@rance: I am right-handed. My saw blade tilts to the right. I normally use the fence to the right of the blade, because that is the side with the long extension table.

There is an iron left-side extension. It gets used for crosscuts as above, and very rarely with a tilted blade as above.

@Rich: thanks for that insight, had not thought about that problem.

@jusfine: thanks for the welcome!

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Rick's profile

Rick

6454 posts in 1683 days


#5 posted 08-12-2010 05:55 AM

Just for the Record …LOL… I’m a Leftie. BUT! I’m just as comfortable using a Right Side Fence or a Left Side Fence.

However I always seem to use a Right Side fence, standing to the Left side of the Blade. I’m not really concerned about Kickbacks, but I guess that keeps me out of the way if it does happen.

I’ve seen Videos of guys with a Right Set Fence standing to the RIGHT of the Fence for some reason. If I did that I’d probably fall over!

Actually I just thought of why I stand Left. When I cut, I’m AWARE of the Blade, however, when Im cutting, my eyes are focused on the Front, Leading Edge, Corner that’s against the Fence. If I see the slightest movement AWAY from the Fence, my Left Hand “Steers” it back where it belongs. My Right Hand is the “Pusher”.

Mark: I agree with your #1 as stated. Perhaps it’s because I don’t often rip full sheets of plwood or anything else that’s very wide but I don’t see ( with respect) that the Length of the Table is the Major Factor here.

Welcome to LJ’s! Excellent Post!

Rick

-- COMMON SENSE Is Like Deodorant. The People Who need It Most, Never Use It.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2326 days


#6 posted 08-12-2010 07:31 AM

I use it over there a lot on small pieces. Just seems like the natural thing to do. I swing a bat, axe, maul, ect left handed too, but I am right handed.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Rick's profile

Rick

6454 posts in 1683 days


#7 posted 08-12-2010 07:45 AM

No You Don’t!! It’s just that HUGE mirror you have in your Worshop that makes you think you do! Photobucket

-- COMMON SENSE Is Like Deodorant. The People Who need It Most, Never Use It.

View 1yeldud1's profile

1yeldud1

290 posts in 1692 days


#8 posted 08-12-2010 12:32 PM

I ocassionally use mine onthe left side – on my Ridgid table saw the original factory insert factory slot is not centered on my blade. When i cut really thin work pieces (less than 2 inches) iI put the fence to the left for extra work piece support. I plan to build replacement inserts for this saw but ‘time” has not allowed me to complete this project. This is the only time I have used the “left” side of my saw table -

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1495 days


#9 posted 08-12-2010 01:31 PM

@All: thanks for your responses!

@Rick wrote: Perhaps it’s because I don’t often rip full sheets of plwood or anything else that’s very wide but I don’t see ( with respect) that the Length of the Table is the Major Factor here.

I use a fair amount of plywood. My current Delta Unifence gives me a maximum of about 28 inches, and I would like to make 32-36” cuts. The issue is when the work is both long AND wide, as in a big cabinet part. I’d like to use the fence to cut it on all sides. I do have an Incra Miter 2000 which is great for accurate crosscuts, but only if they are 12” wide or less (not much lead-in support on my Delta Contractor).

Here’s a rip scenario that makes me want a wider table. I want to rip a 4’ sheet to exactly 32 inches. I can put the fence on the left of the blade, but the Unifence has no ruler on that side (guess I could find a reverse ruler and glue it on). Also, I have to measure for the waste rather than the work, which requires taking into account the blade kerf, and possibly being off by 1/32 or 1/16 (or worse on a bad day). If it isn’t right, there’s no way to re-rip to adjust, and that’s why I want a wider table.

I’m obviously not the only one, as fences for 52” tables are common, but 52” just won’t fit in my shop. I suppose I could buy one then hack it down to size, but that seems ugly.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1633 days


#10 posted 08-12-2010 05:39 PM

Mark, I use mine on the left side when I want to cut beveled panels along with a sliding jig attached to the fence. Otherwise I use it as normal people do, Oh I meant to say right handed people do. LOL Yes I’m a Lefty also.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1495 days


#11 posted 08-12-2010 10:36 PM

It never occurred to me that fence position would be a question of dominant handedness. Guess I wasn’t thinking.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View MedicKen's profile

MedicKen

1599 posts in 2112 days


#12 posted 08-12-2010 10:51 PM

My old unisaw is also a right tilt. the only time I move the fence to the right of the blade is for bevel cuts. This is so the off cut dies not get trapped between the fence and the blade. I have installed a bench dog router table on the left side of the table and it gives me a little more room for the fence

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their therapist....medic20447@gmail.com

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1495 days


#13 posted 08-13-2010 02:00 PM

MedicKen: what is the advantage of having the router table on the left side of the blade? How does it give more room for the fence?

My intuition was to put the router on the right-side extension table. The fence can handle it, and the increased length of the table on the right is better for sawing.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

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