Table Saw Fence System

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Forum topic by engineerkid posted 01-26-2011 09:06 AM 3959 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2707 days

01-26-2011 09:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw table saw fence system fence system cheap cheap fence wood craftsman homemade hutch metal tubing square


I’m new to this forum so I’ll start off by introducing myself. My name is Jake and I am 14 years old.
Ok, now for my idea.

I’ve been researching for 3 days or so, and I’ve seen Hutch’s amazing fence system. However, I do not have $280 to blow at the moment. I started thinking of ways to make my own homemade fence, and I thought of something like this:

2 Pieces of 1”sq. x 72” (1/16” Thick) Square Metal Tubing (For the Rails)
2 Pieces of 1 1/8”sq. x 6” (or whatever slides perfectly on top of the rails) for the “bearings”
1 Piece of 2”sq. x 36” for the fence

I don’t know whether this will work or not, but i think it might. To lock it into place for when I’m ripping a piece of wood I think I might look at using a high-powered magnet to lock the fence into place, but I’ll figure that out once i get everything else working ;)

So tell me what you guys think, I’m more than welcome to ideas.

15 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3027 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 05:13 PM

Hi Jake.

There are a lot of different ways to make a fence and the biggest part is keeping the fence square to the blade. If that gets off (or slips) it can create something called kickback, where the workpiece gets launched back at the operator strong enough to do serious damage. Powerful saws can actually send pieces of wood THROUGH people.

There are lots of things to make sliding bearings. One easy one is the plastic they use to make cutting boards.

That said, unless you have built several and fully understand the engineering of this kind of device, go with a tested design. Back issues of ShopNotes or many of the woodworking magazines are available at the library and can be ordered through inter-library loan if you don’t have the resources to buy. You also will want to look at the different kinds of attachments to add to a fence so you can use it to do more than just straight ripping. Some make things easier, some make things safer. A fence is not just a straight edge to run wood against.

Because of the danger involved if you don’t get something right, this is not really a beginner project. Start simple with jigs and learn to do the precision work needed for this type of project. Get a hand plane and a good set of measuring tools and squares. Learn to make perfectly square joints and how to measure things parallel to the saw blade.

The other thing to be careful about in making a fence, is to control deflection. This is how much the fence bends (They all bend. How much they bend is the difference between a good fence and a bad fence) It may be fine when it is lined up but as soon as you start cutting, things can go wrong.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2909 days

#2 posted 01-26-2011 05:36 PM

There would be some fun in building your own fence but once you start to factor in the price of the stuff you need to get to do it right your going to be getting pretty close to the price of a good after market fence.

I am not against the idea at all but if your just starting out I would wait a bit before you try.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#3 posted 01-26-2011 06:28 PM

I don’t want to discourage you but I will give you my honest opinion. You can probably buy a more modest fence system for not much more (if any more) than what you would pay for the materials for this.

Further, a fence that cannot be aligned properly is dangerous.

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

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3677 days

#4 posted 01-26-2011 07:12 PM

I like the Jimmie Jig fence concept – it’s a big auxiliary table you
put on top of the saw and the design ensures the fence always
stays parallel. Cheap to build too.

View engineerkid's profile


16 posts in 2707 days

#5 posted 01-26-2011 11:44 PM

Thanks everyone. My dad was actually able to get some hook ups on the tslot material through his work. the tslot fence has been tested and proved working from what I saw so I think I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for all the replys

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3136 days

#6 posted 01-27-2011 04:56 AM

Jake, you can get a very good Delta T2 fence complete for $150. And it works perfectly.

View engineerkid's profile


16 posts in 2707 days

#7 posted 01-27-2011 05:25 AM

Yea I’ve heard of that fence, but I thought they stopped making it? I was looking on craigslist for a while, but I couldn’t find anything. I’ve heard loads of great things about the T2, but I think I’m set on the TSLOT fence. Anyways, I’ll let you all know when I get it built. I’m supposed to be getting a super good deal on this tslot material, so I’m pretty excited because that was my first option.

If anyone wants to take the time to perfect this idea I really want to see what it would look like and how it would function. I found one flaw in the design already: The tube that slides over the rail tube would have to be either an L shape or a U shape because the screws holding the rail into place would not allow for a whole tube to slide over it. Silly Mistake :)

The main element im looking for is the locking mechanism. Once I figure that out I think this would be a pretty nice DIY fence.

I’m welcome to Ideas/Comments/Questions/Constructive Criticism so help me out :) (Even though I probably won’t be putting this project together I still want to finish the design on this)


View Kevin's profile


462 posts in 3234 days

#8 posted 01-27-2011 05:56 AM

You can also take a look at this PDF file on how to make a t-square fence. I build mine for less than 20 bucks if that.


-- Williamsburg, KY

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2951 days

#9 posted 01-27-2011 07:57 PM

“t-slot” material is probably 8020. Google it. It is aluminum extrusions in lots of sizes. They have bearing options to create what you want, and there is a lock mechanism. It doesn’t have an intrinsic way to adjust, but it wouldn’t be too hard to rig something up. I’ve seen a post here where someone built one with 8020.

It’s pretty pricey to get a 3×3” fence, plus probably the 1×1 for the rails, plus the bearings and the lock. They do sales on ebay which you can use to get some deals. Maybe your dad can get you something really cheap.

Another way to do it is to combine a hunk of 3×3 extrusion from 8020 with pipe for rails and skate bearings for sliding. One way to do that is take a piece of aluminum angle, bore a couple of holes on the flat sides and put in a bolt with the bearing riding on that. Use 4 of them (two on each flat) and bolt that to the 8020 T slot. You would have to come up with an eccentric cam for the lock. A bit of fussing, not too hard.

View Chris_'s profile


39 posts in 3615 days

#10 posted 01-28-2011 03:12 AM

I’m as cheap as anybody (just ask my kids) but for about $150 you can buy a Delta T2 fence from Tools Plus. How much is your time worth to you?

-- Chris

View engineerkid's profile


16 posts in 2707 days

#11 posted 01-28-2011 03:25 AM

Kevin: I took a look at that a week or so ago and like the idea, but it required a welder so I didn’t attempt building it. It definitely looks sturdy though.

brtech: Your correct, it is the 8020 material. However, T-SLOTS are manufactured by a variety of different companies, and the company my Dad works for has a division that makes this stuff. I’m waiting for the quote on that. Ill let you all know when I get it. Thanks for the suggestion and idea of the skate bearings as sliding though, I thought that was very clever :)

Chris: My time isn’t worth much at the moment because I’m still in school so I’m still preoccupied with that :) I’ve seen that fence before and I like it, but I think I’m going to be able to build the t-slot fence for around $100 so I’ll actually save a bit of money.

Thanks you guys

View Kevin's profile


462 posts in 3234 days

#12 posted 01-28-2011 06:51 AM

engineerkid: That is true, luckily I had access to some welders. Yes, the fence after I got through with it was really nice, heavy, sturdy and pretty darn accurate.

Good luck on the fence,


-- Williamsburg, KY

View engineerkid's profile


16 posts in 2707 days

#13 posted 02-02-2011 01:00 AM

Ok I just received the quote today, in case anyone is following this. The quote was $125.00 for all the T-slot material. It should be here in a couple of weeks and I’ll post pics when I’m done.

View Kevin's profile


462 posts in 3234 days

#14 posted 02-02-2011 04:07 AM

Good deal, looking forward to some pics. Have fun!


-- Williamsburg, KY

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2951 days

#15 posted 02-03-2011 08:57 PM

So, you got the T slot stuff for $125 from a company that your Dad works for (and presumably got a discount on) for $125, you don’t know yet what else you might need to make this work, but the $150 for a T2 wasn’t an option?

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been thinking of building an 8020 based fence for my older Craftsman TS. However, if my parts cost got anywhere near $125, I would forget it and buy the T2.

I’m thinkin one piece of 3030 for the fence, a couple of gas pipes for rails, skate bearings, and something for the lock. Parts cost in the <$100 range, maybe less than $75. You can also use a V groove bearing on a piece of angle iron instead of skate bearings on pipe.

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