Rip Fence Rebuild ……UHMW or Formica ????

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Forum topic by C_PLUS_Woodworker posted 03-03-2012 01:31 AM 8482 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


601 posts in 3110 days

03-03-2012 01:31 AM

Rip Fence Rebuild ……UHMW or Formica ????

When I bought this saw the fence was a mess. Actually the entire saw was a mess. Maybe I will post a few pictures of what I did to trick out the saw. I think it is kind of a cool set-up.

The fence had a bad saw mark on it, so I heated up the Formica with a propane torch which released the glue and pulled the laminate off the fence. Now I need to resurface the side of the fence. I could just replace the side of the fence with more Formica, but thought about using UHMW like the newer saws have.

My problem is that these fence sides screw on from the outside and there is no way to come in from the inside. My concerns are (1) the stock will possibly hang-up on the screw-holes if I use the UHMW, even if I carefully recess them with angled countersinks and (2) if UHMW is the way to go, would I be better off gluing the UHMW onto the fence.


Am I better off just using Formica?

Should I use the UHMW? WHY??

And if UHMW is the way to go, do I need to worry about stock hanging up in the angled countersinks?

And what type of glue should I use if I glue the UHMW?

I am looking for suggestions here, so all are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

20 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5093 posts in 2554 days

#1 posted 03-03-2012 01:36 AM

How about rare earth magnets?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View ohtimberwolf's profile


871 posts in 2555 days

#2 posted 03-03-2012 01:42 AM

How about a heavy duty double sided carpet tape over the whole inner surface? Squeeze it on for a good grip. If this is a dumb suggestion don’t mind me I’m just a novice. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View FMG's profile


65 posts in 3484 days

#3 posted 03-03-2012 01:44 AM

C plus, Just my opinion but save the UHMW for some shop jigs. It will be hard to secure it with glue as it is almost non porous, and I think you could possibly run into a problem with the screws.

Hope that helped,

-- FMG- Woodworking is 90% mental the other half is physical

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2651 days

#4 posted 03-03-2012 01:50 AM

Magnets are not something I would trust in this situation, no way. Just my opinion.

I have recessed pan-head machine screws in my fence, and will on my next too (which I need to finish building soon). I’ve never had any issue with anything catching on the holes, and they’re not even countersunk, just forstner bit holes.
If the holes worry you, use flathead machine screws and only cut the countersink deep enough to get the screw heads flush with the surface, or a few thousandths deeper.

One thing magnets may work for, are making plugs that will fill the holes and using a magnet to hold the plugs to the bolt inside.

As for gluing UHMW, good luck! That stuff is super slick, I just don’t see anything bonding to it for long, or very strong if you do get any bond at all.

In my opinion, your best bet is to simply use countersunk holes with flathead machine screws or use the plugs in the holes.
As for the old wood, remove it and trash it. As thick as that UHMW looks to be (1/2” or 3/4” from the looks), it doesn’t need a backer.

Good luck

-- Kenny

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3851 days

#5 posted 03-03-2012 01:54 AM

1. Stock hanging up on screw holes is unlikely to be a problem.
2. It doesn’t glue.

That said, it is a nice piece of the stuff. You can get a piece
of wood or ply, screw it on and put UHMW slick tape over
if you like for about $6 for the tape.

The problem I foresee with formica is moisture absorbing
into the particle board edge.

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2651 days

#6 posted 03-03-2012 01:57 AM

As a side note, I’ve seen guys with 3/16” deep sawblade-shaped cuts in their fence that were 1” and 2” tall, and they used them like that for years and years with no issue. I don’t see a couple little countersunk holes causing issue, I just don’t.

If you don’t get wood hanging up on a big half-circle gouge cut 3/16” deep and well over an inch up the face of the fence, a 1/2” countersunk hole sure won’t hurt!

You gotta remember, you have a lot of bearing surface before the holes guiding work straight past the holes. Unless you have a really warped or twisted board that lines up perfectly with one of the holes, it’s a non-issue.

-- Kenny

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


601 posts in 3110 days

#7 posted 03-03-2012 02:00 AM

Thanks for the guidance, guys.

You are making lots of sense and great explanations.

REALLY appreciate it.

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2796 days

#8 posted 03-03-2012 02:18 AM

My Grizzly fence has uhmw on both sides with counter sunken screws and I haven’t had any problem with it catching the work piece.I think it is slicker than Formica and it is just as true.I think it will last longer as well.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2893 days

#9 posted 03-03-2012 02:48 AM

That double sided tape from the office supply (Staples in my area) is amazing. There is a ‘permanent’ type (red) that I have used on cast iron, plastic, etc. I can’t pull it off! My Grizz has screw holes in the fence surface and I’ve never had anything catch on them.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3201 days

#10 posted 03-03-2012 03:23 AM

The UHMW polyethylene is great stuff. I don’t really think it is a good application for the solid stock. Save it for another project.

I think it is better to put quality ply faces that you can attach sacrificial fences to anyway. A dado blade partially in the fence will make beautiful rabbets. Get some Baltic Birch. Even better for the Phenolic faced. Also think about putting a t-slot higher up on the fence side to hook up hold downs and other attachments like extended fences for raising panels and such.

If you want UHMW on the fence face, get the self adhesive strip. Last time I bought a roll it was like $8 for a 3” wide roll. Don’t think about gluing it with any regular glues. They won’t stick to the UHMW.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3154 days

#11 posted 03-03-2012 03:30 AM

Just to be the tenth person to say this, but I attached UMHW to my saw fence and the counter sunk holes have not given me any issue to date.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2780 days

#12 posted 03-03-2012 04:00 AM

My choice would be formica over baltic birch plywood.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3053 days

#13 posted 03-03-2012 04:49 AM

My decision, at your same spot, was neither. I used MDF and puttied the holes. I know where they are and can dig it out when I need to replace the MDF. I just lacquered it to a faretheewell and it has been working fine for years.

Inexpensive and easy and fast.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2651 days

#14 posted 03-03-2012 07:58 AM

Myself, I disagree with all those who have recommended anything other than the large strip of UHMW, and for several very good reasons.

First, plywood, while a reasonable choice, needs slotted mounting holes to be used safely, I found this out the first time I ever used a sub-fence on my TS. Plywood DOES move with humidity and temperature changes. Not as much as solid wood, but it does move and can bow out from the fence or twist slightly between mounting screws. For this reason, I do not like it for TS fences.
MDF is actually much less prone to this movement, and is a much better choice. It is made very flat and smooth and of relative consistent thickness, actually holding far better tolerance than ply.

However, UHMW is not at all effected by any environmental changes. It is 100% stable. It also needs little to no care throughout it’s life. You never need to refinish it, it will never crack, peel, swell or shrink. You can safely wash it without worry of it getting wet, as it’s not effected by water.

You can even machine UHMW flat again should it ever be damaged! Just run it right through your planer, couldn’t be easier! (you do need to take light cuts, but it’s 100% safe)

UHMW can also be drilled and tapped too, and it actually holds threads pretty well.

The benefits of UHMW are numerous, which is why many new saws come equipped with UHMW fence faces right from the factory. And trust me, they don’t do it for cost savings!

Why pass up something you already have, that will last forever and has numerous advantages, for something “less good”?

In my opinion, the only thing I would consider over the UHMW is the “Kreg 48 Heavy Duty Trak

Or 80/'s 1030 aluminum extrusion, which is an extruded aluminum T-slotted framing material that measures 1”x3” and as long as you like.

This is all just my opinion, yours may vary.

-- Kenny

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3201 days

#15 posted 03-03-2012 01:28 PM

How is your budget? If you don’t mind investing in it, the best solution in my opinion would be the AL extrusion. It’s only downside is cost. It has the most flexibility. With that as a base, you can easily attach a UHMW strip, sacrificial facings and hold down fixtures with t-nuts to your heart’s content.

I have a stack of UHMW strips that came in a mix of 1/4” to 3/4” thick that came in 4” x 48” strips. If I leave it leaning against something, it will sag and bow. (It straightens easily if I lay it flat for a day or so.) It needs to be attached to something rigid. I would never use it for anything structural.

Again, don’t waste your time even trying to glue UHMW-PE. You are not going to find a glue that will stick to it. If the countersunk fasteners cause a problem, you are most likely doing something that shouldn’t be done on a tablesaw.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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