Help with tablesaw fence problem

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Forum topic by Steve K posted 03-10-2013 03:47 PM 8148 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve K

6 posts in 3784 days

03-10-2013 03:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw fence

Hi. I’m just getting back into woodworking after taking some time off. I have an older Delta Contractor saw, 34-444, and the rip fence is driving me crazy. I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s the older style fence, that slides (and clamps) on round metal tubes.

I bought a book by John White regarding setup and maintenance of shop machinery. I bought an inexpensive dial indicator, and I made the jigs that he recommends in the book. Using his jig, I’ve been measuring the distance from the miter slot to the fence at both the near and the far end of the fence, I’ve found that the fence is totally unpredictable, as far as staying parallel to the miter slot when I lock it down.

I spent better part of the afternoon measuring it. I pretended I was going to rip at the 2 inch mark on the scale. I moved the fence to position, being sure to push forward on the fence as I locked it down. Then used the dial indicator with jig, comparing the readings on both ends of the fence. I did this over 30 times. About 50% of the time, I measured about .005 away from the blade at the far end (which is good I believe). But 50% of the time it locks down .005 to .015 towards the blade. Each time, I tried to repeat the procedure exactly the same, but keep getting different results.

To make it even more confusing, I tried the same “set – measure – repeat” process at the 10 inch mark on the scale, and it’s even worse.

Has anyone had this experience with this fence and any suggestions what to do next to figure it out?

thanks. Steve

-- Steve

15 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2280 days

#1 posted 03-10-2013 04:17 PM

Aside from a new fence you mean. I’m one of the lucky Ridgid owners that actually got a good fence on my 4512. Some say it’s a piece of junk, but with a small adjustment it worked pretty much out of the box. If the fence has been dropped on your model, which I believe is the same as the older Craftsman types, I dont think you can ever get it straight again. When I had my old ‘70’s Craftsman saw, I had to measure each cut front and back on the blade to get it straight because I dropped the fence once on the floor. Never could get it right after that. if that .05 is bothering you, get one of those 300$ fences from woodcraft.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View knotscott's profile


8006 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 03-10-2013 04:26 PM

I suspect that it was fences like those old jet lock types that inspired the popularity of the Biesemeyer t-square types. Since the saw is good….if it all possible, I’d sell it for $50-$60 bucks and would apply the proceeds towards a better fence. The Delta T2 is a great bang for the buck, and should bolt directly onto your saw with little to no drilling.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Steve K's profile

Steve K

6 posts in 3784 days

#3 posted 03-10-2013 06:01 PM

RussellAP, that’s what I did yesterday, measure from the front and back for each cut. that’s going to get old pretty fast.

knotscott, I looked up the T2, it’s seems like a fairly priced fence. I just found it at ToolBarn for 179.00, that’s not bad.

my biggest motivation for solving this is kickback. I’ve never been hit, but the last time was really close. That’s when I bought the dial indicator and measured, and found the fence was pointing towards the blade 0.015 or more on the kickback cut. That’s probably not the only thing I did wrong, but from everything I’m reading, I need to fix that.

thanks for the replies. Steve

-- Steve

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2440 days

#4 posted 03-10-2013 06:22 PM

This is a quote from a wise member of another WW forum which is right on : I would be staying away from any type fence that uses both the front and the back of the saw as pinch points .
I have been lucky also for not ever dealing with TS kickback because I measured from front to back for every cut and just like Steve K says “it got old pretty fast” .
Any type of Beisemeyer fence/clone will be a huge improvement.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3554 days

#5 posted 03-10-2013 06:43 PM

Been there done that. Replace it with a Delta T2 and never look back.

-- Joe

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2795 days

#6 posted 03-10-2013 07:01 PM

Does your bar in the back of the saw slope to one side or another? I had this problem on my Ridgid 4512. I used the dial indicator to set the front and rear fences exactly parallel to the top and the problem went away. On mine i found that the rear fence was sloped towards the blade so every time I locked the fence down it had a tendency to pull the rear of the fence towards the blade. Hope this helps.

View History's profile


399 posts in 1975 days

#7 posted 03-10-2013 07:18 PM

Buy a new fence. I have a Delta 34-444 also that has a Delta Unifence. I never have to worry about it being out of wack. Other saws that I’ve had used that had a fence similar to what you have now, were always a constant battle. Like the others said, the Delta T2 fence is probably the best bang for the buck nowdays in a decent fence. You won’t regret it.

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1897 days

#8 posted 03-10-2013 08:03 PM

I have a simular saw, I have yet to get a good fence, but maybe this will help some.
There should be a screw on the fence rail above the locking handle casting ect.
This screw will time the rear lock.
I found its best for the front casting to lock down first, then the rear hook to engage the rear rail.
When I move the fence, I always move it toward the blade then lock it, if I over shoot where I want it. I back it off at least an inch or more, and move it back.
Since the fence has so much slop, I lock it twice, where as, the rear of the fence can be seen lagging behind, when first locked the rear moves forward, doing it a second time seems the rear of the fence moves just alittle more forward.
That is how I set it every time, and test it with an indicator.
The reason I dont lock the fence moving away from the blade is, with the rear lagging behind, it could cause a pinch condition behind the blade, making kickback more likely.

I hope that made some sense.

View runswithscissors's profile


2750 posts in 2018 days

#9 posted 03-11-2013 01:10 AM

Quoting myself from the thread “What table saw do you have?”

I’ve always been a bit of a crank when it comes to TS fences. I can’t believe how badly designed some of them have been (and still are). The worst are the ones where you have to measure from both front and back teeth every time you change the setting. Like my dad’s old 40s vintage Sears 8” TS. And then there’s the Delta/Rockwell, where in order to use the miter gauge, you had to slide the fence all the way to the end to remove it. What a PITA. I can’t understand why it took so long for the T-square fence to be adopted, it’s so simple and obvious. I bought a Rockwell contractor’s saw in the early 70s, and one of tne of the first things I did was make my own T-square fence for it.

I do find the Dewalt telescoping fence on their jobsite saw an interesting concept. When it came out, I thought, “It’s about time.” But nobody else ever adopted that, and I never heard how well users liked it.

Finally got fed up with a number of issues with the contractor’s saw (which I won’t go into here), and bought a used 3 hp Unisaw for $400, a model 34-802. One of the problems with it was that the fence was missing some parts—but I regarded that as an asset, as it gave me the excuse to make my own rack and pinion telescoping fence somewhat similar to the Dewalt. And it has worked out very well. I can set the fence with one measurement, can lift it off easily, have telescoping rails that give me a lot of extra room on the right side, and even several inches additional on the left, and yet is out of the way when retracted (small shop, you know). I worried at first that it might go out of adjustment easily, but so far it seems to need tuning up only once a year or so. I’m planning to do a blog on that installation soon, also one on my easily deployed/parked table externsion. I’ve already done a blog on the riving knife I made for it (a real RK, not just a splitter)

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View History's profile


399 posts in 1975 days

#10 posted 03-11-2013 02:02 AM

runswithscissors : Finally got fed up with a number of issues with the contractor’s saw. I’ve had a Delta 34-444 since I bought it new in 1995. It has served me well since day one with no problems what so ever. Sorry, but I don’t get the issue thing that some people have with Contractor’s table saws, especially Delta’s / Rockwell’s, They were some of the best built Contractor’s saws, if not the best, and were made in the USA.

View runswithscissors's profile


2750 posts in 2018 days

#11 posted 03-11-2013 04:33 AM


Issues: The blade elevation shaft had only 2 or 3 threads to screw the knob down onto, which meant that no matter how hard I’d tighten it, it would soon jiggle off. When making a blind cut, wanting a certain precise depth, invariably the blade would jump at least 1/16”, and I’d have to crank it back down. Every time. The pulley on the arbor shaft would creep out until it would start to rub on the sheet metal, alerting me to the need to pry it back into position, which was a very awkward job, reaching in there and trying to get behind the pulley. That got to be such a routine annoyance that I finally used a hole saw to make a 1 1/2” hole in the cabinet side so I could reach in with a big dowel and hammer the pulley back to where it belonged. Didn’t matter how much I tightened the set screw. The pulley on the motor would creep out until the belt was rubbing on the plastic belt guard, melting big ugly grooves in it (by this time ugly didn’t concern me). The weight of the motor (I’d put a Sears 1.5 h.p. motor on it, and ran it at 220v.) was not sufficient to maintain proper belt tension, so it liked to jump and jerk around, and the belt would slip under load. I finally jammed a big heavy block of aluminum in there to weight it and wedge it in place. The base (2 sheets of steel with folded edges, front and rear, with stretchers down below), was wobbly. I never liked the sheet metal wings, though they never malfunctioned. Dust collection was pathetic. And I’ve already mentioned the fence, which I replaced with a homemade T square fence that worked fine.

This was a Rockwell, which I bought brand new in the early 70s. It must not have included a motor, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought the Sears motor. My Unisaw is a sweetheart in comparison, so it’s not the brand I’m down on. Maybe I got a lemon. I always wondered about QC. Did the guys doing that say, “Oh look, only 2 threads for the arbor lock—ah, who gives a rip?” I always wondered how that got by. That was definitely made in the good old USA, by the way.

It has been suggested that I didn’t know how to maintain the saw properly. I’m willing to concede that possibility.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 1897 days

#12 posted 03-11-2013 06:45 AM

It appears some Delta/Rockwell saws in the 70s had QC issues, including the Unisaw.
There are fixes for the troubled saws, lots of info out there now.

View BuildCentury's profile


2 posts in 1895 days

#13 posted 03-12-2013 02:31 AM

I picked up a T-2 for my Delta table saw a couple weeks ago. For the money it is hard to beat. It’s been a huge improvement over the jet-lock fence. After looking online for mine, I got the impression that Delta is discontinuing the fence. You might find some really good deals on it if you don’t wait too long.

-- Century Homes and Renovations, Winston-Salem, NC,

View Oldtool's profile


2619 posts in 2184 days

#14 posted 03-12-2013 02:42 AM

Do you have Delta’s manual?, see page 17 for fence alignment and adjustment.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View tonybrews's profile


145 posts in 2037 days

#15 posted 04-10-2013 07:45 PM

I have a Delta contractor saw and the fence is very close to parallel at the miter slot, but if I move it to the edge of the cast iron table, it is out about 1.5 mm. The only thing I can think of is bent tubes? Very frustrating because I can’t rip sheet stock reliably. Any help would be appreciated. BTW, I’m on a tight budget.

-- Tony, Colorado,

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