One of the things I have learned in woodworking is that a good fence on a table saw is everything. I spent many, many years with 2 previous table saws both of which had terrible fences before I finally invested in a table saw with a good fence. When I went looking for a table saw that was the FIRST thing I looked at was the quality of the fence and how easy it was to set and how well it kept it's setting on the saw. For me - there is nothing in woodworking that is more frustrating than having a table saw fence that needs to re-set on the front and back and often re-re-set for every cut.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/hBgceOxkg88
What having poor fences taught me a couple of tricks for setting them up more quickly and accurately than using a tape measure every time and these 2 quick and easy jigs are what I used many years ago, and maybe will help others with their table saw fences that have lost their accuracy.
Making Mitre Gauge Slot Blanks
The first thing you will need for both these jigs is a Mitre Gauge Slot Blanks. Many woodworkers use a hardwood for this purpose, and I did too - once. Then I discovered that the wood that I so carefully cut to be a perfect fit, expanded and contracted with the changes in humidity, that sometimes they wouldn't even fit in the miter slots, other times they were too loose. To solve this I went to using plastic Mitre Slot Blanks. You can easily make your own, by purchasing the raw material UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) Polyethylene Plastic. It comes in sheet material and you can often by "cut-offs" that may be perfect for you. Cut them on your table saw with a cross cut blade of at least 60 teeth to get a good quality edge. You will need to look around your area to find a supplier and some people have even used the white plastic cutting boards made from the same material.
You should also know that this material works best when pre-drilled, otherwise plastic extrudes from the where the screw has been driven in, which in some cases, doesn't matter, in others it's more important.
OR you can purchase raw blanks here from Amazon - Mitre Gauge Blanks
You can read more about making miter Slot blanks here
Some Things to Know BEFORE You Begin
First of all, everything on your table saw aligns to the miter slots, the fence, the table saw blade and even the mitre gauge (at 90 degrees to the miter slot).
The alignment of the fence needs to be parallel to the mitre slot and must never be narrower at the outfeed side than the infeed side because this can cause kickback issues.
It is best if you can manage it, to have the outfeed side of the fence slightly further away from the miter slot than the infeed side. This distance is tiny, like about the thickness of a couple of sheets of paper. The reason for this is that it helps to reduce kickback while still giving very accurate cuts, as long the distance from the front of the saw blade to the fence is exactly the distance you need.
Plywood Fence Align Jig
The first jig I made for my first table saw that had a terrible fence, was this one. It's pretty simple, but also somewhat limited in what it can do. I ended up making 3 or 4 of these in different widths, and they did get a lot of use because I made them in sizes that I used more regularly. The basis of these is quite simple, you set your fence at the precise distance you want from the front of your table saw blade, then align your fence front and back to be the same distance. The using the miter slot material, simply fasten the miter block material at the top and the bottom edges. I used screws, but a few short nails also seems to works, but make sure they don't bottom out in your miter gauge slot, this will end up leaving you with a loose miter blank fit over time.
Variable Distance Jigs
These Jigs take a bit longer to set up and use but are still much easier and quicker than trying to align a fence manually using a tape measure. It also gives you the opportunity to set the fence any distance, at least within the confines of the length of your jig adjustment length.
As you can see in the video, this jig is easy to make with the method I show and is safer to cut by using a larger piece of wood, then cut it to size after. The hanger bolts can be any size you want, but in this case, a bit larger is better because the larger size screw portion of the hanger bolts grip the miter slot blank a bit better than narrower ones. My first attempt at this was using 1/4 inch hanger bolts, but I found the wingnuts when tightened, tended to move the whole hanger bolt, so I went to the next size larger, and it has worked fine.
The way this jig works, is to FIRST set the distance from the front of the blade to the fence, do not lock the fence, then take each of the arms and accurately set each one to the distance AT THE FRONT OF THE BLADE to the table saw fence .. lock each one in place with the wing nut.
Next move the arms, one at the very front of the fence, the other at the back and set the fence so that it butts up against the arms. If you want you could also shim out the top end (the outfeed end) of the fence so ti barely aligns away from the blade.
I found both of these methods, quick and easy to use, and made setting the table saw fence less of a chore, which in turn ... makes woodworking more fun, accurate and gives better results.
Woodworkweb Amazon Affiliate Store - https://www.amazon.com/shop/woodworkweb
* * * * Check Out Woodworkweb T-Shirts - https://teespring.com/stores/woodworkweb-2
Copyright Colin Knecht