One part of my table saw I take for granted all too often is the rip fence. I just expect it to be dead-on accurate day in and day out. To get the best results from your saw, it pays to periodically take some time to give the rip fence a quick “checkup.” After that, you can make some handy rip fence add-ons to help you get even more from this essential component. The rip fence on your table saw is a simple, stout piece of equipment. So it isn’t likely to get out of alignment easily. But even so, there are a few things you should check whether your saw is old or new. And in less than an hour you can take care of those things using only common shop tools. Before getting started, be sure your saw blade is set parallel to the miter gauge slots in your saw. Then you can use the slot as a reference edge for other setups and be assured of reliable results.
With your rip fence tuned up, you’re well on your way to making smooth, accurate cuts. But don’t stop there. The accessories shown here can help your rip fence tackle some new tasks. When using a dado blade to cut rabbets, I clamp an auxiliary fence to the rip fence and “bury” the blade. This makes setting the exact width of the rabbet a breeze. The trouble is ordinary clamps can get in the way of the workpiece. The solution is to use an adjustable clamp from Rockler. A round leg at one end fits into a hole drilled into the top edge of the fence. This keeps the clamps out of the way and makes attaching the face to the fence quick and easy.
Supporting a wide workpiece on edge can be tricky. That’s why I made this tall fence. The face is glued to a back piece that’s identical to the rabbeting fence.
The final add-on comes in handy for cutting plastic laminate and other thin materials. On some fences, thin stock can slip under the fence and get wedged. The hardboard lip on the bottom of this face creates a square, hard corner to keep the workpiece moving smoothly. After taking these steps, you’ll quickly notice cleaner, more accurate rip cuts. And by adding some new capabilities to your saw, you’ll find it’s time well spent.