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View Full Version : Table Saw Rip Fence Improvements ???



JoeLee
10-04-2011, 05:06 PM
I've been fighting with this rip fence ever since I took possession of this old Craftsman table saw years ago. This was originally my grandfathers. It's a solid old saw but the only complaint I have is the rip fence. It doesn't move easily. The problem is that the head slides against the front of the cast iron table and the bottom slides against the aluminum guide rail. The big broblem is alum. against alum. and alum, against cast iron doesn't slide well. It sticks, binds and just all around is difficult to move. I've tried various lubricants, sprays, oils, dry lubes etc....... all work well but are only temporary fixes and last a very short time, not to mention they are all messy.
Ideally the "V" on the bottom side of the head and the flat that meets the table edge should be a slippery type material or something with some self lubricity properties. I've thought of perhaps a bronze wear strip or better yet a teflon strip which would be ideal but there is really no way to fasten the wear strip to the head. The strip can't be more than .040 in thickness for each surface or the head will start to sit too high above the table and then I have to start milling. I don't really want to mill any material off the head, Is there any type of teflon tape with an adheasive back that will stick???? I think that is my only simple fix.
Any good suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

JL...................

http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image001.jpg
http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image004.jpg
http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image005.jpg

Scottike
10-04-2011, 05:26 PM
Have you tried taking a candle or piece of parafin to the wear surfaces?
It will last longer than a lot of the spray lubes and won't attract sawdust and dirt like they can.
It will probably take several applications to get the wear surfaces charged, but after that you should only need to apply it once or twice a day - unless your really cutting a lot of material.
And they can smell good too, I prefer pumpkin spice in my shop! :D

edit: a good carnuba paste wax works well too. Apply, let haze, and buff - just like your car or floor.

justanengineer
10-04-2011, 05:38 PM
Try adjusting your fence. The fence doesnt "slide," it is moved by the gear in the fence and the rack gear on the bottom of the fence guide. There shouldnt be any lubrication necessary. You loosen the fence lock, the "hook" that rests on the far side of the table loosens ~1/64" and you turn the knob/gear to slide the fence over. If the fence is adjusted so that the lock opens too much you will get binding, too little and it wont release fully.

Al on Al can slide nicely, especially when its been "smoothed" by being used for many decades on end.

JoeLee
10-04-2011, 05:48 PM
I've tried parafin, soap and a few others. All are only a temp. fix.
McMaster has a wide selection of teflon and polyethylene type tapes with different types of adheasive backings. I think I'm going to concentrate my research in that area. I can't use any soft material of any thickness as when you lock the fence down it pulls tight against the edge of the table and the soft stuff would compress and could cause the fence to angle off to one side. The type of adheasive on the back of the tape is going to be impotant as any tape with a glue that softens over time would cause the tape to squish out.

JL.........................

JoeLee
10-04-2011, 05:55 PM
Try adjusting your fence. The fence doesnt "slide," it is moved by the gear in the fence and the rack gear on the bottom of the fence guide. There shouldnt be any lubrication necessary. You loosen the fence lock, the "hook" that rests on the far side of the table loosens ~1/64" and you turn the knob/gear to slide the fence over. If the fence is adjusted so that the lock opens too much you will get binding, too little and it wont release fully.

Al on Al can slide nicely, especially when its been "smoothed" by being used for many decades on end.

The knob is OK for fine adjustments, I believe that is what it was intended for, not when you want to move the fence several inches. It works as it should but you can still feel the resistance. Everything is adjusted as it should be. When I oil this thing up it glides effortlessly across the table, just doesn't last long. I need a low friction barrier between the surfaces.

JL.......................

JoeLee
10-04-2011, 06:09 PM
This looks like something that might work.

JL....................
http://www.enflo.com/pressure_sensitive_ptfe_tap.html

macona
10-04-2011, 06:24 PM
Remove it and replace it with a Beisemeyer.

DFMiller
10-04-2011, 06:58 PM
Joe,
Its time to change it out with an aftermarket fence. There are plans lurking on the internet on how to make them.
I put one of these on my older Sears saw that died and transferred it to my newer Ridgid one.
http://www.mulecab.com/
They are made in Canada if that matters to you.
No connection other than a satisfied customer.



They make and old saw a pleasure to use.

Dave

sasquatch
10-04-2011, 07:26 PM
Old saws like that just have "Quirks" that need to be addressed by patience.

Scottike
10-04-2011, 07:40 PM
Joe, It looks like from your first picture that you might be able to shim the bed rail away from the bed of the saw - if you have some room for adjustment at the other end of your fence.
Would it give you enough room to fasten a 1/8" strip of teflon or other slide surface to the V?

darryl
10-04-2011, 09:25 PM
My solution some decades ago was to scrap the fence entirely and make my own- then have it ride on angle iron rails front and back. A cable and pulley system keeps both ends of the fence moving equally, and it's always square to the blade. It can't bind when you move it, and a knob front and back lets you secure it in place positively. I usually only tighten the front knob, unless I know I'm going to be really forcing against the fence.

I don't think you're wanting to go that extreme. Were I you, I would try the brass strip idea- looks like it would take two strips, since there's a break in the middle. Make the strips about 1/2 inch longer than the area they would sit against, then fold the strips over 1/4 inch on each end so they can't slide sideways, then all you need is some glue. I would use ordinary white glue to start with, just a few spots. It will hold well enough to let you find out if that's the answer. If it does seem to solve the problem, scrape off the white glue and use shoo goo or goop to permanently attach the brass strips. You can buy the brass at a hobby shop- something like .015 thick would be lots, and you can get it 1/4 inch wide, 3/8 and 1/2. One of those widths would be right for that job.

The way to do the gluing is to apply the glue, then fit the pre-bent brass pieces, wipe away the excess glue, then set the fence in place and let the 'fit' set the brass pieces while the glue cures. That way the brass will settle into a more or less full area contact against the guide rail.

DFMiller
10-04-2011, 10:21 PM
From what I can see all the good fences clamp just on the front rail. The back end just slides to keep it off the table. The front end does all the clamping and is adjusted square. They are not that complex.

Dave

JoeLee
10-04-2011, 11:40 PM
Well everyone has some pretty good suggestions.... all of which I've tossed around in my head for a few years every time I get involved with a project where I spend a lot of time at the saw. It's amazing how we all think alike. Yes I thought of a Biesemeyer.... many years ago but they were expensive then, hate to think of what they cost now. I'm really just looking for a simple quick fix. I could come up with a good design if I wanted to revamp the whole thing. The brass strip was a good idea, actually one of my first but being thin leaves no other way of fastening it other than glue and as someone mentioned fold the ends so it doesn't slide off. That is an option, and along with that I would have to shim the rail out so the head would drop back down to the right height in relation to the table. I'm going to try the .030 teflon tape first and see how that works out. I'll post my results.
TNX........

JL.................

mikem
10-04-2011, 11:40 PM
I built mine from a woodworking magazine article a few years back. You mount a 1" sqaure tube across the front of the saw about .25" below the top and shimmed out with some aluminum spacers about 5/8" from the front. A piece of .25" aluminum plate about 3 by 6 inches is fastened to a long piece ( about 30" on my saw) of 1 by 3 inch rectangular tube that goes across the top of the saw to create the square part of the fence.

Two 5/16" socket headed machine screws are threaded into the bottom of the 3 by 6 plate to ride between the table and the 1" square tube and square to the table. A Destaco clamp fastened to the bottom of the 3 by 6 plate that can be snapped onto the outside of the 1" tube to press the plate to the 1" square tube against the two socket head screws to lock the fence in place. You need a slot in one of the 3 by 6 to fence mounting holes for adjusting it square. It works great and was only about $50 for parts plus the destaco clamp.

JoeLee
10-04-2011, 11:57 PM
Joe,
Its time to change it out with an aftermarket fence. There are plans lurking on the internet on how to make them.
I put one of these on my older Sears saw that died and transferred it to my newer Ridgid one.
http://www.mulecab.com/
They are made in Canada if that matters to you.
No connection other than a satisfied customer.



They make and old saw a pleasure to use.

Dave

I've looked at some after market fences like that in the past. They glide with the touch of your finger and hold their accuracy well over time.
That is really the way to go. Down side is they take up a lot of room on the saw top and that is something I don't have much of, also I remove my fence a lot for cross cutting. I would really love to have the top of this saw ground, but I can't find a place with a surface grinder big enough to do it. Also it wouldn't hurt to recut the T-square slots and tru them up.

JL............

DFMiller
10-05-2011, 12:14 AM
Joe,
Mine comes off real easy. A couple of twists and off one end.

I am not sure what you mean about taking too much room on the top.
On mine the rails extent beyond the top so you can side it out of way.
I added a sliding table for cross cutting but a sled also works really good.

Its like a new saw for a couple hours working bolting it on.

Dave

Astronowanabe
10-05-2011, 12:47 AM
there is that hole under where the head touches the table,
a chunk of brass/bronze/teflon there just a little proud of the aluminum head
could also have a 'tail' that folded up under the angled surface.

might require making sure the lower section of the front of the table
is properly finished


-

Paul Alciatore
10-05-2011, 01:54 AM
The knob is OK for fine adjustments, I believe that is what it was intended for, not when you want to move the fence several inches. It works as it should but you can still feel the resistance. Everything is adjusted as it should be. When I oil this thing up it glides effortlessly across the table, just doesn't last long. I need a low friction barrier between the surfaces.

JL.......................

A wild thought: how about Oak. You can buy iron on edging tapes made from real wood at any good lumber yard. Just iron on one and I would bet it would slide a lot easier. It should only be about 1/32" thick.

elf
10-05-2011, 04:05 AM
I built mine from a woodworking magazine article a few years back. You mount a 1" sqaure tube across the front of the saw about .25" below the top and shimmed out with some aluminum spacers about 5/8" from the front. A piece of .25" aluminum plate about 3 by 6 inches is fastened to a long piece ( about 30" on my saw) of 1 by 3 inch rectangular tube that goes across the top of the saw to create the square part of the fence.

Two 5/16" socket headed machine screws are threaded into the bottom of the 3 by 6 plate to ride between the table and the 1" square tube and square to the table. A Destaco clamp fastened to the bottom of the 3 by 6 plate that can be snapped onto the outside of the 1" tube to press the plate to the 1" square tube against the two socket head screws to lock the fence in place. You need a slot in one of the 3 by 6 to fence mounting holes for adjusting it square. It works great and was only about $50 for parts plus the destaco clamp.

I built one of these many years ago and it's still working great. Fine Woodworking was the magazine.

JoeLee
10-05-2011, 08:21 AM
Joe,
Mine comes off real easy. A couple of twists and off one end.

I am not sure what you mean about taking too much room on the top.
On mine the rails extent beyond the top so you can side it out of way.
I added a sliding table for cross cutting but a sled also works really good.

Its like a new saw for a couple hours working bolting it on.

Dave

The top of my saw isn't quite as big as some I've seen. I built a right side extension for it many years ago but the fence only slides to the end of the cast iron table. For longer cross cuts I have to just remove it because sliding it out of the way in most cases is just not far enough. With the handle raised it lifts right off.
The iron on edging tape is a good idea also. I do have some oak banding and also have some melamine which is even harder and smoother. I may be tempted to try that. thanks for bringing it up.

JL.....................

http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image006.jpg

kevindsingleton
10-05-2011, 03:25 PM
McMaster always has something:

http://www.mcmaster.com/#uhmw-polyethylene-tape/=ed1f9i

jdunmyer
10-06-2011, 08:33 PM
Remove it and replace it with a Beisemeyer.


IMO, these should be required by law on all table saws.

Chris S.
10-07-2011, 12:27 AM
The only front and rear locking fence designs that are worth a hoot are the round bar type. Types like yours tend to want to bind if the rear of the fence is either too high or too low. The round bar system that Delta uses on their contractor model is a surprisingly good fence and has never binded on me. Good enough that I abandoned my plans for a Biesmyer after I bought it and discovered that I liked it.

Chris

Bill736
10-07-2011, 11:47 PM
Sears usually put marginal quality rip fences on their table saws. If you're restoring your saw, you may wish to keep the present fence. I personally prefer the Jet Lock fences put on earlier Delta Unisaws, as well as 10 inch Contractor's saws. They use front and rear round guide rails, and the fence locks onto the front rail first, and then the rear rail when you push down on the handle ( early fences locked the rear clamp with a separate knob. ) Having had one on my 1951 Unisaw since 1951, I'm still quite pleased with it . Many people have put aftermarket fences on Unisaws that lock only on the front guide rail, but I don't care for them. If you push sideways on those fancy fences at the rear, they will flex. Jet lock fences stay put, and if you know how to adjust them, they are very accurate and repeatable, and slide very smoothly. In addition, they're much more compact than the aftermarket fences, or Delta's own Unifence ( Frankenfence ?) of later model saws; bulky, heavy, ridiculous, in my opinion. There was a smaller version of the Jet Lock fence made for smaller ( 8 inch ?) Delta saws, and you might look for one of those. I bought a complete Jet Lock fence and rails on eBay for a reasonable price, and adapted it for use on a large bandsaw.

Chris S.
10-07-2011, 11:52 PM
Many people have put aftermarket fences on Unisaws that lock only on the front guide, but I don't care for them. If you push sideways on those fancy fences at the rear, they will flex.

This why I didn't opt for one either. ;)

Chris

Your Old Dog
10-08-2011, 07:05 AM
Remove it and replace it with a Beisemeyer.

No slam intended but that would be like putting a $100.00 saddle on a $10.00 horse.

I use carnuba paste wax as used on hardwood floors on all my wood shop stuff. Unbelievable how well it works on wood to aluminum surfaces. Carnuba won't cause the problem on virgin wood surfaces that some other lubricants might where staining or painting is concerned.

kendall
10-08-2011, 02:11 PM
I'd try the iron on strips, or drill/tap some holes on the outside, and put nylon/teflon tipped adjuster screws in them. If there is enough slop for it to cock when adjusting that will take care of it. (on the front, so they will keep the wedge close to the rail.) Also, run a stone on the rail where the wedge rides to see how flat it is and get rid of any burrs.

Most Craftsman saws are actually very good, the accessories (fence etc) were designed more for eye appeal and ease of use and easy to use instead of the more robust but 'ugly' contractor styles.

That style of fence while very nice and accurate when new, is notorious for wearing out, best is to replace it with a good quality aftermarket one, or home build one.
Strangely, with Craftsman table saws, the most accurate and durable fences (angle iron rails, cast T, steel fence etc) are found on the cheapest models because they're cheaper to make but don't have the eye appeal of the pretty extruded aluminum ones.

I would build a replacement with angle or round guides front and rear, that went all the way to the end of your extension

noah katz
10-08-2011, 04:47 PM
Many people have put aftermarket fences on Unisaws that lock only on the front guide rail, but I don't care for them. If you push sideways on those fancy fences at the rear, they will flex.

I have a PM saw with a Bies clone and just went out to the garage and did this experiment.

If I push sideways moderately hard on the end of the fence, I can see it move ~1/64".

But so what?

Deflection varies with the cube of the distance from the supports, so it's insignificant where it matters, where you feed the stock in and next to the blade.

elf
10-08-2011, 05:28 PM
I have a PM saw with a Bies clone and just went out to the garage and did this experiment.

If I push sideways moderately hard on the end of the fence, I can see it move ~1/64".

But so what?

Deflection varies with the cube of the distance from the supports, so it's insignificant where it matters, where you feed the stock in and next to the blade.

I wonder why anyone would stand on the back side of a tablesaw and push on the fence during a cut???

darryl
10-08-2011, 06:21 PM
If I clamp only the front of my cable-controlled fence, I can get some flex on the back end, but I have to push with a fair amount of force. To move it, I actually have to be stretching the steel cable- imagine how little you could stretch a 1/8 inch thick cable with hand pressure- If I lock the back as well, it simply doesn't move.

It never jams, it doesn't go crooked, it doesn't shift as you lock it, it doesn't matter where along the fence you adjust it from. It does catch where the extended table has sunk below the cast iron table a tad- but that's my fault for not shimming the table up to be even. The only maintenance I've given it over the three decades or so since I built it is to re-tension the cable. Move over, Beisemmeyer- :)

I have yet to complete my new table, but it has two cable-controlled fences on it- the normal one parallel to the blade, and a second one which is a cross-cut fence. At a certain position to the right of the blade, the normal fence pivots down into a channel, leaving the table surface free of obstructions. The cross cut fence can then pivot up and slide onto the table. There's just over 31 inches of room between this fence and the blade, so it's easily possible to square up something that wide. This fence has its own base, so it's basically a skid- up to about 24 inches wide a panel of wood rests totally on the base, so it doesn't have to skid across the table surface. I hope to be able to complete it this winter and start using it.

Chris S.
10-08-2011, 07:11 PM
Most Craftsman saws are actually very good, the accessories (fence etc) were designed more for eye appeal and ease of use and easy to use instead of the more robust but 'ugly' contractor styles.


Are you calling my guide rails ugly? Don't make me come up there! :p

kendall
10-08-2011, 07:50 PM
Are you calling my guide rails ugly? Don't make me come up there! :p

mine are too then, as those are the style I prefer :)

Chris S.
10-08-2011, 10:50 PM
mine are too then, as those are the style I prefer :)

The two main reasons that single point locking fences like the Biesmeyer became popular is because...

(1) The topic of this post. IE, sticky, herky-jerky positioning on many of the front - rear locking OEM fences.
(2) Poor repeatability because many of the front-rear locking fences do not lock parallel to the blade consistently. This can cause stock binding, burning and inconsistent cuts.

I kept my OEM Delta fence because it's rigid, smooth sliding and locks on the front rail prior to locking on the rear rail. This keeps keeps it parallel to the blade repeatedly.

BTW, fence deflection on front locking fences may not be a noticeable issue when cutting small stock but large sheets of plywood and long-heavy 2x10s will test their limits, where it will become quite noticable... usually by burning.

IMO, Delta did a good job with my fence. It also can be slid off the rail effortlessly if necessary.

Chris

Harvey Melvin Richards
10-10-2011, 10:24 AM
My solution some decades ago was to scrap the fence entirely and make my own- then have it ride on angle iron rails front and back. A cable and pulley system keeps both ends of the fence moving equally, and it's always square to the blade. It can't bind when you move it, and a knob front and back lets you secure it in place positively. I usually only tighten the front knob, unless I know I'm going to be really forcing against the fence.


Sounds similar to a Paralock.

JoeLee
10-10-2011, 11:54 PM
I decided to go with the UHMW polyethylene tape in .010 thickness. I put a couple strips on the contacting surfaces of the fence head and I couldn't believe the difference. The fence just glides with the touch of the finger. Prior to the tape I would have to guess that it took at least 10 Lbs. of force to move it and it would jump and bind every time. I also put a small poly sleeve over the spring loaded pin on the bottom side of the head, that also helped. The clamp end of the fence has a roller wheel so there was no problem there. This worked out great.

http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image010.jpg
http://i911.photobucket.com/albums/ac317/JoeLee09/Table%20Saw%20Fence/Image011.jpg