By Dave Sellers

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An ufterinarket rip fence eun improve the perfor-nianee of n stundard fence, enhancing the tahle-san's precision.

No matter what kind of tablesaw you have, its accuracy depends on the operation of its rip fence. And fences that come as standard equipment range from OK to downright awful. Some have limited rip capacity and tlimsv construction. Many are fussy to adjust parallel with the saw blade or don't stay parallel once set. This can cause saw teeth marks or burn marks on the cut edge, or invite dangerous kickback. Often the rip measurement scale is inaccurate or hard to read as well.

Fortunately, six companies have developed aftermarket rip fences that are designed to work better than standard ones.

These replacement rip fences have longer rails for greater rip capacity, beefy const met ion. and positive locking mechanisms to keep them parallel. Setting the fences accurately within in. is no problem with the large, easy-to-read measurement scales.

To sec if these aftermarket fences arc-worth the price (between $240 and $410), I tested six brands. I chose models with rails long enough to allow ripping to the center of a i x 8 sheet of plywood-—generally the most popular rail length. I mounted each on a new 10-in. Delta Unisaw in the American Woodworker shop, and adjusted it according to the instniction manual.

All six fences arc well made. Five arc heavy-duty units suitable for production cabinet shops. The sixth, the Accufcncc, is a lighter-duty product with a few attractive features for a smaller workshop. As upgrades, you'll find

An ufterinarket rip fence eun improve the perfor-nianee of n stundard fence, enhancing the tahle-san's precision.

that any one of them will help you to make sm<x>thcr. more accurate rip cuts.

I didn't spend enough time with the fences to get a feel for their long-range IXTformance. but their solid coastniction suggests they'd hold up well.

A tablesaw fence gets some rough treatment in a busy shop—bumps from big sheets of plywood and lots of pushing Ixtck and forth in a hurry. To get a quantitative standard of comparison for tliis kind of treatment, 1 devised two tests.

First, I locked down each fence the way you would to make a cut. Then I used a machinist's dial indicator to measure how much the fence deflected under a sideways load of 10 pounds at the back edge of the saw table. 1 arbitrarily chose 10 pounds to simulate the loading front very large pieces of stock pressing against the fcncc. Results are reported in the discussions of each fcncc.

Second, I used a dial caliper to sec how consistently the fences stayed parallel to the blade after being moved briskly back and forth. All the fences stayed parallel within 0.005 in. after repeated rcscttings. 'Ihat deserves high marks for precision in our book.

What really separates one fence from another are features— like how the fcncc clamps to the rails and how easily it slides across the saw table. Some fences have accessories like stock pushers or hold-downs that fit securely in

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