Best Aftermarket Fence for the Money?


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I recently bought an old 1950 Unisaw and will be restoring it over the next couple of months. The saw is fairly complete but did not come with a fence. I was planning to buy one of the old style micro adjustment jet lock fences (there are certainly a number out there going pretty cheap). I then started reading about folks saying that those fences do not automatically square when you lock them. My current table saw is a Ridgid cast iron topped saw and the fence stays pretty darn square all on it's own. The idea of having to take out a square to square up my fence every time I move it seems pretty horrible to me. Other folks don't trust the built in measurements on the jet lock and take out a tape measure every time they need to make a cut which in some ways is even worse.

If those reviews are true then I need to buy an aftermarket fence. I am not tied to brand names, so I don't need to have a Biesemeyer and it seems that the Biesemeyer might be out of my price range anyway. I want to spend about 200 dollars or less (and that would need to include everything to get the fence setup (so rails, fence, hardware).

There seems to be a number of fences in this range but I don't know how they stack up. Examples would seem to include the Delta branded fence, shop fox classic, exaktor, aluma classic, and probably others I don't know about.

Any thoughts?

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Well, I don't know if the Biesmeyer (52") is all that to others but it has served me well for 10 years. I have had 2 contractors style saws in the 10 years and used the same fence on both. I have NEVER had one problem with the fence. I wax the rails and table top every so often and the fence glides smoothly. I adjust the measurement curser and never had to readjust it. I do check the measurement with a tape every now and then and have never had a problem with it either. Now if I could just get a nice old cabinet saw to put it on...................

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Take a look at the Delta T-2

Check out this link:

http://www.tools-plus.com/delta-36-t30.html?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=froogle&utm_term=DEL36-T30

I just order this myself, and will be installing it on my TS this weekend. After I get it up and running I will post back as to how well it works. From the the reviews I have read it isn't a bad fence for its price.

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I read an article today that said the Delta Unifence was no longer being made and the author found one (new) for 50% of it’s retail cost. He didn't say where. He bought the 50" model. Something to check out anyway.

Addendum: I guess I should include a link to the Unifence article. Just click here.

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In reference to the T2 fence, as promised here is my update after installation. If I were installing this to a Delta saw, the install would have been a breeze. However, I installed this on a 25 year old craftsman table saw. The challenges were not directly related to the fence. The first challenge was getting the old fence off and all wing bolts out. They were quite rusted, and did not come out easily. A few of them had to be cut off. The next challenge was that the screw holes on the angle irons didn't line up with the screw holes on the TS. I ended up drilling new holes in the saw. (That was fun!) After that it installed just as easy as if it was on a Delta.

Even with the extra effort, it was well worth it! After getting it tuned up, the fence really performs very well, and would recommend it as an inexpensive option for an after-market fence.

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In reference to the T2 fence, as promised here is my update after installation. If I were installing this to a Delta saw, the install would have been a breeze. However, I installed this on a 25 year old craftsman table saw. The challenges were not directly related to the fence. The first challenge was getting the old fence off and all wing bolts out. They were quite rusted, and did not come out easily. A few of them had to be cut off. The next challenge was that the screw holes on the angle irons didn't line up with the screw holes on the TS. I ended up drilling new holes in the saw. (That was fun!) After that it installed just as easy as if it was on a Delta.

Even with the extra effort, it was well worth it! After getting it tuned up, the fence really performs very well, and would recommend it as an inexpensive option for an after-market fence.

My unisaw is a right tilt model. Is it possible to adjust the fence so that the 30" clearance is to the left of the blade? Or is the ruler permanently stuck to the surface in a way that is designed to be used with a left tilt saw?

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Not knowing what the rule looks like on that fence, couldn't you attach a self-adhesive Starrett metal rule overtop the existing rule? Seems like there'd be clearance under the sight. That rule comes in L-to-R and R-to-L, is exceptionally easy to read, sticks tenaciously, and I have used several around the shop. Personally, I use the imperial/metric version on everything that way I'll be ready when the US changes to metric :blink:

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That would be possible, since the fence rides on glides (VERY nicely I might add) there should be enough clearance to do just that.

I was thinking about that. I am wondering if I can buy a fence, scrape up whatever ruler is there and put down my own. Once adjusted there should be no disadvantage to owning a right tilt saw since my fence would have the 30" of clearance to the left of the blade and I'll be able to do my larger bevel cuts with less fear of kickback.

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I was thinking about that. I am wondering if I can buy a fence, scrape up whatever ruler is there and put down my own. Once adjusted there should be no disadvantage to owning a right tilt saw since my fence would have the 30" of clearance to the left of the blade and I'll be able to do my larger bevel cuts with less fear of kickback.

I don't think you'd need to scrape off the existing rule; would make it easier to stick overtop. It is a metal rule from Starrett so you don't have to worry about the printing underneath ghosting through. I might wipe the existing rule with acetone or mineral spirits to make sure any oil they might have applied is off, but otherwise, it will definitely stick. The fact that it's metal is also nice in that you don't have to worry about stretching or 'compressing' the rule as you lay it out making it inaccurate. Let us know if that works (if you try it).

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I don't think you'd need to scrape off the existing rule; would make it easier to stick overtop. It is a metal rule from Starrett so you don't have to worry about the printing underneath ghosting through. I might wipe the existing rule with acetone or mineral spirits to make sure any oil they might have applied is off, but otherwise, it will definitely stick. The fact that it's metal is also nice in that you don't have to worry about stretching or 'compressing' the rule as you lay it out making it inaccurate. Let us know if that works (if you try it).

My only concern is aesthetics. There will be a gap on the rail where there is no ruler, the spot where one ruler stops and then where the other ruler begins. If I don't scrape off the older ruler that spot will likely have the older ruler underneath.

At this point I will likely buy either the T2 or the Aluma-Classic fence. Both are within my price range. I don't know which is better. But I'll be getting one of them.

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After much debate I decided that I really should buy a fence that could potentially last me a life time and thus ended up with the Shop Fox Classic. The only complaint I have seen about the fence is that the replaceable plastic faces can become wavy in time. Folks that had the issue just replaced them with Baltic birch and called it a day. At a full hundred dollars cheaper then the cheapest bessie I think it was a good deal with free shipping.

Thank you to everyone that commented. You guys really helped me narrow it down and decide on what my priorities are.

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After much debate I decided that I really should buy a fence that could potentially last me a life time and thus ended up with the Shop Fox Classic. The only complaint I have seen about the fence is that the replaceable plastic faces can become wavy in time. Folks that had the issue just replaced them with Baltic birch and called it a day. At a full hundred dollars cheaper then the cheapest bessie I think it was a good deal with free shipping.

Thank you to everyone that commented. You guys really helped me narrow it down and decide on what my priorities are.

Let us know when you get it and install it. I am thinking about getting that one for my craftsman.

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After much debate I decided that I really should buy a fence that could potentially last me a life time and thus ended up with the Shop Fox Classic. The only complaint I have seen about the fence is that the replaceable plastic faces can become wavy in time. Folks that had the issue just replaced them with Baltic birch and called it a day. At a full hundred dollars cheaper then the cheapest bessie I think it was a good deal with free shipping.Thank you to everyone that commented. You guys really helped me narrow it down and decide on what my priorities are.

I have had the Shop Classic for a couple of years and love it. I have made a sacrificial drop over fence for it also. Take your time when installing it. I bought the 84" version and am making a rolling cabinet with a work bench with the remainder of the 40 some inches left between the rails. If you need a source for UHMW let me know, I have a source I use that is direct from a fabricator. A 0.250" X 12" X 48" piece is only $41.00 plus S&H.

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Let us know when you get it and install it. I am thinking about getting that one for my craftsman.

I'll be glad to let folks know but unless your real patient you might not want to wait for me. My unisaw is a 1950's model and will require a complete tear-down and rebuild before I can install the fence. I expect it will be approximately 2 months from now before I will be installing the fence.

@ATB80: I'll keep you in mind but honestly if I add a sacrificial fence I'll probably make it out of baltic birch. It seems a number of people prefer that material because of its consistent straightness/flatness.

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The Delta T2 is often considered one of the best bangs for the buck in an aftermarket fence. It's a steel t-square design that's similar to a Biese and the Biese clones, but uses somewhat lighter gauge metal and smaller tubing...the Shop Fox "Aluma Classic" is similar. The Shop Fox "Classic" is slightly heftier and more similar to the Biese Commercial fence. I've owned a General T-fence Biese copy, Biesemeyer Commercial, a Vega, Shop Fox Classic, and now have a Jet Exacta fence that's also pretty similar to the Biese. Any one of those are good fences....for even money, I'd lean toward the Biese or Exacta, but the Vega and Shop Fox are fine fences too.

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