Friday, July 4, 2014

Simple Band Saw Fence


My band saw is the machine workhorse of my workshop and I find a band saw fence useful for ripping parts close to dimension, but also for precisely ripping tenon cheeks and cutting other joinery.  I built this wooden fence for my band saw almost immediately after I bought it.  The slot in the table for removing and replacing the blades is on the front of my saw which makes it incompatible with most aftermarket band saw fences.  After using this set up for the past four years, I wouldn't want anything else.  It is accurate, easy to adjust, and the price is right.

Wooden band saw fence.

If you are looking at these pictures and thinking, "How do you adjust this fence for blade drift?" then your life is about to get simpler.  Blade drift is caused by the crown of the bandsaw tire.  When the blade is centered on the crown of the tire your band saw won't drift (assuming your saw is well tuned and you have a blade that has a good weld and large teeth and gullets for removing saw dust efficiently).  If the blade is forward or behind the crown of the tire, then the blade will drift at a consistent angle.  To correct, adjust the tracking of the blade to the center of the wheel.  

My fence is square to the front edge of my band saw table.  I adjust the blade tracking to the center of the wheel each time I install a new blade.  I have never had a problem with blade drift.  Michael Fortune wrote a great article a few years ago for Fine Woodworking that covered this and some other band saw set up and tuning information.  I think it is the most comprehensive source for basic band saw set up and blade selection.  Here is the link.



The fence is made from a scrap of 8/4 red oak that is 3 1/2" wide.  The rail that references against the front edge of the table is a piece of  3/4" plywood that is 3 1/2" wide.  The fence and the rail are joined square to each other with a liberal quantity of screws to keep the fence from racking in use.

Notice the leather shim between the fence and the rail.

One detail not to miss is the shim between the fence and the rail.  I used leather because I had a scrap laying around, but a piece of a cereal box or some other similar flat cardboard would work as well.  The bottom of the fence lays flat on the table and the shim keeps the rail down below the surface of the table so that it does not interfere with the wood being sawn.

Clamped in place.

The face of the fence is planed square to the bottom.  A 24" Irwin quick grip clamp holds the fence in place on the saw.  The fence needs to be a little bit shorter than the length of the table so that the jaw of the clamp on the far side of the table is pressing on the table and pulling the rail tight against the front edge.

Fence does not extend past the band saw table.
With very light clamp pressure you can slide the fence back and forth to set the distance from the blade.  I use a steel ruler butted against the fence and take a reading from a tooth that is set toward the fence.

Setting the fence.
Apply full clamping pressure and you are ready to saw accurately.




7 comments:

  1. Tim, thanks for the insight on blade drift. I have always fiddled with my fence to compensate for the drift. I will now try centering the blade first.

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  2. Wow, great post. Thanks Tim!

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  3. Excellent post! I built one with windage adjustment from a Wood Magazine article, but I may scrap it for this design. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Excellent post! I built one with windage adjustment from a Wood Magazine article, but I may scrap it for this design. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Excellent post! I built one with windage adjustment from a Wood Magazine article, but I may scrap it for this design. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Excellent! I was going to spend $150 to buy a fence but realized that this was really all I needed. The most expensive bit was the clamp which I can use for other things anyway. Works like a charm.

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