Fence Alignment

wndopdlr

wally
Senior User
There is another thread on the forum about a fellow having trouble burning wood as he cuts it. Several responses were made concerning fence alignment and that raised a question in my mind.

First let me say that I am not having any problems, but I am always willing to learn.

I was told or read a long time ago that a good fence set up allowed the fence to "open" away from the fence by about .005-.010" to eliminate burning or binding and that is the way I have my table saw set up. Is this correct? Seems to me that if I set it dead to the blade, that it burns on species like maple and cherry.

I did not want to hijack the other thread by asking this question there, but I am interested in what the experienced forum members have to say.

Thanks

Wally
 

JSJ

Jeff
Corporate Member
Thanks for asking that question Wally! I've always had that question as well. I read somewhere that past the blade, the riving knife basically takes over from the fence, so opening up the fence by .005" prevents burn marks. To me, that seems kind of strange that one would purposely place the fence out of alignment with the saw blade. I'm looking forward to other lines of thinking on this subject as well.
 

Herdfan2005

Jason
Senior User
It mentions this as an option in my Grizzly manual so there must be some truth to it although Grizzly does also list the con.

From my manual:

Optional Offset Fence Adjustment

Some woodworkers prefer to offset the rear of the fence 1 /64" from the blade, as shown in Figure 119, to help prevent the workpiece from binding and burning. The argument is that this offset adjustment reduces the chance of kickback by alleviating potential binding that may occur between the backside of the blade and fence. The tradeoff is slightly less accurate cuts
 

Dee2

Gene
Corporate Member
So if you set the fence parallel to the blade at the blade and offset past the blade at the rear, what happens to the fence at the front of the table? If the rear of the fence is offset and unless you are doing fancy things with tapered fence face/rails, the front of the fence will be tilted inward (toward the blade) proportional to the the length of the fence. Of course, if you shim the fence rails so as to force them to 'curve' then that should work for a 'bendable' fence rail, i.e., parallel to the blade from the front and then shimmed away after the blade.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I set the fence about .003-.005 away from the blade measuring from the very front of the saw to the very back.

And I always check the full length of the fence, you’d be surprised how many have a curve or even waves. So, sometimes I have to compensate for that.

The thought is that the wood will open up as it passes through the blade.
 
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Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
I have toed out my fence by as much as 1/32” for as long as I can remember.

That is measuring from the front of the fence to the back of the fence.

Blade height is also important, I eyeball it, but think the teeth of the blade are never more than 1/4” above the workpiece.

With kiln dried lumber sometimes burn marks on the non-fence side are unavoidable, as the lumber twists towards reducing the kerf. I don’t think I ever see burn marks on the inside ( nearest the fence) cut.
 

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
I'm still not seeing how this doesn't result in a slightly tapered cut?
Do a test. Set your toe out to 3” and the cut remains perfectly square.

Not being funny, I cut coves for crown like that all the time.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Once your blade cuts the wood it just goes through being cut by both the front and rear of the blade. Any angle of the approach only makes the kerf wider while both pieces of wood remain equal thickness all the way through.

With a bandsaw the blade follows the cut. To cut a slight taper you can just angle the fence. A circular blade stays in the center of the cut. You can’t cut a taper with the fence, you have to use a sled and set the taper or glue a series of blocks to one edge to ride the fence. Round blades cut straight. Flat blades can wander.
 
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wndopdlr

wally
Senior User
I'm still not seeing how this doesn't result in a slightly tapered cut?
Tony-
It doesn't taper the cut, the kerf of the blade is wider by a few thousandths. I can rip a board 8' long and measure both ends with calipers and be right on the money
 

Wiley's Woodworks

Wiley
Corporate Member
I'm the other guy who started the other thread regarding excessive burn on my rip cuts. This has turned into quite a project with input from multiple sources--NCWW, college instructors, woodworking friends, and factory customer support staff. If you need to get all the gory details, go to thread"Burn Marks On Table Saw". Here is the usable synopsis on all my efforts: You want your fence to skew outward slightly (~1/64") from front of blade to back. Why? The front teeth do the cutting as you feed the board. After that your goal is to avoid contact between the blade and the board. Contact between the back teeth of the blade and the board is what causes the burn. As long as you keep your pressure on the board as you feed it into the blade in front of the blade you will get a true straight cut. The outward skew allows the board piece between the blade and the rip fence to pass by the back teeth without friction (burn)
 

Brian Patterson

Bstrom
User
I'm the other guy who started the other thread regarding excessive burn on my rip cuts. This has turned into quite a project with input from multiple sources--NCWW, college instructors, woodworking friends, and factory customer support staff. If you need to get all the gory details, go to thread"Burn Marks On Table Saw". Here is the usable synopsis on all my efforts: You want your fence to skew outward slightly (~1/64") from front of blade to back. Why? The front teeth do the cutting as you feed the board. After that your goal is to avoid contact between the blade and the board. Contact between the back teeth of the blade and the board is what causes the burn. As long as you keep your pressure on the board as you feed it into the blade in front of the blade you will get a true straight cut. The outward skew allows the board piece between the blade and the rip fence to pass by the back teeth without friction (burn)
Makes sense if you can get the saw to accommodate your settings. Interestingly, this seems to bear on the same principle as a router where the contact point dictates the result regardless of fence orientation. At a much less deviation, of course. Gonna have to give my TS a good going over after coming to know this.
 

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