If you’re serious about precise woodworking, you may want to consider an aftermarket table saw fence to replace the one that came with your table saw. The quality of the manufacturer-supplied fence systems varies widely across the industry. Some are excellent but many are difficult to adjust precisely, don’t stay accurate from cut to cut, or suffer other problems. I’ve put together a list of some of the top aftermarket fences suitable for most woodworkers with a home shop.
If you just want to know one product to check out, I think the Shop Fox W2005 Fence with Standard Rails is the best all-around choice for most people.
If you already know you want a new table saw fence, read on for my top picks. But if you’re not sure yet, or you have questions about whether a new fence is right for you, jump down to my buying guide.
The Top 5 Table Saw Fences
Delta is a major manufacturer of contractor and cabinet table saws. This fence is designed to mount on their saws right out of the box. But it can be mounted to just about any table saw whose table measures 27” front-to-back. You’ll probably need to drill new mounting holes for your non-Delta table saw. A generous number of fasteners are included in the box to let you secure it to your table saw.
You’ll get 30” of rip capacity to the right of your saw blade once installed. And you’ll have 16” of capacity to the left of the blade, more than many similar models. This extra room to the left can be handy if you’ll be making bevel cuts, depending on which way your blade tilts. (It’s safer to make bevel cuts so the wood isn’t trapped “under” the tilted saw and against the fence.)
Once you calibrate it, the fence stays very accurate to about 1/64”. So you won’t need to constantly check it with a ruler or tape measure like you did with your old fence!
The only real complaint I’ve seen about this fence is that sometimes the manufacturing process leaves slightly concave areas around the bolt holes. If you want an absolutely straight fence, you may want to slightly shim these areas—a couple pieces of blue painter’s tape should work.
Whether you have a Delta saw or not, this is an excellent choice for any home woodworker.
- Easy to install
- Usually straight right out of the box
- Easy to adjust
- Stays accurate once properly calibrated
- Comes with lots of fasteners for mounting on different saws
- Face may be slightly concave around bolt holes, requiring shimming for absolute flatness
Vega makes a number of different aftermarket table saw fences. The U26 features a 36” long fence that can be mounted to almost any table saw with a 27” table (measured front-to-back). Once installed, you’ll have 26” of rip capacity to the right of your blade and 8” to the left.
The installation process for this fence is quite straightforward. If you have a Delta, Powermatic, or Craftsman saw, it’s likely the mounting holes will line up. However, it’s possible you may need to drill some holes to get it to mount to your particular saw. If you don’t have a drill and tap set, you might need to pick one up.
The fence feels rock solid once it’s clamped down in place. A micro-adjustment mechanism lets you get the fence “close enough” (within an inch or so) by hand and then dial it in precisely. This can make for a simpler set-up than needing to nudge the entire fence by hand to set up your cuts.
- Simple install
- Rock solid once clamped down
- Requires only 2 holes drilled to fit Craftsman saws
- Easy to adjust using micro-adjuster
- Easy to remove for cross-cutting and holds position afterward
- Some quality control issues mean occasionally arrives scratched due to parts moving in shipping
- Does not attach to wing extensions using included parts (need to manufacture them to get full 26” to the right)
The W2005 is designed to fit any 27”-deep (front-to-back) table saw. As with most aftermarket fences, you should be prepared to drill and tap mounting holes in your saw’s cabinet. Conveniently, Shop Fox provides a drill-and-tap set right in the box. Some purchasers have found the provided tap to not be up to the task, though, and ended up buying their own. Tap sets are pretty cheap to buy at a home improvement store, but it would be nice if the one in the box was sturdy enough to use as-is.
Once installed, the W2005 provides 25” of rip capacity to the right of your saw blade. That’s just enough to rip a 4’x8’ piece of plywood down the middle. If that’s not enough for you, though, Shop Fox has another option. Their W2006 fence gives you a whopping 54” of rip capacity. Be sure you have the space for it, though—the rails are a full 7’ long!
The clamping action on the W2005 (and W2006) is extremely sturdy. Once you have it positioned accurately, you can make all your cuts secure in the knowledge that they’ll come out identical. And the fence easily lifts off the rails when you need it out of the way to make cross-cuts.
The only missing feature that would turn this into a truly stellar fence is a micro-adjust knob. Without that, you’ll need to delicately tap the fence into the exact position you want it before clamping down. The micro-adjust would be nice to have, but even without it, this is a great product.
- HDPE plastic fence surface for extremely low sliding resistance
- Clamps completely tight for accurate cuts
- Includes drill and tap set in case mounting holes need to be drilled
- Easily lifts off to make room for cross-cutting
- No micro-adjustment feature
- Packaging issues sometimes leads to missing or damaged parts
At 37 pounds, this fence from Shop Fox is lighter than several others on our list. If you have a smaller, lighter saw, this might be important to you. Some of the heavier fence and rail systems (topping out over 70 pounds) might make your saw top-heavy unless you add extra support. And, of course, you need to factor in that weight if you’re one of the people (like me) who needs to move equipment around a small shop. The W1410 is light enough that, while you’ll certainly notice it, it won’t tip your saw over or cause you to strain too much to move it.
As with the other fences, this one can be attached to pretty much any table saw that has a table 27” front-to-back. With some saws, you’ll need to drill and tap mounting holes into the cabinet of your saw. Like the W2005, Shop Fox includes a drill and tap in the box with the fence. If you’re lucky, they’ll work for you. But some people report that they just weren’t beefy enough to fully drill or tap a cast-iron saw. In that case, you’ll need to pick up your own drill or tap from the hardware store—luckily, they aren’t very expensive.
Since it’s on the lighter side, you won’t get that rock-solid feeling you get with the heavier fences. Nevertheless, the clamp on this fence works quite well. Once it’s locked into position, it’s going to stay there until you move it again. So you can rest assured that all your cuts are going to come out correctly.
And, in a very nice touch, the top of the W1410 features a T-track. So if you have clamps, jigs, or other accessories that can be secured in a T-track, you can attach them directly to the fence. This might save you some head-scratching trying to figure out how exactly to clamp them to the fence without obstructing your work.
One small ding against the W1410 is that some purchasers have needed to do a bit of filing or sanding on the rails to get a smooth movement. Once that’s done, though, the fence glides super-smoothly on its ball-bearing guides, making it easy to position accurately.
- Glides very smoothly on ball-bearing guides
- T-track on top of fence for easy attachment of clamps and accessories
- Locks down securely
- Might need some filing/sanding to get completely smooth movement along support rails
- Included drill and tap set are not very good, will probably need to use your own 5/16 bit and 3/8 tap
The U50 from Vega features longer rails than many fences, giving it a full 50” of rip capacity to the right of the blade. It only offers 8” to the left of the blade, though, so think about whether that matters to you. If you frequently make bevel cuts to the left of the blade, you might think twice, but otherwise this is a great choice. It’s also lighter than some of its competition, at 38 pounds.
The lighter construction does create some compromises, though. The build quality and fit-and-finish is not quite as high as its more expensive competition. In particular, it features a number of sharp corners that you’ll probably want to file down for safety. And if you’re picky about wanting tools with beautiful finishes and machinist-quality fits, the U50 might leave you disappointed.
All that aside, though, it’s a very solid table saw fence, especially if you need all that extra rip capacity. It has a micro-adjustment feature, so you just need to get the fence “close enough” by hand. Then you use the more accurate micro-adjuster to set it precisely where you want it. Once it’s clamped, the fence won’t move on you. And Vega has very good customer support for any problems or questions you might have.
- Micro-adjustment feature
- Auxiliary table support
- Easy to zero in
- Excellent customer support for questions
- Sharp corners may need filing down for safety
- Workmanship/fit-and-finish not as high as more expensive products
You probably have some questions about buying a new table saw fence. After all, it’s something that most of us will only do once or twice in our lives. Once you’ve paired a quality table saw with a great fence, both of them should last for decades.
Why Buy an Aftermarket Fence?
This might be your first question, although if you’re here, you may already be thinking about buying one. In short, the answer is: to save time and money.
Most table saws come with rip fences that are good enough. They basically do what’s required of them. But you may find that they aren’t quite as precise as you like. In particular, they’re often not perfectly straight. Or, if they’re straight enough, they don’t stay straight reliably under the force of wood being pushed against them.
In the end, you often find yourself with a ruler or tape measure repeatedly measuring multiple points along the fence. This takes up valuable time, and it’s even worse if you need to re-check frequently in between cuts. Worst of all, if the fence does have a bit of give in it, you might end up making the wrong cut. At best, this is a waste of time—at worst, you may have ruined or wasted your wood.
For all these reasons, it makes sense to have a fence that you know you can position once and have it stay accurate. All of the fences I list in this article will give you that peace of mind. Each of them has its pluses and minuses, of course, but none of them will have you constantly double-checking with a ruler.
Can I Install an Aftermarket Fence on My Table Saw?
This is an obvious question, since we are frequently used to needing to buy parts and accessories from the original manufacturer of our tools. The short answer is: Yes, probably.
The longer answer is: Very likely, but you’ll need to be willing to do a little work. And not if you have a compact jobsite table saw. Two factors come in to play: size and mounting.
Almost all aftermarket table saw fences are designed to fit on table saws with tables that measure 27” from front to back. There’s usually a little tolerance in there for slight variations, maybe up to 1/2” or so depending on the model. This fits the vast majority of contractor and cabinet table saws on the market. Table saw manufacturers have more or less standardized on this size.
If your table saw is deeper than about 27 1/2” from front to back, it’s unlikely these fences will fit. If it’s slightly under 27”, you can probably fashion a shim to hold the rail and make it work. But they definitely won’t fit on portable jobsite table saws that often measure around 21-22”.
All of these fences are sold as a system that includes both the fence and rails that attach to the front and back of your saw. These will replace the rails that came with your saw. The manufacturers are somewhat less united on where the holes for mounting fence rails ought to be. While there are some common layouts, they’re by no means universal.
So if you buy a fence from the manufacturer of your saw, it’s likely it’ll just work. If not, be prepared to drill some new holes in your saw’s cabinet to mount the rails. This might seem daunting, but all of the fences come with instructions on how to lay out your holes. You definitely want to take time with this, double- and triple-checking the entire layout before drilling. Consider using clamps to hold the rails on your saw while you move the fence into different positions. You want to make sure that it’s moving smoothly and precisely everywhere before you commit to drilling a hole.
Some fences come with a drill bit to drill the holes and a tap to thread the whole so you can mount the rail. Unfortunately, these are usually on the less sturdy (read: cheaper) side, and might not be up to the task. In that case, or if none were included, you might need to use your own drill bits and taps. Luckily, these are pretty cheap to get at a home improvement center. You’ll want to make sure to use the sizes indicated in the instructions.
What Features Do I Need?
It’s a given that any rip fence ought to be simple to align precisely and stay securely in that position until you move it. All of the fences I’ve mentioned here will do that. Beyond that, though, there are some differences to consider.
The fences come with rails of a particular length. And the fence positioning mechanism itself takes up some space. Together with the layout of the mounting holes, these will determine how far the fence can be positioned from the blade.
All of the fences I’ve chosen will give you at least 25” of capacity to the right of the blade. That’s enough to rip a 4’x8’ piece of plywood down the middle. And some will give you up to 50” of capacity, which may be important if you’re making large cabinets.
Bear in mind that you need to have the space to actually put the saw with these large rails attached. In some cases, the rails could be up to 7’ long. And you’ll need to make sure you have enough support under the rails that the saw doesn’t become top-heavy. Be sure to check that before you use it (with some wood on top but without the saw plugged in).
All else being equal, longer rails will obviously weigh more than shorter ones. But the rails vary considerably in design and construction. When you add the weight of the fence itself in, these systems can add between about 35 and 75 pounds to your saw.
If you have a cabinet saw that never moves, this probably doesn’t matter much. Just make sure you have enough support under the rails, and you can make them as long as you want.
But many of us have smaller shops, and need to move our equipment around. Make sure the added weight doesn’t make your contractor table saw too “tippy”. You’ll need to figure out a way to support the rails but still allow for moving the saw.
I think almost anyone would be happy with the Shop Fox W2005 Fence with Standard Rails. But every product has its advantages and disadvantages. I hope I’ve given you all the information you need to choose the table saw fence that’s right for you!