I have never been a fan of table saw sleds. I prefer using a miter gauge for cross cutting on the table saw. I have two new tools in my shop I want to tell you about. They are miter gauge jigs that allow you to quickly and easily set your miter gauge to the desired angle. I could have really used these over the past 30 years of my professional woodworking career. It would have saved me hundreds of hours over the years while increasing my miter gauge setting accuracy. I now consider these MiterSet jigs as indispensable as my precision squares and other measuring tools.
Even as an experienced woodworker, it always took time to set my miter gauge precisely, often having to make micro adjustments based on test cuts. With these MicroSet jigs now changing angles on the miter gauge is no longer a source of frustration.
There are two designs, the MiterSet Standard and the Miterset Segments. MiterSet Standard is for setting any angle between 0° and 52.5° in .5° increments. The MiterSet Segements is for setting the miter gauge to cut perfect segmented rings with any number of segments between 4 to 20 pieces. Fast, easy and glue up ready.
“The MiterSet miter gauge jigs have made a huge difference in my shop. Now it’s really no big deal to change my miter gauge angles, it’s takes just a couple minutes and I get perfect miters every time!”
If you cut compound angles on the table saw, make frames or cut segments for lathe work, these miter gauge jigs are a must have tool.
We have an affiliate relationship with MiterSet Tools, so if you decide to buy, we would appreciate if you would click though our store. PLEASE NOTE: We only sell and have links in our store to items that I use in my own shop and highly recommend. Thanks! ~ Allan Little, AskWoodMan
TIP: I like using a space bar with my MiterSet jigs. I don’t want there to be any chance that the steel pins might make an indentation in my wood and possibly affect the accuracy of my angles.
Watch my MiterSet Video Series below or on YouTube. (5 short videos)
NOTE: You will notice in the my videos that my miter bar fits a little tight in both MiterSet jigs. The reason is because my miter gauge track has had so much use and wear over the years that I had to expand my miter bar slightly for a better fit.
A Micro-Adjusting / Repositioner that will work with any Biesemeyer style table saw fence.
Enough with the bumping already!
Since I’ve been a woodworker, positioning the table saw fence by bumping it to location was always trial and error. Like most woodworkers I enjoy precision and efficiency in my tools whenever possible.
I’ve been thinking about a micro adjuster for the VerySuperCcool Tools T-square fence system for a while. I’ve built several different prototypes but the each had limitations as they didn’t allow for easy repositioning. This fence accessory can work not only with the VSC Tools fence but with any table saw fence that is built along the lines of a Biesemeyer table saw fence/guide rail.
Below is a slideshow showing the fabrication of my latest prototype. I’m very happy with it, but plan to use it for a few months to see if I can improve it. So even though this will likely not be the final version, I wanted to show the process of product development. There are two videos on YouTube as well as the photos used in the slideshow which can also be found on our Flickr page.
(Click on any image with open up in Flickr for a closer view. Hover over the image and click the right arrow to go through the slide show.)
Q: What lengths of steel do I need for my guide rail build to achieve my desired rip capacity?
I’m getting ready to buy my steel for making my own guide rails and I’m also in the middle of making an extension table at the same time. How do I make sure I don’t buy too much or not enough steel? And, do you have any tips for buying steel?
~ Adam A.
A: After you have determined your desired rip capacity, use the diagram below to calculate your angle iron and tubing lengths.
It’s easy to figure out how much steel to buy. You just need a few calculations. It’s always better if you can visualize what you are doing, that’s why I made the diagram below. You can click on the button or click on the diagram itself to download the pdf.
Rip Capacity = Distance from the table saw blade to edge of extension table minus aluminum extrusion width. (Our extrusions are 1 9/16″ or 40mm)
Tubing Length = Angle iron length + 5” left overhang and 7” right overhang.
Regarding buying your steel, many steel places will sell you drops, you just need to ask them. Where I frequently buy steel they have what they call a “Drop Zone” where odds and ends are available. But I think buying full length pieces is always the most cost effective way to buy steel. You may end up with extra, but if you’re like me, you can always find a use for pieces steel. And if not, just watch my Welding for Woodworkers series on YouTube, and you will quickly find some other uses for steel in your shop too.
A good customer and friend of mine, Tony, has completed his sliding table saw/work station. I’m a little jealous (who wouldn't be?), but mostly I’m excited for him and all the possibilities this set up will allow him to do. There will be a detailed video series covering many aspects of this build, but for now I want to share a few photos.
Tony started with the G0623 X 10" sliding table saw from Grizzly.
He said the fence was a bit of a nightmare to set up and cut accurately. That’s how we met. He called to talk with us about the Euro-Adjustable T-square fence system. I consulted with him about his build and we discussed all his options, including making his own heavy duty guide rails following our free DIY Guide Rail plans.
Many people use our fence system for both their table saws and their router tables. But Tony decided he wanted the efficiency of having a dedicated router table fence. Tony has two VerySuperCool Tools fences; the Euro-Adjustable fence system for his sliding table saw, and the Standard T-square for his router table fence.
I think one of the coolest things about this set up is the venturi style dust collection / down draft system connected below his router table. The router table has a multi-function table top as well, so whether you are using the router or not, the the dust collection works great! If you saw my Table Saw Work Station series, you saw the me design and install in my own shop.
More photos and videos to come. And if you are on Facebook, please stop by, like our pages and share you thoughts. We usually have different content from our website on the AskWoodMan Facebook page and the VerySuperCool Tools Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned! ~ Allan Little, AskWoodMan
The first step in making your own table saw guide rail is to measure the table and extension table. Angle iron is almost always shorter than tubing in guide rail design builds. The angle iron is generally cut to the exact length of the cast iron saw plus the extension table. The rectangular tubing will over hang on each end; up to 6 inches total overhang on short guide rails and up to a foot total on longer guide rails e.g. 7" right 5" left.
NOTE: If you still aren't sure about your specific guide rail requirements, watch AskWoodMan's short video: How To Determine Your Guide Rails Specs.
STEP 2: GET YOUR STEEL
Get your 3x3x1/4" angle iron and 3x2" 11 gauge tubing.
NOTE: If you buy full lengths of steel you can often get a much better price. But if you don't have a good way to transport long lengths and/or cut your steel, go ahead and let them cut it to your exact measurements. (fig.2a, 2b)
STEP 3: CUT STEEL TO LENGTH
If the steel supplier didn’t cut your steel to length, you will need to cut it yourself before you begin. Common cutting options for steel are a Portaband, angle grinder with cut off wheel, or sawzall with bimetal blade. Metal cutting chop saws will also work. (fig.3a, 3b, 3c, 3d)
STEP 4: CLEAN STEEL
Remove rust and scale with 3M Scotchbrite abrasive disc mounted on an angle grinder.
NOTE: Cleaning the steel needs to be done if you plan on priming and painting yourself. Cleaning the steel at the beginning of the project makes the whole fabrication process less dirty and grimy. If you plan to have the guide rail professionally powder coated, don’t waste your time cleaning because they will sandblast the steel to bare metal. (fig.4a)
Cleaning steel (fig.4a)
STEP 5: EXAMINE TUBING
Examine your tubing in relation to the angle iron. Look for the interior weld bead. You’ll want to make sure that the weld bead is down and away from where the bolts will be connecting the angle iron to the tubing. The reason you want the bead on the bottom of the tubing is because sometimes there will be a slight distortion near the weld and you want the perfectly smooth surface on the top of your tubing guide rail. (fig.5a)
Find the weld bead and avoid (fig.5a)
STEP 6: PARALLEL SPACING SET UP
Get your parallel spacing set up ready. You can use a long 3/4” bar or blocks for parallel spacing and blocks or dowels will work for lifts. You could have more than 3/4" gap if necessary, but not less. 3/4" is the absolute minimum spacing you need to have and it but be perfectly parallel.
NOTE: I used a long aluminum bar and old paint brush handles to act as a bar lift. It's important to lift the parallel spacer a little bit so that the inside radius of the angle iron does not interfere with spacer alignment. (fig.6a, 6b, 6c)
Parallel Spacing Set-up (fig.6a)
Parallel Spacing Set-up (fig.6b)
Parallel Spacing Set-up (fig.6c)
STEP 7: MARK BOLT LINE ON BOTH
With your parallel spacer in place, mark the bolt line on one end of the tubing and bottom of the angle iron. Exact position isn't critical for this, it doesn't need to be centered, just pick a location that looks good and avoid the weld bead. This is your first reference for bolt placement. Each bolt location will be marked with intersecting lines in step 9 for exact drilling. (fig.7a, 7b, 7c)
With parallel spacing in place, mark bolt center line on angle iron (fig.7a)
Marking bolt center line on tubing / angle iron (fig.7b)
Step 7 complete, both iron and tubing marked (fig.7c)
STEP 8: DRAW ANGLE IRON HOLE SPACING LINES
Lay out the hole location along the bolt line on the angle iron using a ruler or tape. Start by marking lines 1" in from each end. Then equal spacing between the 1” inset lines, not to exceed 10 inches apart. When you are done you'll have several lines perpendicular to the length of the angle iron.
NOTE: I mark the interior spacing locations with a scribed V and then come back in and draw a generous line through the point of the V with my combination square. (fig.8a, 8b, 8c, 8d, 8e)
Using a scribe to mark 1 inch inset on angle iron (fig.8a)
Pointing to inset scribe mark on angle iron (fig.8b)
Marking a V at the second bolt hole location on angle iron (fig.8c)
Close up of scribed V pointing to the exact bolt location (fig.8d)
Drawing a line through the V with your scribe (fig.8e)
STEP 9: MAKE EXACT DRILL MARKS ON ANGLE IRON
Use a combination square and a scribe to mark your exact bolt locations. Make a scribe mark parallel to the length of the angle iron at each one of your marked drill locations. These intersecting lines (cross marks) on angle iron will be center punched for drill location. (fig.9a, 9b, 9c)
Scribing intersection line, parallel to angle iron length (fig.9a)
Marking complete, pointing to exact bolt location (fig.9b)
Using a center punch to make a mark for the drill bit to start (fig.9c)
It's easy to make your own table saw guide rails, all you need is a little direction and a few crucial measurements.
STEP 10: DRILL FIRST HOLE SIZE ON ANGLE IRON
Using the drill press, drill these marked locations in the angle iron with a #7 twist drill bit. Drill all the way through.
NOTE: A 13/64” will also work if a #7 is not available. (fig.10a)
Drilling holes all the way through with a #7 twist drill bit (fig.10a)
STEP 11: CLAMP TUBING TO ANGLE IRON
Clamp the tubing to the angle iron with your parallel spacing in place using your four clamps. This is where you decide the exact tubing overhang you want at either end. Be sure your 3/4” parallel spacer is properly in position with no interference.
NOTE: First you will clamp in final position (fig.11a) and then flip the clamped assembly upside down (fig.11b) in preparation for using the #7 drill bit to mark tap holes.
Flip clamped unit upside down to mark drill locations in tubing through angle iron holes (fig.11b)
With parallel spacing in place, clamp angle iron to tubing and determine overhang (fig.11a)
STEP 12: DRILL MARKS ON TUBING
Put the #7 drill bit in a hand held drill and use the already drilled holes in the angle iron as your template. Drill through the holes in the angle iron and mark on the tubing. You don’t need to drill all the way through the tubing. You are just making drill location marks. (fig.12a)
Drilling through the holes in the angle iron to mark drill tap locations on tubing (fig.12a)
STEP 13: UNCLAMP AND DRILL HOLES IN TUBING
Take the clamps off and take the tubing to the drill press. Drill through the tubing with the #7 drill bit on the drill marks. This is when you drill all the way through the marked side of the tubing. (fig.13a, 13b)
Unclamp tubing from angle iron (fig.13a)
Drill holes through marked location on tubing with #7 drill bit (fig.13b)
STEP 14: TAP HOLES IN TUBING
Now tap these #7 holes in the tubing with a 1/4” 20TPI tap. There are a variety of tools and methods to drive a tap. (fig.14a, 14b, 14c)
Tap wrench, ratcheting tap wrench, spring loaded tapping center and vise grips (14a)
Using a hand tapping machine to tap holes in tubing (fig.14b)
Close up view of tapping holes with hand tapping machine (14c)
STEP 15: DRILL HOLES IN ANGLE IRON
Drill out the #7 holes in the angle iron to 5/16” on the drill press. (fig.15a, 15b)
Pointing to #7 holes in angle iron (fig.15a)
Drilling out holes in angle iron to 5/16" with drill press (fig.15b)
STEP 16: BOLT ANGLE IRON TO TUBING
Attach your angle iron to the tubing with your 1/4” 20TPI bolts. Check that the holes in the angle iron align to the tapped holes in the tubing.
NOTE: It's not necessary to have your spacers in place as you already have your drill marks, but I leave mine. (fig.16a)
Bolt angle iron to rectangular tubing, check alignment fig.16a)
STEP 17: CHECK SPACING
Now double check your spacing using your 3/4” parallel spacing set up. You should have just enough play (lateral adjustment) in both directions to comfortably tighten the tubing in position with the 3/4" spacer in place. (fig.17a)
Checking your parallel spacing between angle iron and tubing (fig.17a)
STEP 18: DETERMINE CONNECTION LOCATION
Determine the connection locations on the table saw, bandsaw, or router table for the angle iron. (fig.18a)
Find and mark guide rail connection holes on your table (fig.18a)
STEP 19: DRILL HOLES INTO TABLE
Drill connection holes if necessary.
NOTE: You many already have holes in your table that you can use. (fig.19a)
Check for existing holes in table saw that you can use (fig.19a)
Making a solid table saw guide rail is the first thing to consider when looking to upgrade your saw.
STEP 20: CLAMP GUIDE RAIL TO TABLE
To hang the guide rail accurately in position you'll need your step-down spacing set up. Two Milled, flat and straight, stout long boards and two small 13/16" milled spacers. Cantilever the boards off the edge of the saw or table with clamps to hang the guide rail unit exactly 13/16” below the top of the table.
NOTE: This is the Biesmeyer standard step-down measurement. It must be exact. (fig.20a, 20b)
Angle iron and tubing clamped and hanging in place on table (fig.20a)
Close up, step down spacing to Biesemeyer guide rail specifications (fig.20b)
STEP 21: MARK HOLE LOCATIONS ON ANGLE IRON FROM TABLE
Use a drill bit the size of the connection holes, and a hand drill, transfer punch or a scribe to mark these hole locations on the back side of the angle iron. (fig.21a, 21b)
Marking from the back side through the table to the angle iron marking drill locations (fig.21a)
Holding the transfer punch used to mark hole locations (fig.21b)
STEP 22: UNCLAMP AND UNBOLT ALL
Unclamp guide rail from table. Then unbolt the tubing from the angle iron so that you can drill your holes. (fig.22a)
Unbolted angle iron with hole marks before drilling (fig.22a)
STEP 23: STEP DRILL HOLES IN ANGLE IRON
Take angle iron to the drill press and drill holes in the marked locations to 5/16”. It’s important to step drill (use two different sized bits). For the first hole drilling you will use a smaller bit (the same bit you used to make your drill marks). The second bit you use will be to size, 5/16". FIRST DRILLING STEP: The angle iron is positioned upside down as you are drilling out the holes located on the back side. SECOND DRILLING STEP: You will flip the angle iron over because that's the side you will be countersinking. (fig.23a, 23b)
Drill holes on the back side of the angle iron with small bit (fig.23a)
Flip the angle iron and drill out holes again with 5/16" bit (fig.23b)
STEP 24: COUNTERSINK ANGLE IRON
Still at the drill press, you now take an 82 degree 3/4” diameter countersink and countersink the inside of the angle iron at these 5/16” hole locations to the proper depth (slightly below flush for the 5/16” flat head grade 8 bolts).
NOTE: I recommend clamping the angle iron while countersinking to stop bit chatter. (fig.24a)
Countersinking 3/4" diameter into angle iron at drill press (fig.24a)
STEP 25: HAND DRILL TABLE HOLES
Drill out connection holes in saw or table to 11/32”. (fig.25a)
Opening up connection holes to 11/32" using a square piece of wood for accuracy (fig.25a)
STEP 26: SLIDE BOLTS IN ANGLE IRON
First put all of your bolts through the holes of the angle iron. Then on to step 27. (no image)
STEP 27: BOLT ANGLE IRON TO SAW
Now connect the angle iron to the saw or table with your 5/16” flat head bolts. You may need to do additional drilling to the table holes to open them up a bit ( not the angle iron, leave those holes alone! )
NOTE: This is just a test for alignment so don’t tighten too much when attaching. (fig.27a, 27b, 27c)
Bolting angle iron to the table for the first time (fig.27a)
Close up of countersink bolt in angle iron (fig.27b)
Bolts in angle iron are lightly tighten before attaching tubing (fig.27c)
STEP 28: BOLT TUBING TO ANGLE IRON
With your angle iron in place, use both of your spacing set ups; 3/4” parallel spacing bar w/lifts and 13/16" step-down blocks to position your tubing. When you are sure of position, bolt your tubing in place. (fig.28a)
Bolting tubing to angle iron with both spacing set ups in place (fig.28a)
STEP 29: TIGHTEN AND CHECK FIT
Now tighten connection bolts securely through angle iron and table and double check for final fit. Make sure both your parallel gap and your step-down spacing are accurate. (fig.29a)
Cross section drawing of Biesemeyer style guide rail (fig.29a)
"Whether you have a new saw or an older model, many times the only thing keeping your saw from being a great saw is a proper table saw guide rail."
STEP 30: MARK MITER CUT OUTS
If fit is correct, mark miter slot cut out location. (fig.30a, 30b)
Miter slot positioning and layout for router table (fig.30a)
Marking where to notch out the miter slot in angle iron (fig.30b)
STEP 31: UNBOLT EVERYTHING!
Unbolt the angle iron from the table and the tubing from the angle iron. (no image)
STEP 32: CUT MITER SLOT
Cut out notch in top of angle iron for miter slot. I drill a perforated pattern with my drill press to define the edge boundaries, then use the jig saw and a bimetal jig saw blade to complete the notch. (fig.32a, 32b, 32c)
Drilling holes (perforations) in miter slot marked area (fig.32a)
Cutting out to scribed line with jig saw with bimetal blade(fig.32b)
Rough cut out of miter slot before filing and sanding (fig.32c)
STEP 33: SOFTEN EDGES
Use a file on the miter notch edges and then soften with course scrap sandpaper. Sharp edges are harder to paint. (fig.33a)
VSM 80 grit sandpaper, files for softening miter slot (fig.33a)
STEP 34: CLEAN WITH MINERAL SPIRITS
Clean angle iron and tubing with mineral spirits and a green Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty scouring pad. Wipe with clean rag before priming. (fig.34a)
Green scour pad and a can of paint thinner (fig.34a)
STEP 35: PRIME
Prime with high quality metal primer. I like Sherwin Williams Kem Kromik. (fig.35a, 35b, 35c)
Rollers, rags and Sherwin Williams primer. (fig.35a)
Primed rectangular tubing for guide rail (fig.36b)
Primed angle iron for guide rail (fig.35c)
STEP 36: PAINT
Paint with high quality paint. I like Sherwin Williams Sher kem. They have some great bright colors. (fig.36a, 36b, 36c)
Painting the rectangular tubing blue with a foam roller (fig.36a)
Guide rail tubing painted with blue Sherwin Williams paint (fig.36b)
Guide rail angle iron painted with green Sherwin Williams paint (fig.36c)
STEP 37: CLEAN PAINT FROM THREADS
Use the 1/4" 20 TPI tap in a cordless drill to clean paint from threads. (fig.37a, 37b)
Close up: cleaning out paint from thread using drill (fig.37a)
Using hand drill with 1/4 20 TPI tap to clear holes of excess paint (fig.37b)
STEP 38: BOLT ANGLE IRON TO SAW – ( Not Too Tight! )
Bolt the angle iron alone to table saw. It needs to be secure but a little loose. You will be making some micro adjustments in the last step. (fig.38a)
Final attachment of the angle iron to the table, don't fully tighten yet (fig.38a)
STEP 39: BOLT TUBING TO ANGLE IRON – ( Tight! )
Bolt the tubing to the angle iron for the last time, using your parallel spacing set up. (Step-down spacers not needed yet.) Do your final tightening now!
NOTE: Very important to do this step BEFORE final tightening of the angle iron to the table because you will need to remove your parallel spacing setup. (fig.39a)
The final bolting of the tubing to the angle iron (fig.39b)
STEP 40: FINAL ANGLE IRON PLACEMENT – ( Tight! )
Get your step down spacing set up in place; Four clamps, two long boards and two small 13/16" blocks. Position the angle iron and tubing unit into final position using your clamps. When final position is achieved, do your final tightening of the angle iron to table.
NOTE: Parallel spacing bar is removed for your final tightening so you can easily check the bolts and make sure they aren’t spinning. (fig.40a)
FINISHING TOUCHES: Congrats you are done! All you need to do now is to attach the tape measure to the tubing! (video below)
Final install of table saw guide rails (fig.40a)
How To Make Your Own Guide Rails
Below is the companion video playlist for this 40 step blog post.
How To Accurately Attach Your Tape Measure
The adhesive is permanent. You only get once chance to get it in place perfectly.
I have made several sets of guide rail for myself and others. Below are the three guide rail setups currently in my shop. I don't have the router table finished, but I have the rails made.
Allan Little (AskWoodMan) with his table saw with shop made guide rails.
Table saw with VerySuperCool Tools t-square with aluminum extrusion fence.
Allan Little at his router table (router not dropped in yet) with shop made guide rails.
Router table with VerySuperCool Tools t-square with aluminum extrusion fence.
Allan Little (AskWoodMan) at his bandsaw with shop made guide rails.
Bandsaw table with VerySuperCool Tools t-square with aluminum extrusion fence.
Q: What is the correct guide rail spacing for my Biesemeyer style fence?
"I'm making my own guide rails, how do I make sure I get the gap just right between my tubing and my angle iron?"
A: You need a minimum of 3/4" parallel spacing, perfectly even, the entire length of your tubing.
"The key to achieving the correct guide rail spacing for the parallel gap on your Biesemeyer style fence is to make sure you you have a minimum of 3/4" , perfectly even, the length of the angle iron. I've made several guide rails and I like to use a long aluminum bar for my 3/4" spacer. If you don't have a 3/4" bar handy, you can make one out of wood.
You'll also need spacers to use as lifts. These lift spacers will ensure that the radius inside corner of the angle iron doesn't interfere with this crucial spacing requirement. I used old wooden handles from foam brushes (dowels) for my lifts.
And yes you can have your parallel gap more than 3/4" but I don't know why you would want to. I like to have plenty of angle iron under my tubing, and 3/4" is the perfect spacing. You just need to make sure that you have a FULL 3/4" for the entire length of the angle iron." ~ Allan Little
You'll note in the diy guide rail detailed steps blog post (40 steps in all) that there are four different times where you will be using your parallel spacing set-up.
STEP 7) To mark the bolt line (no clamping)
STEP 11/12) When you have the angle iron and tubing clamped together and mark through the holes in the angle iron with #7 drill bit onto the tubing
STEP 16) When you first bolt the tubing to the angle iron for initial alignment (not attached to table yet)
STEP 38/39) During final installation to the table.
For this guide rail spacing set up you'll need these items:
4 clamps (Any clamps will do.
The clamps pictured are my Bessey Rapid Action LC 8's)
1 bar or a few blocks.
2 wood spacers to use as lifts
You've heard me say more than once in my videos, making your own guide rails is easy.
With a little direction and guidance, anyone can make and attach their own guide rails to a table saw or band saw and enjoy a major upgrade.
You don't need to be a welder or a machinist or even an experienced woodworker to make your own guide rails, you just need a few basic tools.
Not only have I made several guide rails for myself and others, I have helped hundreds of people with their guide rail projects as well. I like helping people improve their machines, their productivity, and become happier woodworkers. In fact, quite a few people at this point consider me their Personal Guide Rail Consultant. ;)
Below is a simple checklist I compiled detailing all of the tools and materials you will need if you decide to make your own guide rails.
AskWoodMan's DIY Guide Rails Checklist
Angle iron, 3"x3"x1/4” – Length should match the length of your table saw plus extension table.(NOTE: Many commercial guide rails are made using 3"x2" angle iron, but it’s much nicer to have a 3 inch ledge for more room and a more secure fit.)
Rectangular tubing, 3” x 2” 11 gauge – Length should be slightly longer than your angle iron, 6 – 12 inches longer works fine. For example the tubing for my table saw guide rails is 7 feet long and the angle iron measures 6 feet 4 inches.
NOTE: Many commercial guide rails are made with only 1/16” wall thickness. We like 11 gauge (a fraction under 1/8” or .12 inches) for added rigidity but also because it give you a better thread connection (thickness) for your tapped holes coming in from the bottom.
Bolts washers, and lock washers – To attach the tubing to the angle iron I used 1/4″-20TPI, grade 8, cap head screws, 3/4″ long, each with washer and lock washer.
NOTE: Hex bolts would work just as well. How many you need with depend on your spacing. For my project I ended up using 9 bolts.
Bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts – To attach the angle iron to the saw I used 5/16″ counter sunk, grade 8, 1.25″ long flat head, allen key bolts. You will also need washers, lock washers and nuts for each. (You could also use 1/4” bolts.) - How many you need will depend on your table saw and your access around the cast iron webbing.
High quality primer and paint – Use quality primer and paint if you aren’t sending your steel out to get powder coated. In my AskWoodMan video series I used Sherman Williams Kem Kromik Unversal Metal Primer and Sherman Williams Sher-Kem Alkyd Enamel Paint.
Adhesive backed measuring tape – We sell a high quality Starrett SAE/Metric measuring tape, left to right, 6 foot with self-adhesive. There is also a short video showing how to easily apply the tape to the tubing to make sure it's in perfect position.
Spacers – You'll need spacers for two different spacing set ups. For the parallel spacing set-up you'll need a 3/4" or thicker parallel bar (or blocks), and a couple more spacers for lift. For the step-down spacing set up you'll need two long, flat, straight, milled boards (36 -48" in length) and two small blocks of wood exactly 13/16" in height.
Drill bits - A #7 and a 5/16" – If you don't have a #7, you can use also use a 13/64" drill bit. (#7 = .201 inches vs. 13/64" = .203 inches)
1/4” 20TPI tap – I like HSS (high speed steel) vs carbon steel. They cost a little more but they cut better, they last longer and are much less prone to breaking.
Countersink (U.S.) – I like to use a 3/4" diameter single flute HSS 82 degree countersink with 1/2" shank.
Tap – For tapping you can use a spring loaded tapping center, tap wrench, manual hand tapper or even a pair of vise grips.
Angle grinder – This is used for descaling, deburring, cleaning and softening the sharp edges of the metal. It can also be used for cutting the angle iron and tubing to length with a cutoff wheel.
Clamps – You'll need an assortment of clamps for your two crucial spacing set ups. Clamps will hold the angle iron and tubing in proper relation while you mark for position. (I think Bessey Rapid action clamps are the best!) Visit our companion blog article for more info and pictures.
Jigsaw / Hacksaw – For cutting our your miter notch.
Sandpaper / Files – For smoothing and softening the miter notch sharp edges.
Painting Supplies – I use a synthetic nap roller to apply the primer and a foam roller to apply the enamel.
Why not make your own guide rail for your table saw, band saw or router table?
A guide rail is made up of two basic components: 1) a piece of angle iron 2) a piece of rectangular tubing
Making your own guide rails is composed of making two attachments: 1) attaching the tubing to the angle iron 2) attaching the angle iron to a table
A simplified overview for making your own guide rail system is composed of these seven steps: 1) buying the steel, 2) prepping the steel 3) making various holes in tubing and angle iron 4) attaching tubing to angle iron 5) attaching angle iron to table saw 6) disassembling for priming and painting 7) reattach guide rail for final placement on table saw
BUYING THE STEEL
You don't need to be a welder to make your own guide rails, you just need to buy some steel. If you take your measurements before you buy your steel you can often get the pieces cut to the exact size you need at your steel supplier. If you have a way to transport and cut the steel, get full length pieces for a better price.
PREPPING THE STEEL
Steel is usually greasy and grimy and often has scale and/or rust when you buy it. There are two reasons you might want to clean your steel before you begin. 1) If you are going to paint your steel yourself, you'll have to clean it before priming, so you might as well do it now. 2. If you want to your hands and everything you touch to be less grimy throughout your project.
• If you are going to pay to have your guide rail powder coated at the end of your build, and you don't mind the extra grease and grime, don't bother cleaning. The powder coaters will sandblast before they begin.
• If you are going to paint the steel yourself, the old school way to clean and prep steel is to use a knotted wire wheel and an angle grinder to knock off scale. This will work, but it's time consuming and not easy. If you use the purple 3M Scotchbrite CX-DN deburring discs (4 1/2 in diameter), as seen in the photos and videos, they clean ten times faster than a knotted wheel. While they aren't cheap, they are a great value. Not to mention that knotted wire wheels are much more dangerous and grabby. They buck the grinder and can jack up your wrists if you aren't careful.
HOLE DRILLING TECHNIQUES
You'll be using 3 operations for making the holes for your guide rail.
Drilling into the bottom (horizontal portion) of the angle iron that attaches to the tubing.
Drilling and tapping into the bottom of the tubing where it attaches to the angle iron
Drilling and countersinking into the side (vertical portion) of the angle iron where it attaches to the table saw. (If you don't have a countersink, hex bolts will work just fine but you parallel spacing will have to be adjusted.)
How many holes you need to drill, tap and countersink depends on the length of your guide rail set up. Here is a tap drill chart for reference.
ATTACHING THE TUBING TO THE ANGLE IRON
To attach the tubing to the angle iron I used 1/4″-20TPI, grade 8, cap head screws, 3/4″ long. NOTE: Hex bolts will work too.
Drill and Tap holes using a 1/4” 20TPI tap
You first hole will be 1 inch in at both ends of the angle iron. And then equal spacing between those holes if possible with the spacing not to exceed 10 inches apart. If the spacing doesn't add up nicely, add an extra bolt if you have to.
PARALLEL SPACING SET UP: To get the correct position of the tubing to the angle iron you will use a long bar or blocks for parallel spacers along the length, as well as some blocks to use as lifts to make sure you are up and away from the corner of the angle iron. The spacing you will need will depend on whether you countersink or use hex bolts. Either way you need to have a full 3/4” of clearance spanning the entire length of your tubing.
ATTACHING THE ANGLE IRON TO THE TABLE SAW
To attach the angle iron to the saw I used 5/16″ countersunk, grade 8 bolts, 1 1/4″ long with washers, lock washers and nuts. NOTE: Hex bolts would work also, but you will need to adjust your parallel spacing.
Make countersink holes in your angle iron to attach to your table saw and extension table. If you don't have a countersink you can hex bolts just as easily.
Spacing is not a concern when attaching the angle iron to the table. The more important concern is finding solid connection points. Some tables may be so narrow that you can only have two bolts connecting and others may have up to four.
• There many different types of table saws. How your cast iron table was made (cast iron webbing configuration ) will determine how much access you have to drill and bolt.
STEP-DOWN SPACING SET UP: To get the correct position of the angle iron to the table you will need two flat, straight, milled boards (36" - 48" in length) four clamps and 2 small spacers. This will ensure that you get the exact step down measurements as required for all Biesemeyer style guide rails. Make sure the two small spacing blocks are exactly 13/16th in height so when you clamp in place your positioning will be perfect.
PRIMING AND PAINTING
Two options: Pay to have your guide rail powder coated or do it yourself using high quality primer and paint.
FINAL ATTACHMENT OF GUIDE RAIL TO TABLE SAW
After you clean out the paint from your holes you are ready for final attachment. All the work is done so installation is only 3 more steps.
1. Attach your angle iron to your saw securely, but still a little loose.
2. Attach your tubing to your angle iron, with your parallel spacing set up in place, tight! This is your final tightening of the tubing to angle iron.
3. Then use your step down spacing set up one last time and make the final micro adjustments to the angle iron placement. When you get it just right, do you final tightening of the angle iron to the table. You are done!
Q: How do I ensure perfect positioning during my guide rail installation?
"I made my own guide rails. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I have a question about my guide rail installation. How do I figure out exactly where to mark my drill holes? What is the best way to ensure that my guide rails are positioned perfectly?"
A: Here is a simple method that will give you hands-free access for easy drill hole marking.
I love helping people problem solve their guide rail fabrication. I get asked this specific guide rail installation question all the time. Here is a alternative technique to the one I showed in my DIY Guide Rail video series. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I've included two photos that I think say it all. (Click any photo to enlarge.) When you are ready to install your new guide rails, here is an easy way to get your angle iron and tubing positioned so your hands are free to mark exact drill hole location.
You will need these items:
2 pieces of stout straight wood. They should be long enough to span the depth of your table saw and guide rails.
2 wood spacers 13/16" high. I made mine out of Baltic birch plywood scrap. 13/16" X 3/4 X 3" (21mm X 18mm X 75mm)
The Step Down Spacing Set Up
This simple set up positions the tubing and angle iron in the proper location for permanent guide rail installation. The 13/16" (21mm) step down spacer is the exact dimension (as set by Biesemeyer) for installing Biesemeyer style guide rails. Clamping down these boards with pre-sized spacers holds the heavy angle iron and tubing securely. This allows you to work hands-free to mark your drill holes for perfect placement. Place the two boards as far apart as possible, but be sure to keep them on the cast iron (or granite ,or metal plate) portion of your table, for stability.
To attach the angle iron to the saw I used 5/16" counter sunk, grade 8 bolts, 1.1/4" long.
To attach the tubing to the angle iron I used 1/4"-20, grade 8, cap head screws, 3/4" long. NOTE: A hex bolt would work just as well.
Visit the VerySuperCool Tools Flickr album: Guide Rail Installation to see even more photographs.