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Table Saw Guide Rail Installation (Step-Down Spacing)

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.

AskWoodMan's guide rail installation tip
Close up of guide rail installation clamping technique.

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:

  • 4 clamps (Any clamps will do. The clamps pictured are my Bessey Rapid Action LC 8’s)
  • 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.

 

AskWoodMan's Guide Rail Installation Set-Up.
AskWoodMan’s Guide Rail Installation Set-Up.

 

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Powermatic Table Saw Guide Rail Variation – A Simple Solution

Powermatic Table Saw

Our Standard T-Square works perfectly with any 2″ x 3″ Biesemeyer style guide rail system. However, sometimes steel tubing can be slightly oversized from the manufacturer. We have found that this is particularly common with guide rails that are provided on the Powermatic table saw. The oversized dimension is generally 1/16 inch over 3 inches making for a tight fit that requires a slight adjustment. The UHMW VerySuperCool Tools T-square glides are very thick and robust and allow for trimming to size for the perfect fit. This generally entails removing 1/32 inch on the spring steel glides and the flapper glide. This can easily be accomplished with a simple benchtop setup using a block plane and some scrap wood.

I the video below I show the method I use to accurately make this minor adjustment.

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“Ask The Steel Guy” Makes His Own Table Saw Fence Guide Rails

Last month Jerome Pfeifer purchased a VerySuperCool Tools Universal T-Square Table Saw Fence system for his two table saws. In his shop he has two different styles of table saws; a Unisaw and a contractor’s saw, but he wasn’t happy with either fence system. The fences were not interchangeable, and both guide rail systems were old and inaccurate.

Jerome knew he wanted to upgrade, but he hadn’t decide the best way to do it, until he saw our product.

I immediately saw the enormous potential with the VerySuperCool detachable t-square table saw fence system and realized it could do double duty and I could use the same fence on both of my table saws. ~ Jerome Pfeifer

Once Jerome had the T-Square and Aluminum Extrusion fence in his possession, he began to address his subpar guide rail situation.  Jerome didn’t have a Biesemeyer Fence to copy or refer to, but after we had a few conversations and shared some photos via email he had a clear picture of what he needed to do. In no time he knocked out a new guide rail system for both his Unisaw and his contractor’s saw using standard steel available from any steel supply source.

Lucky for us, Jerome decided to film the entire process since he just became AskTheSteelGuy on YouTube. This first video series about fabricating the guide rails for his two table saws is now available on his new YouTube channel.  All 5 videos are also posted below.

Jerome Pfeifer is a master welder and metal worker from Colorado. He has been welding since he was 13 years old. Years ago he was the foreman of a fabrication company that specialized in internal repairs on railroad cars for Coors Brewing Company. In addition he also taught welding classes at night for company employees in order to help others improve their skills. Today Jerome is a busy business man with many irons in the fire. He is still learning, still creating and still sharing his knowledge, and now, thanks to the internet, we can all benefit from his decades of experience.

AskTheSteelGuy knows just about everything there is to know about every type of welding and machining. He’s fabricated structural steel greenhouses, food grade stainless vessels, wrought iron furniture and everything in-between.

VerySuperCool Tools is very happy that Ask The Steel Guy generously documented his process and shared his knowledge for this very interesting table saw fence guide rail process.  Now everyone who is interested in upgrading their table saw can see that this is an accessible, rewarding and affordable project. I believe it cost him less than $100 to fabricate two guide rails.

Thank you Jerome! We’re so glad that you are enjoying your new VerySuperCool T-square and aluminum extrusion fence. And thanks again for the great shout to VerySuperCool Tools on your video series. We really appreciate it.

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If You Own A Biesemeyer Style Table Saw Fence You Can’t Afford Not To Have This Tool

Let me tell you about my VerySuperCool Table Saw Fence!

Last February, when I was watching AskWoodMan’s latest series “How to Make a Biesemeyer Table Saw Fence” and saw how he used an aluminum extrusion as a fence, I knew I had to have one.

I have been a woodworker and woodworking enthusiast for the past 26 years. I’ve watched countless hours of DIY and How To videos on YouTube. YouTube is such a great resource for new techniques and to see how other guys handle situations and scenarios that I may encounter.  I’m a fan of Marc Spagnuolo – The Wood WhispererMatthias Wandel, Steve Ramsey – Woodworking for Mere Mortals, and Allan Little – AskWoodMan.TV just to name a few. I have purchased plans, used ideas, and have been inspired to make projects from watching these guys. However, I had no idea a new table saw fence was about to change my entire workshop experience.

Aluminum Extrusion Table Saw Fence

I immediately saw huge potential for this unique & very versatile design.

This Biesemeyer table saw fence is a classic from the 1970's.

Inspired by the Beisemeyer design, which has been around since the early 70’s, Allan took it up a level. Now it is possible to own one table saw t-square and have multiple fences with various set ups attached. Allan and I have the same General 350 Table Saw, so I knew it would be a perfect fit. What I didn’t know were all the possibilities that would be opened up for me as a woodworker.

What I personally like the most about this aluminum extrusion table saw fence is how easy it is to attach jigs and fixtures. The extrusion thickness (Which is about 1/3 of the original Biesemeyer) is so much easier to work with. No more universal fence clamps. The slots provide all the connection points you need for accessories like feather boards, stops, tenon jigs and auxiliary fences.

Aluminum extrusion table saw fence in Jeff's shop.Guys I can’t tell you how much money and time I spent to get these jigs and fixtures to work on my Biesemeyer table saw fence. It is a great fence, don’t get me wrong, but this fence from VSC Tools brings together the best of both worlds. If you own a Biesemeyer style fence you can’t afford not to have this tool.

I’ve been using the VerySuperCool Universal T-Square Table Saw Fence System in my shop since March 15, 2012. It has changed the way I work and it WILL change the way you work too!