The quality of the rip cut on your table saw is only as good as the fence that guides the wood through the blade. If the fence isn't square or if it moves, the wood can bind, leading to an inaccurate cut or dangerous kickback. A T-style fence, similar to the popular Biesemeyer fence, can be constructed out of square tubing, angle iron and a cam mechanism. This fence takes some effort to build, but the fence will stay square and solid, two hallmarks of a quality rip fence.
To construct a T-style homemade table saw fence, you'll need a section of rectangular tubing (2-by-3 inches) equal to the width of the saw table (side to side), as well as another section of the same material the same length as the length of the saw table (front to back). You'll also need two sections of 1.5-inch L-shaped angle iron cut to the width of the table saw and another 12-inch section of this angle iron. Finally, you'll need to build or purchase a cam assembly for locking down the fence, and two sections of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or other sheet stock. For tools, you'll need a welder, cutting torch or angle grinder, a power drill with drill bits, and some screws.
Mounting the Angle Iron
Begin by attaching one of the long pieces of angle iron to the front of the table saw with some flathead bolts. Countersink the screw holes in the angle iron so that the bolt heads don't protrude. The angle iron should be mounted parallel to the table so that the protruding part of the angle iron is below the mounted portion, two inches below the table top.
Second, mount the other angle iron on the back side of the saw table, but this time with the protrusion above the mounted portion of the angle iron.
Mount the Front Rail
The front rail, made from the long section of rectangular tubing, should be mounted onto the front angle iron, with a consistent 1/2-inch gap between the tubing and the mounted section of the front angle iron. You can weld or bolt the rail to the angle iron.
Construct the Fence
Position the short section of angle iron onto the 2-inch side of the remaining section of rectangular tubing, perpendicular to the long axis of the tubing. This angle iron should be mounted so that the open end of the L is flush with the end of the tube. Check to see that these two pieces are perfectly square to one another, and weld in place.
Attach the Cam
Place the T-style fence onto the table, so that the angle iron is riding in between the fence rail and the saw table. While standing in front of the saw, pull the fence toward you so that the angle iron of the fence is firmly against the rail. Mount your cam assembly onto the front of the fence so that locking the cam assembly in place will tighten the cam down onto the front of the rail and lock the rail in place.
Attach the Sacrificial Rails
Rip two sections of 3/4-inch thick MDF or other stable sheet stock into strips 3-inch wide by the length of the saw fence. Affix one MDF strip to each side of the saw fence with some countersunk, flathead screws. These rails will protect your table saw blade from damage should the fence come into contact with the saw blade.
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