Are you looking for a new miter saw fence to replace the old one? Maybe you are considering getting a miter saw fence system with extensions and stoppers.
Let me help you to choose the best one.
What is a Miter Saw Fence?
The miter saw fence is a solid flat surface which is the reference face against which you will butt the workpiece. It is a simple yet important part of the miter saw. A miter saw fence serves two important purposes: reference for cutting and safety.
The miter saw fence is a sturdy flat piece of material that is mounted on the saw table perpendicular to the blade. That means when the miter scale is set to 0, the miter saw makes a 90° crosscut on any workpiece that is held against the fence.
Normally the fences are made out of aluminum casting or cast iron. You can also make one is steel or even in wood and plywood.
Do I need a fence?
I think it goes without saying that saws are extremely useful tools. Could you imagine doing carpentry or woodworking jobs without the ability to cut large amounts of wood accurately? It would be difficult, to say the least. However, saws are simple yet very dangerous tools.
Saws are simple in the sense that they essentially just a spinning or reciprocating cutting blade. It is up to the user to either manually measure out what needs to be cut or install something that helps them make accurate cuts.
Likewise, saws are also very dangerous tools. One wrong slip of the hand and there could be disastrous results. Your workpiece can get damaged and you may get injured. That is where saw fences come in.
Fences are used on various of saws and they make it easier for you to both make accurate cuts and provide a measure of protection against injury. In this article, I will be focusing specifically on miter saw fences.
What is the purpose of a miter saw fence?
As I explained before, the fences on a miter saw serve two main purposes.
Firstly, they act as the reference surface to produce accurate cuts. A miter saw as the name indicates, is meant to make miter and bevel cuts. Miter cuts are angled cuts across the length of the wood and bevel cuts are along the thickness. Because of this, miter saws are essential for a number of intricate projects like furniture, decks, etc. So, being able to make accurate cuts with your miter saw is absolutely essential.
Without a reference surface, you will have no way for cutting angles on wood precisely. A fence helps make sure that you have pinpoint accuracy when using the miter saw. Many of the miter saw fences are engraved with distance scale. This helps you to set the cut length of the work-piece.
A miter saw fence can be fixed or removable. You can move the fence away from the blade or closer towards the blade and it will ensure that you get the desired width.
Another major purpose of a fence is to provide another layer of protection for the user. How does a miter saw fence do this exactly? Well, a lot of saw related injuries happen when a user’s hand slips. A major reason why your hand slips is because the material that you are cutting slips can inadvertently move. This is where the fence comes into play.
The fence supports whatever it is that you are cutting, ensuring that it stays firmly in place. A fence alone does not protect against accidents, but it does provide yet another strong layer of defense against injury (and when you are dealing with something as dangerous as saws, every possible precaution that you can take helps).
Types of Miter Saw Fences
What are the types of miter saw fences available and which one should I get?
DIY miter saw fence
The interesting thing about miter saw fences is that unlike many other power tool attachments, you can actually build your own. Let’s say, the fence that came along with your miter saw is bent and you are unable to straighten it. Instead of buying a new fence as a replacement, why not try a diy fence? If you search the internet you will find plenty of in-depth guides on how to build your own miter saw fence. Here is a good diy miter saw fence plain you can follow.
There are positives and negatives to building your own miter saw fence. On the positive side, it costs less, and it can be a fun project to attempt yourself. On the negative side, it takes a lot of time, effort, and technical knowledge to correctly build your own miter saw fence. Plus, the chances for error are high and you really don’t want your miter saw fence to fail in the middle of a work session.
Miter saw fence systems
Generally, most miter saw fence systems are roughly the same, and it really comes down to a mixture of personal preference and what sort of extra features you want. The only major decision that you will have to make is whether you want to go for a stationary fence system that you set up on a single miter saw or whether you want a portable fence system that can be taken from job site to job site. Obviously, the vast majority of people will not get much use out of a portable fence system, as they only work in a single area. Unless you are a professional who often travels to different job sites, I would recommend sticking with a regular fence system.
The working principle of the automatic miter saw fence is similar to the manual fence. But in this case, once you set-up the fence, you just need to enter the length of cut and it will feed automatically and start cutting. A fence system like the SawGear, even provides software that calculates the angles and positions. You will get excellent consistency and higher productivity.
Nonetheless, these automated fences are expensive. And most of the users do not need them since these automated fence systems are aimed to assist mass production.
Miter saw fence extensions
Extensions work as a sort of add-on for your regular miter saw fence. As the name indicates, they essentially extend the work area on your miter saw. With a regular miter saw, you might have issues accurately cutting larger pieces of wood because of the difficulty in maneuvering them. If you get extensions, then that is less of an issue. You can either buy extensions or again make them yourself. The same general principles apply to DIY extensions. They are less expensive but time-consuming and difficult to build.
Alternately you can build a miter saw stand with an extended fence.
If you own a miter saw, I would definitely recommend looking into getting a fence system and extensions. Both of these turn your standard miter saw, which is already very accurate and versatile, into an even more versatile and accurate cutting tool.
Frequently asked questions related to miter saw fences.
What is Kreg miter saw fence system?
The Kreg trak and stop system is an extension to your miter saw fence that would help you to precisely measure and cut using the scale and stoppers. It offers excellent repeatability. Here is a video explaining the system.