In April 2008 #168, Popular Woodworking Magazine Article Index

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Compact, simple to use, infinitely adjustable – and free.
By Robert W. Lang
Pages: 74-75

From the April 2008 issue #168
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Every time we bring a new band saw into our shop for testing, I make the same observation, which is actually a complaint. My co-workers know it by heart, and they know it is coming as the parts come out of the crate. “Why don’t they take the money that they put into this fancy fence and either increase the quality somewhere else on the machine, or lower the price?”

I learned about band saws before the era of tension-release levers and aluminum extrusions. Let me make it clear that I’m not just a cranky old curmudgeon. I’ve welcomed and adopted many innovations during the last 20 years, but I just don’t get band saw fences. Take back the bells and whistles please and give me a heavy old cast iron saw. I already have the fence; and if you have a straight piece of wood and a couple clamps, then so do you.

For most straight cuts at the band saw, any fence is a lot more trouble than it is worth. Unless you’re making a number of repeated, precise cuts, the time spent setting up a fence is time wasted, and the fence will likely be in the way when making other cuts.

If you’re making a number of rips, cutting joints or resawing, a fence makes sense, but a straight piece of wood clamped to the saw table will work as well or better than any commercial fence. The bonus is that it won’t cost you anything, and it won’t be in the way when you don’t need it.

From the April 2008 issue #168
Buy this issue now

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