Making a short fence #2: Used it and have some thoughts

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 12-05-2007 05:50 AM 2090 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A good safety feature for your table saw. Questions at the end Part 2 of Making a short fence series no next part

Ok – I’ve made the short fence and have used it tonight to make my slats for my adirondack chairs. I have mixed feelings about the jig. In one sense it feels safe to use it. However, I can see that it has some potential dangers of its own.

When I use my original fence and a push stick, I follow through with the cut all the way past the blade and I push the board off the table top and lift my hand straight up in one smooth motion after the cut is finished.

I found that with the short fence that I would push the board through the cut and then give it a little push to the side toward the original fence and into the open space created by the fence. The idea of the short fence is to have that space to allow any board that is going to warp space to move without contacting the blade. And it does provide that space.

However, whether it is just sloppy technique on my part or just a function of the fence I found myself doing something that is actually kind of disturbing. I would push through the cut, push the board a little to the right and bring my hand and push stick back toward me. As I would come back I would actually come toward the blade——that’s not a good thing!

I corrected this in short order by reminding myself to push straight through the cut and off the table top. However, that little bit of wiggle room the short fence gives makes it easy to go to the right as opposed to going straight. I could speed up the cut and probably be ok – but I’m pretty comfortable with my feed rates that I have for the general cutting that I do.

Long and short. I really think the short fence has it’s place with wood that you know will be wonky and move after its cut. But for woods that I feel safe with – I think I’ll be leaving the short fence on the shelf. Of course, you really never know what piece of lumber is going to warp out on you or not, so this is a judgment call.

This has been a good exercise for me. I think that taking an idea and trying it out was both fun and informative. I learned a few things about making jigs, a little about different hardware that can be used and I tried something that not many in the U.S. have been talking about. So all in all it was a good thing.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

10 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5152 days

#1 posted 12-05-2007 06:51 AM

Thanks for keeping us informed. I am sure that like any tool it takes some getting used to.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4965 days

#2 posted 12-05-2007 03:49 PM


Interesting observations on this. I guess that because the Euro saws with these fences also have a good guard and riving knife system, there is less chance of doing what you alluded to. Of course if the guard is off it could still happen.

I have a WW friend that hit his index and middle fingers on a spinning blade doing what you described (i.e. coming back over the blade after a cut). Luckily for him he did not loose any digits. I’ve rigged my standard guard up on a parallelogram-type mechanism from the ceiling so that I can raise and lower it easily. As a result, I keep it over the saw blade almost always.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5015 days

#3 posted 12-05-2007 04:09 PM

Betsy, We all learned about these because you tried it for us. Thanks for the effort. I built a push stick that is tall enough that I can’t get my fingers close to the blade. It has a saw type handle that just won’t allow me to do anything very dumb, although I could find a way if anyone could. I got my thumb once on the blade of a turned off saw. They still cut even if they are turned off and spinning. I don’t need another lesson.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4948 days

#4 posted 12-05-2007 09:05 PM

Thanks guys. I need to get a new guard for my blade. My original one was demolished – long story – but it needs replaced.

Tom – I’m open to trying all kinds of new things, except food (steak and potato – nothing better), so when I see something like the short fence I want to give it a try and test it out. The forum just gives me a place to think it through. And that’s a good thing.

Opps – past lunch hour – gotta go!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5015 days

#5 posted 12-05-2007 11:39 PM

Yeah, what ever you do, don’t miss lunch. LOl

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5453 days

#6 posted 12-06-2007 02:08 AM

Thanks Betsy for the update.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5074 days

#7 posted 12-06-2007 04:33 AM

Hi Betsy eand all,
I just picked up a copy of Shopnotes vol 16 issue 96 for the article on the Table Saw Sliding Hold Down .
It is quite elablorate but seems to address several concerns such as accuracy of the cut and last but not least – safety.
Let’s say I am intrigued and may well build a prototype of my own after absorbing the article a couple of times.

Let’s all keep looking for solutions. It’s an ongoing task.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4948 days

#8 posted 12-06-2007 05:03 AM

Bob – I think that sounds like a good idea. I was looking over that article myself. But honestly, I think the jig may be over my head build wise. I’ll need to study it quite a lot to make myself confident enough to make it. It does seem to answer some problems though.

I am seriously hoping that I get a little something extra in my next paycheck, aka a bonus, since I’ve been looking at the gripper that you mentioned. That has me intrigued especially for all the small parts I make it looks very safe.

I really did enjoy making the short fence and it does have it’s place. But I think it’s limited.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View LJRay's profile


106 posts in 2557 days

#9 posted 08-29-2014 09:54 PM

Sorry for resurrecting an old discussion but I’m curious on your (or anyone elses) experience since then. I have an older Craftsman table saw that could use a new fence. I remembered reading an article in a magazine (quite a while ago) about short fences and their advantages and, naturally, looked up information on Lumberjocks which lead me here. At the moment I’m contemplating an aluminum extruded fence which can be ordered in (or cut to) different lengths.

-- Ray

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4948 days

#10 posted 08-30-2014 06:14 AM

Ray – I don’t use the short fence any longer. It was a good experiment but, while it might be good for limited times I think a well tuned factory fence is my preference.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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