Band Saw Resaw Fence

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Project by Richard posted 10-15-2020 07:33 PM 1286 views 4 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It started as a stopgap until I might buy a decent commercial fence, but this homemade resaw fence has turned out to be quite serviceable. When a 14 inch cast iron band saw came up on Craigslist for $75, I jumped in my truck and drove 2 hrs, made sure it ran and bought it. I wasn’t sure it was healthy enough to keep, and I needed to check how it well it worked. I plan to use it for resawing, so I needed a fence. This one started as a throwaway, but it quickly proved useful and I added a scale that makes it almost compare to a $150-200 manufactured fence. I might as well admit that I’m an engineer, paid to create solutions to problems that stump other people, and there is no explaining my creative thought process.

Expecting alignment to be necessary (it turns out not, at least so far the saw cuts perfectly in line with the table) I knew a fence would need some way to pivot and then be locked at that angle. My mental inventory of all the odds and ends sitting in various boxes and bins immediately came into play, and I thought to use a turnbuckle as a continuous adjustment means. This required a pivot to work against.

Again, there is no explaining how this came to mind (but as there is nothing new under the sun, probably I saw something like it in the past). I conceived a length of dowel as the pivot. To mate to it, the fixed vertical of the “base” and the matching vertical surface of the fence board can be clamped together and drilled at the diameter of the dowel. To allow some slack for pivoting, I put a thin veneer sheet – maybe 3/32” – between the two and aimed to center the hole right through the veneer. Lacking a drill press, I clamp the work firmly, and sight with a combination square to keep the drill as close to vertical as possible. This worked, to my surprise, and when I removed the veneer and added the dowel, the two parts pivoted nicely over a narrow range.

I spanned the turnbuckle from the back side of the fence to the base with screw eyes. To oppose it, I used two long deck screws through the fence into the base on the near side of the dowel. (A different screw head and washer might reduce tearing if the adjustment needs to be changed more than a few times.) It was easy to square this and get reasonable tension on the screws vs. the turnbuckle. I now think perhaps just two sets of opposing screws might have worked just as well.

The runner for this is just a 1.5×1.5 board with countersunk bolts going into the threaded holes on the table. An L-shaped piece that I cut on the table saw is the base that slides along this is, with a 1.5×5” vertical screwed to it as the fixed side of the hinge. I use a clamp to fix the fence position along the slide.

In practice this was the best resaw fence I’ve experienced (FWIW, since I never used one before, haha) but once I made a real cut with it, I knew that I really wanted a scale. Any ruler could provide the scale markings. I took one from my favorite easy-to-read Empire 6 inch combination square, cut a groove in the base board and slipped it in. A 1/16” hole in the center with a wire nail secured it later when I zeroed it.

But how to read it was a challenge. I decided to make a hole in the extra length of the sliding L-shaped piece. Among my wood odds and ends, I found a 30 degree bevel scrap, clamped that tightly on top of the L, and drilled into it with a 1 inch paddle bit at the 30 deg angle. Again to my surprise, this worked fine, and with a little shaping I got an angled opening that shows the ruler.

I went back to the odds and ends and tried salvaging an indicator from a retired table saw fence, then a retired miter guide. These just wouldn’t work. Finally I realized I only needed a thin visible line, pulled out the electric odds and ends and clipped out the red conductor from some bell wire. A couple of carefully placed holes allowed me to thread it across the hole, and simply tacked it with a staple on either side. Putting the fence touching the blade, moving the ruler to zero and setting the wire nail completed an accurate and readable scale.

The out-of-pocket cost for this fence is a $4 clamp and a $9 square. The turnbuckle, screws, bolts, dowel and wire were odds or ends hoping to find a useful life before going into the dumpster when I’m forced to move someday.

For my purposes, this fence has only two lacks vs an expensive commercial one. First, it lacks a simple one-handed means to clamp it in place. Second, it fits against the base piece on one side only, and can come back (and hence out of square) with no force at all. A groove in the bottom of the base piece, with corresponding part to slide in it and connect to the L-piece on top would probably alleviate that. A work in progress.

I make no apologies for the sloppy and unfinished look. I didn’t think I would keep it, let alone like it. I suppose I might smooth some of the parts I handle or bump, but it works well enough, I’m going to keep it as is. If it works, don’t fix it.

-- Richard - near Philly - frustrated engineer taking it out on wood

4 comments so far

View moke's profile


2123 posts in 4108 days

#1 posted 10-15-2020 09:52 PM

Very well done, looks very usable. Thank you for sharing!

-- Mike

View BigAl98's profile


292 posts in 4371 days

#2 posted 10-15-2020 11:58 PM

I r an engineer 2. I think engineer + woodworking = min($,0).

Good frugal work!

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10630 posts in 3741 days

#3 posted 10-16-2020 05:56 AM

Very ingenious idea. Think of this version as prototype . Find all the kinks and work them out. Nothing wrong with later coming back with improved final version and showing us what lessons your learned.

I had a easy make circle jig for a year before I decided to make version 2. That one has served me well for few years.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View SubVette's profile


189 posts in 2877 days

#4 posted 10-16-2020 06:40 PM

Great idea, I need exactly that. Going to copy what you did that is awesome. Very smart idea, certainly better than shelling out 150.00 dollars for a fence.

-- John in Florida

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