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Which Fence is Better?

5118 Views 45 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  SierraRick
I recently acquired a used Delta contractor saw (model 36-6) for $100. The saw is in good shape. This saw and the factory fence on it are a substantial upgrade from the bench top I was using. But I would still like to upgrade the fence and I'm trying to decide which to buy. I do not have enough experience with the various aftermarket fences out there to make an informed decision on my own. I do know that I would like a 50" Biesemeyer style of "home" fence though.

So here is my question. Is there a true difference between the Biesemeyer and Shop Fox? Or are they essentially the same thing and people are simply just paying more for a name? Is either of these fences less accurate, reliable, or sturdy, etc. than the other?

The Shop Fox would cost me about $340 (including shipping and taxes), while the Biesemeyer would be about $445 (also including shipping and taxes). So for $100 more, is the Biesemeyer worth it?

I would have purchased a cabinet saw that already had such a fence, but I'm going to be moving in the next year and I don't really want to be moving a 400 pound machine around and rewiring another circuit.

On a side note, I would also be considering the T2 except it seems Delta does not make a 50" version.

I know this is an often discussed subject so thank you in advance to all that contribute.
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Ryan, I understand you do not know the differance. I stopped reading after the "is there truly a differance between the Biesmeyer and Shop Fox." Yes!
That "other brand" I would submit is made with scrap metal like a lot of their products. They're crazy if that is the price being asked!

I knew Bill Biesmeyer personally, he was innovative and had an attention to detail second to none. While B & D now owns Delta which owns Biesmeyer the fences are made exactly like they always have been. Virgin metal as far as I know is always used and dead on accuracy.

Buy the Biesmeyer…it will be the best extra 100 bicks you've ever spent.

Regards, Fedsawdave
Buy the Biesmeyer
LOL! He spent $100 for a saw and now everyone is on the bandwagon saying he should spend almost $500 for a fence? Be real!

As for your comments about "virgin metal"... B&D owns Delta which owns Beisemeyer… they all use whatever is cheapest. "As far as I know…" unless you are on the board (and probably not even then) you don't know. Cost is king now, quality is a distant second and Bill Biesemeyer probably doesn't have much to say about it anymore.

I have used it and I personally don't like the Biese style fence at all (that includes ShopFox and T2); too much gap between table and fence, no lock on the back side of the fence makes it difficult to use featherboards and jigs and the price, oh the price. You will be paying for hype.

Personally, I would look at the MuleCab fence system if you had to have 50" capacity.
Dear EE, A) I did not happen to see where the gentleman had a $100.00 saw.

B) No, Bill Biesmeyer has nothing to do with his product since he sold it for 7 figures…I never mentioned that he did!

C) Shop Fox (Grizzly) is the king of scrap metal used in woodworking tools.

D) You have no clue what you're talking about as it relates to "hype" and Biesmeyer. See marketing.

E) Ryan asked an opinion of what is better: Biesmeyer or Shop Fox.

The answer stands…no comparison as it relates to Biesmeyer or SLOP-Fox
As to A) - from the original post (first line):
I recently acquired a used Delta contractor saw (model 36-6) for $100.

As to B) - from your post:
I knew Bill Biesmeyer personally, he was innovative and had an attention to detail second to none. While B & D now owns Delta which owns Biesmeyer the fences are made exactly like they always have been. Virgin metal as far as I know is always used…

As to D), hmmm, you can't remember the original post, you don't remember what you posted BUT I don't know what I am talking about? ROTFLMAO!

Now, to be fair, he did ask about the difference between Beise and Shop fox. Your reply about the ShopFox (from your post):
They're crazy if that is the price being asked!

So, they are crazy for asking $340, but Biese is OK for asking $445? Both of these numbers are crazy! Especially for a $100 saw! That was my point; sorry if I wasn't clear. The MuleCab fence I mentioned is $179.
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Have a nice day….............
Ryan, I personally have never even seen a Shop Fox Fence but I imagine it's just a Beis clone. Although I wouldn't pay 500.00 dollars for the fence, I WOULD put a Beis on ANY saw. You can find Beis Fences as well as their clones all over the net for half the new price. Several years ago I had a Delta Portable Bench Top Saw. The saw brand new was only 125.00 (about 20 years ago) and I built a 4' X 6' table for it. I found a used Beis for about 100.00 and it turned the saw into a much more accurite table saw. Even if you only find one that goes to 30" all you need to do is replace the front Angle Iron and the rail. As to what EEngineer said about not being able to use feather boards and jigs with it, well there's literally THOUSANDS of Production Cabinet Shops and Wood Working Shops that prove him wrong all day long. I don't know, maybe he had a bad experience with one and he just venting. If you were closer to me, my BIL has a Accuride 52" (Beis Clone for Powermatic) that he selling for 200.00, rails and all.

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I don't know, maybe he had a bad experience with one and he just venting.

Was I venting? Sorry.

No, I don't like the design. With the fence only supported at the front end of the saw, you are depending on the stiffness of the fence rail to control deflection at the far end of the table. The fence rail always flexes with a single point of support; you can minimize it by increasing the stiffness of the fence rail but you can't eliminate it. The same applies to keeping the far end of the rail even with the table; enough pressure and the far end of the rail will lift from the table. With a fence design that clamps at both ends of the table, this isn't an issue. I am not the only one with these concerns, Google it.

Everything is a tradeoff.

The Biese design makes it much easier to add extension tables or increase the fence length for better control without being concerned about a clamp rail at the far end of the table. However, a longer fence leads to more deflection at the end of the fence.

Any design that clamps at both ends of the table has its problems, too. Most of the complaints about cheap fences are due to poor design of the far-end clamping mechanism. If it doesn't work right, the fence will deflect every time. Many of the most secure designs are a PITA because you can't just lift the fence from the table, you must pull it all the way to one end or the other to remove the fence. This is particularly obnoxious with a long (like 52") table.

I personally use a Ridgid AC1036 (no longer made as far as I can tell) and it seems to be the best of both worlds; secure clamping at both ends of the table, lifts directly off of the table when unclamped and dead-on accurate. But the clamping points are all plastic and subject to wear. How it would hold up in a production environment, 40 hours per week, I don't know. I am a weekend warrior and, so far, it suits me just fine.

Sorry to hijack this thread for a personal monolog about fence preferences.
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I have the Biesmeyer and it is a great fence, I have had it for 3 years and have cut thousands of feet of board and it has done well for me.
There are a lot of fence designs out there that are just as good as the Bies. The fence on my sawstop is almost identical to a beis. Personally I didn't like it at first but it does the job. It has grown on my over time but I would take a steel city industrial fence any day over a Bies or over a sawstop. The bies design is nice but it has draw backs that I don't like. There is no way I would pay $500 for a beis, for 1 thing I have seen sales for in the $250 range before. But I think there are better fences around. Check out the incra fences, there are vega fences, and my personal favorit the Steel City Industrial. That fence is indistructable, clamps really tight, is super easy to adjust, the faces are jointed UHMW, and it slides super smooth (unlike most Beis fences).
Ryan - The Delta model you referenced is likely the 36-600, which is a compact cast iron bench top style saw set on a leg stand, and has a universal motor. If that's the one, it's only 22" deep vs the standard 27" deep of most true contractor saws, and I'd hesitate to spend a lot of money for an aftermarket fence on that saw. Some fences may fit, but others won't, so you'll want to check carefully.

If it's truly a full size contractor saw with a belt drive induction motor hanging out the back, it'd be easier to upgrade the fence on….Unifence, Beise, Shop Fox Classic, Shop Fox Aluma Classic, Vega, or Jet Exacta II are all reasonable choices.

You may also find ways of improving the stock fence…add faces to it, proper adjustments, etc.

A decent $30-$40 (or more) thin kerf blade is a decent investment for any saw in either of these classes….Freud TK/Avanti, Freud Diablo, the Freud made Ridgid Titanium series, or DeWalt Precision Trim series are generally good values.
I have the full-size Delta contractor's saw with the Unifence and really like it. It's beefy, stiff, and easy to adjust. The only compromise over the Biesemeyer is how you attach things such as a sacrificial fence or stop block to it due to the thinner top portion and thicker bottom portion of the aluminum fence. The Bies design makes that a little easier. On the flip side, it's Delta equipment on a Delta saw and a quick online search finds some decent deals.

I've also used the Biesemeyer quite a bit and find its reputation for quality to be well deserved.

Another recommended addition, if you don't already have it, is the Delta splitter accessory (as opposed to the factory splitter/guard). Best addition I ever made.
I've owned the Mule Cabinet Maker, Delta Unifence and a JetLock fence. Of all, I like the Unifence the best. All had advantages. The Mule has the t tracks for attaching jigs. I found it deflected a bit when I was pushing against the fence though. It also had to be slid all the way off the end of the rail to get the fence off. It moved easily, mounted easily and was easy to use overall. The Jetlock came with my current saw and it works well. It is one that locks on both sides of the saw. It has a micro adjust feature that is really handy. Like the Mule, it has to slide to the end of the rail to get the fence off. The Unifence is great. So far, I have not noticed any deflection. The fence can be in the tall position, the short position and be move forward or back depending on your needs. It comes off the rail wherever you want it to with a turn of the handle. Attaching jigs is not difficult if you use a little ingenuity. I usually just clamp a board to the face. I've never used a Bessy fence, but I don't really see any need to switch from the unifence at the moment. I did get one of the bessys at Lowes when they were going real cheap. I ended up selling it without using it. Ignorance can be bliss I guess.
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Imade my own fence and overhead guard from metal which I bought or had around it works great and for fun I added the words biesemeyer on both of them .They are not difficult to make as they are really very simple in design.Alistair
You know Engineer, you or anyone for that matter would have to abuse the fence pretty bad for it to deflect that much in a HOME SHOP ENVIROMENT. I have used Beis fences in at least 5 production shops and have yet to see any significant deflection. Like I said before, I wouldn't pay the 500.00 tag that goes with it, BUT, I also wouldn't pay the cost of those real fancy fences either. I'm not saying it's not worth it, I just wouldn't pay that much knowing I could get it cheaper somewhere else. Everyone has their weapon of choice and I believe that if it works for them, why fix it.
If you're getting deflection, you're doing it wrong.
Yanking the back end of a t-square fence only proves that the laws of physics and leverage apply. The real world forces on a fence are most significant just before the blade and diminish rapidly from that point on back. Just prior to the blade is the best location to check a fence for deflection….about 12" up from the front. I'd be very surprised if any significant deflection occurs on most modern steel t-square designs while cutting wood.

T-square fences like the Biese, SF Classic, Jet Exacta, HTC, etc. are pretty sturdy. That thick steel tubing doesn't give much, and is far stronger than most of the cheaper aluminum fence rails, which need to be supported on both ends. There is no free lunch with any of the fence designs….fences that lock at each end are far more likely to suffer from skewing.
Dang!!! I didn't realize that my Grizz w/ a Shop Fox Aluma Classic was such a piece of junk. Guess that all those straight and true cuts that I've made are just accidents. Scrap iron huh? Does that make iron ore just plain dirt?
Now I feel better.
Bill, I'm not use to Grizzley products so I looked at their web site and if I'm not mistaken, it's also a Beis Clone. SO, why would you call it a piece of junk? There are many superior products out there and the way you can tell is by how many companys clone their idea. As they continue getting cloned, they suffer quality for the affording market. For a HOME SHOP, this may be acceptable to some, while others stand by their product of choice. I swear by Beis Fences and my new Powermatic has an Accuride Fence whice is also a Beis Clone and if I found a Beis at a GREAT deal, I'd swap it in a heartbeat. Others my swear by whatever they use by I wouldn't call it a piece of crap because that's offensive and ANYONE using ANYTHING to do woodwork is
A-OK in my book.

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