what is the purpose of a saw bench fence?

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Forum topic by Holbs posted 01-04-2018 06:11 AM 1226 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2364 posts in 2839 days

01-04-2018 06:11 AM

I’m in the midst of building a split top saw bench to further advance my hand sawing experience. Looking around to see what bells & whistles I can add to it (will be using holdfasts), I see saw bench fences for crosscutting purposes. However, I can not be 100% sure of how to use this fence. Is it used to butt up a long board against the fence and then cross cut off one of the ends? If so, shouldn’t the fence extend to both ends and stop? The ones I see (not that many out there with fences) have the fence well short of the edges by 2-5”.
example image from The Unplugged Workshop:

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

6 replies so far

View OleGrump's profile


577 posts in 1154 days

#1 posted 01-04-2018 01:43 PM

You are correct. The purpose is to butt the long edge of a board against the fence while crosscutting. It is your bench, so make the fence as long as you’d like. Think about this though: low benches are used for a variety of purposes for some of which a full length fence would get in the way. At a bare minimum, you will need clearance for your square when laying out your next cut. SOP would seem to be: Mark cut, slide stock so the cut line clears the end of the bench just enough to accommodate the saw while providing maximum support for the lumber, saw, repeat as needed. Since you also plan to use holdfasts (BRAVO to your foresight and appreciation for these invaluable tools!) you may even want to make your fence removable or have it fold out of the way.

-- OleGrump

View Mr_Pink's profile


196 posts in 1181 days

#2 posted 01-04-2018 03:24 PM

I built that same bench, and the fence is designed to be removed. I find that the fence is useful sometimes because it does help stabilize what you’re cutting, but not to the same extent as a bench hook. (The angles at which you use it are different.)

I don’t remember if it’s in the original design or not, but it’s nice to have a place to put the fence when it’s not being used. After using the bench for a while, I drilled holes in one of my lower rails so the fence could be attached to the rail when not in use. Lining those holes up would have obviously been easier if I had done it before gluing the dowels into the fence.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1457 days

#3 posted 01-04-2018 04:35 PM

I agree the saw bench in the OP is quite a looker, but getting carried away and sawing through the cross members at the ends is an accident waiting to happen. If you are seriously considering a a saw bench … might you consider something like this?

I realize she’s not pretty, but the likelihood of sawing her in half is minimal.

View Just_Iain's profile


326 posts in 1226 days

#4 posted 01-05-2018 05:33 PM

I’m going to second Ron’s comment about cutting the cross members. It’s one of the changes I’d make to the Tom Fidgen design. I used a hand (and power) saw enough as a carpenter to know how easy it is to forget what’s underneath.

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

View BlasterStumps's profile


1709 posts in 1249 days

#5 posted 01-05-2018 06:02 PM

I built that saw bench as well. The cross members don’t present any problem for me. My bench is solid red oak (except for the fence) so if you were to hit it with the saw, you would notice it fairly quickly. Best thing about the design is the 90 degree legs on the front side and splayed legs on the back side. I rip cut on the front side mostly. If I need to support both sides of the cut, I can rip in the middle of the bench. I re-enforced the top in places so that I could have hold fasts or dogs, also can use them on the legs if so needed. Handy bench. I built a small saw horse to match the height so when cutting long stock it can be supported.

-- "...I've been through the desert on a horse with no name." So name the damned horse already!

View Holbs's profile


2364 posts in 2839 days

#6 posted 01-06-2018 01:14 AM

I only used above picture as a reference for the fence. Right now, my saw bench looks like below as of this Friday: no cross members except the future feet for all 4 posts. More I think about it, maybe I do not need a fence since it is split top and have hold fasts at my disposal. Something to think about. (never mind the vice, I do not see how I can install it on this bench)

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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