Rookie Mistake: Used Delta 6" Jointer Fence isn't Flat

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Forum topic by ColinWW posted 08-01-2018 03:23 AM 4967 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ColinWW's profile


10 posts in 1101 days

08-01-2018 03:23 AM

Feeling embarrassed here. I knew better, but I bought a jointer without taking (or owning) a straight edge with me to check the tables and fence for flatness. Today I picked up a straight edge and discovered that the fence on my Delta 37-196 has a .010 dip in the middle that’s probably 15+ inches long. The beds seem reasonably flat enough that I’m not concerned.

I’ve only done a few test cuts and I can’t say that it isn’t cutting square, but I haven’t done enough to feel confident in the level of precision. I’m wondering what to do here. As fate would have it, there’s a new, old stock fence assembly on Ebay that fits my machine. It’s at $157 and the auction ends in about 4 hours. I paid $350 for the jointer.

Photo attached.

What would you do?


-- Just a newbie finding my happy place in the wood shop.

12 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


8188 posts in 1728 days

#1 posted 08-01-2018 03:57 AM

Don’t know if you are posting Eastern? I’ve just got 11:50 on EST

I wouldn’t put 150 more bux in the pot of a South American Delta tool, especially a jointer fence.

Google your model, and add “any problems” Fence problems, etc etc You will get a lot of this type post

People that don’t over analyze them, and just use them are able to joint wood, both face, and edge. Chances are the one you would be buying will be as goofy, maybe more so. I’m not sure about now, but for a long while Delta was replacing them free of charge, you may want to check that route.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Woodknack's profile


13563 posts in 3534 days

#2 posted 08-01-2018 04:27 AM

As long as the dip in the fence is perpendicular to the bed, should be fine. It’s purpose is a guide for truing the edge so shouldn’t make any difference.

-- Rick M,

View Aj2's profile


3941 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 08-01-2018 04:48 AM

Set your fence square to the table just past the cutter head on the outfeed. Try to keep your hand pressure on that spot when your running a edge.
It should help. A twisted fence is almost worthless

-- Aj

View MrUnix's profile


8671 posts in 3353 days

#4 posted 08-01-2018 05:00 AM

What would you do?

I’d start making wood chips. As long as the fence is perpendicular like Rick mentioned, you should be good to go. If it bugs you, you can always try to warp it back into being flat – here is a snippet from a Powermatic jointer manual on the procedure:

From PM50 manual

Straightening Warped Fence:

The fence furnished with your jointer is a finished casting. Under certain conditions it is possible that the fence may become warped. If fence is high (bowed) in the center, remove fence and place face up on the floor on two 4” pieces of wood (2” x 4” blocks will suffice). Gently apply presure to the center of the fence with your foot increasing gradually until you feel the fence “give” slightly. Stop applying pressure as soon as you feel the fence “give” and check with a straight edge. The fence should be perfectly straight. Repeat if necessary.

If the fence is low on the center, place on the floor face down and repeat the above procedure – REMEMBER, stop when you feel the fence “give”.

Should your fence be twisted, the following steps will return it to its original shape. Clamp one end of the fence to a wood vice and sandwitch the other end between two 2” boards and gently “twist” the fence. When the fence “gives” stop applying pressure and check fence with a straight edge.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

406 posts in 1929 days

#5 posted 08-01-2018 01:19 PM

Id be willing to bet the Auction fence wont be any better.

View Aj2's profile


3941 posts in 2952 days

#6 posted 08-01-2018 02:16 PM

A replacement fence might even be worse. Straight flat jointer fences are not very common .
A convex shaped fence or a fence that bellies out toward the operator is as good as flat.

-- Aj

View BroncoBrian's profile


899 posts in 3112 days

#7 posted 08-01-2018 03:53 PM

Agreed. If it is 90 degrees to the tables, it will not make any difference.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View fivecodys's profile


1742 posts in 2790 days

#8 posted 08-01-2018 03:57 PM

If you were milling parts for the space shuttle then that .010” might be a big problem.
But for wood working, I agree with the other posters. Plug it in and start making chips!

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View BlasterStumps's profile


2064 posts in 1593 days

#9 posted 08-01-2018 08:20 PM

just for a test, take a couple 4’ pieces and edge joint one edge on each, mark it, then face joint one surface on each, mark it. Lay both down on a flat surface with marks on the faces down and marks on the edges facing each other. Put the two pieces together and add about three clamps. What do you see? If it looks like it would glue up without gaps and twist, I would say you are good to go.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." MIke in CO

View splintergroup's profile


5430 posts in 2376 days

#10 posted 08-02-2018 05:22 PM

I had a fence from an old machine tool with a similar dip. Not wanting to spend much I took it to an automotive engine rebuilder and had them flatten i ton their head resurfacing machine (basically a large belt sander). The cost was $20 and it was flat to within 0.002”

Check around, you don’t need fancy grinding or surface facing accuracy.

View DBDesigns's profile


232 posts in 1151 days

#11 posted 08-02-2018 06:45 PM

Consider bolting a true flat auxiliary fence to the face of your existing fence. If you choose to use wood or plastic, you could actually use the jointer to flatten the fence. You will lose some of the bed width but for edge cuts that wont ne a problem and for face cuts you probably don’t need the fence.

The other thing you could do is take the fence to a machine shop and have it surface ground. Probably still cheaper than the unknown fence on ebay.

-- I remember when Grateful wasn't Dead

View kingpong's profile


13 posts in 1968 days

#12 posted 08-04-2018 02:43 AM

A few months ago I picked up a cheap old Craftsman jointer, and after using it for a while making some shop furniture I realized that the reason I couldn’t get it square was a twist in the fence. It was about 0.050” of a twist, and if removed and laid on a flat surface it definitely rocked a bit.

Tonight I first tried the Powermatic approach. This did nothing, never felt it give and I was too scared to twist it any farther. Then I tried a quick auxiliary fence. Bolted a piece of MDF to the fence, then made one pass on the jointer. Measured it again and it was within 0.004” of flat. Still struggling to get the fence to stay square (moves as I tighten it), but at least the angle is consistent across the length of the fence.

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