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Do I really need a 52" Fence System???

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Forum topic by wjbender posted 12-05-2020 03:33 PM 553 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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wjbender

11 posts in 55 days


12-05-2020 03:33 PM

I am about to buy a new table saw and like everything else these days the choices are mid boggling. I got along fine with my old rigid contractor saw for 20 years. I used it to build/repair all kinds of useful items around the house. Now that I’m retired I want to spend more time woodworking and my old saw is just frustrating – dust, noise, poor fence, lack of safety features, etc. After reading the reviews on this site I find there are a variety of quality saws to choose from. Budget wise I want to be around $1500. Without waiting two months I can get the Jet Proshop II. It is available in 30” and 52” fence. 30” 230V with cast wings is $1499.0 and with 52” fence $1699. I have the room in my shop, but do I really need a 52” fence? I can cut large sheets of plywood with my circular saw and a clamp on track so although nice to have the capacity I don’t see the need. Maybe you guy can opine on the usefulness of the longer fence to help me decide.

Thanks for all opinions.

-- Hobbyist and Sometime Woodworker - New Jersey


22 replies so far

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

4426 posts in 2198 days


#1 posted 12-05-2020 04:02 PM

Shop space is usually the #1 determination. Bigger is better if you have the room (and extra $) because as the saying goes, better to have it and no need it than to need to need it and not have it. The extra table space is also nice for support when crosscutting longer boards with a sled.

That aside, the extra space is a valuable convenience if you plan to work on larger projects, but 30” of fence will probably cover 95% of most anything and you can add more table space (albeit without the extra fence capacity) easily. You can also upgrade most common fences to 52”, but at a higher cost than buying it with the original saw package.

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CaptainKlutz

4015 posts in 2470 days


#2 posted 12-05-2020 04:20 PM

IMHO – It depends on what you want to make?

I don’t use past 32” very often, but when I have larger project that needs it, am really glad I have it?

Projects I have used more than 30” on table saw are:

- Cabinetry:
Often need to cut 34-36” shelf boards and 32-48” tall plywood cabinet sides.

- Table tops:
52” fence lets you cross cut trim coffee/sofa table top to final size, and trim aprons to exact same length. Dining tables trimmed at 36-42” wide.

- Blanket chest:
Single piece panels run 38-50” wide. Frame & Panel uses same size rails.

Note that aprons and rails can be cut on decent miter saw IF equipped with long fence and stop block. I don’t have room to dedicate a 7-8 feet of wall space to a miter station.

Another aspect of longer fence to consider is having a router table in the saw extension.
Having the router table at end of 54” fence means you can leave router setup while using the saw for short cuts. With some planning can use the TS fence to support a clamp on router fence too. This dual use reduces the wasted space. When I had contractor saw with 30” fence, had to remove the router fence to use TS, and always seemed like I needed one more test piece ripped than I cut before I started using router table? #IAMAKLUTZ What more needs to be said? LOL

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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therealSteveN

7013 posts in 1550 days


#3 posted 12-05-2020 04:30 PM

Like Capn K pointed out, what you make is very much a part of this dicussion.

My only concrete advice is if you have the room get it. You never “need” to use it all, but if you don’t have it available then getting a work around that is as accurate will take you some doing, and still may not be as accurate. It’s not just a platform to lay something on, it’s a yardstick directly attached to the fence system. It is the center of all things accuarcy on a TS. IT, being the fences rail system.

Now if you have a smallish shop, and never see a project larger than a small box, NO would be the answer, not sure, or nope then get the extra.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6746 posts in 3469 days


#4 posted 12-05-2020 04:31 PM

For many years I had a 30something fence and in all those years I needed more capacity maybe 4-5 times. I now have a 52” fence (last 20 years or so) and I don’t think I’ve used the extra capacity at all, or maybe 3-4 times. Still, if you have the room it’s not a bad idea to get it. You can make them shorter, but stretching them out requires an expensive “fence stretcher”.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Steve's profile

Steve

2377 posts in 1558 days


#5 posted 12-05-2020 04:32 PM

If you have the room for it, I’d recommend it. I have a 52” table and why I haven’t used it yet, it sure comes in handy as a storage space for wood or tools or other clutter. Lol

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

896 posts in 2438 days


#6 posted 12-05-2020 04:57 PM

Lot of good advise. I had needed more than the 30” capacity my saw came with many times. Upgraded to a 52” fence and love it. However, I have never used the full capacity of it. Maybe 40” a time or two.
I tend to stack work to be cut to the right of my fence, and as I cut it I will move it to a cart on my left.
You can also cut the rails to a desired length, saying 30” is to short, and 52” being too long. Custom to what works for you. I have considered cutting my rail down to about 40”. But have not committed to it yet.

-- John

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1437 posts in 1935 days


#7 posted 12-05-2020 05:02 PM

If you break down sheet goods a lot then yes, if not no. Here and there’s aren’t enough to say you néed it.

If the room is available and you can afford the difference then why not.

Everybody buys something , then wishes they had spent a little more for the lager unit,..

View sansoo22's profile

sansoo22

1415 posts in 630 days


#8 posted 12-05-2020 05:08 PM

I think the “need” depends on what you want to build. If you think you might want to do larger furniture pieces like book cases and chest of drawers then I think you will be kicking yourself later for not getting the 52” fence. Personally I don’t understand why the standard fence sizes for Jet and Delta are 30” and 52”. The smallest size should be 36” so at least you can build standard cabinets with it. I have a 30” delta because its all the saw I can power at the moment. Problem is I have 3 bathrooms and a kitchen to remodel.

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JackDuren

1437 posts in 1935 days


#9 posted 12-05-2020 06:06 PM

36” isn’t a standard…

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BurlyBob

8300 posts in 3241 days


#10 posted 12-05-2020 06:18 PM

I up graded from an old contractor saw to a Unisaw with a 52” fence and table. I can’t imagine how I going back to a smaller saw.

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SMP

3203 posts in 881 days


#11 posted 12-05-2020 06:22 PM

Do you “need” a 52”? No, you don’t even “need” a table saw. Is a table saw nice to have? Yes. Is 52” nice to have? Sometimes, depending on what you are building.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10939 posts in 4623 days


#12 posted 12-05-2020 06:37 PM

Nice to have when you need it, and it easily pushes out of the way for crosscuts, but takes up a lot of shop space.

For hobby use I wouldn’t want one unless I had at least 600 sq ft of working space or just wanted a few basic machines in there. Table saws really excel if you have space for larger outfeed tables too.

View wjbender's profile

wjbender

11 posts in 55 days


#13 posted 12-05-2020 07:37 PM



If you have the room for it, I d recommend it. I have a 52” table and why I haven t used it yet, it sure comes in handy as a storage space for wood or tools or other clutter. Lol

- Steve

Now that you mention that, it makes a lot of sense. It is nice to have the extra space right next to where you are working. Kind of like a small work table next to your saw.

-- Hobbyist and Sometime Woodworker - New Jersey

View wjbender's profile

wjbender

11 posts in 55 days


#14 posted 12-05-2020 07:40 PM



Nice to have when you need it, and it easily pushes out of the way for crosscuts, but takes up a lot of shop space.

For hobby use I wouldn’t want one unless I had at least 600 sq ft of working space or just wanted a few basic machines in there. Table saws really excel if you have space for larger outfeed tables too.

- Loren

I plan to put it under the staircase coming down to the basement workshop. I have about 80” clear side to side and easily 8’ front and back. That space is just a bunch of old junk I need to get rid of now.

-- Hobbyist and Sometime Woodworker - New Jersey

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wjbender

11 posts in 55 days


#15 posted 12-05-2020 07:44 PM



Lot of good advise. I had needed more than the 30” capacity my saw came with many times. Upgraded to a 52” fence and love it. However, I have never used the full capacity of it. Maybe 40” a time or two.
I tend to stack work to be cut to the right of my fence, and as I cut it I will move it to a cart on my left.
You can also cut the rails to a desired length, saying 30” is to short, and 52” being too long. Custom to what works for you. I have considered cutting my rail down to about 40”. But have not committed to it yet.

- bigJohninvegas

I like that idea as the full 52” is probably overkill for me – Something like 40 – 45 would probably be ideal. If I get the 52, I work with it a while before making any changes. I dont have any BIG projects lined up, but who knows?

-- Hobbyist and Sometime Woodworker - New Jersey

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