Router Table Fences that work.

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Forum topic by BoomerBuilt posted 11-10-2021 12:15 AM 892 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BoomerBuilt's profile


33 posts in 999 days

11-10-2021 12:15 AM

Hi there.
I picked up this JessEm Router Master Lift and table with it. I need to add a fence as the last owner kept that part. Looking at their website it appears the JessEm fence is severely out of my league price wise. So I need to buy an aftermarket one or make one.

I have poked around at looking to make my own like Norm Abram did but am not sure how excited I am about the bolt system to lock the fence tight.

Anybody have another idea?

I see aftermarket fence systems that look like a fair price online but than I find out it’s basically just the featherboards you get, not the fence. Is $150 for a complete fence completely out of the ball park? Although I’m not sure my Christmas present fund is that high.

Should I just make my own? I finally have a jointer so I know I could make it square.

Thanks for your input.

-- You never know what you don’t know.

21 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile


3433 posts in 2044 days

#1 posted 11-10-2021 01:21 AM

Routers don’t generally need a precise fence. Normally I use the bearing as a guide. A straight board and a couple of clamps can work in a lot of cases. Use something simple while waiting for a great deal on what you really want. Who knows, you may not miss it as much as you think. WEG

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View BoomerBuilt's profile


33 posts in 999 days

#2 posted 11-10-2021 03:34 AM

Madmark2 – that’s fantastic advice. Thank you. Everything was adding up in my mind so this brings me some relief. Cheers!

-- You never know what you don’t know.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5601 posts in 2950 days

#3 posted 11-10-2021 03:41 AM

There can be a lot of hardware in full featured a router table fence. Hard to make one cheap.

The Jessem table is designed for router fence that attaches at edges of top. Not all retail fences are wide enough to use the side table mounting rails.

Check reviews on retail units. They all have weaknesses, or behavior that requires specific adjustments.
Bought a Rockrap basic router fence, and the aluminum extrusion angle was not 90°. :(
Have shims on my PeachTree Supreme Fence to make it square as well. Even gold standard ‘WoodPecker Router fence’ with it’s offset fence brackets, has set screws to make perfect 90° square fence possible with less than perfect extrusions. :-(0)

For DIY – Search for Crestwood Ultimate Router Table online. The original site with free plan is gone, but WoodWorkingTalk forums has a PDF copy for download. The fence design included is full featured, and plans have cut list making build easy.

Also try the image search tab on search page and you can see a massive number of different ‘router table fence’ designs.

Best Luck!

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

View gtrgeo's profile


236 posts in 1886 days

#4 posted 11-10-2021 03:44 AM

It really comes down to what type of routing you intend to do and the eternal question of make vs buy. I personally bought a Rockler router table and fence for a great deal used because I was in the middle of a large project and couldn’t really spare the time to build one beyond a simple fence as Mark suggests. I do not regret buying as I said it was a deal and has done most of what I want so far. I looked around a bit thinking of upgrading and I believe I can make something with more flexibility for the routing I would like to do. Whether that is based on Norm’s effort or others I have seen, I do not know yet.

When I had my router in the table saw wing I knocked together a simple plywood box that was open on the top and enclosed around the router bit opening for dust collection. The face was covered in melamine to provide a smooth surface. This worked well and was easy to attach to the table saw fence. There is no reason it would not work with a couple of T-bolts through it attached to the router table.

No reason to overthink this. Build something to get you able to use the router table and keep mental notes of what you feel are missing while you use it. You can then create something that suits your needs.

View sawdust66's profile


88 posts in 204 days

#5 posted 11-10-2021 05:59 AM

I’ve had the basic Rockler fence for about 10 years with no complaints. It’s definitely the no-frills version, but it’s also only $129, and you can always add to it. Good luck.

-- Chris, Pennsylvania

View SMP's profile


5301 posts in 1361 days

#6 posted 11-10-2021 06:03 AM

I ve had the basic Rockler fence for about 10 years with no complaints. It s definitely the no-frills version, but it s also only $129, and you can always add to it. Good luck.

- sawdust66

Same here, i kind of use my fence as an “oh $h1#” backstop for my router bits with bearings just in case I do something stupid it will catch my mistake. I guess if I was using my router table as a jointer I might need a fancier fence but have never needed one personally.

View Madmark2's profile


3433 posts in 2044 days

#7 posted 11-10-2021 06:24 AM

Have seen home made router table made from laminate counter sink cut out. Place cutout with router attached, into stack of winter sno-tires. Fence was faced 2×4 with pair of C-clamps. Can’t get much simpler. Board with a hole in it.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7480 posts in 3949 days

#8 posted 11-10-2021 11:25 AM

I built my version of Norm’s table along with his fence. I didn’t want the t tracks to hold it down. So the base of my fence spans the width of the table, and I clamp it in place with c clamps. If you ever had the chance to sleep through an episode of The Router Workshop you might have seen Rosendal just clamp down a strip of UHMW (or some kind of white plastis) for a fence.

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

View BoomerBuilt's profile


33 posts in 999 days

#9 posted 11-10-2021 01:55 PM

Wow everybody so much information spanning DIY, obviously simple and more detailed. That was great. Lots to think about but I did really like the idea of the Norm Fence with C clamps to hold it down.
I had made a long taper jig for my table saw and used T tracks. I guess the material I used for the T track head pocket is too thin as well as MDF so it pulls up (and doesn’t hold tightly down) so I’m less than thrilled with that design.
I’m bring my dust collection to my router table so I wanted a fence to have that on their.
But I’m off to the races and now within Christmas budget. So thanks for all taking the time to reply. I think if I did the snow tires method though that my farmer mechanics husbands heart would fall deeply in love again with my frugal and resourcefulness. Hehe

-- You never know what you don’t know.

View HokieKen's profile


21690 posts in 2594 days

#10 posted 11-10-2021 01:56 PM

I think it really depends on your typical use for the router table. If you’re typically using bearing guided bits or just cutting dadoes, you don’t need much of a fence. But, if you’re shaping the edges of boards with non-bearing-guided bits, you’ll want something that you can open/close the fence faces to suit the bit. Or if you’re working on boards with them on edge, you’ll want a tall fence.

I build my own version of Norm’s fence. Like Fred^ I also made mine the full width of the table and clamp it down on the edges. I do use it with the bit inside the fence quite often so I’m glad I made the faces so they slide. I’m also glad I clamped it on edges rather than adding track to the table to cinch it down. In hindsight, I probably would remove the top part of the fence. I simply never use it. If I need vertical feather boards (which I never do) I can just clamp them to the fence. If I had it to do over, I’d build a shorter fence with track on top for attaching flip-down stops and I’d leave the adjustable faces and keep clamping on the edges. YMMV

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Robert's profile


4987 posts in 2936 days

#11 posted 11-10-2021 03:28 PM

You don’t want to use C clamps. Put a pivot pin on one end and a clamp mechanism that grabs the table edge. Rather than moving the whole fence it pivots – much more precise..

When I upgraded my router table I bought the Infinity fence and like it except it doesn’t slide on the t tracks very well.

Sommerfeld Tools has one of the best fences out there.

Even with a bearing bit, you should use a fence.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Axis39's profile


620 posts in 1052 days

#12 posted 11-10-2021 04:25 PM

I have gone through a few cheap iterations of router fences and tables….

I first got one of those Ryobi portable tables. man, I used that thing for probably ten years. I should probably say I struggled with it for ten years. But, I got okay results, made good money of that cheap table. It finally got caught in some rain and the cheap MDF table top swelled up….

Replaced that with a Bosch. It was maybe a touch better, metal table and a better fence set up. When i set up the new shop, I took just the Bosch table top and installed it in the right wing spot of my Table saw.

Eventually I scored a JessEm Mast-R-Lift and it wouldn’t work with the Bosch table. So, I made a new table, with storage underneath, etc. But, I installed two pieces of t-track and installed the Bosch fence on my new (BB Ply) top. This worked quite well, actually. The Bosch fence was pretty impressive.

But, eventually, I bought an Incra TS-LS fence system…. I really like a lot about this new system, but the Bosch fence was almost as useable. Just not as accurate in it’s repeatability. I’ll be honest, all the functionality of the templates and stuff? I am still looking forward to getting to try it out. But, I’ve been really happy with the fence so far. Not planning on going back.

But, I liked that cheap Bosch fence so much, I was going to use it on my Drill press…. Except it doesn’t leave enough clearance for the feed levers. So, I went back to using my little wooden L fence. So, I drilled a couple of hole sin it and installed t-track on my drill press table. No more c-clamps on the edges… Knobs for the win!

A simple fence really is all that;’s needed for a router. Although, I have taken advantage of fences with separately adjustable fences to use my router as a jointer several times!

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View 987Ron's profile


3759 posts in 772 days

#13 posted 11-10-2021 06:32 PM

Have an Incra Jig fence. Have had it a long time. longer than the width of my router table, very adjustable, dial in .001 inches for fine adjustment, repeatable settings. Have cut through dovetails, box joints etc. Lots of extras such as extendable fence, stops to limit cuts For what I do it is the one I would buy again or the latest version. The fence can be portable to the table saw, bandsaw etc. Have used it on the table saw to make progressively thicker slats. Easily sets to 1/32’ changes in width.

It all depends on what you want to do on the router table. This is fence might be overkill for many.

-- Ron

View Jimarco's profile


107 posts in 2563 days

#14 posted 11-11-2021 12:21 AM

I made my own out of 1×6 yellow pine and made it long enough and thin enough to spring clamp it in place. If I were to buy one It would be Peachtree woodworkings deluxe for $85 link . They sell all of the parts individually and initially was looking at their 32” aluminum fence with pre-cut holes.

Keep it simple (inexpensive) ... use it… if you need to upgrade you will know what you will use and need.

View therealSteveN's profile


9985 posts in 2030 days

#15 posted 11-11-2021 02:58 PM

I don’t know if anyone will ever make this, or a similar fence system for sale in the US again? Bosch bought Freud, and almost immediately Freud was just a shadow company here. Prior to they had a very good router, actually 2. This fence system needs full sized wings, but you can easily make them rigid with extruded aluminum, and face them with whatever you want.

I only know I won’t be selling mine anytime soon, but they are bomb proof, so if you see one, and it’s not rusted junk, buy it.

-- Think safe, be safe

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