Tuning your fence is an important part of woodworking. And in case you didn’t already know, tuning your fence is done by aligning the fence with your table saw’s miter slot, not the blade.
Note – Aligning your table saw’s blade is another process I explain here.
Below, I’m going to show you 2 ways you can tune your fence so you know that it’s perfectly in line with your miter slot.
Method 1 – Scrap Wood & Miter Gauge
Lock your fence down about 6 inches or so to the right of your table saw’s right miter slot.
This method will also require a miter gauge that ideally doesn’t have any slop to it when it rides the miter slot.
Note > If you need to calibrate your miter gauge, read this.
Place your miter gauge in your miter slot and hold the piece of wood against the miter gauge, just touching the fence.
If your miter gauge has a slight bit of wiggle, you can manually push it against the side of the miter slot while testing, to correct this and still get accurate results.
Now slide the miter gauge forward, holding the wood firmly in place.
It will do 1 of 3 things. It will either ride perfectly along the fence, meaning it’s in line and no further tuning is needed.
Or you will notice a gap appear between the wood and the fence, meaning the fence is toed out and must be adjusted in.
Or your block of wood will be pushed to the left as you slide it along the fence, meaning the fence is toed in and must be adjusted out.
Unlock your fence, make a slight adjustment, and test again. Repeat until it’s just right.
Note > if the fence is toed in, you may not notice that the block of wood was pushed to the left slightly while moving the miter gauge. So once you’ve pushed it away from you, if it seems nothing changed, slide it back to the starting point. Is it still touching the fence? If not, the fence is toed in.
Method 2 – Dial Indicator & Miter Gauge
The dial indicator is what I consider a precision tool needed in every wood shop. Especially when it comes to fine-tuning your power tools.
It’s not too expensive, you can get one from Amazon here.
You’ll want to attach your dial indicator to a wood block and clamp the block on to your miter gauge. I use a piece of oak, about 2″x6″, and I cut off one corner so the dial indicator can be angled down.
The dial indicator should protrude to the right and your fence can then be slid over and locked down once it just presses in on the indicator.
Now slide the miter gauge along the miter slot and watch the dial indicator for any change.
This is a precision method and perfection may be hard to achieve, but you can get it definitely close enough.
You may notice, depending on the type of fence you use, that it’s kind of wavy and the dial goes back and forth a slight bit while traveling along the fence.
This is ok, what’s key is that a point on the front is really close to a point at the back of the fence. And not within one of these ‘waves’.
Most fences probably don’t have this problem, especially metal fences.
I use a Shop Fox fence (which uses plastic) and it has this wave to it, so I just make a mental note of that while testing and I only compare 2 points that are on the outside of these waves.
I hope that makes sense…
Anyway, that’s how you tune your fence to the miter slot.
If you do this correctly, and repeat this process from time to time, you’ll notice less burning of wood during cuts, less pinching, and overall a safer, more enjoyable operation when using your table saw.