Choosing a Router Table Fence
For a woodworker, making a straight and true cut is paramount to the success of a project. Guiding your wood along a router table fence is an act of faith that the fence will literally keep you on the straight and narrow. Beginning with the most basic, here are some things to consider when building or buying the best router table and the fence to go with it.
If you know how to use a router table then you know that a fence has to have five main attributes. They must be straight, rigid, and easy to put into position, stay in place, and allow for a range of positions. At its most basic, a fence is just a straight piece of lumber. Clamped to the router table, it does the job reasonably well and is often mentioned in DIY router table plans. At the high end, you can easily find a fence with many advanced features like measuring gauges, adjustment aids, and fence options.
For pre-made fences, you’ll need to choose one of two basic designs, a “split” fence or a one piece fence. As the name implies, a split fence has two pieces, one on the in-feed side and one on the out-feed side. The idea is to allow you to remove material during a cut. Unfortunately, in all except the very best router table it can be nearly impossible to align the two sides as precisely as necessary.
A one piece table fence has no problems with alignment. The one piece covers both sides of the table and is by far the easier to work with. However, you can buy or build a split sub fence to use with the router fence, though many find this just as difficult as a split fence. In most cases, a one piece fence works just fine.
Whether you buy or built your own router table fence, keep in mind the old adage about “measure twice, cut once.” Only, in the case of a router table fence it’s “check the fence twice, cut once.”