What Is a Rip Fence?

A rip fence is an integral part of any safe table saw. It's essentially a guide that helps woodworkers cut wood evenly, precisely and safely. The fence simply looks like a metal bar that runs parallel to the saw blade. The saw operator can adjust the fence according to the width of the cut. A simple piece of metal, the rip fence is one of the most valuable parts of the saw.

Why a Good Rip Fence is Important

A good rip fence protects the operator by ensuring that the wood being cut is lined up so the grain of the wood is ripped cleanly. Cutting across the grain, or at an angle can be dangerous causing kickbacks which can injure or kill the operator. The fence should automatically lock into a position parallel to the saw blade when tightened down. Although rip fences can be added to a table after purchase the primary thing to consider is how well they line up when tightened. Having to make repeated adjustments to a fence can be aggravating.

Some Things to Look for in a Good Rip Fence

  • Micro adjustment capability
  • True and square bar
  • Easy positioning
  • Easy to read positioning scale
  • Portability
  • At least a 50-inch rip capacity