A fence is the heart of a capable router table. Whenever you’re making joinery or creating decorative moldings, your router table fence is the key to producing accurate work. Below, you’ll find several tips that will help you select or design a router table fence that meets your needs.
A Solid Fence is a Low-Cost Option
Most factory-built router table fences come with a split design, which means that the faces on either side of the bit are independently adjustable. This is a great feature, but for simplicity, you can build a solid fence with a small cutout for the bit. Although it’s not the ideal fence for something like door making, it’ll work just fine for moldings and profile routing.
A Split Fence is More Versatile
Use Low Friction Material On the Face of Your Router Table Fence
|If you work with bits of different sizes, you should consider a split fence for your router table. For safety’s sake, you always want the opening of your fence to be as tight to the bit as possible, and a split fence can be quickly adjusted to fit the cutter you’re using. This kind of fence is a little more difficult to build than the solid type, but worth the extra effort.||When feeding stock through the router, a fence that’s built with some kind of low-friction material will make the work much easier. Plastic laminate is a common material for router table fences, as is UHMW. If you’re going to build your own fence, take a look at UHMW, which is a super-strong, low-friction plastic that can be worked with standard woodworking blades and bits.|
A Good Fence Includes a T-Track for Accessories
To get the most out of a router table, you should have the ability to attach hold-downs, feather-boards and other accessories to it. Factory built router tables and fences usually come equipped with t-tracks that will accept a wide variety of different jigs. You can use t-track in a home-built fence by cutting an appropriately sized slot (measure your t-track before cutting).
The Fence Must Be Square
An Easy to Lock Fence is a Must
|The most important thing to keep in mind when building a router table fence is that it absolutely must be square to the table top. If it’s not, you’ll end up with joints that don’t fit properly. Cut your fence parts carefully and check them with a square.||There are several ways to lock a fence in place when you get it where you want it, but some are easier than others. The more you use your router table, the more you’re going to want it to be easy to lock into position. You can cut slots in the fence and install t-nuts in the underside of the table for a simple but fast locking mechanism.|
Micro-adjustment Adds Precision
The best and most expensive commercial router table fences are micro-adjustable, which means that they have a device that allows you to move the fence in or out in very small increments (think 1/64” or smaller). Incra fences are well known for their micro-adjustment features, and although they can be pricey, they’re some of the best fences on the market. You can build a simple micro-adjustment into your fence with a t-nut and a bolt.
Buy a Fence if You Don’t Want to Build Your Own
If you don’t feel like building your own router table fence, you can buy a good one from a woodworking supplier. Commercial fences range from less than $100 to more than $500, depending on materials and features. Here are three of the best commercial fences on the market.
|This entry-level router table fence is 6” tall, which is nice when you want to route a piece of material on its end and need the support of a big fence. It’s a split fence and is easy to lock in place from above the tabletop with two threaded knobs. This fence is also equipped with a t-track and includes a guard that can be installed over the bit to protect you from accidental contact or errant wood chips.||Peachtree’s router table fence features a t-track, split design, and a quick locking mechanism. The faces are made of MDF with an aluminum l-bracket at the back for support. This fence should fit any standard router table, but you’ll have to drill the appropriate holes to mount it.|
For woodworkers with big budgets, Woodpeckers makes a premium quality fence with the fit and finish one can only expect from a top dollar piece of equipment. It’s built from premium-grade materials and includes all the features in the previous two fences, like t-track and a split design. Plus, Woodpeckers makes an optional micro-adjustment mechanism for super precision.