How To Use Saw Fences and Miter Gauges

Table saws are mainly used for cutting lumber, and in order to do this properly, every table saw needs a fence. It’s one of the most crucial components, so this guide was made to help.

Table saws rely on something called a miter gauge in order to make accurate and good cuts. I will explain this further down below because if you want to make angled cuts it’s essential to know. If you don’t understand much about saws don’t worry I will explain below.

miter gauge

Safety Considerations

When making cross-cuts you want to avoid using the miter gauge and fence at the same time. This is because when you slide the board it will stick to the fence.

At this point, I should tell you this will can cause some kickback which obviously you want to avoid!

The Fence

One important component of every table saw along with the blade and motor is the fence. You actually need it to even make an accurate cut.

Now I will go over the characteristics that a good fence should have. First of all the fence should make it easy and hassle-free to adjust it both horizontally and vertically. It should also not wiggle and sit on the rails firmly.

You can apply some lube like wax if there is any movement in the fence. You’ll want to purchase an aftermarket miter gauge cause the stock ones usually aren’t very good. However, if you get a table saw with a bad fence it’s not the end of the world.

The T-square fences found on table saws have quite a few differences. Some of them use of bolts in order to mount the fence tube to the head which is a characteristic of lighter duty fences found on other saws. The Heavy-duty fences found on cabinet saws have the fence tube welded on instead.

Miter Gauge

So what is a miter gauge? It’s essentially a device that moves inside the miter slot and guides the wood on the saw. The important part is the piece that sort of looks like a half circle and pivots around the point of its connection. Thanks to the locking mechanism you can pick whatever angle you want.

Although fences allow you to make rip cuts, miter gauges provide you with a lot more choices. You can make a square and angled cross-cuts, as well as other types of cuts. If you want to make a cross-cut, you need to get the miter gauge towards yourself more. You can then put the board on the straight part of the gauge.

After you have marked off where you want the cross-cut to be made, make it line up with the blade. Now turn on the saw and guide the miter gauge forward until the cut is made while making sure the board doesn’t move or wiggle.

A square cross-cut is one of the simplest cuts that can be made with a miter gauge. Simply set the miter gauge at 90 degrees or zero and make the cut by pushing it towards the spinning blade. The result should be a square cut with the board. You can also make set the miter gauge at an angle of up to 45 degrees to make some angled cuts.

One thing you must know is that you need to slide the wood a bit slower because the gauge can move and mess up the cut. To make sure this doesn’t happen you can use a clamp to hold the board in place.