The saying goes that ‘good fences make good neighbours!’ Often this is to save disputes as to who’s cattle or sheep are on who’s land, who’s kids are in who’s yard, and who’s dog is making what mess on who’s lawn. In woodworking, it usually to do with the fence on a tablesaw or bandsaw. As I no longer own or need a tablesaw, it’s my bandsaw that has been a trial.

My vintage Startrite fence works perfectly.

I own two Startrite 403 16″ bandsaws. Straight off, I disliked the bandsaw fence that came standard and took a look at the Record Power version to retrofit with.

The original Startrite fence. Painfully bad!

That turned out to be a mistake too. After two years in use on each machine, I decided to bin these too. They are awkward, clunky, virtually unremovable once installed, complicated to align, and adjust and they do go out of alignment in every direction if you do decide to make any adjustments. All in all, they are thoroughly impractical. I also own a vintage Startrite 14″ bandsaw that has the simplest fence of any I’ve seen and used and it is rock solid, removes in a split second, and takes up the smallest amount of room betwixt blade and column. Anyone need a Record Power fence? … or maybe two??!!!

My Startrite 403. English in name only. Most bandsaws come from Taiwan. Take a look at the two bandsaws below and tell me how different they are. Mm, mm, mm! No imagination any more.
Grizzly Imports version. Better fence though!
A Laguna looks curiously like a Startrite, like Grizzly like an Axminster…

So, what to do? I looked for various fences to satisfy my needs parallel to the vintage Startrite fence of old. One of the issues with the Startrite bandsaws is the split table where the split comes at the front instead of the side. This can eliminate the possibility of continuous fence and distance guide. I was prepared to forsake this for a smooth running and easy fence to lift on and off as needed. As can be seen above, some makers put the split at the side, and some never learned!

I decided on the Kregg Precision fence as a replacement knowing that their fences were not designed for European bandsaws but more the US bandsaws like Jet, Delta, Rigid, Craftsman and others. Removing the Record fence was one of those wonderful delights even though I had paid too much for something to be so disliked. I am sure others who own such a fence feel differently but for me at least I felt that they were well made enough but poorly over-engineered to the degree that they had built-in complications. I wonder if the engineer ever used one? I did strongly dislike the huge clunky thing.

The Kregg fence needed retrofit work because none of the holes in the replacement were meant to align with my existing ones. Instead of threaded holes in the table to bolt into I had to drill through the flange to use four 5/16″ nuts and bolts to secure the fence with. I actually drilled two holes in the mounting rail to align with existing holes in the table and two through the flange of the table using existing holes in the mounting rail. I also preferred to bolt it in place as a single unit to get the alignment just right which then made it just a little more awkward to hacksaw through for a slot to remove blades through. It did work well though, and the outcome was perfect. Most likely I could do the whole change-out in about an hour and a half. I have ordered another for my second bandsaw.

I cut the blade slot for blade removal after the whole fence was bolted in place. That way I got perfect alignment of the two independent halves.

Conclusion:

Do you need the extra tall fence for rip-cutting thick stock? Not really.

Rip-cutting cherry or any hardwood is a breeze with the right blade and the right machine.

I just ripcut some 10″ tall cherry with no issues at all. I have cut veneer-thin to 3/16″ pieces 10″ tall too and they have been very accurate cuts ready for scraping or sanding. Fact is a 1/2″ plywood addition will give me any fence height `i might need in the future.

You can set your bandsaw up for wide precision cuts to make thin or thick stock.

The fence fits nicely and slides smoothly. It lifts off like my vintage Startrite version and is compact. You can upgrade with a standard fit Kregg precision micro-adjuster if you want to. I might and i might not — I doubt I will, but I just might!

I felt that it was well worth the change in the fence. Aside from the UK issue, anyone in the US who wants to upgrade their fence will be very happy with retrofitting one of these. No doubt! hey are nice.

Oh! Why do I own four bandsaws? I tested out that mini bandsaw and it is still alive and kicking just fine. I use it for cutting garden stuff currently but it does work well. It is small though. I bought my 352 14″ Startrite ten years ago secondhand for £150 and it has been a very good for me. The two 16″ Startrites are in different areas. One is in my garage workshop and the other is in the training and research area.

On the downside. Unbelievably, the measure tape guide is in imperial only. I could not believe my eyes. Do Kregg ot realise the whole of Europe is metric and 98% would have no clue about imperial? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!!!

51 Comments

  1. John on 10 November 2020 at 5:20 pm

    I noticed the same problem with new table saws. They all have complicated fence systems that can break don’t even guarantee squareness. But my 40 year old INCA table saw has the simplest of fences, which always works 100%. Don’t understand why they don’t copy those simple systems.

    My guess is that the buying decision is based mostly on how good something looks, not how well it actually works in practice..

  2. Dr. Christian Rapp on 10 November 2020 at 7:42 pm

    Clearly Paul is on a missionary mission! But to finally convince one of the heretics (who sees that all his carpenter friends always use a Altendorf or similar tablesaw but never the 500 kilo cast iron spiderweb covered bandsaw in their shop) – make two ripcuts of boards 6 feet long and say 15 inch wide and let is see if both are exactly the same width all the way and the surface is decent 🙂 Then I would seriously consider buying a Minimax (to have a European saw) rather than a Mafell Erika 85 carpenter table saw.
    Cheers!
    Christian

    • Mark Lawrence on 28 November 2020 at 10:19 am

      I replaced an Erika 85 (with all the accessories) with a Minimax 16” Bandsaw and haven’t regretted my decision for a moment. My argument is, that if you are making one-off pieces, even if they are big projects, the amount of time you save using a table saw is negligible ie as a ratio of total project time. With a bandsaw you gain space, capacity and flexibility, especially if you are working with solid wood,

  3. Colin on 10 November 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Do you have any suggestions for improving fences on small (10in) bandsaws such as the Lumberjack I think you trialled a couple of years ago? I find it a great little machine but the fence is poor as it seems to move out of parallel when you lock it down. My issue is more the mechanism than the fence itself. I have my workarounds but I’ve thought about a fence replacement too if better versions exist for this size of machine.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 November 2020 at 7:29 am

      I do. If you have an aluminium sash clamp like the ones I use, screw a piece of wood to the side of the clamp and then set the shoes to suit your table. You will need to measure distances but it will be solid and immoveable.

      • Colin on 11 November 2020 at 3:17 pm

        What a great idea. I have some of those so I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Greg Suing on 10 November 2020 at 11:06 pm

    I have the Kreg fence (Grizzly saw) and like it except for one major issue. Every edge and corner of the extruded aluminum fence is razor sharp. I cut my hands and elbows many times on this fence before I filed the edges.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 November 2020 at 7:26 am

      Aha! Thanks for the warning. Not had a problem so far but might take the corners off before I do.

  5. Dave Pawson on 11 November 2020 at 8:20 am

    I’m curious about your drill press Paul? Have you added an after market depth gauge please?
    Another (brief) article?

  6. Samuel on 11 November 2020 at 9:08 am

    I only every used a bandsaw at school a lifetime ago so I know nothing.
    Why do u need the fence guide rail on the waste side of the blade anyway?

    • Sylvain on 11 November 2020 at 10:23 am

      You decide which side is the waste side.
      There is no fixed rule for this.

  7. Nathan Jones on 11 November 2020 at 10:33 am

    Hi Paul,
    From day one of using the Record power bandsaw BS 400, I found the fence ridiculous and should’ve taken the cue when the guy at the shop demonstrating it stalled for words when he couldn’t figure out how to slide it off. Though I did initialise all edges it still is a bit of a prickly pear. Never have I found the over size beneficial so maybe retro fitting is an overdue task.
    It seems I go through blades very quick. Just using carbon steel, no bells and whistles, I am not setting it up correctly.?
    Thanks 🙏🏻

  8. RODNEY MAGEE on 11 November 2020 at 12:02 pm

    The shame of it that the parts have been cheapened over the years but the prices have gone up. Paul can you put an after market tape on the rail that is metric?

  9. Salko Safic on 11 November 2020 at 12:11 pm

    You mentioned metric and imperial and I agree. I wonder though if the world will ever have one system of measurement i.e. metric. I’ve used imperial for so long even though I’m born in a metric world that I think only in imperial.

  10. david o sullivan on 11 November 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Paul you found one .i have the exact bandsaw as yours and have been looking to do something about the frustration with the fence issue .total annoyance adjust ,.test ,readjust. i looked at the Kerg but dismissed it because of height but you have put my mind to rest. i also wonder if you have an issue with the bearings below the table in that they cant be moved back behind the teeth gullets when using 1/2 blades and smaller . thanks again David

    • Francois on 11 November 2020 at 12:58 pm

      Hi David O Sullivan,
      There are different schools of thought regarding where the blade / teeth should sit on the wheel tyres. I started trying to more or less center the blade on the tyres but couldn’t move the lower bearings back enough with this configuration. I have since switched to letting the blade teeth just about protruding on the front on the top tyre and this now means I can accommodate any size blade (I’ve tested this setup with 3/16″ to 3/4″ blades). As the rubber tyre is flat (rather than crowned) on my Startrite 403, this has the advantage of reducing wear and tear on the teeth (it also simplifies slightly blade changes as the side bearings don’t need adjusting if the blade thickness remains constant)

      • david o sullivan on 11 November 2020 at 5:55 pm

        thanks for that i always assumed the tyre was slightly crowned and never even thought of bringing the blade froward i will definitely give it a try

  11. Francois on 11 November 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I also have a Startrite 403. Mine came with a slightly different aluminium fence profile than the one shown in the pictures above (It looks like the one on the Laguna picture). It is reasonably sturdy but not very convenient to remove (I’ve set it up so that it is just possible to lift the fence and remove it when opening the top door).

    The adjustment bolts are indeed not conveniently located and the fence does need regular adjustments so I share the frustration… but it’s not as bad as adjusting the lower bearing guide assembly (I’m wondering what the engineers were thinking when they designed it as it’s not very rigid and has hard to access nuts and bolts which can move in too many directions).

  12. Paul Palmer on 11 November 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Paul, I upgraded my Rigid bandsaw with the Kregg fence some time back and have since added the micro adjuster. I don’t use the micro a lot but find it works well and saves a lot of time when I need to fine tune an adjustment. Kregg also offers a tall fence add on adapter for free hand re-sawing but I have never used mine because it is to tall to fit my 14″ bandsaw and I prefer to re-saw with the fence. It is a great fence and I am very happy with it.
    Paul

  13. Terry H. on 11 November 2020 at 3:23 pm

    I have a Rikon bandsaw with pretty much the same fence your bandsaws came with and I too replaced it with a Kreg.

    The Rikon has that annoying blade removal slot in the front and agree that is really dumb. Your installation has given me the solution of how to handle the blade removal, but will need to add a couple more bolts.

    Is the width of the hacksaw blade wide enough to allow your BS blade to be removed easily?

    • Paul Sellers on 11 November 2020 at 4:28 pm

      It is.

    • Martin Ericsson Borgh on 15 November 2020 at 7:26 am

      It is sometimes difficult to widen a slot cut work a hacksaw – the area may be difficult to reach with a file, or the files you have at hand may be too thick.
      A tip is to use two hacksaw blades in the same frame and double the width of the cut slot. This has saved my bacon a few times.

  14. Brian Ward on 11 November 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Most of the steel-frame bandsaws are made by OAV in Taiwan (with the exception of Rikon, which might be a Chinese imitation), but components such as fences, guides, and power switches will vary depending on which vendor placed the order. That stuff can add up. For bandsaws, you have a certain amount of wiggle room with aftermarket components such as the Carter retrofits, but it’s often just helpful just to pay attention to the details at the beginning.

  15. Julian on 11 November 2020 at 8:12 pm

    Hi, The images don’t load on this article 🙁 can you please fix

    • Paul Sellers on 11 November 2020 at 10:23 pm

      I think you are the only one Julian. Do you think it could be at your end?

  16. J Dougherty on 11 November 2020 at 10:31 pm

    All in all, I found that the best solution to some of these problems was to worry less about the fence and pay careful attention to getting the blade aligned and tensioned properly. I have a Rigid table saw, and old, cast iron framed version with a 14-inch throat and a 6-inch riser block to increase the width of a board you can re-saw across the width. It didn’t come with a fence, so I put a Kregg on, that looks just about the same as the one photographed.

  17. Don in Texas on 12 November 2020 at 2:08 am

    Hey Paul, There are a lot of people on my side of the pond fighting and clawing to keep from having to use the metric system. Some even will swear the metric system has never been used here. I started out as an auto mechanic in 1974. I went to work at a Chevrolet dealer in 1976 and had to buy my first metric tools because GM started slipping metric fasteners in on us shortly before the end of the model year and when I tell a naysayer that they tell me I’m talking through my hat. I didn’t learn much about the metric system until I went to work for a BMW, Jaguar, Subaru and British Leyland dealer. They shipped me off to Subaru school 3 weeks later and my instructor taught us how dead simple metric was. I still use the metric system daily, 40 years later, and the only good rulers I have are metric. If more Americans would give metric a chance I think they might like it. I don’t even think in fractions of an inch and convert most common fractions into a decimal number and the ones I don’t know offhand I go to my calculator. I can also assure you many of the engineers have only worked with their monstrosities on paper or a computer simulation.

    • Paul Sellers on 12 November 2020 at 4:45 am

      I do find it difficult to understand just how opposed the majority of Americans are to the metric system even though I do use both in my day to day work. In the field, we woodworkers do a great deal by eye to avoid measuring, spacing screws, even dovetails, without layout or rulers. I tend to use imperial over metric, my brain works well with it, and as I think mostly in pictures I can envisage any distance up to many feet mentally more readily than I can metres. I think it’s because of the intermittent increments of feet and then inches and then half inches, quarter inches, eighths and so on. I can also see in your industry how metric squares the circle for you, of course I can.

      • Robert Gray on 16 November 2020 at 10:48 pm

        I believe that imperial measurements gives better proportions, look at a trad 9″x4″x3″ brick and period houses, compared to the horrible modern lego bricks and the houses made with them. A carpenter’s box 2’x18″x9″ looks better then one made with metric measurements, There is a classical golden proportion, look at a 4’x3′ window as opposed to modern metric window sizes.
        As we teach children about culture and tradition so we should teach them imperial measurements.
        I am so sick of installing horrible metric kitchens, I hand make my own in imperial.

  18. Dean on 12 November 2020 at 3:51 am

    Paul, 13 years ago, I added a kreg fence on one of the last USA made 14 inch Delta bandsaws . The fence which fit my Delta Bandsaw table was pre-drilled that matched the existing hole pattern on the table. Delta Engineers were thoughtful of blade removal, with blade removal slot in the 3 o’clock position, no need to cut through the fence travel guide. Its been a great fence. It has experienced much use and has never needed further adjustment since the day of installation. Only issue I found was the 2 nylon slotted screws, used to adjust the leveling of the fence, protrude about ,015″. While ripping wide boards, as the board passes over the slightly protruded screw head, one can feel the board drop as it board clears the screw. This was one of Kregs great after market accessory.

    • Paul Sellers on 12 November 2020 at 4:37 am

      Well, despite the faux pas, I am really enjoying the simplicity of the Kreg fence and have ordered a second one for my other machine. I will eventually change the imperial-only tape for a combo of both metric and imperial. I still like and use imperial more than metric and prefer it, despite metric-only users from mainland Europe not understanding why.

      • Michael michalofsky on 12 November 2020 at 10:57 am

        I have a kreg fence and never encountered any problem
        I also never ever used the measuring tape on any machine
        I don’t trust them
        I always use my lufkin folding rule
        Michael

  19. Lee Aufdemkampe on 12 November 2020 at 10:02 am

    Some years ago I bought a Delta floor sample bandsaw from my nearby Woodcraft store. A new model had arrived for their floor that day and so I got it for $120.00! I immediately bought the Kreg Precision fence and have been very satisfied. I adjusted it flat to the table and the experienced a horrible high-pitched scraping noise as I shifted it from side-to-side. Easy fix. I just added a strip of Teflon tape to the bottom of the fence. Very smooth now.

    I’m the opposite of you in one regard. Though I’m from the US, I prefer metric! The math is easier. A number of years ago, the US tried to go metric by putting kilometers on road signs and such. Everyone hated it!

    • nemo on 12 November 2020 at 12:40 pm

      A Texan-American told me once long ago (in the days of Ross Perot), ‘the US loves metric so much that we switched over to it nearly a dozen times in our history.’

  20. Sylvain on 14 November 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Paul, what is your view about a “pivot” fence for re-sawing?

    • Paul Sellers on 14 November 2020 at 4:10 pm

      Sylvain, I keep hearing of such things, along with ‘blade drift’, yet on all of my bandsaws through 55years I have never drifted nor have I ever used anything but a straight and parallel fence with no issues. I must have missed something. I never overrun a blade to dullness even though they do last me several hours of run time on all kinds of stock. On average a blade lasts me about a month, unless I hit a hidden nail or some embedded rock.

      • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 16 November 2020 at 7:12 am

        I have a suspicion that “pivot” fences are solutions to a different problem, really. Now, I really do not have very much experience in using band saws – but I have used a few and have done a fair bit of research. I once planned to build my own band saw sawmill and I did my research before settling on my BS400.
        This year I cut down a huge oak which I cut to planks and slabs on a band saw mill I rented. The machine had been neglected for some time, so I had to do some maintenance and tune-up. With a 13 HP Honda petrol engine, it cut the oak like butter!
        The only times I experienced any problems with the cut, it came down to a few different issues:
        – unstable log and/or tensions in the wood causing the blade to drift and/or bind
        – wrong tension causing the blade to follow the grain and drift.
        – cut into a log support (that is the initialization every band sawyer has to do at some point, I’ve learned…) causing the blade to dull. The tooth setting was affected as well, causing the blade to drift upwards since it stopped cutting below the center of the kerf.
        – Dull blade pushed way too far past its usefulness.

        How does this relate to a fence on a shop band saw? The tracks on which the sawmill moves past the log, is the fence. The tilt of the saw head compares to the alignment of the fence (or indeed the table) to the blade.
        Of course, on a band saw sawmill the room for errors are bigger and more forgiving – but an incorrectly adjusted setup will result in problems and cuts not being straight (which might not be THAT critical given how some of the once straight and true planks now looks after half a year on sticks in my big stack of quartersawn goodness… They move!).

        If one needs a pivot fence, something is wrong. My guess is either the setup or the technique used.

        But I might be wrong. As I said, my experience is still a bit limited. There are times when theroy does not match particularly well with the real world, so I’ll keep an open mind. But I would dread having to manhandle a 2.5 metre long, 5cm thick (~2”) by 25cm (~10”) piece of oak in order to rip it into two boards with a pivoting fence! Much easier to extend the fence with a long straightedge in such a setup, in stead of looking like a dog’s tail wagging the thing through the cut.

        • Paul Sellers on 16 November 2020 at 8:05 am

          I think that this gets way too complicated for me and indeed people looking for simplicity. Engineers design products that are generally unneeded but that take care of an occasional problem. Change the blade and the problem is likely to be solved. People do different things with their bandsaws and make them do things that they were not meant to do and for a wide range of reasons, not the least of which can be laziness and being unskilled in other areas like using hand tools. In the day to day of milling standard-sized stock to lesser levels, all you need is a decent-sized, straight fence, 3-4″ high, and a sharp blade. The stress on sharp is critical and being prepared to give up on pushing a blade beyond its life’s span for the sake of saving a few pennies. Most drift is caused by a dull blade, a damaged blade, poor set up and bad alignment. As I said, I decided to follow this maxim of sharpness decades ago and I have never had a problem with drift. When you get into logs and limbs it is a different story. Then, generally, you can get rid of the fence and rely on your eye and freehanding.

          • Sylvain on 16 November 2020 at 1:04 pm

            Paul,
            Thank you for the answers.



  21. Ed Baedke on 16 November 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Paul, do you have a blade brand preference? Often you get what you pay for but curious to know if you favor a specific brand. Thanks!

  22. Franklin Bodenchuk on 16 November 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Paul! I have the same fence and mine came with a metric as well as an imperial ruler insert. Can I send you my extra metric measuring tape insert? I use the imperial one have no use for the metric. Also, you were my inspiration to start using hand tools. I started with the #4 Stanley and now have a collection of hand planes, routers, and chisels which all give such a nicer finish than any power wool could and with no sawdust. I always look forward to reading your blog and watching any new videos you release. Thank you for passing on all of your wisdom and experience so the rest of us can learn from you!

  23. Roger Walker on 16 November 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Question on the type of bandsaw blades you use, what type, tooth count how wide?

  24. Bogdan Patru on 17 November 2020 at 10:28 am

    I have a Scheppach bandsaw (Basato 3h vario), bought about 10 years ago. It has a very nice fence system, that can be easily lifted and adjusted, just like in the first picture.

  25. Stu on 17 November 2020 at 4:09 pm

    Hello Paul,
    Your thoughts on upgrading the stock blade guides to roller bearings?

    • Paul Sellers on 17 November 2020 at 5:02 pm

      Nah! Zero benefit. Square steel stock works perfectly well on a well-adjusted bandsaw. Keep your money in your pocket.

      • Stu on 17 November 2020 at 7:49 pm

        Great! Thanks

  26. Randy on 18 November 2020 at 1:32 am

    I have pushed tens of thousands of board feet of cherry, hard as well as soft maple, and spruce through an old Delta 14 with a riser block. With good blades it is really easy. Bad (inexpensive or just poorly made) blades are guaranteed to make you miserable. Buy once and thank yourself for saving money, as they last far longer as well as not spoiling hard to find and expensive wood.

    • David on 18 November 2020 at 2:12 am

      What Blades are you using ? I love my Laguna Resaw King . They don’t give them away .

  27. Dad id on 18 November 2020 at 2:08 am

    There is a mag fence made by Carter Products that I use, and it has been great . The thing works perfect , is easily adjusted or removed.
    I saw it at a demo form Alex Snodgrass I believe , and bought it that day and never looked back .

    • Paul Sellers on 18 November 2020 at 7:15 am

      I thought it would answer my issues but I don’t like that you have to set it up for each cut with regards to squareness.

  28. Cees Tax on 19 November 2020 at 3:23 pm

    who’s >> whose.

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