Bandsaws are brilliant pieces of equipment for those that want to make curved cuts. Kit your bandsaw out with a decent blade and you will be cutting beautiful patterns like there is no tomorrow. Sadly, however, bandsaws are not quite so brilliant at the whole straight-cutting thing.
Now, bandsaws can cut straight. The problem, however, is that it can be difficult to cut straight. Even if you put the correct blade on a bandsaw, there is always going to be a little bit of blade drift if you attempt to cut straight with it. This means that you could try and slice through wood with the steadiest hand possible, but if you look at the wood after, the cut won’t be as straight as you hoped.
Thankfully, with the right equipment by your side, cutting straight with a bandsaw becomes a lot easier. In fact, your bandsaw is likely to support the right equipment. This means a bandsaw fence.
Bandsaw fences allow you to keep the material that you are working with nice and straight. This means that you can end up with far more precise cuts with your bandsaw.
Why Build a DIY Bandsaw Fence?
Now. If you head to a decent DIY or hardware store, then chances are that they will have some bandsaw fences available. They may even have ones designed specifically for your model of a bandsaw.
By all means, you can buy one of these. However, the cost of purchasing a bandsaw fence like that is astronomically high. Building your own bandsaw fence can be accomplished for just a fraction of the price.
It isn’t even that difficult to build your own bandsaw fence. You aren’t going to need any special materials. You aren’t going to need to use any complicated woodworking tricks. If you know how to cut and drill wood, then you should be able to tackle a DIY bandsaw fence project.
The best reason for building a DIY bandsaw fence, however, is that you can really customize the design. Sure, there isn’t too much that you can do with a bandsaw fence’s look. We know that. However, you can change the height of it. You can change the length of it. All of this is going to make it a whole lot easier for you to cut the types of wood that you want to cut.
On top of it all, the job isn’t even going to be that hard. We reckon that you will be able to cut your own DIY bandsaw fence in the span of an afternoon. So, let’s jump into how you can tackle the job, shall we?
The DIY Bandsaw Fence
There are countless ways to produce your own bandsaw fence. The DIY bandsaw fence that we focus on in this tutorial is one of the simplest designs. However, it is also one of the better ones. The fence that we teach you how to make is going to be incredibly similar to the sort of bandsaw fence that you will be able to pick up from your local DIY store. The only difference is that this one is going to be made of wood.
If you have a bit of woodworking experience, then you may be able to shake up this design ever so slightly when you are building the bandsaw fence. Remember; one of the main benefits of building your own bandsaw fence is not just to save money, but it is to come up with something that is unique to you.
The Tools and Materials You Need
Before we can get to work building that bandsaw fence, we are going to need to get together some tools and materials. Luckily, a lot of this will already be sitting around your workshop.
Tools Required for DIY Bandsaw Fence
- Bench Grinder
- Wood Square
- Small Wood Plane
- Small bubble level
- Table saw
Materials Required for DIY Bandsaw Fence
- Bolts (we will talk more about this in the first step)
- Vertical Toggle Clamp
Step 1: Preparing Your Bolts
Your first job will require cutting up some bolts. This is because we need them to help line up the guide rails on either side of the bandsaw. That is their only job. Once you have done that, then they become useless. Later on in the building process, we are going to be using bolts that you don’t need to prepare.
Now, we know that you can purchase bolts that are sharpened already. However, we want to try and keep the costs of building your own DIY bandsaw fence as low as possible. Since you are only going to be using them for the first two steps of the process, why not make them yourself?
So, what type of bolts do you need? Well, you need bolts that have the same thread as the holes on the side of your bandsaw. This will, of course, vary from bandsaw model to bandsaw model. If you read through the manual that came with your bandsaw or conduct a quick Google search, we are almost certain that it will tell you the holts that you need. If it doesn’t, then you will probably need to test a few bolts to see what fits. Try to ensure that the bolts that you do select are a couple of inches long.
Once you have worked out the bolt size that you need, cut off the head (/the hexagonal bit). You can do that with a hacksaw.
You now need to sharpen the opposite end into a point. You can use a grinder for this. Try to ensure that the point is as sharp as possible. This is important because we are going to be using those bolts for a bit of marking.
Step 2: Cutting the Guide Rails
Your next job is to cut some guide rails with your wood.
The guide rails need to be the same height and length as the sides of your bandsaw.
This is probably going to be the simplest part of the whole process!
Step 3: Attaching the Guide Rails to the Bandsaw Table
Now, grabbing your sharpened bolts, screw them into the threads on the side of the bandsaw table. There may be more than 2 holes on each side of the bandsaw table. However, you only need to use two holes, one on each end of the guide rails.
Once you have the bolts in, push the guide rails lightly up against the sharpened points. You now want to use a level to get the guide rails straight. Once they are straight, push as hard as you can onto the sharpened bolts. This should give you the markings that you need to drill your holes. So, drill those holes.
Repeat this process for both sides of the bandsaw table i.e. two completed guide rails. You can then bolt them into place.
Step 4: Cutting Plywood
You now need to grab yourself some 3/4″ x 3/4″ plywood as we are going to be making the angle catch.
This needs to be cut to the exact same length as the back runner.
Once this has been cut to length, you need to make a delicate cut to remove the face of this piece of wood at a 10-degree angle.
Once it has been cut to an angle, glue it to the back runner. The angled part should be facing out.
Step 5: Cutting Miter Slots
You now need to cut the miter slots out of the guide rails.
Mark the miter slots in the correct place using the miter slot on the bandsaw table as a guide.
You can make the cuts with a miter saw.
Step 6: Building the Fence – Part 1
We are now finally to the part where we get to build the fence. It is probably going to be one of the easiest parts of this process too.
You will need to glue together two pieces of 2×4 wood. You will need some clamps to hold them together. It could take over a day to get a solid join between the two.
It doesn’t really matter what the length of the wood is at this point. A few inches longer than your table should be fine.
Step 7: Building the Fence – Part 2
Once you are confident that you have a solid join between the two, it is time to remove those clamps.
You now need to chamfer the edges so the join between the wood disappears, or at least almost disappears. If you don’t, then there is a chance that sawdust could get into that joint and the fence will start to separate.
Step 8: Attaching a Vertical Toggle Clamp
We now need to get that vertical toggle attached to the front end of the fence that we just built. The 2×4 fence that you built needs to be laid down flat for this. The top edge should be 4-inches, while the sides should be 2-inches up. When you attach the vertical toggle clamp the rubber part should be pointing out to the side. So, do not mount it vertically. Mount it horizontally.
In order to do this, you are going to need to line the vertical toggle clamp up with the center of the end. You can then make your pilot holes, drill them out, and secure the clamp into place with wood screws.
Step 9: Attaching the Fence to the Table
For the next step, we are going to need to be quite accurate. As we said before, your fence should now be a couple of inches longer than the table. This is fine. We are trimming away the excess wood here.
Clamp the fence onto the front runner. The fence should now be running straight along with the table i.e. it should be extending past the back runner.
You now need to adjust the rubber stop on the clamp and set it to the lowest position it can be in.
Once everything is secure, you can move onto step 10.
Step 10: Cutting the Angle Catch
We now need an angle catch that will sit at the back of the fence. It is this angle catch that will run along the other angle catch that we built earlier.
This angle catch will need to be 2-inches wide. It will need to have 2.5-inches coming out of each side of the fence. As with the previous angle catch, you are going to need to cut a 10-degree angle. Again, it is important that you are accurate so the two can run together properly.
The 10-degree angle should be on the inner side of this angle catch. However, don’t attach it to your fence quite yet.
Step 11: Cutting the Fence
Your fence should be longer than the table. This is fine. We can now cut it to length.
You need to cut it to a length so that when the angle catch is attached, it will run along with the angle catch of the back runner.
If you followed the instructions in step 9, it should be easy to mark out. You just need to draw a line where the back runner’s angle catch is.
You can now attach your fence angle catch. You want the angle of the catch to be running along the line that you just drew. The back of the angle catch should be pointing outward.
Make sure that everything is straight and lined up. You can then cut the fence up to the straight edge of the angle catch.
Step 12: Finishing Up
Now all you need to do is make sure all the screws are tightened up. The angle catch should be secure on the fence. Everything should run smoothly on the table.
You can varnish or sand down the various pieces of wood if you want. However, this isn’t strictly necessary. You now have a working fence, and it didn’t take that much effort at all!
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