So you use your handy miter saw every single day. It’s by far the most expensive tool you own (besides your souped-up pickup truck of course), but worth every penny to you as you use it every single day for your business.
It doesn’t matter whether you use a DeWalt, Festool, Makita, Hitachi, Bosch, or another brand of miter saw, miter box, or compound miter saw, the simple truth is that your saw is your lifeblood. You would be lost without it in the shop and on the job site. Whether you’re slicing up lumber or crown molding, getting precision cut quality is a must-have, and thankfully, your chop saw delivers day in and day out.But, as warm weather approaches, you find that you are bidding more jobs every day. With the increase in work, you must produce more in the same amount of time. You have to build more components and make more cuts each day, and the hours are flying by. You quickly realize that pulling out a tape measure, measuring, marking with a pencil, cutting, and re-measuring for quality control is taking a bit too long. Plus, that new guy you hired to help you out for the summer is making too many costly cutting errors, and it’s time to add on a fence system to your trusted chop saw.
So where do you begin this miter saw fence journey?
Well, there are a ton of options out there for fence systems, also known as linear positioners, miter saw guides, sleds, stops, you name it. If you are in the market for a manual fence, you're in luck because there are plenty of options.
There are a number of popular miter saw fences including the following:
The Kreg Precision Trak & Stop Kit helps take the guesswork out of cutting wood to length. It costs about $140 and easily mounts to your saw. Twist the knob to tighten the track in place and you are ready to cut.
Delta Power Equipment makes a few models that are sold at places like The Home Depot. The Delta T-Square Fence and Rail System starts at around $195 and goes up to nearly $600 depending on the length needed. The fence is easy to use, simple to set up, and great for repetitive cut-off work.
The next level up is from The Original Saw Company. These guys have a popular chop saw fence called the Original Saw Manual Measuring System, which includes an extruded aluminum rail, base, and a manual locking t-nut. Prices start at around $350 and go all the way up to about $850 depending on the length.
And finally, there's the FastCap Best Fence Pro. This is a portable fence system that contractors love. It has a manual adjustment knob and can be set up on the job site in a snap. The system will cost you $300 for the smallest entry level unit and up to $2,000 for the Best Fence Deck Build System.
Miter Saw Fence Considerations:
- Accuracy- How accurate is your fence? Can it measure within ¼ inch? Or maybe you need accuracy within .003 in? The biggest questions is whether or not your fence is accurate enough for your application.
- Durability – Can your fence withstand a rugged, industrial environment? Can it get slammed with a 2x4 and live to see the rest of its days?
- Set up time- How much time do you spend setting up each cut, tightening knobs, and walking back and forth from the fence to your chop saw? Are you wasting precious man hours?
- Length- How long is your miter saw fence? Do you need more length? What is the minimum and maximum length your fence positions?
- Pushing Capacity- Do you need to push heavy material through your chop saw in addition to positioning it accurately? How heavy is your material?
- Labor Time- How much time is your current miter saw fence method taking? Are you losing time or is it working for you and your operation?
- Scrap Material- How much scrap material are you throwing away into the dumpster? Is it a result of an inaccurate fence or human error? Are you losing money due to this?
- Rework- How many parts are your guys reworking each day? Are they being reworked due to cutting errors or measuring errors?
- Happiness! - How happy are you and your team with your current miter saw fence system? Has job satisfaction and operator retention increased, or is a manual fence causing unnecessary pains?
Once you have thought about the above considerations you may have come to the conclusion that you need a miter saw fence that’s a bit more heavy duty than a manual fence. Maybe you produce hundreds of parts a day with your miter saw and wasting time setting and re-setting a manual fence just isn’t cutting it anymore. Good thing there are also a number of automated miter saw fences to choose from.
Automate Your Miter Saw
Automating your miter saw fence is a lot easier and more affordable than you may realize. Simply attach an automated fence, also called a stop, gauge, or lineal positioner to your chop saw, just like you would a manual fence. Rather than measuring and marking with a tape measure, simply type in the length you want and press start.
- Your new summer hand can immediately start cutting parts accurately, over and over again. This means: less scrap waste, less time wasted reworking parts, and less money spent on labor costs.
- Less material being thrown away means an increase in material savings and less material going into your scrap bin.
- You can now work shorter days and produce far more parts than ever before.
- Portable miter saw fences allow you to move from the shop to the job site in a flash.
TigerStop makes a miter saw stop called a SawGear. Attaching a SawGear to your saw can save up to 30% in labor costs. It can also cut parts within .003 of an inch and store cut lists for added efficiency. Every SawGear has built in software called Crown+MiterPro, which calculates angles for you, so you can quickly install crown, trim, baseboard, etc. without doing any math.