Some Thoughts on Fence Control
I've begun doing a couple of things that have helped me fine-tune fence placement and thought I'd pass them on. Now ... I'm pretty much a novice and maybe everyone's already doing this and saying "So what else is new?" but for me it was a big move forward (remember What About Bob? - baby steps, baby steps), so for what it's worth ...
1. I've gotten away from worrying whether or not my fence face is parallel to the table, to the point where I've installed a pin through one side of my fence base and will sometimes peg it in place and then fine-tune my fence location by moving only the other end. What this does for me is to give finer incremental adjustments at the bit location when trying to "sneak up" on a cut - it's more of a fine pivot rather than a sliding adjustment so it's easier for me to control. 90% of the time it doesn't matter whether my fence face is square to the table or miter slot, and if I AM using the miter, I just put a square against the fence and rotate the miter head to be true to the fence's angle.
2. For those like me whose fine motor skills are challenged, there are some bits that are a real chore to get setup - both in height and fence position - a locking miter bit comes to mind. Set-up blocks are great, but you'll still have fine-tuning to do. Now you've gone through all the trouble, gone through a billion test pieces (more fodder for the fireplace), and have finaly gotten it fine tuned and the fit is perfect ... but you can't be taking all that cut in one pass or you'll rip out, or have to go too slow and burn the workpiece ... all the usual horrors of taking too much material in one pass (not to mention the safety issues). But I don't want to lower the bit and mess up the set-up (for that matter, with a lock miter you can't slide up on the height). What I used to do was try to mark the fence location on the table top, move the fence forward for a shallower cut and make several passes while gradualy returning to my marks .... this was close, but way less than the perfect fit I had struggled for - I was never quite satisfied. Well, remember the pin from above? Nowadays, when I've got the final fence position set, I just clamp a stop to the table top BEHIND the fence on the end opposite the pin, then pivot the fence shallower, and proceed to make passes gradually pivoting back till I hit the stop. Perfect repeat every time. If I'm not using the pin, I just put a stop block at BOTH ends.
Like I said, I'm a novice and maybe this is old news for everyone else, but for me it's helped a lot and I haven't seen it talked about - so maybe it'll be of help to someone else. May the chips fly where they will! ;-)