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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Default Really noobish question

I see fence-only systems like the Veritas Router Table and I see miter slot + fence systems. I see the interaction the fence-only systems would have with the bit. The miter slot + fence systems make me wonder a little though. Some, like the Kreg table seem go to great lengths to ensure fence parallelism. Others, like the Benchdog table don't seem to concern themselves with miter slot-fence alignment at all - that fence can just lock down anywhere.

So which is it? Does the fence need to be parallel to the miter slot or not? When you're using a sled & routing stiles and rails, other than possibly as a depth stop do you even need the fence on the table at all?? A sled riding in the miter slot bearing a component to be routed might use the fence as a depth stop, but doesn't the fence still need to be aligned to the path of travel of the sled? If not, unless you reference your depth at exactly the same spot on the fence each time, aren't you going to get a different result?

Or, you have it so all your work bears only on the fence, do you even need a miter slot at all?

I'm just starting out, planning a RT purchase soon and trying to understand what's going on with all of this to get my head around what I need to buy. Any help is appreciated!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 02:34 PM
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The fence does not have to be parallel with anything. All reference is from a round bit so fence position makes no difference. You can set your fence at a 45 on the table & flush the fence with a bearing guided bit & it will machine the same using the parallel miter slots. I use the swing fence option on my tables which has a pivot point on the right & an adjustment clamp on the left.

I do like miter slots. One in the top & one in the fence & only use them for holding feather boards & stop blocks. You can just use a clamp for these things but I don't like the extra clutter in my workspace. I never have used them for fence adjustment.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!

Last edited by jlord; 10-03-2011 at 02:38 PM.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by threepeas View Post
I see fence-only systems like the Veritas Router Table and I see miter slot + fence systems. I see the interaction the fence-only systems would have with the bit. The miter slot + fence systems make me wonder a little though. Some, like the Kreg table seem go to great lengths to ensure fence parallelism. Others, like the Benchdog table don't seem to concern themselves with miter slot-fence alignment at all - that fence can just lock down anywhere.

So which is it? Does the fence need to be parallel to the miter slot or not? When you're using a sled & routing stiles and rails, other than possibly as a depth stop do you even need the fence on the table at all?? A sled riding in the miter slot bearing a component to be routed might use the fence as a depth stop, but doesn't the fence still need to be aligned to the path of travel of the sled? If not, unless you reference your depth at exactly the same spot on the fence each time, aren't you going to get a different result?

Or, you have it so all your work bears only on the fence, do you even need a miter slot at all?

I'm just starting out, planning a RT purchase soon and trying to understand what's going on with all of this to get my head around what I need to buy. Any help is appreciated!
When routing rails & stiles you do not need to spend money on coping jigs & such. Just use a scrap piece of wood as a push/backer block guided by the fence. Just make it large enough to keep narrow parts (such as coping ends of face frame parts) square to the fence. Example I use a piece of scrap mdf around 8"x8" as a push/backer block.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2011, 10:00 PM
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I 2nd what James said. The scrap piece also helps prevent blowout. You can also use a use a piece with a 45 deg angle to work on mitres if needed.
The added advantage of not worrying about staying parallel is that when you need to make a fine adjustment, you just tap one end of the fence the right way. That makes the adjustment only half at the bit. As Bob and Rick used used to say when they would pick up a hammer on the Router Workshop series - "and now for the fine adjustment tool".

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 06:51 AM
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threepeas, if using a fence and t-track in the table you do need to align them parallel.
The benefit to the t-track in the table is that you can use a wider assortment of t-track accessories but you can manage without as well. It depends on how you work and which jigs you want to build. A good straight fence and a nice square push block make up for a lot. It does make a table mounted featherboard a little more difficult but you can make a long one and clamp it to the table.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 10:18 AM
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threepeas, if using a fence and t-track in the table you do need to align them parallel.
The benefit to the t-track in the table is that you can use a wider assortment of t-track accessories but you can manage without as well. It depends on how you work and which jigs you want to build. A good straight fence and a nice square push block make up for a lot. It does make a table mounted featherboard a little more difficult but you can make a long one and clamp it to the table.
I think he is talking about the two t-tracks for fence adjustment & not the one in front that runs parallel with the fence for accessories. He is deciding if he should get a table that use these for adjusting the fence or a table that uses another system such as a swing fence. He wanted to know if it is critical to have the fence aligned square with the table & t-tracks to adjust for the bit. It does not matter for bit adjustment.

You do need to have the fence aligned parallel with the front t-track if using a coping sled but a coping sled in not needed to cope parts. Just use a backer/push block to cope parts. This saves money on buying this style of jig & less setup for the profile bit. If you do want to use a coping sled just use the fence to guide it & it will give the same results. The fence does not need to be aligned parallel with the front t-track to use feather boards as they have lots of adjustment themselves.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!

Last edited by jlord; 10-04-2011 at 10:33 AM.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by threepeas View Post

So which is it? Does the fence need to be parallel to the miter slot or not? When you're using a sled & routing stiles and rails, other than possibly as a depth stop do you even need the fence on the table at all?? A sled riding in the miter slot bearing a component to be routed might use the fence as a depth stop, but doesn't the fence still need to be aligned to the path of travel of the sled? If not, unless you reference your depth at exactly the same spot on the fence each time, aren't you going to get a different result?

Or, you have it so all your work bears only on the fence, do you even need a miter slot at all?
If you use a coping sled that uses the front t-track for guidance then the fence should run parallel with the track. A coping sleds main function is to keep your narrow parts steady as it passes by the bit. You do not need a coping jig to cope your parts. Just use a scrap piece of ply or mdf as a push/backer block & use the fence to guide it pass the bit. Make it big enough to give steady support. I have run many rails & stiles thru my table over the years without a sled. If you use a box joint jig you do not use the fence as it is guided by the front t-track. So the fence does not even have to be mounted on the table.

My fence can be adjusted using parallel blocks on the sides of the table or the pivot function. I only use the pivot & have never used the parallel blocks for adjustment of the fence so my fence rarely sit square on the table.

Any table you decide to buy should be fine but you don't have to have a coping sled to cope parts. I would spend that money on other bits or accessories so you could do more with your table. After using the table for awhile you will find things you don't need or things you would like in a table next time. Then you could either buy a table with these features or build one as many have done. Then it could be customized the way you like to use it.

James
Whittier, CA.

Have a nice & safe day!

Last edited by jlord; 10-04-2011 at 11:09 AM.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 11:16 AM
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I sometimes use a miter guage and in those cases the fence does have to be parallel to the miter track. But I get the impression from reading comments on this forum that almost no one uses a miter guage.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 11:46 AM
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I sometimes use a miter guage and in those cases the fence does have to be parallel to the miter track. But I get the impression from reading comments on this forum that almost no one uses a miter guage.
Hi David,
What do you use a miter gauge for?

James
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-04-2011, 12:05 PM
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James, I use the miter guage to cut rabbets or dadoes in the ends of small pieces. I'm relatively new to the router table and my thinking was shaped by years of experience with a table saw. I'm learning that the miter guage is much less useful on the router table than I first thought it would be. For one thing, using the miter guage on the router table is difficult because of the side-to-side torque of the router bit, as opposed to the up-and-down push of the table saw blade.
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