WT445 – We Don’t Need No Stinking Miter Fences

On today’s show we’re talking about: miter saw fences, stinky shellac, rough sawn lumber, slab prices, sharpening set ups, and woodworking education.

What’s New

  • Marc is busting myths about miter saw fences


  • Nate has some stinky shellac
  • Ely can’t tell rough sawn lumber apart
  • Ryan can’t sell a cup of slab
  • Rob wants to get his sharpening completely set up for $100 or less
  • Felix is starting a woodworking program


Christopher wants to know if any of use have thought about building a tool chest like the HO Studley masterpiece

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11 replies on “WT445 – We Don’t Need No Stinking Miter Fences”

Ron Paulk, builder of the Ron Paulk Portable Workshop, says a miter saw station fence only gets in the way. All you need is support for long pieces. Not all molding is straight. The fence can prevent long molding to sit square to the miter saw fence when making a cut. Also if you need to use a auxiliary fence attached to the miter saw, it negates the station fence. He uses a “T” track with his own flip fence he designed. I agree with Marc, don’t build a station fence.

If the sharpening guy really wants to go with diamonds, the DMT duostone fine extrafine is less than a hundred bucks and with a strop is all he needs.

A long miter saw fence (well beyond what is on the saw) is useful for cutting pine 1x4s which are often warped, but with a couple clamps you can affix them to the miter saw fence and pull them back straight. That allows you to get a cut that is probably square enough for anything you’re doing with pine 1x4s. This is pretty niche where you’re using a warped 1×4 on a project where you’ll be able to pull the board straight during assembly as well.

It’s also sort of nice to know, when you go to start your rough cuts on any board, how straight it is, by pressing it against the miter fence. That way you can tell if that’s something you need to joint or not.

T-track and accessories to go with it, are more expensive than a simple wooden fence.

Some of the benefit of not having a fence is diminished if you are using the space behind that line for storage.

I don’t think any of those really justify the annoyance of having the fence there, the rest of the time. At most, it might be nice to put some dog holes in your miter station where you could drop in a fence.

Hey guys, thanks for answering my Q on sharpening best you could. If it seemed a little foggy / confusing, that’s the result of me staring at sharpening advice and videos for literally years now, and being led to believe over and over that you need at least three or four grits for “successful” sharpening. You guys don’t seem to think that’s the case, nor do several other content-creating woodworkers I’ve bumped into *since* sending in that voicememo – so that helps, a little. I may try a double-sided waterstone if I can find one in two usable grits *and* 8×3 for the price you cited.

Also, you literally cannot find silicon carbide 9×11 sheets in my local Home Depot and Lowes stores any more (it’s all super-pricey cut sheets and really mostly sanding sponges), and you’re definitely not going to find anything much over 400 grit – thus my trip to the auto body supply. I actually think the auto body supply’s prices were *better* than what I’m finding elsewhere, *when* I can actually find the grits I’m trying to locate elsewhere. For us n00bs, there are also a lot of Scary Sharp writeups out there where they make it sound like you need 80 or 90 different grits, like going up in 20-grit increments from 40 to some five-figure grit they haven’t even invented yet, or it won’t work. For my own SS “setup” I’ve tried starting with about six or seven, stepping gradually as I can afford from 100 to 2000 – and I’m also not super happy with the results nor the durability so far. All that might change if I’d just keep at it, I guess.

and Tim Wild, yeah, I have looked a *lot* at the DMT options, but I’m concerned at how many people seem to have problems with these things retaining their grit for very long, and/or the general QC concerns I see in a good number of reviews. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to need a reliable coarse option, since I am doing everything I can to buy flea market / garage sale beaters as opposed to high end new stuff, and the diamond stuff seems to have particular problems staying coarse when you buy coarse.

Felix is starting a woodworking program
Cheap source of wood is pallet wood.
In our area we have a website called Freecycle where you can advertise your class and local people in your area can clean out what my wife calls “duplicate”, unused and Grandpa’s tools.

For Rob regarding sharpening. The hosts give sharpening advice similar to Paul Sellers and Christopher Schwarz. Keep it simple. Sellers re-sharpens with a DMT two sided stone, 600 and 1200 I believe. Then he strops, and when I do I use a rouge of some kind for polish. Sellers’ stuff looks sharp to me. He has online free videos, like the guys here, and it’s helpful. It works, but not to re-establish a primary bevel.

For course, as you call it, I finally took Schwarz’s advice and got a Rikon 8″ slow speed grinder. From my experience, and Schwarz concurs, without that grinder you spend hours and hours even on a coarse stone, and that’s where my time got stuck. Chip a blade, it just took forever to grind that out with even very coarse diamond, water, or Shapton stones. I’ve got them all, I hate myself for that waste. Now I see how quickly that Rikon gets me back to the 600, 1200 then strop routine. Not everyone agrees that 1200 then a stopping is good enough. I’ll still go to 8000 because I already have those stones. It doesn’t take that much more time to go from about 1000 to 8000, the time killer is doing course on a stone, sandpaper, etc. I respect the advice from Lie-Nielsen where they don’t like a grinder because of the heat. So go slow, however slow is nothing like working hard hard steel by hand to re-establish that primary bevel.

The fence on a miter station does come in handy when dealing with 1x pine boards. Have done work in scene shops where you are ripping 1×8 pine to 2.5″ and there is usually a little warp along the edge and being able to push the concave side against the fence for a square cut is really handy and would be hard to do without a fence. In my woodshop, dealing with jointed hardwood, I would agree that a fence probably isn’t necessary. Thanks for not quitting.

Hey guys,

In regards to the question about free tools. If your planning on setting up a shop with an educational aspect kreg and Stanley give loads of free stuff to teaching shops. Especially schools and free after school programs.

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