Table Saw Jig Basics Explained

A table saw jig exists to make almost every table saw task more accurate and safer. Among the basic table saw jigs that woodworkers find most helpful are a miter sled and miter fence, a push block, a rip fence and a rip jig. Find more information below about these basic jigs that you can buy or make for your table saw.

Miter Sled and Miter Fence

Because angle cuts and cross cuts need to be precise, you need a firmly defined surface to run the wood through the saw for miter cuts. The miter gauge alone does not provide enough traction. The miter sled also has a side table to catch the pieces you cut off so they don't bind in the saw blade. The miter sled and side table fit exactly into the table saw's left and right-side slots on hardwood slides, keeping the miter sled aligned parallel to the saw blade. The miter fence is a 3-inch high vertical wall across the front end of the miter sled, protecting your hands while you push the wood forward. Control knobs adjust its angle to turn the wood for miter cuts. It locks in place, keeping the wood from slipping during the cut.

Push Block

Make your own push block to protect your hand from the saw blade, from wood scraps and a bow-shaped steel cabinet handle. Glue wood scraps together to make a block 3 inches high and 3 inches wide, about 5 inches long. Affix the steel handle on top with wood screws. Angle cut the front of the block down so you can see the wood and the saw blade. Add a 1/4 inch piece on the back below the block base, so it will help push the wood end through the saw. Allow the push block to go right over the saw blade, and make a new one once the old one has worn out.

Rip Fence

A well-designed rip fence can help you push your wood pieces past the saw precisely to cut off very slender strips. An adjustable rip fence has 3 bolt holes at the front edge of the table saw so you can move it toward or away from the saw blade, and tighten it at the correct distance from the blade. The rip fence can also be angled for thin miter cuts. Its fence edge is 3 inches high and made from maple with oak laminate. This prevents wear and allows smooth passage of the wood through the saw.

Rip Jig

The rip jig is very useful to guide wood close to the saw blade for feather-thin cuts. It is a wedge-shaped block on a glide that fits into the left-side miter groove of your table saw. You adjust the top for the thickness of the strip you want to rip from the wood piece, and lock it solidly in place against the wood. A smooth stainless steel circular bolt head is the only contact point with the wood being ripped, preventing binding and tearing.

You can buy all of these jigs, and others, at building supply centers.