Delta 36-510C Table Saw: DIY Table Fence

Delta 36-510C table saw has a terrible fence. The fence clamps to an inclined front area, resulting in an inefficient clamp, which moves when you use it.

Delta 36-510C table saw has a terrible fence. The fence clamps to an inclined front area, resulting in an inefficient clamp, which moves when you use it.

I have had my Delta 36-510C table saw for quite a long time. The saw is inexpensive and I had very little money and needed a saw. Little did I know at the time that the table fence that came with the saw was terrible. I’d set up the fence, lock it down as tight as possible, and half way through a cut the fence would jiggle free and mess up my cut. I would end up with cut wood with dimensions slightly off at the end. After 15 years of suffering I decided to research and build a DIY table fence that works, is accurate and stays put despite the vibration of the saw.

The Delta 36-510C is a pretty common saw. Inexpensive, it was bought by a lot of people. I’m sure Delta made a lot of money on the design. The downfall of the saw was the terrible fence. In the front the fence clamps to a sloping surface at the front and a flat surface at the back. These two surfaces make a very small and tenuous clamping area, resulting, unsurprisingly, in a fence that is difficult to set and does not stay in position. You start a cut, the saw vibrates, the fence moves, your finished cut is off.

Delta 36-510C table saw has a terrible fence. The fence clamps to an inclined front area, resulting in an inefficient clamp, which moves when you use it.

Delta 36-510C table saw has a terrible fence. The fence clamps to an inclined front area, resulting in an inefficient clamp, which moves when you use it.

My workaround was to clamp a piece of wood to the table top, front and back. While this does work, it takes a lot of setup time and is somewhat inaccurate. A more long-term solution would be to redesign the fence system.

I really was discouraged from using this saw because of the long setup time and gross inaccuracy, but for long cuts there is only the table saw or a portable saw. For most cutting i rely on my miter saw, but this does not work with any long cuts. I needed to find a solution.

Overall Fence Design
The general idea of the table fence is to have a straight horizontal sliding surface at the front of the saw. This would resist any forward/aft movement, which would change the right angle to the blade and introduce inaccuracy. I would need to be able to clamp down the front to a solid surface. Since the rear of the saw was already flat, I could add a clamp to the rear to make it even more stable. I chose a metal “U” channel as the front sliding surface. Sliding in the U-Channel will be a wood slide. Within the wood slide I would add a bolt, which I could tighten against the metal U-channel. The wood slide will have a straight piece of wood as the fence, with a secondary clamp mechanism that would tighten to the rear of the table surface.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface, wood slider, wood fence. Photo 2 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface, wood slider, wood fence. Photo 2 by Don Tai

Creating a Flat front Surface
The first issue was the inclined front face. While to does look somewhat nice, what a terrible design. I needed to make this front surface flat. My solution was to add inclined pieces of wood to the inside of the hollow front incline in order to strengthen it. Once strengthened I would add a piece of wood to its front face to make it flat.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence. Cut inclined pieces of wood as infill, glue them to a straight piece of wood on the bottom. Photo 1 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence. Cut inclined pieces of wood as infill, glue them to a straight piece of wood on the bottom. Photo 1 by Don Tai

This inclined infill, of wood, was somewhat tricky, as the metal inclined surface of the saw had various bumps of metal bracing, so one piece of wood would not fit. I had to have multiple cuts of short pieces of wood, glued together with a brace from underneath. The angle of the inclined pieces of wood turned out to be 147.5 degrees. I did a series of cuts on my chop saw, until I found the one that worked best. These small pieces of wood had to be custom sanded so that they fit tightly on the bottom of the metal inclined surface, while fitting tightly to the horizontal piece of wood at the front. I added a second piece of wood behind the front for added stability. Metal screws were drilled in from the front, diagonally and flat to the inclined surface, into the horizontal pieces of wood. I now had a straight and flat front surface.

Metal U-Channel Sliding Channel
As the wood face is screwed through the metal front inclined surface, down through both horizontal wood front braces, it is pretty secure. The u-metal channel is first screwed into the front horizontal wood face. The wood slider will slide against the front of the u-channel, so there is no issue with the protruding screws on the rear face. I did not have a long enough u-channel for the complete width of the saw, but it was long enough and stable enough.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface. Photo 3 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface. Photo 3 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface. Photo 4 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, completed. Metal u-channel attached to the wood horizontal front surface. Photo 4 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, saw model number plate. Photo 12 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, saw model number plate. Photo 12 by Don Tai

Adding a metal sliding strip, building up the slider
Now that I have a metal u-channel to slide in, I need to build the slider. I used a white metal “L” bracket on the inside of the u-channel, and a wood front face on the outside of the front u-channel face, to sandwich the front face of the u-channel. This sandwich needed to be tight enough to not have much forward/aft movement, but loose enough to be able to slide. There is a wood brace on top to hold the “L” bracket and the front brace tight together. The metal screws through the “L” bracket to the top wood brace do not affect the slider because it is within the hollow U-channel.

The slide needs to be long enough to go from the saw blade to the extreme right of the table top, without tipping off the edge. I found that the longer metal “L” bracket was heavy enough to counteract the weight of the slide when at the extreme right.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a metal L bracket on the back and a front wood brace. Photo 5 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a metal L bracket on the back and a front wood brace. Photo 5 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a metal L bracket on the back and a front wood brace. Photo 6 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a metal L bracket on the back and a front wood brace. Photo 6 by Don Tai

Adding the Slider Tightening Bolt
Once positioned in place the slider needs a tightening bolt in order for the slider to stay in place. This bolt was drilled through the two front braces and tightens against the U-channel. A nut is placed inside the wood brace that is against the u-channel.

I had a phenolic knob I was planning to use, but it was too short, so I opted for a simple bolt. Currently I use a wrench to tighten it down, but would rather have some kind of handle.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a tightening bolt at the front. Photo 7 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, slide has a tightening bolt at the front. Photo 7 by Don Tai

The Wooden Fence
I used a straight piece of 2×8 as the fence. It is low, so I’ll add a taller fence later. The fence is screwed into the front slider at 90 degrees to the blade. I left some room at the end and added a secondary clamp to the back of the saw top. It works well. The rear brace is glued and screwed. I also added a nut to the brace.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2x8 with a rear clamp. Photo 8 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2×8 with a rear clamp. Photo 8 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2x8 with a rear clamp. Photo 9 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2×8 with a rear clamp. Photo 9 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2x8 with a rear clamp. Photo 10 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, fence is a 2×8 with a rear clamp. Photo 10 by Don Tai

Added a Metal Measuring Gauge
The only benefit of the inclined front surface is that there is a tape measure there. I added a metal plate to the slide, where one of the holes of the plate is aligned with the zero mark when the fence is right beside the blade. Unfortunately i forgot about the blade teeth, so the gauge is 1/16 too narrow. Still, it works well. In the photo the measuring gauge is set to 2.5″, if you look straight at the gauge.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, measuring gauge set at 2.5 inches. Photo 11 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, measuring gauge set at 2.5 inches. Photo 11 by Don Tai

Adding Relief for Blade Adjustment
For the blade height and angle adjuster I had to add some relief to the bottom of the front brace, so used a Forstner bit and gouged out some wood. This allowed the tightener to close better. The right side slopes up too much but it still tightens down adequately.

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, added relief for saw blade tightener. Photo 13 by Don Tai

Delta 36-510C DIY table fence, added relief for saw blade tightener. Photo 13 by Don Tai

Overall Performance
The DIY fence works very well. I have done long cuts at 1″, 2.5″ at 90 degrees and 45 degrees, and the fence does not move. I will need to make the fence higher so that I can add more jigs, but overall I am happy. This took much longer than I expected, but I like to think out the design first.

I may have made the easement of the slider a bit too tight, but this should loosen up as I use the fence more and the rust of the U-channel gets worn away. Better to be too tight than too loose.

The fence is somewhat heavy but once in place is easy enough to slide. It does stick in certain places but with a small nudge you can micro adjust it, and then tighten it down. The fence stays flat to the table. The rear clamp is for extra security.

Addendum: As I tighten the bolt, it would squeeze against the metal U-channel to tighten down, but at the same time it would shift slightly at the same time, throwing my accuracy off. My solution was to add a metal L-bracket between the bolt end and the metal U-channel. The L-bracket was chiselled into the wood, so it is flat to the gap between the fence and the U-channel, and is loose so it can move slightly. The bolt now contacts the metal L-bracket, which then presses into the U-channel, tightening it down. This fix works well and is much more accurate.

I added this L-bracket into the fence so that the tightening bold will press on the L-bracket, which will squeeze tight against the metal U-channel. This is more accurate. Photo by Don Tai

I added this L-bracket into the fence so that the tightening bold will press on the L-bracket, which will squeeze tight against the metal U-channel. This is more accurate. Photo by Don Tai

1 thought on “Delta 36-510C Table Saw: DIY Table Fence

  1. Pingback: First Tongue and Groove Joint in Wood – Don Tai (Canada) Blog

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