I always assumed that my tablesaw rip fence should be parallel to the blade, but other woodworkers advise setting it to “toe out” just slightly at the back of the saw. Who’s right?

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After aligning the miter-gauge slot parallel with the blade, use a scrap of wood to make sure the fence is parallel to the blade. Place the scrap in a miter-gauge slot, slide the fence against it, and lock it in place.

Q: 

I always assumed that my tablesaw rip fence should be parallel to the blade, but other woodworkers advise setting it to "toe out" just slightly at the back of the saw. Who's right?
—George Walker, Seattle

A:

This debate never ends, George. Those who argue in favor of angling the fence away from the blade are trying to avoid kickback caused by pinching the workpiece, while the "set-it-parallel" folks want the smoothest possible cut. We've tested the two options in the WOOD® magazine shop, and we recommend setting the fence parallel to the blade to avoid scoring the workpiece. You can find detailed instructions on adjusting your tablesaw here.

Once you've achieved a parallel fence setting, use the right accessories to prevent kickback: a sharp, high-quality blade raised so that 14 " shows above the workpiece, and a splitter to prevent the sawn workpiece from pinching the blade.