View Full Version : How useful are rails long than 30"?

Scott Wigginton
10-23-2008, 11:20 AM
While planning the new layout for my workshop I am trying to determine whether I should leave additional space for my TS to accomodate 52" rails. In the shop for the class I am taking there is a unisaw with a full width table, but so far I have only ever used it to stack lumber getting ready to be cut.

So how useful do y'all find the larger rails to be? Other than sheet goods is there any use for them? Would building an extension table past the standard rails be of any benefit?

These questions are in part a response to the 52" Biesmeyer fence & rails from a fellow in NB (I could get that from him cheaper than just the extension rails for my stock dewalt fence)

Thanks for your thoughts,


Dave Avery
10-23-2008, 11:23 AM

Other than processing sheet goods, which is more easily managed with the guided circular saw system of your choice, not much. I use mine to stage material that I'm going to rip. Otherwise it's wasted space for me. Best. Dave.

Jeff Duncan
10-23-2008, 11:33 AM
Depends on the type of work you do, I had the 52" system and it worked well for me, I do a lot of sheetgoods work, I just recently upgraded to a 78" Beis and it works even better:D
What will work for you only you know, but remember you can always cut the rails down a little if you really don't need the length, (I actually trimmed mine down to 74" to fit my layout), but you can't easily add to the short ones if you need them longer.

good luck,

Paul Gatti
10-23-2008, 11:39 AM
As others have mentioned, it is helpful for processing sheet goods. I have a Festool TS55 with a set of guide rails that I use to cut sheet good down to size, but I still find that I use the additional width. The other thing to consider is whether you plan on installing a router in your extension table. If you do, the extra rail length could come in handy.

Ted Shrader
10-23-2008, 11:55 AM
Scott -

I have 52" rails and use them quite freqently. When they are not in use, it is a handy place to stack those pieces waiting for the repetative cuts.

The length is an individual choice. What else could you use the space for? It all depends on your planned usage.


Dave Bender
10-23-2008, 11:57 AM
You can always cut down longer rails, you can't lengthen short ones. The frontal length of an American style cabinet saw with 30" rails is 5', with 50" rails it's 7' . Even with short rails a cabinet saw takes quite a bit of space along the front although it does take less depth than a contractor saw which is good thing. With the longer rails comes the need to have support legs which helps make the hole setup more stable (a good thing). I found my contractor saw with 30" rails was a bit tippy. When I replaced my contractor saw with a Cabinet saw (w/ 52" rails) the spacial footprint was similar. The cabinet saw was shorter front to back and a bit wider side to side. The space on the right side of the saw was a perfect spot for a cabinet to store stuff. All in all I think the space utilization between the two was similar. Go with the longer rails.

Mark Carlson
10-23-2008, 11:58 AM
I have 52in rails and I dont think I've ever used over 30in when cutting with the blade. But if you put a router in the right extension then the 52in rails become very usefull because you can use the same fence with the router.


Alex Shanku
10-23-2008, 12:46 PM
Using a stop attached to the fence is helpful for batch crosscutting long boards in combination with a sled.

Prashun Patel
10-23-2008, 1:08 PM
Nice to have, not necessary to have. Not worth it (IMHO) if yr spaced constrained.

Scott Wigginton
10-23-2008, 1:37 PM
Nice to have, not necessary to have. Not worth it (IMHO) if yr spaced constrained.

I can't upload images from work else I'd link my proposed new shop layout. The main woodworking room is 12' x 18' with a 12' x 5' sideroom (accessible through two permanent openings of 6' and 2.5').

The saw will go on the right hand side just past the 6' opening to the side room. On the opposite wall will be this plywood storage cart (http://www.rd.com/familyhandyman/content/18207/#two) with lumber rack above. Going with a 52" rail would leave 3' of clearance between the cart and the TS. With my stock rail that would be almost a 5' opening (which I would have a hard time finding a use for since the only tools past the plywood rack is my BS which only has to roll out 1' and then my workbench which is already in the corner).

Roger Everett
10-23-2008, 1:52 PM
Just to add another way of using the long rails. In my shop I have the long rail Excalibur fence, I also didn't see a use for the very long in my shop. However I have had many occasions to make up large columns and boxes with mitered sides, and since my TS is a R tilt I installed the rails ( which are really 78" long ) to give me a 37" cut to R of blade and 25 1/2" on left side of blade ( to miter wide stock ). Which I posted once before

I have worked in large company shops where they have extra large Biese. rails, that go to about 120" R side of blade. Large to cross-cut full size sheet goods to any length ( don't try this at home, I always thought it was kinda hairy, although done it many times ).


glenn bradley
10-23-2008, 2:42 PM
Oddly enough I find that 35" would meet 99.999% of my needs. 30" is just a bit too limiting. I am gearing up to move my fence rails to the right to get a 40" reach which is almost too much for my needs. YMMV. We all do different stuff. A turner or a BS box builder may never need anything over 30". A kitchen re-modeler most assuredly would like it.

Jude Tuliszewski
10-23-2008, 8:41 PM
It is one of those things that you will be glad to have when you need it (especially since you can not just run out to the borg to get a set), and will probably use more than you think if you go with the longer rails.

Andy Casiello
10-23-2008, 10:09 PM
I have 30" rails on my Grizzly 1023, and I really wish I had the longer rails. It seems like I'm always having to take the fence off the table to get it out of my way when cross-cutting, where it would be nicer to just be able to slide it down to the right another 10" or so. I have the room, so I'm probably going to spring for the longer rails sometime soon.

Nancy Laird
10-23-2008, 10:14 PM
We have the long rails, and the space beneath the table is very handy - we've built a cabinet that fits under the table to hold the wrenches, inserts, and sawblades. The space isn't wasted at all. And the table is a great place to stack pieces waiting for processing.

Jim Becker
10-23-2008, 10:18 PM
The real answer come from a question... "How much extraneous stuff to you want to store on your right side extension table?" :D

Seriously, 52" is nice to have sometimes, but in most situations, those of us who have it almost never use it outside of storing cut-offs, etc., if we are really honest. (That's not true of everybody, which is why I used the word "most"...)

Rusty Elam
10-23-2008, 10:36 PM
I agree with Glenn (we have the same saw I think) when I had 30" everything I wanted to cut was 32" or 34". I moved my rails over to get 40" and it is just right for me and it gives me plenty of room for my router table insert without it being cramped. I also like not having to always take the fence off to use my crosscut sled.
You can always make them shorter.

Peter Quinn
10-23-2008, 10:44 PM
I have the long rails, I have a router table in the out board, the fence slides over and acts as the router fence for dados in the middle of sheets on the router table, and I use that long rail/fence as a stop system for my cross cut panel sled almost every time I cut wood, a block clamped to it in a sort of euro hybrid fashion. I would be lost with short rails.

Given short rails I probably would have developed other methods, but I can't see any obvious way to do what the long rail does using a TS as simply and accurately.

Thomas Canfield
10-23-2008, 10:58 PM
I added the 52" rail to my little Delta contractor saw but rarely use the additional length. I did install a router in the table extension, and store my shop vacuum under the extension. Since the addition, I have added several things to my shop to where a smaller table saw footprint would be an advantage, but I am not cutting the rail anytime soon - just working in a little cramped setting.

I did add a 2" x 2" strip to the outside edge of my left extension set "parallel" with the saw blade back when I had the original cheap short fence. That would allow me to clamp a straight edge under a sheet of plywood or panel and use the strip as guide for ripping large sheets as a suggestion on how to get along without the 52" rail. It worked well.

John Gornall
10-23-2008, 11:38 PM
I'll just repeat the idea that 30 inches is just a little short. Cabinets often need cuts 32 - 34 inches. I cut my rails to 38 inches which fits my shop better and I've never needed more.

Chuck Tringo
10-24-2008, 12:05 AM
The real answer come from a question... "How much extraneous stuff to you want to store on your right side extension table?" :D

Seriously, 52" is nice to have sometimes, but in most situations, those of us who have it almost never use it outside of storing cut-offs, etc., if we are really honest. (That's not true of everybody, which is why I used the word "most"...)

On Jim's second point, I only have 32 inch rails and I use the last 12-15 inches or so of the table for storing cutoffs/hand tools/pieces waiting to be cut/etc...

Tony Bilello
10-24-2008, 1:09 AM
you will definitly need more than 30 - 32". Rarely does a day go by when I dont use more than 32".

Ray Schafer
10-24-2008, 1:32 AM
I just made 42" cabinets and was glad that I had the 52" rails on my Unisaw.

Danny Thompson
10-24-2008, 1:47 AM
What Alex said.

Kelly C. Hanna
10-24-2008, 9:31 AM
I sure would. I love my 42" Beis set up...I actually get 43" of cut. When I had a 1023 I had the 52" rails and I haven't missed them a bit.

It really depends on what you normally cut. Right now as I start a huge kitchen cabinet job....I need the capacity. Next few months as I fire up the furniture company the needs will change and I will rarely use the fence past 30".

That said I will be staying with the 42" rails...might need to build some cabinets for myself someday.