Board Buddies vs Jessem Guides for Table Saws? Let’s Decide

If you are building a woodworking workshop, a table saw is a must-have. It’s such a versatile tool: you can perform various types of cuts such as rip cuts and crosscuts, on boards of all different sizes. As a beginner, table saws look scary. A single mistake can cost you dearly. That’s why it’s important to learn the proper etiquette in order to avoid injuries and to get proper results. Table guides are a good addition to get better cuts and to prevent kickback. Which ones to get? In this article, we’ll discuss the Board Buddies vs Jessem comparison.

We’ll talk about several aspects such as materials, construction quality, easiness of use. Then, based on those considerations, we’ll draw conclusions. Do you want a little spoiler? Here you have it: they are both valid safety devices, but with a big price difference, which might be a determining factor. If you need to save some money, go for the Board Buddies. If you like premium pieces of equipment, the Jessem guides might be worth a try.

Let’s start by giving table guides an introduction.

Why do I need Table Guides?

If you searched for this article, you probably already know why table guides are a must-have. The main two reasons to get them are to increase stability and safety.

Let’s talk about the first one, stability. Table guides apply pressure on the stock through the rollers/wheels. That way, the stock can only move along the feeding directly, while it’s pressed against the top of the table and the fence. That way, you get to feed the blade more steadily, resulting in cleaner cuts. You won’t have to press the board to keep it in position, but simply guide it against the blade.

This is extremely useful when handling large stock. Since you have to stand far away from the fence, they really help you keep the material running through the blade.

The pressure applied by the wheels also serves to prevent kickbacks. These happen when the board gets picked by the blade and thrown against you. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as the wood getting stuck between fence and blade. The main cause is the board getting pinched in the rear portion of the blade. To avoid kickback, there are a variety of systems such as riving knives, blade guards, or even automatic braking systems such as the one Sawstops developed. Table guides help too, as we discussed.

Board Buddies vs Jessem Guides: In-Depth Comparison

Now we’ll compare two table guides available on the market. We’ll discuss various areas; it should help you make a considered decision.

Materials

Let’s start with the materials used to build these guides. The materials used and the quality of construction is a key aspect to determining the worth of a tool.

Board buddies are built in die-cast aluminum, which guarantees sturdiness without being too heavy. The wheels are made of neoprene rubber, to avoid marring the wood when pressing down. On the other hand, Jessem guides are also made in aluminum, which has been anodized to increase its durability. The roller axles are made of steel, while the wheels are made in acetal resin to resist wear and tear.

Both guides have their wheels oriented towards the fence at a certain angle, to make sure the stock is firmly kept in place. Both brands utilize spring pressure for that purpose. The amount of pressure can be adjusted too.

Overall, both are solid pieces of equipment. Jessem gives a feeling of being a more premium product, which is reasonable if we consider the price difference.

Easiness of Use and Versatility

Another aspect to consider is the easiness of use and how versatile they are. They are both very easy to set up. With Board Buddies, you could either get their rail system and implement it on your table saw, or build your own mounting system. The same thing is true with the Jessem’s.

They are both quite simple to adjust for different board thicknesses. A good idea is to set it a little bit below the thickness of the stock so that the wheels will put pressure on the board. Also consider applying more pressure on the back wheel, since that’s the area where kickbacks might originate.

When not in use, you can easily lift the guides to get them out of the way. In fact, for some types of activities like narrow cuts it’s better to use a push stick, and maybe one roller in the back.

Price

Needless to say, this is also a factor to keep in mind. Jessem table guides are way more expensive than Board Buddies, so the question here is if Jessem’s are worth the price difference.Even if they have a more premium feel to them, in my opinion, the price difference is not justified. Board Buddies fulfill the same purpose.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this Board Buddies vs Jessem comparison, both devices are solid choices that do their job very well. The biggest difference is in the quality of the construction, which seems more sturdy and premium in the Jessems. Even if we take that into consideration, the price difference is still very large. If I had to choose, I’d go for the Board Buddies, and use the saved money for other additions to my shop. Whatever your final choice is, you won’t be disappointed by either of them.

Even if you get table guides in place and/or safety equipment such as riving knives, don’t forget to always operate table saws very carefully. First thing, always keep your fingers away from the blade. For certain operations, a good idea is to use a push block, which also improves your grip against the stock. The second tip is to never stand directly behind the blade: if kickback happens, the wood piece will fly in that direction. You want to be out of the way when that happens. Always plan the cut in advance to avoid awkward body positioning.

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