I first put a Biesemeyer fence on a Unisaw in 1980-81. And as much as I liked the fence I never used the ruler on the rail. I know some people get very fussy about adjusting the indicator on the rail. They want to be able to go over to the saw, set the fence, and start cutting.
I always want to measure from the saw blade to the fence, and actually see that the measurement is right. And I want to be sure the distance is just the tiniest bit greater at the back of the blade so the wood won’t bind. I just can’t bring myself to trust an indicator that’s almost two feet from the blade.
For years I used a white Lufkin 6’ wooden-inside-read-folding-ruler to set the saw fence. The “inside read” means that the ruler lays flat on the saw table with the numbers going 1, 2, 3 from the fence. A few years ago my ruler broke and I began using a Stanley measuring tape. It works OK, but the hook at the end of a tape moves in and out a bit to give inside and outside measurements, and this affects accuracy.
Recently, I found a composite material 78” ruler at Home Depot that works really well. The extra length means that the first leg folds out over 7″. I tested it against an accurate steel ruler and it is quite good.
Table saw measurement problems: 1. The black and red Husky tape has a metric scale on one edge. It makes it hard to measure at both the front and back of the saw blade. 2. The Lufkin wooden ruler is an “outside read” ruler and reads backwards from the fence. It also only shows 5 inches on the first leg. 3. The steel ruler is accurate but reads backwards from the fence. It is also hard to see the lines and it is so thin it can slip under the fence. 4. The Stanley tape at the bottom works pretty well, but the hook at the end wobbles.
My new Milwaukee ruler: A winner! Sits flat. It’s accurate. Easy to read. Shows 7 inches in the “right” direction.