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Reply by Alin Dobra

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Posted on What do you Thinkra about Incra?

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Alin Dobra

350 posts in 2519 days


#1 posted 2457 days ago

Blake,

I’m not so much an anti-Incra snob as I am an anti-machine dovetails snob. I do have the Incra 1000SE mitre fence and I love it. I use it both on my table saw and router table. I have a Freud router fence but I do not like it so much despite the fact that it has very fine adjustments. I find that a piece of wood or a wood fence works better as a fence. The incra fence you have ( as is the case for most metal fences) cannot provide a zero clearance cut. I find this to be very usefull. Also, to cut the tenon part of the dovetail silded, I need a tall (6” at least) fence. Most metal fences are not tall enough (Including mine).

The reason (besides cost) that I am not at all tempted by the Incra fence is that it encourages machine joinery vs. hand joinery. Using a machine in the name of saving time is fine but, judging by a demo I saw at Woodcraft, using the Incra fence is not exactly fast. Some 1 1/2 years ago I learned how to cut dovetails by hand and I never looked back. Now, if you look at the cradle I made for my baby girl (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2887), you would realize how limited the Incra fence is. I cut dovetails at an angle, in 5/16” material, on lage pieces (more than 3ft) of large width (18”). Cutting the dovetail by hand just took longer but was not harder than cutting them on a box. The main reason though is that machine cut dovetails look artificial. I literally place the dovetails by eye (no mesuring). This not only speeds up the process but they look good. Now if you add the fact that the saw and chisel make no noise and need no dust collection system, I think I’m better off without the Incra router fence.

In terms of my router table (and what you should do for the new table you are planning to build) here are it’s features (I’ll post a picture when I get home):

1. The top is made out of two glued pieces of laminated MDF (laminated on both sides). It is very flat and stable. A sheet of laminated MDF is about 35$ at Lowes (or is it Home Depot). I made all kinds of jigs from a single sheet (still have some left).
2. The router plate is a Rousseau plate. It does not flex and it commes with lots of useful things (line a starter pin). I can take out the router with the plate installed and use it as a plunge or fixed router (when I cut sliding dovetails for example on large boards).
3. The fence as I mentioned is Freud. I installed two T-tracks that allow me to put a piece of wood or a wooden fence that fits by bandsaw. Since I can link the dust collector either to the Freud fence or the router encasing, unless I cut molding or rabbets I use a wooden fence.
4. I purchased a variable speed 3 1/4HP router (Hitachi M12-V2) and I installed the Raizer system. I trully reccommend the Raizer (gets the job done very well and it is the cheapest).
5. I installed a miter track about 2” below the router plate (about 6” from the router bit. I do use it together with the Incra 1000SE when I cut dado channels on small pieces.
6. I have a mobile base installed (very useful in a small shop).

Good luck with the new router table,
Alin

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida


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