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Flexing and other issues

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Review by Mark Colan posted 1436 days ago 3343 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Flexing and other issues No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

[I originally published this on Amazon. If you find it useful, I’d appreciate it if you went there and clicked “Yes” (useful) just below my review.]

The product is useful, and speeds up panel cuts (etc), but it is far from perfect.

When cutting a sheet of 4-foot-wide 3/4” plywood, it clamps securely, but the guide can flex significantly if you push too hard in the middle, resulting in a cut that is not straight. The less wide the wood, the less of an issue this is.

I was able to push mine more than the reported 1/16” in the middle when used across a sheet of plywood (4’). To me, ANY amount of flexing is a problem, because it is inevitable that I have to push the tool against the edge while cutting. However, use of the optional tool guides presumably reduces the problem, because when using them you don’t have to push against the guide.

Another reviewer suggested clamping a piece of the wood to support the middle of the straight-edge. A good solution, but it takes away from the instant-setup convenience this tool is said to offer.

Years ago I bought an aluminum straight edge called Cutters Edge II. I can’t find it in google so I assume it is no longer available. It was substantially more rigid than this one, and it came in two 4’ lengths which could be joined together. However, its clamping system was much less convenient than this one.

I have not tried it yet, but I suspect this guide would not work well for very thin sheets, such as plywood less than 1/4”. Because the clamps rely on edge-to-edge force, thin sheets have the potential to bow with this kind of clamping force applied.

The All-in-One Clamp Guide seems to be best suited to 90-degree cuts, yet they do not have any means of ensuring that the cut will be square. There is a squaring attachment (wide jaws), but measuring and/or checking with a square will still be required.

I only just learned about the “Ultra” model that is 100 inches long. That’s the tool I really need (for ripping sheets), and I wish I had bought it instead. Being wider, it should flex less, however with its longer span, it is more subject to flexing. But it’s expensive, and I could easily build my own jig, albeit using clamps that are not as quick to use, but with immeasurable flexing.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA




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Mark Colan

209 posts in 1445 days



16 comments so far

View RickRogers7's profile

RickRogers7

39 posts in 1637 days


#1 posted 1436 days ago

Good review. I’m on the same page. I like the tool but wish didn’t flex. Some times the sliding jaws seem to hang up a little bit. Not a deal breaker but I like it when things work smoothly. That being said, the tool definitely make it quicker to cut a sheet of plywood down to size.

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1522 days


#2 posted 1436 days ago

Frankly I wish I had spent the 40 bucks on something else more useful.

-- Life is good.

View Routerisstillmyname's profile

Routerisstillmyname

679 posts in 2108 days


#3 posted 1436 days ago

Flexing is a major issue with just about all of these types of clamps and guides.

-- Router è ancora il mio nome.

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile (online now)

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4936 posts in 1908 days


#4 posted 1436 days ago

I did my research before buying it and E Emersom makes a wide clamp that I bought and unlike the narrower model , this model will not flex.

http://www.amazon.com/Clamp-U-54-54-Inch-Double-T-Track/dp/B0000DYV3U/ref=pd_cp_hi_2

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1445 days


#5 posted 1436 days ago

I would get the double-t-track version of the long fence (for ripping the long way on a 4×8 sheet), but a review on Amazon says it still flexes. I don’t doubt that the extra width means the 4’ version does not.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile (online now)

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4936 posts in 1908 days


#6 posted 1436 days ago

My emerson is 4 ft but I have an older straight edge clamp that is 102” and when I cut long pieces I brace the center with a piece of wood at a 90 degree angle (like a T) and clamp it. This bracing will eliminate flexing.

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

240 posts in 1722 days


#7 posted 1435 days ago

I went to Rockler.com to look at the clamps. There seems to be two product lines – the A Series and the C Series. I only saw the C Series available online. They describe it as the contractor grade and it has a lower profile than the A Series. They said the jigs are not interchangeable. I would expect the A series to be a bit stiffer than the C Series. Stiff enough? Dunno.

I think cutting on the floor and working from above will reduce the flexing issue.

Has anyone tried spraying the guide bar and the tool sled jigs with sillicone spray? Or am I misunderstanding where the hang up is?

-- Tony - http://ravensedgetoolworks.com

View TLE's profile

TLE

25 posts in 2047 days


#8 posted 1435 days ago

I have a clamp similar to this that has two locking positions on the lever. The first position clamps with less pressure and is for application as a cutting guide. The second lever position clamps with greater force and is for actual clamping use. Using the stronger clamping will actually slightly bow the sheet (say 3/4 inch plywood) leaving no positive contact between the aluminum and the wood, so you don’t get the benefit of friction between the guide and the wood to help keep the guide from flexing. I find that I get straight cuts with the lighter clamping and flexing problems and curved cuts when I use the stronger clamping.

Tim

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1445 days


#9 posted 1435 days ago

To clarify: the flexing I am speaking of is when you push the saw or router against the guide, to keep it snug, it’s quite easy enough that it is no longer straight. And while you can clamp on a scrap to brace it, doing so defeats the ease-of-use that is the key feature of the product, by adding more setup.

@TLE: I have also seen the problem of bowing the wood by tightening it too much.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View TLE's profile

TLE

25 posts in 2047 days


#10 posted 1435 days ago

{To clarify: the flexing I am speaking of is when you push the saw or router against the guide, to keep it snug, it’s quite easy enough that it is no longer straight. And while you can clamp on a scrap to brace it, doing so defeats the ease-of-use that is the key feature of the product, by adding more setup.}

Mark -

I know what you mean. Mine has less tendency to flex, giving me a crooked cut, if it is tight enough to have lost positive contact with the wood across the span of the cut. My guide is wider but I had the trouble you are describing when I used the tighter clamping.

I do think that using these guides is a bit of a delicate art, though. I think that just as you describe the problem – they will only take a small amount of lateral pressure before curving. I try to control the straightness of my saw guiding keeping only a little pressure against the guide but that finesse gets difficult when you are reaching way out across a big sheet.

I know what you mean when you say that clamping on additional blocking takes away the convenience that you thought you were getting when you bought the thing. I remind myself that at least if I don’t beat it up it stays straight and smooth – it won’t warp!

Tim

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

209 posts in 1445 days


#11 posted 1435 days ago

@CPBarry: It’s too late to exchange it; I have had it too long. I think at the time I bought it, the wider version did not exist.

@TimLE: You’re right with me on this one.

FWIW: It’s disappointing that it isn’t all I hoped it would be, but life is like that. I give it three stars, still use it some times, and move on.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View jsdnnoanybtr's profile

jsdnnoanybtr

24 posts in 1657 days


#12 posted 1434 days ago

I went with this system, table and guides, work great for a home shop.

http://www.finewoodworking.com/ToolGuide/ToolGuidePDF.aspx?id=2659

-- jsdnnoanybtr but you can call me jr

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1522 days


#13 posted 1433 days ago

Tony: be careful with that silicone spray. It’s a killer if you are going to paint something.

-- Life is good.

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3556 posts in 2334 days


#14 posted 1433 days ago

Guess that’s why I like using 12” X 96” shelving board with melamine edge and a couple of C-clamps as a straightedge/guide. Hasn’t failed me yet!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Rick's profile

Rick

354 posts in 1809 days


#15 posted 1431 days ago

I’ve got the same 50 inch guide, as shown in your picture. Mine doesn’t flex. I use it a lot. If mine flexed too I would never use it.

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