|Review by EMC||posted 09-22-2013 03:35 AM||7568 views||8 times favorited||16 comments|
About a month ago I purchased a Ridgid 4512 to replace my dw744.
Although this is not intended to be a review of the 4512, I will say that I am quite pleased with it. Once I had it assembled and set up I went through it carefully and set up the blade, fence and miter slots to all be parallel and was able to achieve great accuracy (within a few hundredths) without a lot of trouble.
I have read about the issue many have had with the blade shifting position as it goes up and down, but I have had zero shift with mine. Not sure if I’m just lucky, or if Ridgid finally made a change to address the problem.
The weak spot with the saw seemed to me to be the miter gauge (which I didn’t care about since I had previously purchased a much better Incra one), and the fence – which did not seem as bad to me as some say, but was certainly less than ideal in terms of maintains parallelism as well as smooth operation.
I considered changing to a Vega fence, but never quite got to the point where I felt like it was a big enough gain to be worth the cost to me.
After looking around some more, I found myself intrigued with the incra fence. It seemed like I could not only gain a truly parallel fence, but also some precision capabilities, and repeatability which were very appealing to me. After reading every review I could find, and watching a bunch of videos, I came to the conclusion that there were some definate pluses and minuses:
Minuses – cost (almost as much as the saw!); takes up extra space beyond the end of the saw table (I have a smallish shop area); possibly slower operation compared to a traditional fence; limited width of rip; and the “bad” review from The Wood Whisperer” site.
Pluses – extreme accuracy; repeatability which can’t be gotten with any other fence; a ton of good reviews on other sites; easy and safe thin strip ripping; ability to do some things which are hard, slow or impossible with a standard fence.
Frankly, the pluses seemed to me to greatly exceed the minuses. And a few of the minuses just didn’t matter to me (I rarely would want to rip wider than the capacity of the incra, and I’m in no big hurry to set my fence).
So, I decided I wanted one, just was having trouble justifying the cost. But before long that problem was overcome when I noticed that Incra had them on sale, and also they sent me a 10% off coupon when I signed up for their mail list online. So, I jumped on the deal and ordered mine.
I went with the smaller size because I just don’t have the room for the even longer rails. The fence arrived within a few days (shipped almost immediately even thought he website had warned me that there might be a delay for production). Packaging was impressive, all items were carefully packaged, wrapped to prevent scuffs, etc. I was impressed but he attention to detail.
Cracked the boxes open and was off to the basement to start installing it! First order of business was to remove the Ridgid rails and fence. Easy job, only took about 15 minutes. I also removed my shop-made extension table, and after some thought also pulled off the cheapo sheet metal side tables which came with the saw.
Following the manual (which was quite possibly the best one I have ever seen) it was pretty easy to go step by step and install the new fence. The process is time consuming – I spent about 3 hours doing the install, calibrating everything and really understanding how it all works. But, itis not at all frustrating or difficult. Every part fits perfectly, the quality of the components is impressive, and the thought that went into making it really “work” very much impressed me. This is definatly an engineered product. It’s mechanically precise, beautifully machined, and elegantly designed.
Once I had the fence up and running I decided to tackle the side table issue. I have never been happy with the cheap sheet metal side tables, not the standard melamine extension I had made and installed previously.
After some head scratching I decided to build my own wooden frames using 2×2 members fastened together using my kreg jig which gave me great ridgidity. I bolted these to the steel center table using the existing threaded bosses in the table top and longer metric thread bolts placed through elongated holes for leveling.
Although I have used melamine in the past for these tables! I have never liked the way it looks! nor the way. It tends to chip and leave sharp edges. So, I decided to use baltic birch plywood for the table tops which I glued and pinned to the frames I built. After installation I sanded them smooth and finished with multiple coats of glossy wipe on poly to get a slippery surface. So far this is working great, and I like the “wood” look.
I ended up using the extra gold L shaped brackets and some extra hardware from the Incra parts, plus a few bolts and nuts I added to fasten the sides of the extension tables to the incra rails. It worked really well and allowed me to easily use the rail extrusion as mounting points and incorporate the ability to level up the wood tables easily.
I probably spent another 2-3 hours building the tables and figuring out how best to mount them, but in the end it worked great! Rock solid, totally level and a lot nicer to work on then the former sheet metal table wings plus melamine extension.
After it was all done, I felt like it was adequate, but there was a bit more movement at the far right end of the saw than I liked (due to the overhang length and added weight of my extended top). So, I ordered the Incra legs (got the best price from Amazon on them) and installed them. They work great, and I now have zero play and a totally solid work surface.
With it all finished up I started actually using the saw. I couldn’t be more pleased! The fence glides into place, once set it is rock solid, and it maintains perfectly parallel operation. With my good rip blade I am getting jointer quality rips with no burns at all, and the wood just glides through. Repeatability is as promised.
I’m not sure why or how the Wood Whisperer had problems with this fence, but I’m glad I didn’t go by his experience. The Incra fence has made my table saw ten times better. I can do more with it, It’s safer as I never have binding or other issues from being out of square, and I can do cuts I couldn’t do before. Basically. It took my decent saw and turned it into a precision woodworking machine.
It is a bit slower when you just want to do a quick cut, but as a trade off it saves a lot of time when you need multiple set ups in a row, and also because there is never a need to double-check the fence for parallel.
I give the fence five stars – quality if manufacturing is quite high, instructions are very well done, it dos everything promised, and it makes me more able to do better work.
The only think I can’t really speak to is customer service – I didn’t need any, no issues with install or use, no missing parts, no problems. So I’ve never had a reason to check it out.