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Table Saw Fence?

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Forum topic by Samwise posted 05-22-2011 04:40 AM 6355 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Samwise

45 posts in 1283 days


05-22-2011 04:40 AM

I would like some advice on purchasing a new table saw fence system. I have been thinking about the INCRA TS-LS system but the $600 + price point is a little scary.

I have my table saw mounted in a work table and have plans to mount a router in the far end of the table. I would like the fence system to work for both, so the rail needs to be 50”-60” long (reference picture below).

My current fence is incredibly inaccurate. Setting it up means measuring at front and back of the blade and pounding the fence into position. I would like the new fence to move smoothly and be accurate without having to measure at multiple locations off the blade.

So help me make the decision, and thanks in advance.

-- Sam


24 replies so far

View Minorhero's profile

Minorhero

242 posts in 1272 days


#1 posted 05-22-2011 05:31 AM

When I was trying to decide what fence to buy for my unisaw rebuild I looked a lot of reviews and weight the benefits and negatives of each fence. What I ultimately decided on was the shop fox classic fence. The reason I decided on it was that 1) it is a Biesemeyer clone so it is a proven design, 2) it was relatively cheap (especially compared to the full version of the Biesemeyer) and 3) I could not find anyone who after using it thought it was noticeably worse then a Biesemeyer. In fact the only complaint I could find was that the bolts they send with the fence to attach it to the saw are subpar (and they are, but if it bothers a few dollars at a hardware store will fix that).

Since buying the fence I have used it extensively and could not be happier with it. The fence locks down solidly and stays square each and every time. The only criticism I have is that the shop fox sticker on the fence is ugly but I plan to cover that up as soon as I find a suitably impressive geeky bumper sticker.

For less then 300 dollars you can buy the classic fence with 7 foot rails.

Hope that helps.

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1003 posts in 2153 days


#2 posted 05-22-2011 05:55 AM

Been there done that with a benchtop craftsman tablesaw. Extremely frustrating to measure the front, then back, then front again and hope you don’t bump something, even the tiniest bit. I bought a Grizzly cabinet saw that came with the shop fox setup that Minorhero described above. Two thumbs up. Solid, dead square, and stays square. Best money I ever spent in the shop, and the fence is half the value.

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View Samwise's profile

Samwise

45 posts in 1283 days


#3 posted 05-22-2011 07:55 AM

Thanks for the responses guys. I looked at the Shop Fox fence system, and it left me with a question. How does this fence system work with an outfeed table? Does the fence need the back rail to clamp against, or can it ride on top of a outfeed table?

-- Sam

View bubinga's profile

bubinga

861 posts in 1335 days


#4 posted 05-22-2011 08:14 AM

I cant say for sure about the Shop Fox, but I have worked with a Biesemeyer and two Biesemeyer clones ,(T Square Fence),and the fence its self ,doesn’t use the back rail, unless you buy an attachment to clamp to the back rail

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View rikgn's profile

rikgn

28 posts in 1598 days


#5 posted 05-22-2011 08:49 AM

This review I wrote about a year ago. I bought the fence on Amazon.com: Vega PRO 40 Table Saw Fence System With 42-Inch Fence Bar, 40-Inch to Right (Tools & Home Improvement)
My table saw is a Craftsman 10” Flex Drive Model 113.241680 circa 1984 – 85. After being upside down in my pickup, I don’t know how many times, the fence had a bow in it and would not stay parallel. I searched online for information and reviews of all after market fences and kept being drawn back to the Vega system. I don’t know why, people talked about a poor finish on some of the pieces but raved about the performance. “I could not be more pleased” It bolted right up to my saw. I did have to notch the rear rail for the Craftsman blade guard attachment rod. Using the A-line-it basic and a Pals kit this saw has never been dialed in like this. On the second try with the A-line-it the fence is within ½ of 1 thousandth of being dead on. To the away side of course. Even the preattached measuring tape was all but perfect. And what can I say about the Micro Adjust Feature? It’s the perfect add on. With a little Johnsons Paste Wax on the rails and inside the fence head she slides like she is on ice.
I would recommend the Vega System for anyone wanted to upgrade.

View bubinga's profile

bubinga

861 posts in 1335 days


#6 posted 05-22-2011 09:01 AM

I can vouch for the Vega PRO fence ,and the product has been around a long long time,I have one,and the micro ADJUSTER IS NICE TO, CAPS LOCK dam
Kind of long story ,I have one ,very modified, on my router table

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View Minorhero's profile

Minorhero

242 posts in 1272 days


#7 posted 05-22-2011 02:49 PM

Bubinga is correct. The Shopfox fence does not use the back rail at all unless you you are using some kind of attachment.

View brianlee's profile

brianlee

18 posts in 1268 days


#8 posted 05-23-2011 02:30 AM

I had a Vega Pro fence and never really liked the locking lever. The cam never applied enough pressure to hold the fence from sliding on the round front rail—not unless i gave it a good hit on main lever and then locked down the micro adjuster lever. Did any of you ever have this problem?

View JasonWagner's profile

JasonWagner

523 posts in 1847 days


#9 posted 05-23-2011 03:05 AM

Got a Shopfox that came on my Grizzly and am quite happy. It is very solid for me. I think it’s essentially a Biesemeyer clone. Anyway, it rides on the front rail and has a little pad that rides on the table of the saw (not back rail). No micro adjuster built in. I added the Wixey digital gauge to it and have really liked that addition for $100. Seems like you could get off a lot cheaper than the Incra (although I love their stuff).

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View Samwise's profile

Samwise

45 posts in 1283 days


#10 posted 05-23-2011 07:30 AM

rikgn- Good review. I recently purchased the A-Line-it system as well as the PALS. I am overhauling my table saw because I was having problems with kickback. So far, I put a new link-belt on it, installed PALS and used the A-Line-it to adjust the saw. Mine was out 25 thousandths (with the back toed towards the fence). This has helped immensely, but the fence is the next thing to be replaced to make this a safe and fun saw to use.

minorhero- Good, I’m glad the Shop Fox doesn’t use the back rail. Although I don’t know why it comes with one then, but that’s ok. It will give me something solid for the outfeed table to rest on.

You all have me convinced. I am going to purchase the Shop Fox Classic with 72” rails. Looks like I can get one through Amazon for $265. Since I am in WA though, I may see if I can buy locally and save on the shipping.

Thanks for all the help.

-- Sam

View mrg's profile

mrg

522 posts in 1666 days


#11 posted 05-23-2011 10:32 PM

Sam,
The Delta T@ you may want to also look at. It can be had for 149 at Tools-Plus and 6.50 shipping. It’s a very nice fence. Like the Bies, has two rails and locks on the front. Took me 15 minutes to install on my Delta contractor saw.

Nice set up of your saw.

-- mrg

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3810 posts in 2330 days


#12 posted 05-24-2011 12:21 AM

I installed a Shop Fox Classic about 2 years ago … works great with my outfeed table.

See http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/840

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1155 posts in 1620 days


#13 posted 05-24-2011 12:46 AM

I replaced the Biesemeyer fence on my Unisaw about a year ago with an Incra LS and have never for a moment been sorry. The Biesemeyer is a fine, durable, rock solid and absolutely parallel fence. Many folks find them perfectly adequate. If, however, you do a lot of smaller, precise cutting operations, particularly if perfect repeatability is important, then the Incra is unbeatable. I can slice perfect, 1/32nd thick pieces of inlay banding off the outside one after another with virtually no scrap. Since I do this kind of thing a fair amount, the Incra is perfect.

Once you zero the fence to the blade (takes about 4 seconds) and set the measure at 4 and 3/32nd inches, that’s exactly what you get. Time after time. I also have an LS on my router table. I no longer think at all about what they cost, because they both make me smile every time I use them.

The best choice depends on the kind of work you do.
Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1825 days


#14 posted 05-24-2011 12:58 AM

Sam:

Since you inquired about the value of the Incra, as a TS-LS owner perhaps I can give some feedback.

If you have a router extension in your table saw station, then obviously the TS-LS gets its value from providing double-duty. If you have yours on the right extension, then you’ll lift the carriage from the rails to flip it when you want to go into router-mode. Since the Incra comes with three sets of stops for varlous configurations, switch-over is fast and painless…just loosen four hand bolts, lift, flip, push against the stops, then retighten. You are then good to go.

But even if you didn’t take advantage of the router capabilities and the jointery that is possible, the TS-LS will revolutionalize the way you go about your business with what it brings to the table saw. If you look at the demos for the project that Mark does on the Incra site (and the things Roger talks about in the above post), those are REAL things…and you will be able to accomplish the same types of things in short order. The speed at which you can make your cuts is astonishing, and the accuracy opens up a large avenue for creativity.

For you, there will be a couple of initial setup issues. First, there are front and back rails, meaning that you won’t be able to use an outfeed table that butts up directly to your TS. To me, that’s not a deal breaker. Likewise, those rails need to connect directly to the table saw top, and ideally are supported entirely by it – no big deal with a cabinet saw (I use mine on a Unisaw), but smaller saws might not provide enough heft since you typically need more support for the positioner. After all, you wouldn’t want the thing tipping on you if it’s a light weight saw. However, and I can’t tell by the picture you gave, but it appears you could also tap into the existing cabinet for extra support to the rails, particularly on the right side extension area. This would unify everything in one system and make everything that much more level and accurate.

Certainly, you could do a lot without your typical Bies-style fence…but if you are worried about the ability to get value from the Incra system…don’t. It’s the very best thing in my entire shop.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View rance's profile

rance

4135 posts in 1827 days


#15 posted 05-24-2011 01:43 AM

Sam, if you really like the Incra, you might consider the LS25SYS. Then screw a longer wooden fence to the incra fence. You’d get the Incra accuracy/repeatability benefits but without the cost. I only suggest this since you have a bench saw rather than a full size saw. Just a thought.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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