I like to use the saying that "behind every good table saw
cut is a good table saw jig". Now, this jig might simply be the table
saw's fence that is properly squared to the blade (and remains square), it
may be a solid and accurate mitre gauge, a tenoning jig, or any shop-made
jig that makes table saw cutting more efficient, safe and accurate.
It doesn't really matter whether you have the best table
saw or blade money can buy if your fence or mitre gauge is sub-standard. The
accuracy simply will not be there. The stock mitre gauge that came with my
table saw is not too bad, but its not the most accurate either,
particularly when set at anything other than 90 degrees to the blade
(marked as "0" on the gauge). Now, there are plenty of after-market
gauges available, and they vary greatly in price. Today we will shop-test
the Incra V27 mitre gauge. It is made by Incra in the USA and is their
basic, budget model.
Packaging and Instructions
The Incra V27 comes shipped in plastic molded packaging, so you can
see what you are buying, or have bought before you even open it up.
Included are some fold-out printed instructions informing you of how to
set up and use the V27 mitre gauge. The instructions are concise but very
easy to follow. The V27 itself is very easy to set up and use. If you are
even half technically-minded, you will probably not even need the
instructions anyway, but they should be read to ensure best accuracy and
correct use of the tool. Reading them will also alert you to the fact that
the V27 could also possibly be used on other machines in the workshop like
the router table, band saw, sanding centres, or any other machine with a
mitre gauge slot utilising the standard 3/4" x 3/8" specification.
Included in the package is a hex key to make adjustments
to the gauge as well.
The first thing you will notice is that the V27 is mostly made from
solid steel material. As mentioned above the mitre bar the gauge is
guided by is designed to fit mitre slots with 3/4" wide x 3/8" deep
dimensions, however, the guide bar width is slightly less than this. Most
table saws will feature this sized slot. Some budget or portable saws may
be different, and hence, this V27 cannot be used with them. You will
notice that along the length of the bar are several adjustments points.
These small disks will expand or contract in diameter with a turn of the
screw that holds them in place. The idea is that because the actual steel guide bar
is dimensioned slightly narrower than the mitre slot, you expand each
adjustment disk to provide a "zero-play" fit in the slot. Because
not every mitre slot on a table saw or machine will always be exactly
dimensioned, Incra include this feature to allow it to be adjusted for
zero-play on most saws, despite any small errors in milled widths. Ensuring the fit of the bar in the slot provides
no lateral movement, but is still free enough to slide easily in the slot
will ensure greater accuracy with your cuts. At the end of the bar is a
small T-attachment that will help keep the bar from lifting out of the
mitre slot if your saw has that small t-notch at the bottom as a slot feature. It it
does not, you will need to remove this from the bar. It is easily done
with a screwdriver, and nothing more.
As you can see from the images to the right the actual
mitre gauge component is also of steel construction. The large black
clamping knob up top is plastic. The red angle marker strip indicates that
angles from 0 to 60 degrees can be set either side of the gauge. Note they
are also marked from 90 degrees to 30 degrees, which is probably the more
correct - albeit less used - terminology for setting angles.
You will also notice the array of milled notches on the
outer edge of the gauge - 27 in fact, which is why the gauge is called the
V27 I guess!
I am sure you can guess what these notches are for. Yes, that's right...
using the attached indexing tooth assembly, which slots into these
notches, you can accurately set and lock the gauge at any 5 degree
increment either side of the 0 degree setting. The notches are accurately
and cleanly milled (another sign of quality and potential durability) and
the indexing tooth fits every notch perfectly. Obviously there were some
quality machines used to form and mill this gauge. The finish
is very refined.
So, if you need to set 35 degrees, for example, just
un-tighten the main large round clamping knob, and un-tighten the smaller black
clamping knob on the adjustable tooth assembly, pivot your gauge to the 35
degree mark and engage the indexing tooth into that 35 degree notch so it
indexes securely, then tighten the small knob and then the large clamping
knob and you are ready to go to make an accurate 35 degree cut.
Note however, that the accuracy of all angles can only be guaranteed to
fall within small tolerances if
you have set your gauge up very accurately at the 0 (or 90) degree
setting (exactly squared to the blade). If this is set correctly initially (and checked periodically) you
will find that the rest of the angles on the mitre gauge are very accurate
indeed. Be sure to use a quality square that you know is actually square
in the initial setup phase.
There is an additional notch milled at the 22.5 degree
setting either side as well, as this is a common angle used in woodworking
On the underside of the gauge is a black plastic
slide-strip. I call it this because that is its principle function. The
plastic offers reduced friction and is in full contact with your saw table
top allowing the whole gauge to glide along the table without it sticking
or required excessive effort to "push" the gauge along. A waxed table top will certainly help reduce friction even more.
It is important for a mitre gauge to glide smoothly to ensure clean and
Ok so with the basic features out of the way, how well does the gauge
work in use? We pulled out all our off-cuts, scraps of wood, and even used
the gauge for a few small projects requiring mitre cuts. The first thing
we discovered is that it is almost essential to add an auxiliary fence to
the gauge. The smooth metal face on the gauge doesn't do a lot for holding
wood securely against it, and is quite short to hold longer pieces
confidently. So a piece of square, flat faced wood of even thickness along
its length can be attached to the V27 face using screws and washers from
behind (there are slots in the gauge for this task). An auxiliary fence
made from MDF is also a good option. I'd recommend adding a strip of
sandpaper to the fence as well for added friction to keep your workpiece
from slipping while being cut, or if you make your fence high enough, you
will have room to use clamps to secure the workpiece in some cases.
While making a cut, the large black handle provides a
comfortable grip for sliding the gauge through the cut. Changing angles
was a relatively quick affair, and the good thing is that you don't have
to strain your eyes on a small marker to line up an exact angle - this
assumes the angle you wish to use ends in a zero or five of course. One
must know that it is not possible to set angles other than those in the 5
degree increments with the V27 as there is no indicator mark on the gauge
to allow you to set an angle of say 33 degrees or 18 degrees by avoiding
the use of the indexing tooth mechanism. If you need to crosscut something
at one of those obscure angles, you may have to resort to your stock
gauge, use a mitre saw or, if possible, just overcome the limitation by
cutting using the table saw's tilting blade. I'd say that 99% of my
cuts I make on the table saw using the mitre gauge can be made with the
V27 anyway, as they are cut at angles the V27 is set up for, but it is an
item worth noting regardless.
The V27 lacks some of the fancy attachments of its
bigger brothers in the Incra mitre gauge line (like a flip stop for
example), but it's not marketed or priced to offer those anyway. If you
want that feature, you have to buy the next model up, and pay the higher
As you can see from the photos to the right, we were
able to make several tight fitting mitre joints using the Incra V27
mitre gauge straight from the table saw blade, and we tested some of those angled joints against a Veritas
Poly Gauge for accuracy, as well as an assortment of squares and other
devices we know are accurate to within very small tolerances.
After our tested period, I can conclude that, in my
opinion at least, the Incra V27 is well built, is reliable in its angle
settings, is easy to use, slides smoothly along the table, and much less
frustrating to set than my stock mitre gauge that came with my saw. The
biggest factor is knowing that I can set any angle on the gauge and cut
into a valuable piece of wood and trust the gauge's accuracy without a
second thought on the angle setting. I do recommend spending time to ensure it is square to
begin with, and checking this once every couple of months, or when you
change blades. Incra have delivered a solid and functionally basic
replacement for your stock mitre gauge that is also relatively well
priced (around US$59.95). It certainly saves time and frustration, and to me, that is worth
every dollar they ask for this gauge.
Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to
their direct product page for this item
or call 1300 880 996 (within Australia)
9356 1653 (International)
In the USA
V27 Miter Gauge
Incra V27 Photos
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The Incra V27 Mitre Gauge
0 - 60 degrees in 5-degree
increments are possible left and right.
The indexing tooth helps to set each
angle very accurately.
The mitre bar with expansion disks visible along
The black plastic slide shoe on the underside
helps reduce friction.
Attaching an auxiliary fence is a very good idea. It
will also show you the exact cut line on 90 degree cuts.
In under 5 seconds, I can set a 45 degree angle on the
gauge and be confident that it is indeed set at 45 degrees without
4 x 90 degree joints make a very 'square' square with
A 60 degree joint cut using the V27 and checked for accuracy using the
Veritas Poly Gauge.