being asked to review this fence I had looked at the TS-III often but
never seriously considered it. Even though every Incra owner with whom I
had communicated loved it, my thoughts were that the fence was too precise
and too gimmicky for the average hobbyist...like myself. Well my
impression has certainly changed since the TS-III was installed on my
saw. I don't think my old after-market fence will be re-installed any
Yes the Incra TS-III is high tech and a
design departure from traditional fences but it is also rock solid,
accurate, versatile, expandable, and a joy to use. Couple those
attributes with the great customer service reputations of Incra and its
distributors like Woodpeckers and you have a complete package which is
hard to beat.
If I've piqued your interest, please read on. As usual
with my reviews I will strive to supplement the text with pictures
depicting all aspects of the installation and use of the product. You can
then make an informed purchase decision and not be surprised by anything
included in the box. You can click on any picture to enlarge it.
Before you Buy
Let's get the
only bad news out of the way right now. Probably the only drawback to the
TS-III is the space it requires. This is not an issue for me but it may be
for someone with a very small work area. Even though the right hand rip
capacity is 32", because of the innovative design of the TS-III, you will
need approximately 65" to the right of your saw's
cast table if you want to utilize the full rip capacity of this fence
Return to Index
What's in the box:
you receive your TS-III fence it will arrive in three boxes.
One box contains the 72"-long rails, a second contains the Ultra
2/32, and the third the fence and mount. They all arrived at
the same time and without damage.
(left) displays all the parts, hardware and instructions. Speaking of
hardware, I'll say it now and will probably iterate it again further down,
Incra does a great job packaging their hardware.
The fence system itself is constructed almost entirely from extruded
aluminum. All parts, with the exception of the hardware, are finished in
an attractive gold colored anodizing. The fit and finish is excellent and
there are no sharp corners or burrs.
As one would expect all pieces of hardware are listed in
their excellent instructions but the unexpected surprise is that they
individually package the hardware by assembly step. So while you're
reading the instructions you see statements like; "use the 6 10-32 screws
from the Ultra mounting hardware kit". For the most part each hardware
pack was consumed before needing to open the next one.
Return to Index
While there are more parts than a traditional fence, the
installation is fairly easy.
It's a good idea to skim through the instructions before starting,
Yea, I know it's not in our nature but it will make things go
first step is to locate the rail mounting brackets (six are included) and
the mounting bracket hardware kit. For my installation only 4 brackets are
needed. Using the included hardware, mount the brackets on the front and
rear table edge. The instructions call for the brackets to be 1/4" below
the top of the table and in the photo (left) you can see that I'm using a
rule to measure the distance. This precision is not necessary because in
the next step, we will make the final adjustments for your saw so
eyeballing it is fine (see tip above about reading ahead). At this time
you also loosely fit the rail mounting hardware to each bracket. The
hardware pack contains a variety of nuts, bolts and washers so you should
be able to find the correct hardware for your particular saw.
I use a Biesemeyer after-market splitter therefore my
installation did not require a split rear rail. The split rail would be
necessary if you have a splitter/guard assembly which mounts out the back
of the saw like a Jet Contractors saw. The instructions clearly describe
how to cut and mount the rear rail and here is where one would utilize the
two extra brackets.
the brackets installed it's time to mount the rails. Slide the front and
rear rail onto the brackets making sure that the side with the T-slot on
the bottom faces into the saw. With both rails mounted, temporarily center
them on the saw and tighten the hardware.
set the final mounting bracket height, Incra cleverly uses the base clamp
as a gauge. You simply clamp the 4 base clamps to the rail at each bracket
location and adjust each mounting bracket (as shown at left) until the
base clamps are flush with the table top. This method of alignment worked
flawlessly and doesn't require you to measure anything which if you're
like me is a plus and greatly reduces the chances for error. Once you have
tightened up the brackets, you can loosen the rail mounting bolts and move
the rails into their final position. Simply move the rails so that they
extend 7" out from the edge of the left extension wing and
re-tighten the rail mounting bolts.
Because of the TS-III's design, you can slide the rails
to fit your needs. As set up by the instructions you have about a 16" left
and a 31" right ripping capacity. You can slide the rails in either
direction to gain capacity however if you slide the rails to the right you
will lose the use of the Incra scale. You might have to slide the rails to
the right on that rare occasion where you need to rip a large piece of
sheet goods. In that case you would need to measure the distance from the
fence to the blade with a scale and be sure to support the right side
rails. Incra sells a larger 51" version of the TS-III as well as legs.
Legs are a good idea even on the 31" version.
preparation for assembling the base mount assembly and the Ultra Jig,
locate the Rail Hardware pack, assemble per instructions, and slide the
hardware onto the rails.
Since the next phase of the assembly is the most tedious and Incra's
instructions for this assembly are quite detailed, I'm just going to show
you a few photo's of the assembly.
These photos are of the base clamp as it gets attached to the base panel.
There are 4 screws and nuts for each side. The hardware is lose until the
assembly is fitted onto the rails, then it's tightened. The end caps are
installed after the base clamps.
The Ultra Jig is mounted with six 10-32 screws (this hardware was missing
from my kit) and nuts which slide into the T-tracks. Do not tighten this
hardware yet. At right is the completed Ultra Jig assembly (Base Mount
Assembly) ready to be mounted on the rails.
Mount the Base Mount Assembly on the rails at about 20" from the right
miter slot and tighten down the base clamp knobs. Because you left the
hardware somewhat loose in the previous steps you can now align the base
panel so that it's parallel to the right miter slot and once it's aligned,
tighten the base clamp screws.
Once you have the panel parallel to the slot, you move the panel to the
right until the edge of the panel is 36" from the right of the blade. This
is its final position. Here I'm using a 36" rule to set the position.
this point you will want to tighten down all your knobs as well as the set
screws (left). Also move your stop washer (right) snug up against the
right side of the base clamp. This will allow you to exactly reposition
your base assembly if you have to move it for some other operation.
Ok, we're coming down the home stretch now!
(left) Grab the carriage and insert it into the base and align the fence
end up with the right side rail brackets. Then loosely attach the fence
(right) to the carriage.
With the fence resting on the supplied cardboard spacers, attach the front
and rear glides. The front glide has a knob on it. These glides include an
anti lift hook which we will discuss later on.
While following the Incra instructions you will see an "Important" note
which briefly discusses saw blade/miter slot alignment and the reader is
instructed to consult his saw's owners manual for the details of the
alignment. Being safety conscious myself I felt a bit uneasy about the
TS-III alignment procedure because it makes a few assumptions. The first
assumption is that all saws come with an alignment procedure for blade to
miter alignments. Because I know that my Jet Contractors saw did not
include the instructions, I performed some limited research and found that
some Jet and Powermatic saws do not include this procedure in their
manual. That same research indicated that almost all responders who had
performed a blade/miter alignment had aligned the blade to the LEFT
slot. This leads to the second assumption by Incra which is that the miter
slots are parallel or that everyone aligns to the RIGHT slot. In a perfect
world the reader would have performed the blade/miter slot alignment, the
miter slots would be parallel, and exactly following the Incra
instructions would result in a perfect setup and that will probably be the
case most of the time.
Having said that it is my belief that the rip fence should always be
aligned to the blade and even though I followed Incra's instructions, I
finished up with a check and a tweak between the blade and the fence.
the fence until it lines up with the right miter slot and engage the
micro-adjuster by pushing the lever down(left). Use the micro-adjuster and
a straight edge to align the fence to the slot. Check both the front and
rear of the fence. When you think you have it, lock the carriage and make
sure the fence is still aligned. You may have to do this a couple of times
to get things perfect.
you've set the fence to the slot, double check your alignment by checking
a tooth at the front of the saw, then rotate the blade and use that same
tooth to check the rear of the saw. Here I'm using a piece of paper as a
gauge to check the fit since my son walked off with my feeler gauges.
Once you are
comfortable with the alignment, if needed, unlock the fence and use the
micro-adjuster to set the fence to just "kiss" the blade and lock the
fence. We can now Zero the TS-III.
Simply move the magnetic steel rule until it reads zero under the pointer.
We're almost finished.
The last step in
the Zeroing process it to align the micro-adjuster cursor to zero by
loosening the screws and sliding the plastic cursor until the zero mark
lines up with the knob. Next rotate the white micro-adjuster scale until
it reads zero under the cursor. In the photo at right the scale needs to
be rotated until the "0" aligns under the cursor.
The whole process including taking some pictures for
this review, adapting my existing extension tables, and running out to the
hardware store for the missing screws took an afternoon. The assembly was
straight forward and at no time were the instructions inadequate or
difficult to use.
Return to Index
Features and Use:
- .001" repeatability and accuracy
assured by Incremental Racks
Why would a
woodworker be attracted to the Incra TS-III? It has to be its accuracy
and precision. Incra utilizes patented saw tooth racks which are
manufactured in precise 1/32" increments. What does this mean to us? It
means that if your project's dimensions are measured in 1/32" increments
or larger then the TS-III will allow you to easily set the position of
the fence and easily return to that position with .001" accuracy. If you
need to be more precise than 1/32" you can use the Micro Adjuster which
has a scale with .001" increments.
Here you can see a close up of the Ultra base in the micro-adjustment
position with the racks engaged. Click on the picture at left to enlarge
it and get a feeling for just how fine these racks are.
When adjusting the position of the fence you align the cursor with your
desired mark on the 32" precision scale. If you are not dead on (less
than 1/64" off) the racks will align to the mark when you pull the
The racks are
attached down the far side of the carriage and secured by screws. They
are made from plastic and carry a lifetime warranty from Incra. In the
included instruction sheets, which are excellent if I haven't already
mentioned it, are directions for alignment of the racks in case you ever
have to replace one. According to Incra this is a very rare occurrence.
- Micro-Adjustment Lead Screw
allows you to accurately and repeatably move the fence by rotating the
adjuster. It has a scale which has graduations that represent a .001"
movement of the fence. This feature is not to be confused with the micro
adjusters on some other after market fences which are really designed to
eliminate the "bumping" of the fence to set its position. There is no
"bumping" of the TS-III. Chris Taylor of Incra set me straight on its
function. When I first used it I was trying to use it just like the
adjuster on my Vega fence and I couldn't figure out how Incra could make
their claims of repeatability when I was moving the adjuster (and
therefore the rack alignment) all over the place. The correct usage is
that during normal fence operation the woodworker will only use the
micro-adjuster to "Zero" the fence during calibration and usually not
use it again unless you need to get more precise than 1/32". In that
case you have to return the adjuster back to zero when you're finished.
- Engraved Stainless Steel Scale
32" stainless steel scale is your primary reference for setting the
position of the fence. It has to be accurate because the racks are
accurate and if it wasn't your measurements would appear to be off. The
TS-III's accuracy comes from the racks and not the scale. I performed an
experiment where I set the scale for "0" and them moved the fence so
that I could see how close it was at the 32" mark. I purposely aligned
the cursor a little off when I pulled the clamp to tighten it down. The
racks pulled the fence so that it locked dead on 32".
As I mentioned earlier the TS-III is capable of having up to five scales
installed at the same time. It comes with the four scales pictured here,
a 16", 32" and an auto-centering scale in plastic as well as the
stainless steel 32" rule which is the primary scale. I currently have
the plastic 32" scale offset by 3/4" which is the thickness of the
spacer fence I use for dados.
- Three point clamping for a
rock solid fence
TS-III can be secured by up to three clamps. The first clamp which is
the one used all the time is right behind the cursor. Setting this clamp
locks and squares up the fence. For light duty ripping this is all that
is needed. The second clamp is located on the front end of the fence and
clamps the fence to the front rail. The third clamp is similar to the
front clamp albeit it requires the hex tool to engage. It provides not
only extra rigidity for those times when you are cutting large, heavy
sheet goods but also becomes and anti-lift clamp to enable you to safely
utilize feather boards and anti kickback rollers, etc.
In this reviewer's opinion all of the high end table saw fences remain
aligned parallel to the saw blade once initially calibrated under normal
board ripping use. What causes them to get out of alignment is being
bumped and pushed on by large, heavy sheet goods or being whacked at the
far end by a long board as it's lifted onto the saw. Where I believe the
TS-III has the advantage is in it's "T" design which moves the fulcrum
to the middle of it's length as opposed to the very beginning of it's
length. This coupled with the front rail lock (#2 in the photo) will
provide for a solid mount which should not easily get knocked out of
- T-slotted Aluminum Fence
this is a review about a table saw fence I thought I had better show a
few pictures of the actual fence. Its dimensions are roughly 36" long by
1 3/4" wide by 2 3/8" tall. As you can see in the photos there is a 1/4"
T-slot along the face, two in the top, and two on the back side. The
fence face on the TS-III is just as it was extruded but the new TS-IIIa
has a machined flat face. I see nothing wrong with the extruded face.
- Expandable and Versatile
Hold on to
your wallet because once you've installed and used this fence and
Woodpecker's web page you're
gonna want to add some other goodies like extension wings, router
fences, joinery packages and more! At right you see the Woodpecker's
Router Table Extension Wing (RTEW) and the Incra Wonder Fence which will
be the subject of my next review.
these two photographs you'll see me working the Micro Adjuster and
locking the fence using the primary clamp. It is interesting to note
that using the TS-III requires you to focus your attention to the right
end of the saw and look at the Ultra Jig assembly when setting up for a
cut. With traditional fences we seem to have the blade and fence still
within our focus while setting the distance of the fence. It doesn't
matter that we can't see that blade to fence relationship while looking
at the scale, it's just different and requires a few minutes to get used
mentioned earlier that I had to adapt my existing extension
tables to mount with the TS-III. The left side extension table
was pretty simple. I utilized the mounting brackets that Incra
supplied but you can easily make your own. Simply mount an "L"
bracket to the T-track on the front and rear rail and use them
to support your table. The rear was a bit more difficult because
I had to move the table away from the rear of the saw to provide
the clearance required to allow for the base assembly to be
positioned anywhere along the length of the rails. To accomplish
this I just cut a piece of 1/2" birch plywood and used some
leftover hardware to attach the new plywood bracket to the rear
rail (left). Then I simply moved the extension table out far
enough to provide the clearance needed (right). This brings to
light an inconvenience for the woodworker with an outfeed table.
Repositioning the TS-III requires access to the rear of the
table saw. You may have to use an allen wrench instead of the
hex driver (I did) to secure or loosen the set screws. If you
don't have an outfeed table yet but plan on making one, you
should consider making it free standing so that you can drag it
out of the way when repositioning the TS-III.
Return to Index
I don't have much
to show you in the way of pictures for this part of the review except
for the one at left of me ripping a piece of plywood. What I wanted to
determine at this point was how well the fence was going to remain in
alignment after some use, repositioning and removing and replacing.
The first thing I did was remove and replace the fence and carriage from
the jig a couple of times. Each time I locked it down on zero and
checked it's alignment and position to the blade. Everything remained in
The next test was to loosen the base clamp knobs and completely remove
the assembly including the fence and carriage in one piece and place it
down on a bench. I then slid the clamp hardware into position near the
stops I had previously installed so that I could use the fence on the
left side router wing. After placing the fence assembly back on the
rails and getting all the knobs tightened down moved the fence up next
to the blade and checked the alignment. It was perfect.
The last test in this series was to again remove the fence assembly and
reposition it back up against the stops where it was originally
installed. This time I was not only going to check alignment but I
wanted to check and see if the fence was still "zeroed" to the blade.
Again alignment was perfect as well as the zero. During all of this I
was paying attention to how the carriage was sliding along the rails and
I felt no noticeable difference, another indication that everything was
remaining in alignment.
The final test I performed was to use my 36" steel rule and measure the
fence alignment to the right miter slot at 15" and 31". Unlike
traditional fences the TS-III does not change it reference point for
alignment as you reposition it. All other fences rely on the rail
position as their reference so if it's bowed of warped it can affect the
fence, especially at the far end. As I expected the TS-III's alignment
Ultimately the only way to tell how well the TS-III will hold up is with
time and use. It is my belief that as long as you always use the front
infeed clamp there should be no reason for the fence to get out of
alignment. If you don't use the clamp then you run the risk of whacking
it with a piece of wood and either bending something or causing it to
Return to Index
The TS-III is easy to install and performs exactly as
advertised. You will quickly fall in love with the positive
action of the racks and the ease by which you will be able to
set an accurate, repeatable fence position. The fit and finish
was outstanding as there was not a single surface scratch on my
unit. There are a couple of minor annoyances, the worst of which
will be the time you spend looking for the hex driver or
acquiring missing hardware (Chris Taylor of Incra assures me
that missing hardware is a very rare occurrence).
As I stated right up front, the downside is the space it
requires but if you have the real estate, I don't think you will
Return to Index
Copyright © 2003,
All Rights Reserved.
No parts of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without the written permission of the author.