Review By Bill Esposito  Incra Website - http://www.incra.com

 

 

Incra Wonder Fence and
Woodpeckers Router Table Extension Wing (21" left side)
Review


by
Bill Esposito

If you own an Incra TS-III Precision Table Saw Fence System one option you may wish to consider is a router table wing and fence for your table saw. For those who are shop space challenged installing your router in the space already occupied by your table saw extension wing may be just what you need to free up valuable floor space for that planner or jointer you've been wanting.

Woodpeckers Inc. - www.woodpeck.com sells a variety of router table extension wings (RTEW) to fit your needs as well as Incra's Wonder Fence precision router fence system. In this article we'll take a look at the 21" left side RTEW with phenolic insert and the WFULTRA version of the Wonder Fence. Thanks to Woodpecker's and Incra for providing these items for review.

What's in the box?

Let's begin with the RTEW. We are installing our table on the left side of the saw. The table itself is 21"x28" and is constructed from 1" thick MDF which is laminated both sides with a matte white high pressure laminate which brings the final thickness to 1 1/8th inches. The table is edge banded with white plastic edging. Included in the package are four brackets to be used to mount the RTEW to the TS-III rails, phenolic insert with four aluminum spacer rings, stiffener rails, hardware and instructions.

Installation:
The installation is quite simple and shouldn't take you more than an hour, if even that. The first step is to remove the left wing of your table saw. I installed the RTEW on a Jet contractors saw. Since I had previously installed the TS-III rails exactly per instructions, they did not have to be adjusted at all for this installation.

Once the extension wing is removed, mount the RTEW brackets to the rails (black bracket in photo at left). This is accomplished by using the supplied T-nuts. The hardware kit contains two sizes of washers, choose the larger ones for this operation (left). Just assemble the hardware, slide four sets into the channel on both the front and back rails slip the brackets onto the hardware behind the washers (right).

Align the outer brackets with the end of the rail and snug but don't tighten (left). Position the inner brackets about 2" from the saw table and again snug but don't tighten. These may have to be moved a bit left or right to avoid interference with the stiffeners we are going to install next and also moved vertically to level the table.

The insert cutout is off-centered in the table. Place the table upside down on the brackets with the widest part of the insert offset towards the left or outside of the saw. Place one stiffener bar about an inch from the left side of the table and drill pilot holes for the screws (right). I used some blue tape on my drill bit to set the depth of the holes and to assure that I didn't drill all the way through. Once the holes are drilled you can screw down the stiffener. Do the same for the other stiffener placing it about an inch or so to the outside of the left edge of the insert cutout.

You may now have to adjust the bracket or stiffener locations to avoid interference. Once the stiffeners are installed, flip the table over.


The last step you'll need your drill for is attaching the brackets to the underside of the table. From this vantage point make sure the brackets and stiffeners don't interfere with each other and then again use some tape as a depth guide on your bit and drill your pilot holes. I drilled one pilot hole per bracket and secured each with a screw, made sure everything looked ok, and then went back and finished the bracket installation (left).


Now we can fix the final position of the table and brackets. I used a 36" rule and set the table level, front and back, to my saw's table (right). Also at this time make sure that the RTEW is flush up against your table saw.
 

It is possible that your table is not exactly flat and sags. Check for this using your straight edge as shown at left. If the table does sag a bit, simply loosen the middle screw on the stiffener and insert a spacer like a piece of card stock which is about the thickness of the sag. Once you retighten the screw the spacer will force the table flat. The detailed directions for this operation are included in the instructions. I did not have to adjust my table in this manner as it was flat.


The router insert coutout opening is 8.25"x10.75" with the size of the insert being an inch larger at 9.25"x11.75". This is more than large enough to take my Triton which measures 12" handle to handle.

The 3/8" black phenolic insert rests on a rabbet in the MDF table top (above). To facilitate leveling, the insert has 8 leveling set screws. Adjust each a little at a time and remember that when you adjust one screw to raise the insert, the opposite side often gets lower so you have to go back and forth until you get the insert level and stable.

 

With the RTEW installed let's hold off on installing the router until after we finish the Wonder Fence.

 

What's in the box. Part Deux!


Like the RTEW, the Wonder Fence came well packed and undamaged. The WFULTRA kit comes with two gold anodized aluminum fence halves w/scales, two gold cap braces, two black finished aluminum fence cap pieces, dust port, hex driver and all the hardware necessary to install the Wonder Fence to your TS-III fence. As with the TS-III the hardware is neatly packaged by operation which makes this simple assembly even simpler.



Assembly:

Assembly of the fence is easy. Simply use the supplied hex driver to loosen the two screws located behind the large holes if the front of the fence (right). To make it easier, Incra has designed the fence with sight holes (below). Just loosen the thumb screw, slide the cover and it's easy to insert the hex driver into the cap head screw.
 

 


 

Once the fence is installed it is time to check for alignment. In the photo (below left) you can see that the fence is off by a little bit. Following the instructions I loosened the infeed side wedge locking screw and inserted the supplied shims behind the wedge (below middle). As luck would have it I guess right the first time and the fence was now square (below right). Repeat this for the outfeed side as well.
 


 

Once you've adjusted the fence square, you can zero the offsets by aligning the wedges so that they are even and then sliding the pointer and locking it into the zero position.

For the last bit of assembly, install the cap braces by sliding the T-nuts into the TS-III fence and attaching the black High Rise Cap pieces.

For the last alignment use a square to position the High Rise Cap flush with the front of the fence.
 

The completed Wonder Fence (below).



 

One last thing you may want to do is to make a sacrificial fence so you can have zero clearance for those times you need it. Directions for making this fence are included in the instructions. I made mine from 3/4" MDF. The marker lines remind me where the aluminum Wonder Fence is. I've separated the fence so that I have plenty of room to bury my bits.
 

Installing the Router
 

With the fence completed it's time to install the router. Woodpecker will drill your insert and provide mounting screws for the router you request. I was quite surprised to learn that they could drill for my 3hp Triton. The drill pattern was perfect but they supplied screws for a PC and not the Triton so off to the hardware store I went.
The screw holes are counter bored vise counter sunk so if you have to supply your own screws you'll need cap or pan head. As I stated earlier the insert is 3/8" thick and after 3 months the insert has not sagged at all under the weight of this heavy router.
 


Tip - Installing the Triton Router

If after tightening the 4 mounting screws you find that your height adjustment is no longer smooth or even doesn't work at all it is because the bushing on the Triton's posts are binding. If there is any imperfections in either the Triton's base or the insert this may occur. It is caused by the bushings being a very tight fit to the posts.

To remedy this you can shim the base of the router. You will find instructions for this in the RTEW instructions.

Triton is aware of this and has already redesigned the bushings. When Triton officially releases the fix I will be having it retrofit to my router and will report on the outcome.

This problem did happen to me on both the RTEW and my own router table.
 
 


The insert includes four zero clearance (more accurately minimal clearance) insert rings to allow you to reduce choose the right one for the bit in use.
The ring sizes are 1", 2", 3" and the fourth sized for PC guide bushings. They are aluminum and are secured by four screws.
That's it, we're ready to rout.

More Features:
Before we get into making sawdust there are a couple more features of the fence which I haven't previously touched upon or mentioned in passing.


The Wonder Fence also includes sliding scales. At left you can see where I've zeroed them for use with the sacrificial fence.

The Wonder Fence also comes equipped with same Incremental Racks as the TS-III. These racks (right) are used to secure and align stops as well as being used with Incra's
Joinery Package.

Each half of the fence can be offset either forward or back. Each index repersents 2/1000ths. For jointing operations you can either offset the outfeed fence out or the infeed fence back. In this case I offset the outfeed fence out by an index of 2 or a measurement of 4 thousandths (left). This is accomplished by inserting your hex driver in the two small holes in the fence face, loosening the screws and sliding the black outer half of the wedge in either the + or - direction. If you look closely to the photo at the right you can see the gap between the fence and straight edge (click on the photo to enlarge).
The offset feature can also be used when routing a profile where the completed profile is no longer in the same plane as the infeed side of the piece. Simply cout a couple of inches of the profile on a test piece and turn off the router. Lay the unfinished part of the piece against the infeed fence and adjust the outfeed side until the fence touches the completed profile.

The Wonder Fence has very good dust collection but with the fence halves butted together the dust port will not extend over the rear fence rail (left). Rotating it vertical and attaching the hose works well (right).
 

The Wonder Fence and RTEW in use:


In use the fence and table combination work well together. Also the combination of the Wonder Fence and the Triton Router provide outstanding dust collection. With my shop vac connected to the Triton and the 2 1/2" hose from my DC connected to the Wonder Fence the dust grabbing performance rivals that of my enclosed router table.

I used the fence to joint an edge on a board and it worked fine. Woodworkers who have a jointer might find this operation a bit tedious but if you don't have a jointer this method will suffice. Offseting the fence as described above in "Features" for routing a profile prevented the usual snipe I get when performing this operation. If you use a straight fence often once there is no longer any material on the infeed side the last bit of the profile can be ruined. The High Rise Cap worked well (see above left) and was actually quite ridgid, much to my surprise. It was also easy to re-align after the addition of my sacrificial fence.

The router insert also worked well and there was no vibration. The edges of the phenolic insert are beveled so that you work will not catch when it transitions from the table to the insert. The red aluminum spacer rings will not cause a catch either but that is because they sit about 3/64" below the insert. The rings are about 4.125" in diameter so this could be a problem with short or delicate work pieces. It is fairly easy however to shim the rings with masking tape.

One change I made to my TS-III was to use the sliding positioners which were included with the fence and set them so that they act as stops for a mid position on the rails. I set them so that the TS-III fence would be 16" from the saw blade. This allows me to leave the fence there for most operations and still be able to reach the router without having to reposition the Ultra jig base assembly. This greatly simplifies "bouncing" between router and saw. Incra sells a steel 16" precision scale which works great for saw indexing while you utilize the 32" scale for router operations.
 

 

Conclusion

If you are short on space and can't have a dedicated router table or if you want to take advantage of your TS-III precision and add the Joinery Package to what I've looked at here, the Wonder Fence and RTEW will serve you well. Utilizing the TS-III's precision set up it was easy to dial in the required fence position. I also was able to use the extra scales included with the TS-III to make precise positioning a snap. The Wonder Fence scales make it easy to use Incra's Shop Stop and the dust collection is outstanding.

The only item on the Wonder Fence that I would have liked to see constructed differently was the dust extraction elbow. I think it should have been sized to extend beyond the rear rail.

There were three minor issues with the RTEW. The first being that the spacer rings need to be shimmed as mentioned above in "Use". The second being the incorrect router screws which caused me an hour's round trip to the hardware store. And the last thing is really a nit. The seam for the edge banding on the table is smack dab in the middle of the left side of the table....right where one would rub up against it while using the router. In time I would expect this to lift a bit and catch on your clothing or belt buckle.

Since I'm kind of an unorganized woodworker I found myself needing to bounce between the router and table saw more than once during a project and because of that I perfer a dedicated table. Removing the Wonder Fence from the TS-III fence for these ocasions was very easy and required using the hex driver to loosen 4 screws and slide the Wonder Fence off the TS-III. Beacuse I have moved the position of the Ultra Jig base assembly I was able to use the saw without any further fence adjustement. Then when I finished the cut, I just slide the Wonder Fence halves onto the TS-III and repositioned it. So even if you are unorganized like myself, it really is pretty trival to switch back and forth and certainly a good trade to gain the precision of the TS-III.

Or I suppose I could just do a better job of planning :)

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