Review By Dean Bielanowski  Kreg Website - http://www.kregtool.com


Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence
Review
By Dean Bielanowski

Own a 14" bandsaw? Then this review will interest you, particularly if you do not have a bandsaw fence system or are unhappy with your current fence. I have owned a 14" generic import bandsaw for several years now. It didn't come with a fence as standard, but when I bought it, they threw in a basic Delta fence for free so I thought, heck, this will do the job fine. I ended up having problems installing the Delta fence. It was a pain in the rear end to set up and keep square to the blade, so I ended up removing it and just using a clamped piece of wood as a fence for the last two years. This worked ok, but had its own problems. Setting it up square took some time and each time you set it up you would have to go through the same alignment process, and continually clamping and unclamping it was not an overly enjoyable or frustration-free process. It wasn't until I saw the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence that I thought seriously about upgrading my "temporary" wooden fence. Sure, there have been good fences on the market for a long time, but either they were simply too expensive, or would not easily fit my saw, partly because I drilled mounting holes too high when I first got the bandsaw (yes, we all make errors here and there).

So I decided to take a look at the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence, noting the simpler installation method and elongated mounting slots that might get me past my little drilling mishap from years gone by... After installing it and using it for the first few times, I was inspired to write up this review. Let's find out why...

Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence
Firstly, this fence system is designed to fit 14" bandsaws which look something like the one you see in the photo in the right column. Many companies sell re-badged versions of this classic 14" bandsaw design, including Jet, Delta, Grizzly, General, Ridgid, and many others. Mine is actually a Taiwanese import re-badged machine sold by a local woodworking supplier. Some come with pre-drilled holes in the table (this makes installation MUCH simpler), and some you will need to drill your own holes to mount the fence. What struck me as interesting is the single sided mounting assembly, whereas the old Delta fence I battled with required assembling rails to both sides of the saw table. The Kreg Fence (which was developed in conjunction with bandsaw guru, Mark Duginske, and is similar to the old line of Fasttrak bandsaw fences) can also potentially be mounted to other bandsaws if you are prepared to do some drilling of parts, but I'd check with Kreg first if you have any doubts about whether this fence will fit your make of bandsaw.

I digress... let's go through installation of the fence...

Installation
The fence ships in a nice hard cardboard box, and when you open the lid, everything is arranged neatly in a segmented plastic tray. Surprisingly, there are not all that many parts to the system. I was expecting more given the adjustability features mentioned in the product blurb, but more on that later.

Start by unpacking all components and laying them out neatly on a clean work surface. Grab the printed user manual, which provides all step-by-step installation instructions and check the component list to make sure everything is included in the box. Now, I could just say "read the manual for installation instructions", but I want to outline them here step-by-step also (but not with all technical details) simply because I feel it is an important feature of the product, that is, how easy this fence is to put together and install on your bandsaw!

The first job is to attach the mounting rail to front edge of your bandsaw table (the edge that faces the user). If you do not have pre-drilled holes in your table, you will need to drill some now. There are several elongated milled slots in the edge of the mounting rail. The first locates over the right drilled hole in your table (this is standard no matter what make of 14" saw you have). Secure with the supplied threaded bolt and washer (my drilled holes were not threaded so I used a washer and nut on the other side to secure - no problems, although in this case you have to supply the nut and washer yourself). Next, attach the other end of the mounting rail. There are three possible slots in the mounting rail to use, depending on which lines up with the left pre-drilled hole in your bandsaw table. Mine used the first closest slot (for Jet, Ridgid and import models) and everything lined up great. The next slot will fit Delta saws, and the furthest slot is for Craftsman 14" bandsaws. If you find none of the slots fit, you can drill a hole in the mounting rail yourself to make it fit (instructions provided for this in the manual).

Once the mounting rail is attached, you assemble the clamp block component. This just involves threading four nylon screws (2 x hex head, and 2 x set screws) which only takes seconds. These will be used later to adjust the clamp block and to square up the fence to the blade. The lens cursor, used for measure reference, is also installed temporarily at this stage.

Next, you simply attach the Adapter Bracket (which will soon hold the fence itself) to the clamp block with supplied hex head bolts and washers. Easy stuff. Line it up roughly square to the clamp block to begin with. It can be adjusted later. Attach the Lock Down twist knob loosely. This is the part which will hold your fence firm to the mounting rail once you have set your desired fence distance from the blade. Place the whole clamp block assembly onto the mounting rail and lock it down lightly using the lock knob. Now we can attach the fence!

The Adapter Bracket has two long "U" shaped slots in which bolt shafts will lay to secure the fence. The heads of the two hex-head bolts are inserted into the back channel of the blue bandsaw fence component, and then the shafts of these bolts lay in the Adapter Bracket slots and are secured with the two washers and twist nuts supplied. Once the main fence is attached, guess what? The main installation is just about complete. How easy is that! It took me no more than 10 minutes to get to this stage, and without one bad word muttered, even under my breath. Everything worked like a well-oiled machine.

Now comes time for adjustment before you use the fence. You should make a few test cuts to determine how much blade drift you experience during a normal cut. The Kreg Bandsaw fence is adjustable to compensate for blade drift, and you do this by loosening the hex bolts which hold down the Adapter Bracket to the clamp block and angle it Left or right slightly (and hence the fence that attaches to it) to counteract the blade drift tendency of your saw. It can take a few cycles of test and adjustment to get it spot on, but it depends how well your bandsaw is set up to begin with. A well set-up bandsaw may require no adjustment at all and you can use a parallel fence without any bias either way. This setting will remain the same until you find a need to alter it later. No more setting up a fence offset each time you use a fence to make your cut.

You should also check that the fence face itself is parallel to the tensioned blade on your bandsaw. If not, your cut pieces may be thicker on one end, or thinner on the other! Start by ensuring your bandsaw table itself is square to the blade at the "0" degree setting. Once verified, check parallelism between fence and blade. If it is not parallel you can adjust the protruding height of the nylon set screws below the clamp block to effectively lift or lower one side of the clamp block to make the fence perfectly parallel to the blade. Adjustment is pretty easy and the design works well. I found I needed to make virtually no adjustment here, but your mileage may vary. With this being the case, I simply threaded the nylon screws so they were just touching the sections of the mounting rail below to keep me in parallel for subsequent uses.

Next I installed the adhesive measure tape. There is a small shallow channel in the mounting rail to attach this in. The tape measure supplied is in imperial units (inches) but Kreg also now offer a compatible metric adhesive tape measure, but you must purchase this separately (part number KMS7729 which sells for US$7.29). Basically you move your fence over to the blade so it is just touching the blade teeth without deflecting the blade. Make pencil marks on the mounting rail where the lens cursor line is positioned. Next, remove the clamp block/fence, peel the adhesive protector from the back of the tape (or peel as you go), line up the "0" mark with your pencil marks, and apply the tape down the length of the mounting rail. There is more tape than you need. I managed to get up to 21 inches of measure tape before the rail ended, and I clipped off the excess tape. The lens cursor can be adjusted left right at any time, so remount your fence to the mounting rail and slide it over to the blade and check your lens cursor position. Adjust it left/right and secure it again to "zero" your measure reading. Note that the measure tape is only a guide, and while it can be pretty precise in use, there is very small difference between the tooth offset of a 3/4" blade and, say a 1/4" blade, so perhaps its a good idea to set your measure tape for the blade you most commonly use. Most bandsaw cuts are rough cuts anyway, deliberately made oversize for further refining later on with another tool to final required dimension. I find I don't really use the measure tape all the time, as I pencil mark my cut lines and go by those mostly, but there are times, for me at least, when the measure tape provides a good and quick guide for setting fence width from the blade. I'd rather have that feature than not have it, let's just say that, and it doesn't affect fence performance whether you have the tape measure installed or not, so there is no reason not to have it in my mind.

One concern that was quickly dispelled when I started using the fence was whether
there would be any deflection in the fence when locked down, given that it locks on only one end (there is no rear rail to lock onto). The clamp block sits onto a dovetail-shaped section of the mounting rail. This provides a very secure hold, and the rigidity of the Adapter Bracket and the fence itself are crucial. When properly locked down, it is hard to deflect the fence, even when force is applied to the edge furthest from the mounting rail. Ok, so you can deflect it marginally, but it takes more force than you would ever apply to it in normal use. In fact, when I tried, the whole bandsaw lifted up off two of its feet. Fence rigidity is crucial for ongoing accuracy, and I am happy to report that Kreg have this issue well and truly covered. When locked down, it's very solid indeed. Big points there.

Ok, what else do I have to mention... Ahh yes, take a look at the photos to the right. Note the one showing the included miter gauge. When assembled and attached correctly to your bandsaw, the mounting rail sits below the miter slot, meaning you can use your miter slot and miter gauge normally without being hindered by the mounting rail. Enhancement without compromise... Gotta love it!

As mentioned, the mounting rail offers up to 21" capacity, or there abouts, but most 14" bandsaws will only give you around 14" throat clearance anyway so you cannot run out of fence-width capacity. Removing the fence for true freehand cutting is child's play. Just loosen the locking knob enough to clear the dovetail rail section and take it off.

The fence component itself is 18" long, and you can adjust its position forward/back to give you more infeed support, or more outfeed support. There is more than enough length to provide plenty of support on the infeed and outfeed sides at the one time. Fence height is 2 3/4", again, sufficient to provide solid support for most material sizes that a 14" bandsaw is able to slice through. Because the fence has several channels to accept head head screws or bolts, making a higher sub-fence (if you felt the need to) is not too difficult, and attaching it and removing it could be achieved readily.

In Use
Once everything has been aligned, and you may only need to do this once unless you switch blades or blade drift changes over time, you are ready to go. Using a fence is ideal for making straight cuts on a bandsaw. Naturally, its not overly useful for making curved cuts, and should probably be removed for this purpose. But, in my shop at least, the bandsaw is primarily a re-sawing machine, so straight cuts are the order of the day. Re-sawing means cutting a thick piece of lumber in two, or three, or many pieces along its grain. Or you can re-saw a section of tree trunk or tree limb into flat boards for projects (see photo of my nicely re-sawn boards from a section of tree taken from my own backyard). Re-sawing is popular with some cabinet makers that like to bookmatch door panels. It is a great way to get the most useable wood out of round supply stock. Using the fence, you can guide your piece along it to make a straight cut. Again, proper bandsaw setup and compensation for blade drift in your fence setup will produce consistently good results with even thickness edge to edge.

There is virtually no friction on the fence face, and with a nicely polished bandsaw table and a sharp blade, the bandsaw slices wood like butter. To take a wider cut, simply unlock the fence, slide it over, secure it and away you go. I measured the distance between both the close edge and distant edge of the fence in relation to the miter slot to see if the fence remained square no matter where along the rail I had it locked down. And the results were pretty much spot on, meaning the fence locks down true, with repeatable accuracy (there may be some very, very minor discrepancy here or there in the order of 1/32" or less), but certainly nothing way off the charts, and nothing that would make any practical difference for a bandsaw cut which, after all, is not really considered as a "precision" cut compared to other cutting tools. The bottom line... it's as accurate as it needs to be for the tasks performed on a bandsaw.

You might also note in one of my photos (near the bottom) that I have the fence configured with its wide face laying flat on the bandsaw table. The fence can be attached this way also, and its ideal for cutting thin stock, simply because it allows you to lower the blade guides right down near the wood without being impeded by a high fence. There is still plenty of support provided by the fence, and it is a well thought out design that allows you to do this. Remember, this fence was designed in part by one of the world's most well-known bandsaw users and experts, and built to accommodate a bandsaw user's needs in every respect.

What I like about this product:

  • Very easy to install, adjust, and ease of use is second to none.

  • Very rigid - uses solid, well machined parts.

  • Wood glides along it easily, unlike my "wooden" fence I used for many years prior to this.

  • Fits most similar 14" bandsaws on the market. No adjustment needed for my saw.

  • It's black and blue and kinda resembles my bandsaw color!

  • The ability to easily make or add jigs - can use some standard T-track accessories or fixings (but I haven't found a need for any as yet).

  • Very reasonably priced for a quality product that does the job it says it will do.

What I dislike about this product:

  • Not really a dislike, but would have been good to have seen a dual imperial/metric measure tape included by default for adaptability, or at least the chance to request a metric tape with the order. Considering these are mostly sold in the USA however, its understandable that an imperial tape is included. Metric tape is available for those who prefer the metric system at additional cost (see details above).

  • Nothing else really. It is genuinely difficult to fault this fence!

For the recommended retail price of US$119.95, the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence offers excellent value for money. It certainly offers me value simply because I no longer have to clamp, adjust and unclamp a wooden fence to my bandsaw everytime I want to make a straight cut, or wrestle with a sub-standard fence that is difficult to maintain and offers no adjustment features. Now I just attach the fence and away I go. This saves me at least 4-5 minutes each time. Considering that you can probably get this fence for closer to the US$100 mark, it offers even more value. Well engineered, well thought out, easy to install, well worth your money, in my opinion.

The Accessories
Although not entirely necessary, there are several accessories available (at extra cost) to further expand the functionality of your bandsaw fence.

4 1/2" Resaw Guide
I'll start with the 4 1/2" resaw guide, simply because I think this one is worth grabbing. Although Kreg also offer a larger 7" resaw guide, I find the 4 1/2" guide is more than suitable for my needs.

So, what does it do. As you can see from the photos, the guide attaches to the fence via screws and brass thumb-wheel nuts (on either side of the guide). This locks it solidly to the fence. It's not easily visible in the photo, but the front of the resaw guide facing the blade actually has a curved face.

What's it for? Well, basically it provides a pivot point close to the blade to allow you to compensate for blade drift on the fly. But hang on... doesn't the fence itself provide adjustment for blade drift? Well, yes it does, but there are some cases where freehanding a cut (using no fence as a guide, only a pivot point next to the blade) can produce more consistent results. During some cuts the blade drift factor may not be constant, i.e. there may be variations in how much the blade drifts during a single cutting pass. This can often occur if you are working with wood that has curly grain, or grain that doesn't run terribly straight, and there are other factors also, i.e. poor quality blades. Or, some woods may have varying density in the same piece, a knot in wood being a good example. A blade may drift by a certain amount when it cuts against the grain for a small part of the cut (curly grain) and then straighten out a little if it comes along to some nice straight grain - this is just a basic explanation, the mechanics of it all can be mind boggling if you get into it. So you have varying blade drift during a single cut, for whatever reason. In these instances, it is better to freehand the cut, meaning you change the angle in which the piece is being fed into the blade on the fly, modifying it slightly as you go to keep the blade cutting as straight as possible. This is an essential requirement if you attempt to cut/mill your own thin veneers from larger stock... now there is a bandsaw cutting challenge!

Referencing against a pivot point provides extra control for the user, and a curved pivot point is needed to make these angular adjustments easily. This is what the resaw guide does. It provides that pivot point. Some home-made shop guides have a much sharper radius. While these work ok, I personally find the larger radius guides to be easier to work with (personal preference), and the wood encounters very little friction as it slides over the smooth metal surface of the Kreg resaw guide. It's certainly a handy accessory to have if you suffer a lot of problems with blade drift on your saw, or want that little extra bit of control when it comes to re-sawing valuable pieces of lumber or lumber with "cranky" grain. I guess I should note at this point that the Kreg fence could be equally useful for cutting metal on a bandsaw, using a metal cutting blade of course.

Priced at US$17.99, the resaw guide is worth it if you have the extra money to add it to your fence setup. Or, you can always buy it later down the track, if and when your budget permits, or if you find a need for it.

Micro-adjuster
The micro-adjuster, priced at US$14.99 offers the user the ability to modify the fence distance on a micro scale. Instead of unlocking the fence and moving it left or right by hand to make small adjustments, you can add the micro-adjuster component to your setup, which provides a small brass adjustment wheel to make micro adjustments of your fence's position. It attaches directly the the clamp block via the threaded thumb wheel screw and it either pulls the clamp block (and fence attached to it) to the left or pushes it right depending on which way you turn the thumb wheel. You lock the adjuster down to the mounting rail (with its own screw clamp), and unlock the fence just enough so it can move freely, then you turn the thumb wheel screw to make micro adjustments to your fence position before you lock the fence down to make a cut. It you are one that has difficulty setting a fence to a measurement on a small scale, i.e you are constantly tapping it this way and that way to get it aligned right over a mark, then the micro-adjuster will make life much easier. It is designed so that it doesn't impede the use of the fence, and it slides along with the fence as you make macro adjustments. It's handy to have, but I personally don't find it to be absolutely 'essential'. Like I have mentioned before, I don't view my bandsaw to be a precision cutting instrument that will cut directly to dimension with no further work required, so I always cut oversize and machine to final dimension with other tools. But if your tasks allow you to use the bandsaw as your one and only cutting tool and you find the need to make micro-adjustments, then the micro-adjuster is your ticket to easier bandsaw cutting with the Kreg Bandsaw Fence. It is certainly designed and constructed well and works as advertised, so it comes down to personal choice on this one. I have one and use it here and there, but not for every cut.

Well, I hope that gives you a good insight into the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence and accessories. If you are like me and are not a massive fan of building your own jigs, fences (I'd rather be undertaking actual projects in the little time I have) etc, then I think you will enjoy this product. A good fence (whether made or bought) can make life much easier when cutting on the bandsaw.
 

Available to Order Online through these companies...
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Rockler.com (USA)
Kreg Precision Band Saw Fence
Kreg Precision Band Saw Fence
Amazon.com (USA)
Hartville Tools (USA)

Kreg Precision
Bandsaw Fence

Compatible
4" Resaw Guide

Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence Photos
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Most 14" bandsaws have pre-drilled mounting holes.


The fence will fit most 14" bandsaw designs including Jet, Delta and various imports.


Time to upgrade the bandsaw with the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence.


Neatly packed ready for assembly.


Milled slots located strategically to suit various bandsaw models.


Attaching the mounting rail.


Setting up the bandsaw clamp block, adding the nylon set screws.


The adapter block is now mounted, and I am adding the Lock Down Knob.


Attaching the fence component


The fence is now fully assembled, well apart from the measure tape. Note also that the fence does not impede the miter slot, so your miter gauge still functions normally.


Making a test cut to check fence alignment. The high fence provides plenty of support and is very rigid.


Attaching the adhesive imperial measure tape.


Zeroing out the lens cursor...


Basic straight line re-sawing. Great results! Each board is of constant thickness and the finish is as good as you can get from a bandsaw.


The added extras further enhance the saw fence.


The micro adjuster allows you to make micro changes to the position of the saw fence.


The curved faced resaw guide allows you to freehand a cut, compensating for blade drift as you go. Very handy accessory.


Note how the saw fence is orientated in the flat position which is handy for cutting thinner materials.

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