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INCRA Miter 1000HD Miter Gauge
Just when I thought it couldn't get better
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 10-14-2009
Not long ago I thought that my trusty INCRA 1000SE was the best we would see in miter gauges, and I wasn't alone in that perception. It was tough, extremely accurate and easy to use. What could get better? Then along came the INCRA Miter 1000HD and it did get better. Who would have thunk it?
Overall quality remains a constant in their products and the INCRA Miter 1000HD is no different. High-end materials and exceptionally clean machining, laser cutting and manufacturing insure accuracy and ease of use over a very long expected lifespan. All that translates into a level of value that is in woefully short supply in today's woodworking marketplace.
Fit-All Miter Bar
INCRA built their INCRA Miter 1000HD around their proven GlideLOCK miter bar design. This all steel bar is accurately machined to be straight but more importantly to house a series of very trick expansion discs. These discs can be adjusted to fit normally sized miter slots perfectly, even worn ones.
But INCRA realizes that there are Sears Craftsman table saw owners out there that are saddled with those annoying undersized miter slots. Rather than allow Sears evil plan of forcing users of their table saws to buy Sears miter gauges, INCRA made their GlideLOCK adjustable to include the Craftsman slot size. Using the included discs you can set the INCRA Miter 1000HD GlideLOCK up to fit normal 3/4"-wide slots, the Craftsman .740" slots and even tweak the bar to fit what used to be considered worn out miter slots. The GlideLOCK has an effective width range of 0.735" to 0.770" and you need only to alter the configuration of the adjustment discs! A full sized illustrated page included with the INCRA Miter 1000HD makes installing the correct disc combination for your saw a no-brainer. INCRA includes the necessary hex wrenches for working with the adjustment discs.
The INCRA Miter 1000HD GlideLOCK bar also has a removable T-slot follower. T-shaped miter slots are nearly standard these days but INCRA has you covered just in case.
The INCRA Miter 1000HD miter head has an amazing 180 AngleLOCK notches that let you set individual angles in one degree increments through a full 90-degrees to either side of zero! Plus, a swing-in scale lets you tweak each of those AngleLOCK settings in 1/10th-degree steps, 5 to either side of zero on that scale! Obviously this is where the HD part of the INCRA Miter 1000HD moniker comes from.
Angle settings are locked with an equally precise pointed latch that fully engages the tiny degree notches. That latch is secured with a finger-operated knob and a twist of the main handle insures that the INCRA Miter 1000HD head is firmly locked at the angle you set. This is a surprisingly easy to use system that sports dead-on accuracy. A large diagram included in the instruction pamphlet makes getting familiar with this ultra fine-tuning system easy.
During the initial setup the fence is checked to be sure it is exactly 90-degrees to the miter slot (or blade if you want to do it the quick way....) but after that there really is no on-going adjustments needed. The instructions also describe squaring the fence face to the table surface, using paper shims if need be. The INCRA Miter 1000HD isn't made with less accuracy, they just include a setup step most other miter gauge manufacturers apparently "forget" about. I have had to tweak nearly every miter gauge I have ever owned to get the fence perfectly square to my table surface. So far, INCRA was the only one to tell me about that procedure. INCRA includes the hex wrenches necessary for squaring the miter head.
At the center of the miter head plate is a sticker that lists all of the angles needed for cutting the pieces for common segmented circles. The degree label that compliments the laser-cut notches show the degree each notch is for. Above that set of numbers is another row showing the complimentary angle that cut produces. That comes in very handy especially for those of us that experienced persistent brain fade during math class in high school.
In the collapsed mode the INCRA Miter 1000HD fence is a full 18"-long. But when you need expanded support the last 4" of the fence can be moved outwards on the built-in beam to provide an overall fence length of 31"! A simple hex head bolt on the operators side of the fence releases and locks the fence extension at whatever length is needed within its range.
The 1-3/4"-tall face is ribbed and also features a slot that makes attaching a wooden face easy with the included fasteners and instructions. You can also use this slot to secure your specialty jigs or fixtures.
INCRA includes an easy to read scale along the top edge of the fence. Because the INCRA Miter 1000HD can be setup and used on either side of the blade, INCRA includes a reversed scale that can be slipped into the top of the fence rail. That means that you will have logical numbers on which to base cuts from either side of the blade!
The fence can also be repositioned closer to or farther from the blade. This lets you keep the fence close to the blade for maximum support of the wood during miter cuts. The fence is released and locked in place with two hex-head screws and INCRA includes the driver-style wrench for using them. These same screws let you fine-tune the height of the fence also.
Flip Shop Stop
The top of the fence has a series of finely serrated strips built into its front edge that engage the matching teeth on their very trick Flip Shop Stop. This dual arm Flip Shop Stop can be set virtually anywhere along the fence, including being positioned on the extendable 4" section for use with long stock.
The twin arm Flip Shop Stop can be equipped with the single long rod that connects the two arms or the two shorter rods that are also included. You can use one short and the long rod or two short rods, whatever works best for the job at hand. Changing the rods is fast and simple but gives the nifty Flip Shop Stop lots of versatility. The combination of rod lengths means that you can set up for many two-cut procedures like making initial cuts for tenons or any other multi cut need. Of course both arms can be flipped up out of the way for making the first squaring cuts on a board, then flipped down in the needed order to do the finish cuts.
The Flip Shop Stop can be mounted in either of two slots. The forward slot is for using the bare INCRA Miter 1000HD fence. The rear most slot is for when a 3/4"-thick wooden face is attached. Using this second mounting slot means that the Flip Shop Stop retains all of its functionality with the wooden face in place. Very smart.
In the Shop
The assembly and setup of the INCRA Miter 1000HD went very quickly because it is largely factory assembled. Plus, the instruction pamphlet does a good job of describing how to align the fence to the saw. First I adjusted the GlideLOCK bar to my miter slot, a chore that took minutes and is also clearly described for all compatible saws in the instructions.
INCRA shows using a square to set the fence 90-degrees to the blade and that will work. However, I like to use an artist's triangle and square the fence to the miter slot itself. That automatically eliminates any small error there might be in the blade parallelism. Even using the artist's triangle I only had to tweak the fence a tiny bit by loosening the four screws, making the adjustment and tightening them back up. INCRA also describes shimming (using common paper) the fence if need be to get the vertical face of the fence square to the table surface. In my case the fence face was already square so I was ready to go to work.
I tried several square and miter cuts and the INCRA Miter 1000HD cut all of them accurately to the point that I could not measure an error. As with every miter gauge I have ever owned I would add a wooden face to the INCRA Miter 1000HD and cover that with sticky-backed 120-grit sandpaper. That extra grip on the wood does nice things for miter cuts and just keeps the wood very stable during cross cuts as well.
Being able to extend the fence is very handy and does a good job of stabilizing surprisingly long pieces of wood during cuts. I cut some 48"-long poplar without issue and got the angles I was looking for on the first cut. If the wood is too long to be cut accurately with the INCRA Miter 1000HD you just might be using the wrong type of machine in the first place.
The Flip Shop Stop is something you will appreciate even more once you get used to using it. This little accessory makes all sorts of repetitive cutting fast, easy and very accurate. The combination of stop rods included really does give you lots of options for setting the Flip Shop Stop up. This is a very good idea that has been executed right.
The INCRA Miter 1000HD is a very well-made, well-engineered miter gauge with unique features that enhance its accuracy and ease of use. The fact that the INCRA Miter 1000HD is based on the famous INCRA 1000SE is no accident. INCRA took what many considered to be the best miter gauge you could buy and applied a few new features that made it better. With 180 perfect angles to use, plus being able to refine those down to 1/10-degree the INCRA Miter 1000HD is more accurate than most of us can measure.
With a street price of $189.99 (10-12-2009) the INCRA Miter 1000HD isn't cheap but nothing even approaching this level of quality is. The use of first-rate materials and processes throughout mean this is a long term investment that will last forever as long as your shop does not get run over by a tank. OK, it just might survive even then maybe....
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