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INCRA TS-LS Table Saw Fence System
Predictable precision, traditional INCRA quality
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 9-4-2009
I get a surprising number of requests for reviews of aftermarket table saw fences. There are a few on the market but only one that really grabbed my attention - the INCRA TS-LS Fence System. Part of my interest was fostered by previous experience with INCRA products, all of which have been first rate. I also liked that the INCRA TS-LS Fence System incorporates the proven INCRA lead screw technology from their famous LS Positioner series router table systems.
I installed the basic TS-LS System that comes with 72" rails which give the fence a maximum cut range of 32" to the right and 16" to the left of the blade. This kit comes with the standard Mount Unit (LS32-TS) that accommodates saws with table widths measuring 28" or smaller (front-to-rear along the miter slot). Saws with 28" to 33-1/2" deep tables need TS-LS kit with the "XL" Mount Unit (LS32-TS-XL), which has longer support components and adds about $35 (9-2-2009) to the price.
Click the link below to see the Compatibility Chart page on the INCRA website.
Installation of the INCRA TS-LS Fence System is made a bunch easier because of the well-written and illustrated instruction manual. Also, the hardware pieces are packed in clearly labeled bags containing groups of fasteners for a specific portion of the assembly. The instructions specify which bag you need for a task so this can't get much easier.
The INCRA TS-LS Fence System is actually more rigid when locked down than any T-square-style fence I have ever used. That is due to locking mechanisms at each end of the fence itself that make it exceptionally stable. It may take an extra 2 to 4 seconds (yes, I timed it) to lock the fence in place but it is extremely rigid with virtually no deflection in the overall assembly or its tough aluminum extrusions.
The INCRA TS-LS Fence System incorporates Automatic Positioning Control that lets you make predictable fence-to-blade changes as small as 0.001". You can also return to a former position to repeat a cut very quickly with zero error. The fine-line cursor and locking on the lead screw make this possible. This kind of speed and accuracy was only a dream with other fence systems, even the high dollar ones.
Plus you can remove the fence assembly in seconds for doing large crosscut jobs or other specialty tasks. When reinstalled, as long as you didn't intentionally move any of the scales, the fence and all of the accuracy comes right back without having to re-calibrate it. The entire fence assembly can be removed and installed to the left of the blade in just a minute or two if that kind of operation is needed.
The Positioner arm has three scales, all of which can be repositioned without tools. The main steel scale is held in place by a magnetic strip. Usually, once you set the INCRA TS-LS Fence System up, this scale is not moved again. INCRA also includes sliding centering and normal numeric scales. These scales make repetitive cuts simple and very accurate. They also make establishing a temporary job-specific zero point easy without having to alter the main scale or losing its accuracy.
The fence rail itself is also a tough aluminum extrusion. At 36"-long by 2-3/8"-tall and 1-5/8" wide the INCRA TS-LS Fence System offers full support across the entire table and then some. The face has one t-shaped slot for mounting auxiliary faces or fixtures. The top of the fence has three additional grooves that give you lots of options for designing and attaching your own jig and fixtures quickly and securely.
Unlike virtually all other fence systems, the INCRA TS-LS Fence System has no-lift latches at either end that prevent it from rising under the forces of featherboards. The operator side latch uses a finger-operated knob to lock it down which makes the entire fence face exceptionally rigid.
Another nice point about these latches is that they provide the contact points at the rails. The fence itself glides along without touching the cast iron table surface. That 1/16" gap between the fence and table surface not only prevents scratches but also gives sawdust a place to go rather than building up along the fence. Of course you can attach a wooden face if you need the fence to actually butt against the table.
In the Shop
If you have ever spent the better part of a day trying to install fence rails at an often bizarre fractional height or using a frustrating (cheap and frequently inaccurate) gauge, you are going to love installing the INCRA TS-LS Fence System. The rails mount on easy to install brackets using included hardware. Then the rails themselves are aligned to the proper height using the table surface and a pair of mounts as installation/alignment tools. It just doesn't get any easier - or faster. All other fence system manufacturers should look at the INCRA TS-LS Fence System, feel sufficiently embarrassed and then reconsider those fractions and "gauges".
The rest of the INCRA TS-LS Fence System goes together just as easily. I was able to complete the assembly and installation on a JET ProShop saw in just under an hour, which includes time for taking photos. Even aligning the fence with the miter slot is simple because all you do is loosen the fasteners at the Positioner base, set the fence parallel with the miter slot and tighten the screws down. Fast, easy and very secure.
Setting the fence for making cuts is just as easy as with any fence except that the accuracy of the scale makes whipping out your tape measure to double check the fence-to-blade distance wasted effort. I have never trusted the printed scales on other table saw fence systems but found myself being totally confident in the INCRA version with in the first few days - without secretly double checking it. The fine cursor and lead screw interaction make it almost hard to misplace a cut.
The lead screw itself really shines when trying to place a cut very accurately or fine-tuning a groove. The hardest changes to make with traditional fences are the very small ones. Trying to "bump" T-square style fences over just a little bit is tricky on a good day and virtually impossible to quantify without putting a dial indicator in place or making several trial and error test cuts. With the INCRA TS-LS Fence System changes as small as 0.001" can be done with perfect accuracy the first time. The locking arm on the Positioner base has three
positions, one that frees the arm entirely and another that locks it securely. In between is an adjusting position that engages the lead screw and its dial. Each click of the dial results in a 0.001" change in fence position. A repositionable scale wheel next to it makes it easy to know exactly how much change you are dialing in so you can return to the exact previous setting if need be. Very easy to use and drop-dead accurate.
To make using the INCRA TS-LS Fence System even more productive, INCRA includes their 82-minute DVD on using the Positioner system. You can also add a router in an extension wing and extend the versatility of this fence system even more. The fine-tuning capabilities of this fence will be very helpful when designing and using your own specialty jigs and fixtures. The INCRA TS-LS Fence System is one of those tools that gets more useful as your experience with it grows.
The INCRA TS-LS Fence System is a remarkable fence system with far-reaching capabilities far beyond even high-buck factory or aftermarket t-square fences. The entire unit is made with the traditional INCRA quality and attention to detail. And that includes their use of first rate materials and manufacturing processes.
With a street prices between $399 for the 32" capacity and $499 for the 52"-version the INCRA TS-LS Fence System is an exceptional bargain, especially if you research the cost of the other big-name (and some not so big name) aftermarket fence systems on the market. Then factor in the far-reaching capabilities of the INCRA TS-LS Fence System and the comparison swings heavily in its favor. They even make INCRA TS-LS Fence System versions for SawStop machines. See the Pricing Link below for more details on models.
If you want to increase the versatility and accuracy of your current table saw, and in most cases actually gain more than buying a whole new saw that often comes with an inferior fence system, take along hard look at the INCRA TS-LS Fence System. This could be the cheapest, most effective table saw upgrade available.
Visit the INCRA web site - Click Here
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