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INCRA Miter Express
The way you'd build it if you could
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-11-2005
Table saw sleds are very popular in woodworking because of the accuracy and safety they bring to the table saw. The problem is we had to design and build them ourselves to fit our machines and needs. Frequently, that also meant building more than one to get both cross cut and miter capabilities.
INCRA's new Miter Express cures those problems and more in one ingeniously designed and flawlessly manufactured package.
The Miter Express embodies all of the quality materials and workmanship we have come to expect from INCRA. Their experience in the design, manufacture and application of complex aluminum extrusions is at the heart of the Miter Express and are responsible for the flexibility and accuracy this unit brings to your shop.
Instructions and Assembly
The INCRA Miter Express instruction manual is well written and heavily illustrated with quality photographs that leave nothing unexplained. All of the parts are precisely manufactured and ready to use as they come from the package. The Miter Express kit includes all necessary hardware, panel sections and even a set of special hex wrenches used during assembly, adjustment and use.
The Miter Express panels are made from dense particleboard covered with a high-quality laminate that provides a tough, slick and very flat surface to support the wood.
Assembly of the Miter Express is exceptionally fast thanks to spot-on preparation of the pieces. I dialed the clutch down on my Bosch cordless drill driver and used that to quickly seat all of the screws used to secure the panels. A hand-held screwdriver was used to finish tightening them. From start to finish, the assembly process didn't take 10 minutes.
The right-side panel is cut during assembly to create true zero-clearance on both sides of the blade. Screw the right panel to the utility (center) rail and use that assembly to guide it through the blade. Screw the cut off piece to the drop panel guide bar, put it in the right slot and pass that piece through the blade to trim it to length. That's it and you have zero clearance on both sides of the blade.
Note: The Miter Express can be assembled with the sliding panel to the left or right of the blade to accommodate left and right tilt saws.
Table and Capacity
When fully assembled and trimmed, the overall Miter Express panel surface measures 27"-wide by 15 ½"-deep. The right side drop portion, which remains fixed during cuts, is 9 ½"-wide. The left side panel on which the material being cut rides is 17 ½"-wide.
What adds capacity to the Miter Express is the utility rail into which the miter guide fits. The utility rail is 24"-long and allows installing the miter guide's bar virtually anywhere along its length that allows securing the guide bar securely. In most cases, that gives a front-to-back capacity of a whopping 24". The miter guide can be positioned closer to the center of the sliding panel for short pieces. Try that with your miter guide alone!
Though any standard miter guide can be used with the Miter Express, we used our INCRA 1000SE to make full use of its capabilities and those of the Miter Express. Pairing these INCRA products makes this an exceptionally accurate and useful tool in the shop.
At the heart of the Miter Express are three aluminum rails. Their unique design and precision manufacturing make the Miter Express accurate and versatile.
The utility (center) rail has a "bar" formed along the bottom that can be adjusted to fit standard ¾"-wide by 3/8"-deep slots. Front and rear, screw on T-slot followers are included to lock the Miter Express in saw with those slots.
On top of the 24"-long utility bar is an ingenious slot that runs its full length and accepts virtually any standard miter guide bar. Special retention bars along either side of the slot have adjusting screws behind them to lock the miter guide at virtually any point along its length.
The left rail joins two panel sections plus has a channel down the center that accepts an adjustable fence brace that is also included in the kit. On the right side is an adjustable guide bar that secures the drop panel next to the blade. Access holes in the drop panel correspond with the adjusting screws in the bar to make installing or moving the drop panel very quick.
A nice design feature of the sliding panel system is that the center and left-side rails are suspended above the saw surface when the panel mounting screws are tightened. The Miter Express sliding panel actually rides on three strips of UHMW plastic tape that are applied to the bottom side of the main panels to reduce friction. The result is a smooth operating sliding panel that does not mark up the cast iron saw top.
In the Shop
Using the INCRA Miter Express is simple but produces remarkable results. The included workpiece clamp prevents creeping of the wood during cuts. The result is exceptionally clean square and angled cuts in all types of material, including veneer plywood and laminate-covered stock.
After installing the INCRA 1000SE miter guide, its alignment to the slot was checked and found to be dead on square. We made several cuts at various angles using the 1000SE detents. All were checked and found to be right on with very smooth surfaces.
Handling small pieces is both accurate and very safe because of the workpiece clamp and its ability to secure the wood relatively close to the blade. Using this system, I was able to make 90 and 45-degree cuts in an 8"-long piece of oak with a laminate covering. The cuts were glass smooth with no chipping of the wood or laminate.
The same quality of cut was obtained on much longer stock using the 1000SE's extendable fence, the included fence support bracket and the workpiece clamp. This combination makes handling longer pieces of wood surprisingly easy with no tendency to wander, deflect or pull during the cut. These cuts were also checked and found to be dead on whatever setting was dialed into the INCRA1000SE.
The drop panel does its job well but goes farther. Being able to adjust its position relative to the blade, makes catching virtually any size scrap pieces easy.
The INCRA Miter Express is another top-shelf idea from INCRA that demonstrates their innovative approach to design and dedication to detail and precision manufacturing.
Throughout assembly, everything fit perfectly and despite heavy-duty "playing" in the shop, the Miter Express continues to perform smoothly with spot-on accuracy. It appears that with minimal care, the Miter Express will last and perform accurately for a very long time.
Though the Miter Express works with most full-sized miter guides, I have to say that when teamed with the INCRA 1000SE, you get a combination that is going to be very hard to beat in a woodworking shop.
With a price tag of only $149.00 (8-10-2005) the INCRA Miter Express will not break the bank but will bring a ton of accuracy, versatility and safety to your shop. If you need a table saw sled, the INCRA Miter Express is a must see.
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