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Woodpeckers Super Fence|
Accuracy and function the easy way
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 12-21-2007
Sooner or later, virtually every woodworker builds a router table. Just as often the most often dreaded part of that project is designing and building a fence system that actually works. The folks at Woodpeckers Inc who have over the years so impressed us with their line of router lifts and equipment finally applied their engineering and manufacturing prowess to the router table fence. The result of that effort is the Woodpeckers Super Fence you see here that makes building your own a questionable endeavor!
If you are familiar with their other products the high-end materials, first rate machining and American-made craftsmanship found in the Woodpeckers Super Fence would be no surprise. The Woodpeckers Super Fence is also innovative in its range of features. It comes with multiple mounting options, effective dust collection, variable throat capacity up to 3 7/8", multiple T-Slots for attaching feather boards used with or without sub-fences and unique, tool-free offset capabilities.
Perhaps most unique is that the Woodpeckers Super Fence comes at a reasonable cost. And, because of its modular design, you can buy the basic system and then add features as you need them later.
One of the truly unique features of the Woodpeckers Super Fence is the 3 7/8"-wide by 35 3/4"-long grooved base that affords multiple mounting options. Three full length grooves spread evenly front to back across the base are sized to fit common 1/4X20 bolt heads or nuts as well as the very trick Woodpeckers Super Track Clamps. You can use existing slots, T-tracks, make new ones or use the Super Track Clamps (table width 32" or less) without any grooves or slots in the table surface. A pair of through holes allows attaching the Woodpeckers Super Fence to slots that are 17" apart. In addition to providing lots of options for a new router table, the Woodpeckers Super Fence is also compatible with many existing versions you may have. Because the Woodpeckers Super Fence is self-contained, including the on-board dust collection, this range of mounting options can shorten and cheapen the process of adding a quality fence to your router table.
The 3 3/4"-tall by 17 7/8"-long fence halves also have three equally spaced (top to bottom) grooves that make attaching sacrificial faces or your shop-made jigs easy. An identical groove along the top of each face section makes attaching featherboards and jigs very easy. Woodpeckers also offers an optional Feather Board Track that allows using featherboards with sacrificial faces.
A pair of locking knobs on the rear of each face section allows setting the gap around the bit like most fence systems. However, each fence face can also be adjusted up and down by more than an inch!
The Woodpeckers Super Fence features a built-in dust system with a 2 1/4" port that accepts common shop-vac hoses without an adapter. The angled collector housing on the rear of the Woodpeckers Super Fence even has vented side plates that help prevent reductions in performance due to starving the dust collector for air when small gaps between the fence faces are used. The housing encloses the entire bit area to maximize its effectiveness with virtually all bit diameters.
In the Shop
The Woodpeckers Super Fence is a hefty, well-made system that includes all of the adjustments necessary for spot-on accurate use. The typical Woodpeckers machining precision means everything works as expected and problems with accuracy are going to be your fault, not the Woodpeckers Super Fence.
The extruded fence base and faces are heavy-duty and straight. The grooves provide lots of mounting options for whatever your job may require. This kind of flexibility will insure that the Woodpeckers Super Fence remains a valuable tool in your shop regardless of how your project type may change.
The fully machined brackets that mount the faces to the base make this an exceptionally flexible system. Another nice feature is that all of the adjustments are tool free. The only tool needed is a hex wrench for the setscrew adjusters used to square the faces to the table. Unless your table is continually warping, this will be a one-time adjustment.
Everything about the Woodpeckers Super Fence is easy to use and very accurate. The faces are smooth and straight making precise cuts easy to do. Even without waxing, the wood never felt like it was grabbing or sticking on the bare aluminum fence faces.
The fully adjustable face mounts are a very good idea and make offsetting the faces for jointing and similar operations very easy and very accurate. The overall ease of use makes completing tasks on the Woodpeckers Super Fence faster without sacrificing safety or accuracy. Being able to adjust the fence faces for height, width and front-to-back position increases flexibility in a big way. All of these features make the Woodpeckers Super Fence a safer system to use.
In my testing the Woodpeckers Super Fence needed a very minor initial adjustment to get the fence faces square to the table surface. After that, only normal width adjustments were needed. The faces stayed square to the table throughout the evaluation despite numerous changes to face width and position.
The brackets that connect the faces to the base are especially well made and designed. Using them is very easy and that in turn makes setting up the Woodpeckers Super Fence system very fast and easy. Even offsetting the faces for jointing is very simple and quick.
The dust collection system is well designed and works great. I tried the Woodpeckers Super Fence dust system using my large shop-vac and my POWERMATIC PM1300 dust collector and both cleared the bit area very well. Naturally, the POWERMATIC PM1300 did a better job due to its brute force through the 2 1/4" hose but the Woodpeckers Super Fence dust collection system is at least as effective as any I have tried. In most cases, the Woodpeckers Super Fence dust system is noticeably better.
The Woodpeckers Super Fence will cure many of the evils associated with building your own router table. The fence is critical to the accuracy of many cuts and the Woodpeckers Super Fence all but makes precision automatic.
All of the Woodpeckers Super Fence components are exceptionally well made with machining processes clearly showing the traditional Woodpeckers quality. The materials used are also first rate, insuring durability and longevity.
With a street price of $229.95 (11-30-2007, as tested, double offset model #SF-36DOUBLE) the Woodpeckers Super Fence is as good of a value as it is well made. Other models are available with price tags as low as $149.99 (11-30-2007) and all versions can be upgraded later.
If you are building a router table or want to improve on an existing fence system, take a long hard look at the Woodpeckers Super Fence. This is an exceptionally fast and cost-effective way to put a high precision fence on your router table that will benefit your work for many years to come.
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