Kreg Precision Bandsaw FenceComments (2)
This article is from Issue 6 of Woodcraft Magazine.
By Dave Eames-Harlan
bandsaws are sold without a fence. If a fence is included or available as an option from the manufacturer, it’s often flimsy and inaccurate. With their Precision Bandsaw Fence, Kreg offers an alternative for woodworkers looking for a solid, precise fence for resawing and rip cuts.
Great from the start
The fence arrived in a heavy cardboard box with all of the parts packed neatly in a plastic tray. The small hardware is packaged in three thick, well-sealed plastic bags. (How many times has your first impression of a tool been ruined by the hunt for the one last washer that fell out of the flimsy hardware bag during shipping?) The bags are even divided by installation step so you don’t have to search through piles of hardware to find the right piece. Even before I started installation, I was impressed.
Since my Grizzly 17" bandsaw is not on Kreg’s list of the common saws the fence works well with, I knew I was going to have to drill a hole. The manual offers some advice, but I really didn’t need it. I simply pulled my old fence rail off and marked one additional hole using the old fence as a guide. My drill press made quick work of the hole and I had the rail mounted easily with the two original bolts not long after opening the box. Of course, your experience may vary depending on your standard fence setup.
The rest of the assembly is straightforward. A two-piece aluminum clamping block rides the rail, locking with a knob on the front of the block. A couple of bolts hook into a T-track on the back of the hefty aluminum fence extrusion, and connect with slots on the clamping block. With the installation of four nylon set screws and a self-adhesive measuring tape, the assembly was complete.
The fence is easy to adjust in almost every dimension. You can adjust for blade drift by loosening a couple of bolts on the two-piece clamping block, tweaking the angle as needed and tightening the bolts again. If you want a low-profile fence – particularly useful for cutting thin stock while still allowing the blade support to ride close to the work – there is a T-slot on one face of the fence that gives you that option as well. Two set screws let you fine-tune the fence so it’s square to the table and parallel with the blade.
I had the fence mounted and adjusted in a total of about 45 minutes. Interestingly, the rail was a great fit for my larger bandsaw – almost exactly the same length as the original. But the fence itself, at 18" in length, ended about 3" short of the back of my bandsaw table. More on that in a minute.
Using the fence
The basic functions of the fence are as expected. With a relatively new blade on my saw, the fence required minimal adjustment before achieving perfectly straight rip cuts in 4/4 red oak. I set the fence cursor on 2" and got a consistent 2"-wide strip off the board, to within .005" across a 2' cut according to my digital caliper.
I also wanted to try cutting thin strips off the edge of the same red oak board. To get the blade guides close to the work for this cut, I turned the fence on its side to its low-profile position. In this configuration, the measuring tape isn’t really usable; aside from the obviously different zero point due to the change in the fence profile, the cursor is also partially hidden under the edge of the fence. However, once I set the thickness of the cut (without the aid of the tape), the cuts were again extremely accurate – within .003" across the length of the cut.
I also tested two accessories with the fence system. The first, a micro-adjuster, slips into the T-slot on top of the rail and hooks into the clamping block with a threaded rod. When you lock the adjuster onto the rail with one knob, you can use another knob on it to fine-tune the location of the fence. This adjustment works very well. With a well-tuned saw, this adjuster gives you the capability to assure tight-fitting tenons and precise rip cuts. When cutting strips of the red oak board, I could easily make the next strip thicker or thinner with a simple turn of the micro-adjuster. I could see the cursor well enough to adjust the fence location by 1/32".
The second accessory is a 4½" resaw guide that hooks into the T-slot on the face of the fence with two bolts and thumbnuts. With simple instructions and well-thought-out design, the guide does exactly what you would expect. With the highest point of the guide placed just ahead of the front of the blade, resawing a 2½'-long piece of 4/4 soft maple yielded great results – consistent thickness across both the width and length of the board. One thin pass through my planer removed all blade marks.
One final note. As I mentioned earlier, the rail is just the right length for my bigger saw, but the standard fence ends a few inches short of the rear of my table. So I wondered if there was anything I could do to lengthen the fence. I went to the Kreg Web site and discovered they don’t have a longer fence, but they do sell what they call “Heavy Duty Trak.” In the pictures, this “Trak” looked remarkably like the fence that came with the package. So I took a chance and ordered a 2' length of it – Kreg product number KMS7702 – for about $40. When it arrived, my observations were confirmed: This was the exact same extrusion. I swapped out the original 18" piece for the new 24" piece and ended up with what seems to be a perfect fence for my 17" bandsaw, providing solid support all the way across the table and taking all of the accessories that the original fence takes.
At $120, the Kreg Precision Bandsaw Fence isn’t cheap, but its solid construction, high quality and simple functionality make it a good value. Both the $15 micro-adjuster and the $18 resaw guide are solid additions to the fence system.
– Dave Eames-Harlan is a freelance writer and woodworker hailing from Moscow, Idaho.
In the article you have a picture of the original 14" fence that comes with the Kreg kit, but I'm wondering how the user was able to get a longer fence? Did they contact Kreg and they supplied it?
You can get the longer KREG Heavy Duty Trak shown in the article photo at Woodcraft, which is a 4ft. item that you can cut to your preferred length: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/kreg-heavy-duty-trak-4
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