Kreg Precision Measuring SystemComments (0)
This article is from Issue 4 of Woodcraft Magazine.
Accuracy and repeatability team up for a one-two punch in this timely upgrade for your miter saw.
Most people think that stops on the miter saw are good only for making repetitive cuts where you need several boards cut to exactly the same length. However, the Kreg Flipstop, part of the Kreg Precision Measuring System, has a cursor and a cursor changes everything. When your stop has a cursor, you’re likely to use it for every cut – even when you are cutting only one board.
Think about the steps you go through to cut a board on a miter saw. Let’s say you need to cut a board 30" long. First, you get out a tape measure, measure the board and mark it at the desired length. Then you move to the miter saw and line up the mark to the blade. That’s when the indecision starts. Now you have to remember: Was your mark on the right side or the left side of 30"? Do you need to take the line, leave the line, or maybe split the line?
Adding a laser to a miter saw isn’t the solution in this case. Laser guides are incredibly useful, but all a laser does is assist in lining up the saw to the mark. The real problem is placement and width of the mark.
Wouldn’t it make sense if your miter saw worked like your table saw? When you use a table saw, you don’t put marks on a board. If you need to rip a board 2" wide, you just set the fence so the cursor reads 2", push the board against the fence, make your cut and you get a board exactly 2" wide. Simple, accurate, and mistake-proof. That’s the idea behind the new Kreg system.
Components are key
The system is comprised of a group of individual products which work together allowing you to create a custom system for your tools. Two tracks are available. The Top Trak is a rugged anodized-aluminum extrusion that can be used to create a precision measuring system for your miter saw, drill press, and more. It features a self-aligning L-shaped mounting foot for easy attachment to a shop-made 3/4"-thick fence. The Heavy Duty Trak is an L-shaped extrusion that is extremely straight and perfect for heavy-use applications. Both have T-slots for attaching the different stops, and accommodate the head of a standard 1/4" hex bolt for attaching custom jigs or stops. Both tracks also have a recess for the Kreg self-adhesive measuring tapes, which are available with a left-right or right-left reading.
There are three styles of stops that make this one of the most versatile fence/stop systems available.
The Flipstop has many features going for it in addition to the cursor. The curved face of the stop allows it to self-elevate. In my shop I am always taking a board, making a trim cut to get a good end, flipping it around and then cutting it to length. To do this with my old stop system, I had to flip up the stop to make the trim cut and then flip it back down to cut the board to length. With the Kreg Flipstop, I can just push the board to the fence and the stop will self-elevate out of the way. I don’t have to flip it up and down. That’s a big time saver. You can tell the designer has spent a lot of time in a woodshop. All the little details are right too. The stop doesn’t move once set, and you don’t need a pipe wrench to get it tight enough to stay put; finger-tight will do it. There is an adjustment to eliminate the play in the stop, and the cursor is adjustable also. That makes setup easy and allows you to readjust your stops when you change your saw blade.
The Production Stop is an extra solid stop with dual cursors that allow it to be read from either side of the blade. It simply drops into the top of either of the Kreg Traks and locks in place making it easier to move and remove. Great for repetitive production work. This stop does not flip up and down, but you don’t use the flip feature in most production work. In a production environment the primary concern is durability, and eliminating the flip makes the production stop more durable. However, hobbyists shouldn’t let the name scare them − the Production Stop also has a place in the hobbyist shop. Because it doesn’t flip, it can have a cursor on both sides, allowing it to be used on both sides of the saw.
The Perfect Miter Attachment accommodates either stop and references a 45-degree mitered board on two surfaces, increasing the accuracy and repeatability. This is good for picture framers, or anyone who wants repeatable, tight-fitting mitered joints.
Now to cut that 30" long board on a miter saw using the Kreg system, you’d simply set the stop so the cursor reads 30", push the board to the stop and cut it. Your board will be exactly 30" long. Much faster and much more accurate than trying to measure and mark each cut with a pencil.
Setup and use
Setting up the Kreg system is a breeze. You’ll need to build a support fence/table the exact height of the fence on your miter saw. (Kreg supplies the plans for a simple support fence/table.) Attaching the track is easy and foolproof – the Top Trak has a mounting flange that attaches into the back side of your fence with screws. This is much easier than installing T-track on the top of a board. I was concerned that the 2' and 4' lengths of Top Trak wouldn’t line up easily or that the stop would get hung up on the joints, but these concerns were unwarranted – the mounting flange really works and the joints are almost seamless.
Increased speed and increased accuracy are usually mutually exclusive goals. However, the Kreg Precision Measuring System is a well-thought-out system that really will speed up your work and make you more accurate at the same time.
All components of the system are priced individually. The Kreg Flipstop retails for $29.99, while the Production Stop is $19.99. The Top Trak goes for $21.99 and $34.99 respectively for the 2' and 4' models; the Heavy Duty Trak is $39.99 and $59.99. Self-adhesive 12' tapes are $7.50 for either right-left or left-right, and the Perfect Miter Attachment comes in at $19.99. Kreg also offers several components in a kit that contains four 2' lengths of Top Trak; Flipstop; Production Stop; 12' left-right and 12' right-left self adhesive measuring tapes; and mounting hardware and instructions. The kit is priced around $140.
— Tim Rinehart is contributing editor to Woodcraft Magazine
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