Back around 2003 I reviewed Incra’s TS-III fence system. It got a great review from me and it has been a prize piece of equipment for all these years. Last year when I updated my table saw to the Jet 708492 10 inch I installed the Incra TS-III onto it and was in business once again. Since then I also added the Incra router table that installs in place of one of the wings of the table saw.
Now I have updated the parts of the system to their most current system, the TS-LS. With an updated adjustment system and arm guide the TS-LS produces am accuracy of 1000th of an inch. With some of the small projects I take on this is a great feature and I’m appreciating the miniscule accuracy that the TS-LS gives me.
The system is a not a small investment, starting at around $399 (discounted from $509 on the Incra site. But in my opinion this fence is worth every bit of that investment. The accuracy it gives is reflected in the quality of the cut and the overall accuracy of your project. With the price of wood these days every error saved makes you money.
(From the Incra Site)
Legendary Accuracy, Repeatability and Efficiency
Can we be clear on one thing? Your table saw only spins the blade, and it's the rip fence that ultimately determines a saw's performance. As a result, a well-tuned $500 saw equipped with an INCRA TS-LS System can easily outperform a $2,500 saw with a conventional rip fence in any contest of accuracy, repeatability, or micro adjustability. Period.
Why? INCRA Systems position the fence mechanically, so your results won't depend on how much skill you have, how good your shop's lighting is, or how tired your eyes are. The heart of the TS-LS is the LS32 Fence Positioner - it uses INCRA's patented Lead Screw Positioning mechanism to allow any woodworker to quickly set up for a ripping operation and get within 1/1,000" of a desired fence position. In woodworking terms, that's accurate enough to split the line from a sharp pencil into 25 equal parts! And because an INCRA Positioner is mechanical in nature, every fence setup is easily repeatable with zero error hours or weeks later.
Now available in metric, the LS positioner's patented lead screw positioning mechanics allow fence positioning accuracy of +/- .002" at 1/32" increments (+/-0.05mm on 1mm increments) across its entire range.It's essentially perfect even without the built-in micro adjust, but the large micro-adjust knob turns the lead screw against the mating threads, allowing the fence to be shifted between incremental steps with .001" (0.025mm) resolution. The incredible control available completely eliminates the "Tap, tap, tapping" involved in making small adjustments to a conventional rip fence. And since the mike is lead screw-based and reads directly in thousandths of an inch, it's repeatable as well. This micro adjust is entirely different from the random, slow-motion knobs used on rip fences in the past.
INCRA's TS-LS System was one of only two fence systems to earn top scores for alignment against the blade and lack of deflection in Wood Magazine's May 2004 Rip Fence Test. Perfect alignment relative to the blade is guaranteed by the system's low friction and by the carriage lock's tremendous pressure across the sliding carriage, not unlike a traditional T-square style rip fences. The fence can be initially aligned parallel to the miter slot, slightly "relieved" on the outfeed end, or anywhere in between.
So what do I think of the LS-TS system? I like a number of the new features just like the older TS-III model but one I do like that Iou can set up several stop positions along the
rails so you can reposition the fence arm support which allows me to reset the fence to the router table so I can use the optional split fence on it and then simply slide the support back to the other set of stops when I am using my table saw. Each and every time I moved it I check it’s accuracy to be certain the stops place the fence right on the money. Each time I found no variation unless I did not seat the support fully against the stops. The ability to move the fence support without the need to re-zero it every time cuts down the set up time when going from table saw to router table giving me more time to work on my project. Time is money as they say and even if I am not working on a project for pay, it makes my time more effencient and any woodworker could tell you set up time eats up a lot of work time and might not be your favorite way to spend your shop time. I feel that any tool or accessory that cuts your setup time is worth consideration.
After repositioning the fence over 2 dozen times I was comfortable with the process and accuracy of the stop system so I moved on to checking the accuracy of the fence in relationship to the blade. I started cutting sheet goods because their larger dimentions make it easier to check for run out, that evil variation in a long, straight cut. To be honest the only time I found any was operator error and once I got the hang of tightening the fence down once adjusted everything fell into place. When I first learned how to use the TS-III system it took a little bit to learn the ins and outs. The same attention to detail with the TS-LS system means the same repeatable accuracy we all strive for in our woodshops.
Now don’t let me discourage you, the TS-LS system is not difficult to use, nor is it hard to install. Simply take your time and you will be rewarded. Incremental Tools claims that a $500 saw with the TS-LS fence attached will out perform a $2500 saw with a conventional fence in any contest of accuracy. Although I don’t have a supply of $2500 table saws lying around I can tell you that each saw I have had this installed on, be it my old craftsman saw from the 60’s to this new Jet the TS-LS system performs excellently.
I have used fences from many manufacturers over the years from stock fences to fences costing several hundred dollars and with all that in mind this is the system I have stuck with for all these years. I started reviewing tools in 1995 when this old workshop was born and I have had the chance to review a lot of tools and I have learned how precise tools show their stuff in the work you produce. I stand behind this system and it is one I use over all the others.
I urge you to take a look at the TS-LS you can find all of their tools at www.incrementaltools.com
And as always remember,
“Everything I ever really needed to know I learned in shop class” DLC
The Old Nerd