Table saw fence recommendations


I have a fairly old (15 yrs?) Craftsman table saw, works well except for the fence. I have to measure the near and far sides before locking it in place, because every time I move the fence it gets out of parallel to the blade. (I measure off the mitre gauge slot.)
I would like a fence that stays true/parallel to the blade when I move it, and has a knob to move the fence those angel hair widths we sometimes need to just make it fit. Sometimes you just need to sneak up on the groove width, and a knob seems the way to go.
Kreg sells such a fence for the bandsaw, but my (limited) research on the 'net has not yielded any fruit. Is there such a fence out there?
TIA - Greg
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Yes. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pG305&cat=1,41080,51225
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Funny you mention that one Ed. That was the first one I thought of. It's expensive as hell, but it permits a really fine adjustment with hairline cursor under a magnifier. I was playing with LV's display model Oct. 31 when I went in to take advantage of the Bessey sale LV had going.
To this date, I've been using an Excalibur fence and guide. Never had any problem with it and it's a really good setup in my opinion, but the HTC appears to have some advantages such as the fine adjustment.
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Haven't you ever used the Excalibur micro adjust? Their solution is pretty nice. I had an Excalibur on a contractor saw with it and it was really nice.
Upscale wrote:

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My Excalibur doesn't have it. I just had a look on the Excalibur website and it appears to be an option. Didn't even know it existed.
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Greg, I thought I needed that knob too. My old saw had one, and I used it a lot. My new saw came with a Biesemeyer fence and I've never looked back.
Since the fence glides so easily across the table, the gentlest slap with the finger tips will sneak it up to the line like you want. And the hairline cursor is such a quantum leap over my old method of measuring to the front of the blade, back of the blade, and front again. It still amazes me when my boards come out EXACTLY the width I want (measured a few with a dial caliper). The Bies locks down precisely parallel every single time. I've checked it with my TS Aligner Jr (Good Job Ed!) and it's dead on.
But the Bies rides across the table surface on a couple of nylon buttons. If your extension wings aren't flat; if they are the cast iron waffle style or the pressed steel wings some of the Craftsman saws come with, you would need to replace them with flat surfaces. But you were looking for an excuse to put a router table extension over there anyway, right?
Don't get too hung up on the knob though. I promise you won't miss it.
DonkeyHody "I'd rather expect the best of people and be wrong than expect the worst and be right." - Thomas Carlyle
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DonkeyHody wrote:

I agree that adding a flat extension table is the best solution, but Biesemeyer also makes a version for Craftsman saws with webbed wings.

slide over open cast iron wings."
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I added one of these to my old craftsman. It made a huge difference in the usability of that saw.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)"8013&v=glance
IMHO $200 is a much more appropriate investment for a mid-range contractor's saw. The Vega was such a huge improvement over the stock fence. The stock fence on my jet cabinet saw (my current saw) is no better (in some ways, I kind of liked the Vega better). The Vega has micro-adjust andis predrilled for attaching an aux fence.
IMO the differences between the half-dozen or so quality aftermarket fences is miniscule compared to the leap from stock old-style craftsman fence. There is no way that I could justify paying almost twice as much for product that might be a wee bit better.
Steve

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Greg, Before you buy any fence, I suggest you take a good look at the ones offered by Shopfox. They have two different ones a standard duty and a heavy duty that are designed like the Biesmeyer, but a lot less exspensive. Plus they should line up with the holes on the older Craftman. You can get them with 30" or 50" Bars. The price range should be $200.-- $350. Range.
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For ultimate accuracy Incra or Jointech systems. I have jointech. Once locked to rough measurement you can adjust 1/1000" at a time with a thumb wheel. (overkill, but sometimes handy for dadoes, etc.).
Both are pricey and bulky
Ken
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I have been very happy with my mule. http://www.mulecab.com/TableSaw /
George

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I'll second that...
I have an old (20+ years) Craftsman table saw I inherited from my Dad. It worked fine, but the fence was terrible.
I considered buying a new tablesaw, but anything comparable was at least $500, and wasn't much of an improvement over what I already had. Since the weakest point of my saw was the fence, I opted to buy a Mule Accufence model M-825 for about $200.
The fence probably cost 2-4 times more than the saw is worth, but wow, what a difference. It was relatively easy to install, and it's easy to adjust and accurate. It feels like a brand new saw!
My fence arrived with a broken cursor, but Mule sent me TWO replacements at no charge. Great folks to deal with.
I've been very happy with the Accufence, and would consider getting another one even if I change saws in the future. But my old saw is working so well now, it may be a while before I have to buy a new saw. :)
Anthony
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I found an old ball bearing (think it was from an old router) that fit snuggly in place of the old nylon roller and gave just a slight bit more lift off the rear of the table. It rolled real smooth along the back rail and the fence stayed in alignment a lot longer that the original set up. I just had to blow the bearing out and put a drop of oil in it once in awhile. I used it that way for probably 15 years and my son has had it for 4 or 5 years and still using it. It worked fine if you are as I am, a "once in awhile wood worker", if not spend the bucks for a good commercial one. RM ~~
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I guess I'll be the one to recommend the "black sheep" of fences. I've used the bies (and clones), unifence and some others that aren't worth mentioning, but my favorite is still Vega by far. IMO It's much more smooth than the Uni and the Bies as they seem to slide harder as dust etc builds up on the rail. Furthermore, the Uni rail will wear if the same measurement is used on a regular basis. The Vega rides on a round tube for the front rail so gunk doesn't build up so much, and no "track" to wear. My current Vega is a Pro 50" and is about 15 years old. It has taken much abuse, being dragged from jobsite to jobsite, but I'm still very happy with its performance. Slides easily, micro adjustable, easy to remove, locks down tight, set it and forget it. It is that simple and has been very effective. --dave

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I'll third the Vega. Put it on my Grizzly 1023SL and haven't looked back. Accurate as heck and I don't even measure anymore before making a cut. Just set the distance and go. The micro adjust on it is pretty nice too. That said, I received a Shopfox Bies clone with the saw when I bought it. I haven't installed it on anything so can't speak for it's actual performance but it looks pretty nice sitting in it's box... :) Cheers, cc
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I'll fourth the Vega. I got my Craftsman in 1991 and put the Vega on it in 1993 and I'm still using it today. Best thing I ever did for that saw.
--Rick
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