A digital tablesaw fence
A month ago I finally made the decision to upgrade my table saw to digital. I was making cabinets. The fence was moving in and out all the time.
Every time I dutifully measure the distance to the blade with my tape measure and straight edge. Each time I double and triple checked. The results were always within 1/16 of an inch, but my method was time consuming and hard on the mind.
Enter the Wixey WR700 digital table saw fence. The contraption uses a scale and digital unit to measure the distance from the blade to the fence within +/0 .002" per foot. Reliably and repeatable. This feature used to be reserved to CNC panel saws. Wixey makes it available on almost all contractor and cabinet saws.
Installation on my Grizzly G1023 was a snap. The saw has a Biesemeyer "clone" fence. All the mounting hardware of the Wixey WR700 digital fence have been engineered for this model. I assembled the unit, drilled a few mounting holes using the included drill bit, and attached the unit to the saw with self tapping screws.
Alignment of the track assembly was simple. The Grizzly's fence has a ridge at the bottom where the two pieces the fence is composed of meet. The Wixey's mounting brackets butt up perfectly to that ridge.
Once all the screws are tightened the whole assembly is rock solid. It won't move anywhere even if you lean against it or bump it with a sheet of plywood. This is an assertion I had my doubts about when I first unpacked the unit.
Aligning the tracks
The Wixey WR700's track is made from aluminum, a soft metal that scuffs easily. The track comes in two section that need to be connected. When I held my two pieces together one section was about 1mm wider than the other. When I reversed one of the sections (they are symmetric) the other end fit perfectly.
Wixey seems to be aware of this problem. The assembly instructions include a supplement printed on a single sheet of paper that instructs the owner to file the track carefully until it fits properly. At that point I was worried. Digital accuracy does not go well with misaligned parts and careful filing.
Later during assembly my worries were somewhat replaced with excitement when I installed the reader strips. The track serves two purposes. The readout display rides on the track, and the tack supports a readout strip. This strip is the main element on the saw that must be aligned perfectly. The sections of the track can be slightly misaligned as long as the strips are mounted perfectly. After filing I was able to align the track and the strips perfectly as far as I can tell.
Installing the Fence Bracket
Mounting the measuring unit on the fence was a little problematic. The bracket included in the package would not fit on the Grizzly's fence. I had to pound it into submission. A flange on the bracket was in the wrong place.
Why the bracket has this flange in the first place I do not know. Supposedly it will keep the bracket from rotating. I consider this practically impossible, because the light weight measuring unit the bracket is attached to will never exert enough force to rotate the unit. As minor as this point may be, I don't like to install digital accuracy by pounding something with a hammer. Jeremey Clarckson would approve.
Once installed and calibrated to the blade, the Wixey is a joy to use. The digital readout is always on. It always reflects the position of the fence down to +/-0.002 of an inch. Simply move your fence to the position you want it at, and lock it down. Could not be simpler.
With the Wixey I no longer have to cut all matching parts at the same time. Accurately positioning the fence can now be done perfectly. Since purchasing the tool I have build 20+ cabinets with the tablesaw. Accuracy has always been spot on.
The fence can be calibrated to the blade in seconds. Push the fence towards the blade until it barely touches it, lock the fence down, and hold the calibrate button. This zeroes the fence.
Now that I know how working with a digital fence feels like, I don't know how I made due without it. The Wixey WR700 is one of the tools that is going to change the way you work. A tape measure cannot stand up to the speed and accuracy of a digital fence.
In summary the installation raised doubts about the capabilities of the unit. When I was done, however, the unit felt solid and fully capable. All the test measurements were perfectly accurate when compared with a tape measure and a straight edge. It feels good to see my cut indicated at 3 digit precision.
So far so good. As many problems as you may have during installation, the unit is solid once installed. That's what really matters. The Wixey WR700 is a winner. A digital fence should be the first upgrade on any tablesaw.
Manufacturer's site: http://www.wixey.com