The saying goes that ‘good fences make good neighbours!’ Often this is to save disputes as to who’s cattle or sheep are on who’s land, who’s kids are in who’s yard, and who’s dog is making what mess on who’s lawn. In woodworking, it usually to do with the fence on a tablesaw or bandsaw. As I no longer own or need a tablesaw, it’s my bandsaw that has been a trial.
I own two Startrite 403 16″ bandsaws. Straight off, I disliked the bandsaw fence that came standard and took a look at the Record Power version to retrofit with.
That turned out to be a mistake too. After two years in use on each machine, I decided to bin these too. They are awkward, clunky, virtually unremovable once installed, complicated to align, and adjust and they do go out of alignment in every direction if you do decide to make any adjustments. All in all, they are thoroughly impractical. I also own a vintage Startrite 14″ bandsaw that has the simplest fence of any I’ve seen and used and it is rock solid, removes in a split second, and takes up the smallest amount of room betwixt blade and column. Anyone need a Record Power fence? … or maybe two??!!!
So, what to do? I looked for various fences to satisfy my needs parallel to the vintage Startrite fence of old. One of the issues with the Startrite bandsaws is the split table where the split comes at the front instead of the side. This can eliminate the possibility of continuous fence and distance guide. I was prepared to forsake this for a smooth running and easy fence to lift on and off as needed. As can be seen above, some makers put the split at the side, and some never learned!
I decided on the Kregg Precision fence as a replacement knowing that their fences were not designed for European bandsaws but more the US bandsaws like Jet, Delta, Rigid, Craftsman and others. Removing the Record fence was one of those wonderful delights even though I had paid too much for something to be so disliked. I am sure others who own such a fence feel differently but for me at least I felt that they were well made enough but poorly over-engineered to the degree that they had built-in complications. I wonder if the engineer ever used one? I did strongly dislike the huge clunky thing.
The Kregg fence needed retrofit work because none of the holes in the replacement were meant to align with my existing ones. Instead of threaded holes in the table to bolt into I had to drill through the flange to use four 5/16″ nuts and bolts to secure the fence with. I actually drilled two holes in the mounting rail to align with existing holes in the table and two through the flange of the table using existing holes in the mounting rail. I also preferred to bolt it in place as a single unit to get the alignment just right which then made it just a little more awkward to hacksaw through for a slot to remove blades through. It did work well though, and the outcome was perfect. Most likely I could do the whole change-out in about an hour and a half. I have ordered another for my second bandsaw.
Do you need the extra tall fence for rip-cutting thick stock? Not really.
I just ripcut some 10″ tall cherry with no issues at all. I have cut veneer-thin to 3/16″ pieces 10″ tall too and they have been very accurate cuts ready for scraping or sanding. Fact is a 1/2″ plywood addition will give me any fence height `i might need in the future.
The fence fits nicely and slides smoothly. It lifts off like my vintage Startrite version and is compact. You can upgrade with a standard fit Kregg precision micro-adjuster if you want to. I might and i might not — I doubt I will, but I just might!
I felt that it was well worth the change in the fence. Aside from the UK issue, anyone in the US who wants to upgrade their fence will be very happy with retrofitting one of these. No doubt! hey are nice.
Oh! Why do I own four bandsaws? I tested out that mini bandsaw and it is still alive and kicking just fine. I use it for cutting garden stuff currently but it does work well. It is small though. I bought my 352 14″ Startrite ten years ago secondhand for £150 and it has been a very good for me. The two 16″ Startrites are in different areas. One is in my garage workshop and the other is in the training and research area.
On the downside. Unbelievably, the measure tape guide is in imperial only. I could not believe my eyes. Do Kregg ot realise the whole of Europe is metric and 98% would have no clue about imperial? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!!!