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Miter Gauges

Miter Masters
We put ten aftermarket crosscut accessories on trial.

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You can spend hours setting up your tablesaw and fine-tuning it into a precisely parallel ripping machine. But your ability to make accurate crosscuts hinges largely on the factory-supplied miter gauge-an accessory not noted for its precision. That's why we rounded up ten aftermarket crosscutting devices-miter guides and sleds-to see how they compare. Although these accessories cost from $100-250, many are worth it, because they offer longer fences for better workpiece support, easier-to-read scales, and positive stops at more angles than your tablesaw's original-equipment gauge.

The discovery phase: Our testing process
After assembling the miter guides according to the manufacturers instructions, we calibrated each, if possible, to within 1/8° of perpendicular to the blade. Using a granite surface plate, machinist's angle block, precision angle gauges, and a dial indicator, as shown here, we then calculated the accuracy of the guides at various angles.

To confirm these readings in the real world (and to check the sleds, which are too large to test with that method) we tested them the way you would: by making joints. Using each model, we crosscut two pieces of stock at 0°, flipped one piece, butted the cut ends together using the surface plate as an edge reference, and looked for gaps in the joint. We repeated the test with a 45°-miter joint, this time using the 90° angle block as a reference, and again noted the quality of the joint.

To triple check the accuracy, we then cut a picture frame using 45°-miter joints to ensure all four joints fit together properly. Finally, we used each product to make dozens of cuts at various angles in different widths, thickness, and species of wood. This helped us get more familiar with the models' features and functions.

To learn the results of our tests of the Accu-Miter 34", Delta 36-205, Dubby, Incra Miter 1000 and 3000, Jointech JSM-48, Osborne EB-2, Rockler Sure-Loc, Vega PMG24, and Woodhaven 4900 and 4955K, pick up the June 2001 issue of WOOD magazine and turn to page 54.


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