Incra TS-III Precision Table Saw Fence System (31")


Bill Esposito
19 July 2003


Admittedly, before being asked to review this fence I had looked at the TS-III often but never seriously considered it. Even though every Incra owner with whom I had communicated loved it, my thoughts were that the fence was too precise and too gimmicky for the average myself.   Well my impression has certainly changed since the TS-III was installed on my saw.  I don't think my old after-market fence will be re-installed any time soon!

Yes the Incra TS-III is high tech and a design departure from traditional fences but it is also rock solid, accurate, versatile, expandable, and a joy to use.  Couple those attributes with the great customer service reputations of Incra and its distributors like Woodpeckers and you have a complete package which is hard to beat.

If I've piqued your interest, please read on. As usual with my reviews I will strive to supplement the text with pictures depicting all aspects of the installation and use of the product. You can then make an informed purchase decision and not be surprised by anything included in the box. You can click on any picture to enlarge it.


Before you Buy

Let's get the only bad news out of the way right now. Probably the only drawback to the TS-III is the space it requires. This is not an issue for me but it may be for someone with a very small work area. Even though the right hand rip capacity is 32", because of the innovative design of the TS-III, you will need approximately 65" to the right of your saw's cast table if you want to utilize the full rip capacity of this fence system.

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What's in the box:

When you receive your TS-III fence it will arrive in three boxes.  One box contains the 72"-long rails, a second contains the Ultra 2/32, and the third the fence and mount.  They all arrived at the same time and without damage.

The picture (left) displays all the parts, hardware and instructions.  Speaking of hardware, I'll say it now and will probably iterate it again further down, Incra does a great job packaging their hardware.
The fence system itself is constructed almost entirely from extruded aluminum. All parts, with the exception of the hardware, are finished in an attractive gold colored anodizing. The fit and finish is excellent and there are no sharp corners or burrs.
As one would expect all pieces of hardware are listed in their excellent instructions but the unexpected surprise is that they individually package the hardware by assembly step.  So while you're reading the instructions you see statements like; "use the 6 10-32 screws from the Ultra mounting hardware kit".  For the most part each hardware pack was consumed before needing to open the next one.

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While there are more parts than a traditional fence, the installation is fairly easy.

It's a good idea to skim through the instructions before starting, Yea, I know it's not in our nature but it will make things go easier. :)

The first step is to locate the rail mounting brackets (six are included) and the mounting bracket hardware kit. For my installation only 4 brackets are needed. Using the included hardware, mount the brackets on the front and rear table edge. The instructions call for the brackets to be 1/4" below the top of the table and in the photo (left) you can see that I'm using a rule to measure the distance. This precision is not necessary because in the next step, we will make the final adjustments for your saw so eyeballing it is fine (see tip above about reading ahead). At this time you also loosely fit the rail mounting hardware to each bracket. The hardware pack contains a variety of nuts, bolts and washers so you should be able to find the correct hardware for your particular saw.

I use a Biesemeyer after-market splitter therefore my installation did not require a split rear rail. The split rail would be necessary if you have a splitter/guard assembly which mounts out the back of the saw like a Jet Contractors saw. The instructions clearly describe how to cut and mount the rear rail and here is where one would utilize the two extra brackets.

With the brackets installed it's time to mount the rails. Slide the front and rear rail onto the brackets making sure that the side with the T-slot on the bottom faces into the saw. With both rails mounted, temporarily center them on the saw and tighten the hardware.
To set the final mounting bracket height, Incra cleverly uses the base clamp as a gauge. You simply clamp the 4 base clamps to the rail at each bracket location and adjust each mounting bracket (as shown at left) until the base clamps are flush with the table top. This method of alignment worked flawlessly and doesn't require you to measure anything which if you're like me is a plus and greatly reduces the chances for error. Once you have tightened up the brackets, you can loosen the rail mounting bolts and move the rails into their final position. Simply move the rails so that they extend 7" out from the edge of the left extension wing and re-tighten the rail mounting bolts.

Because of the TS-III's design, you can slide the rails to fit your needs. As set up by the instructions you have about a 16" left and a 31" right ripping capacity. You can slide the rails in either direction to gain capacity however if you slide the rails to the right you will lose the use of the Incra scale. You might have to slide the rails to the right on that rare occasion where you need to rip a large piece of sheet goods. In that case you would need to measure the distance from the fence to the blade with a scale and be sure to support the right side rails. Incra sells a larger 51" version of the TS-III as well as legs. Legs are a good idea even on the 31" version.

In preparation for assembling the base mount assembly and the Ultra Jig, locate the Rail Hardware pack, assemble per instructions, and slide the hardware onto the rails.

Since the next phase of the assembly is the most tedious and Incra's instructions for this assembly are quite detailed, I'm just going to show you a few photo's of the assembly.

These photos are of the base clamp as it gets attached to the base panel. There are 4 screws and nuts for each side. The hardware is lose until the assembly is fitted onto the rails, then it's tightened. The end caps are installed after the base clamps.

The Ultra Jig is mounted with six 10-32 screws (this hardware was missing from my kit) and nuts which slide into the T-tracks. Do not tighten this hardware yet. At right is the completed Ultra Jig assembly (Base Mount Assembly) ready to be mounted on the rails.
Mount the Base Mount Assembly on the rails at about 20" from the right miter slot and tighten down the base clamp knobs. Because you left the hardware somewhat loose in the previous steps you can now align the base panel so that it's parallel to the right miter slot and once it's aligned, tighten the base clamp screws.

Once you have the panel parallel to the slot, you move the panel to the right until the edge of the panel is 36" from the right of the blade. This is its final position. Here I'm using a 36" rule to set the position.

At this point you will want to tighten down all your knobs as well as the set screws (left). Also move your stop washer (right) snug up against the right side of the base clamp. This will allow you to exactly reposition your base assembly if you have to move it for some other operation.

Ok, we're coming down the home stretch now!

(left) Grab the carriage and insert it into the base and align the fence end up with the right side rail brackets. Then loosely attach the fence (right) to the carriage.

With the fence resting on the supplied cardboard spacers, attach the front and rear glides. The front glide has a knob on it. These glides include an anti lift hook which we will discuss later on.

Final Calibration:

While following the Incra instructions you will see an "Important" note which briefly discusses saw blade/miter slot alignment and the reader is instructed to consult his saw's owners manual for the details of the alignment. Being safety conscious myself I felt a bit uneasy about the TS-III alignment procedure because it makes a few assumptions. The first assumption is that all saws come with an alignment procedure for blade to miter alignments. Because I know that my Jet Contractors saw did not include the instructions, I performed some limited research and found that some Jet and Powermatic saws do not include this procedure in their manual. That same research indicated that almost all responders who had performed a blade/miter alignment had aligned the blade to the LEFT slot. This leads to the second assumption by Incra which is that the miter slots are parallel or that everyone aligns to the RIGHT slot. In a perfect world the reader would have performed the blade/miter slot alignment, the miter slots would be parallel, and exactly following the Incra instructions would result in a perfect setup and that will probably be the case most of the time.

Having said that it is my belief that the rip fence should always be aligned to the blade and even though I followed Incra's instructions, I finished up with a check and a tweak between the blade and the fence.

Move the fence until it lines up with the right miter slot and engage the micro-adjuster by pushing the lever down(left). Use the micro-adjuster and a straight edge to align the fence to the slot. Check both the front and rear of the fence. When you think you have it, lock the carriage and make sure the fence is still aligned. You may have to do this a couple of times to get things perfect.

Once you've set the fence to the slot, double check your alignment by checking a tooth at the front of the saw, then rotate the blade and use that same tooth to check the rear of the saw. Here I'm using a piece of paper as a gauge to check the fit since my son walked off with my feeler gauges.

Once you are comfortable with the alignment, if needed, unlock the fence and use the micro-adjuster to set the fence to just "kiss" the blade and lock the fence. We can now Zero the TS-III.
Simply move the magnetic steel rule until it reads zero under the pointer. We're almost finished.

The last step in the Zeroing process it to align the micro-adjuster cursor to zero by loosening the screws and sliding the plastic cursor until the zero mark lines up with the knob. Next rotate the white micro-adjuster scale until it reads zero under the cursor. In the photo at right the scale needs to be rotated until the "0" aligns under the cursor.


The whole process including taking some pictures for this review, adapting my existing extension tables, and running out to the hardware store for the missing screws took an afternoon. The assembly was straight forward and at no time were the instructions inadequate or difficult to use.

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