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Thread: Should I bother finding a saw with a DRO or figure out how to attach my Incra?

  1. #1
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    Should I bother finding a saw with a DRO or figure out how to attach my Incra?

    As many of you have seen I'm in the market for a slider... to get a unit, new or used, that has a dro on the rip fence is both hard to find and very expensive.

    I have one machine new that has one and I've looked at a couple of used that have, but am I driving myself nuts for something that may or may not be worthwhile? Mind you, I cannot afford a new automated machine, nor do I think I need one... but most of my work is specific product work that requires repeatable exact size pieces and I need to be able to do that. I have been using an incra fence on my cabinet saw for 15 years and I find it indispensable and extremely accurate.

    My only real issue with it is that even though I have the 50" version you really can only get 32" of rip capability... which to me seems like a rip... no pun intended.

    Now, it's so quick to work to the 32nd that I am quite sure it will be faster than a dro, but it might be a pia to adapt to the saw, as typical sliders have deeper tables than cabinet saws so I might have to come up with some custom pieces.

    Have any of you adapted an incra to a full size slider? Do you think it was a good choice. Do you think a dro would be better? I could probably save a lot of money taking it off my wish list but I really need a good solution to fit my needs and budget.

    I know some are going to say that on a slider I'll be using the crosscut fence more, and you're right, but I plan on using the rip as a stop...a lot... and possibly down the line adding dro crosscut stops or some other good alternative.

    Anyway, appreciate opinions and ideas, thanks.

  2. #2
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    I've gone 50 years without a digital readout on my traditional table saws and a short stroke Griggio slider. 24 of those years were as a professional woodworker. No one can make the decision for you, but I think I've done some really nice work without the aide of one, both commercial and residential.

  3. #3
    My experience is that the Incra system is more reliable. DROs, accept for those that read from motor revolution, need to be monitored and calibrated more often than I'd like. They're precision is great, but they do require a little care.

  4. #4
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    Totally appreciate what you're saying Richard, and you're absolutely right for all sorts of work.

    In my case a good amount of the work I do is oem work and if a piece requires a 19 1/32 opening I need to be able to produce that every time not 19 3/64 etc. I'm not saying it has to be so high of standards or anything it's just what my customers need... the other big thing is I do a lot of dovetail case work and likewise pieces that are even a hair of end up needing square trimming and likewise causes a lot more work.

    For lots of other things I do sighting a scale by eye is perfectly fine.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Wyberanec View Post
    Totally appreciate what you're saying Richard, and you're absolutely right for all sorts of work.

    In my case a good amount of the work I do is oem work and if a piece requires a 19 1/32 opening I need to be able to produce that every time not 19 3/64 etc. I'm not saying it has to be so high of standards or anything it's just what my customers need... the other big thing is I do a lot of dovetail case work and likewise pieces that are even a hair of end up needing square trimming and likewise causes a lot more work.

    For lots of other things I do sighting a scale by eye is perfectly fine.
    If I couldn't hit closer than 1/64", I'd quit. Sounds like you should be shopping for a CNC instead of a slider.

  6. #6
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    I would get the slider and then consider how best to achieve that kind of repeatability. It maybe that parallel ripping guides and clamps give you the best solution for that.

    You can make your own air clamps or buy custom (nice!! $$!!). Same for the parallel ripping guides.

  7. #7
    You could possibly set up your Incra on the left crosscut side too and forgo the stops on the crosscut fence. Otherwise it would be simple to setup your Incra in place of the rip fence. You can get an Accurate Technologies DRO for your slider for a very reasonable amount of money. I wouldn’t be concerned with finding a slider with a dro because DRO’s are relatively inexpensive and easy to get

  8. #8
    Get a decent slider and put a dro on it. Accurate Technology makes ProScale kits that can be adapted to most saws and they are generally considered reliable. https://www.proscale.com/products/in.../907-3037-001/ A dro on both the rip fence and crosscut fence would be best, but if I had to choose one I would opt for the crosscut fence as working on the carriage side is the slider's strength.

    I can't see putting an Incra rip fence on a slider as it would appear to preclude adjusting the fore and aft position of the fence bar which to me is essential. As well, the Incra setup requires considerable room to the right of the saw to use its full range.

    Sam Blasco appears to have a nice Incra setup on his sliding saw carriage which might work for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ8mPBm2VdY&t=136s If you were to get in touch with him I suspect he would be helpful.

  9. #9
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    Finding a saw with an integral DRO makes for a harder search when it comes to older machinery and there is the advancement of technology that could present challenges for maintenance should said older DRO cease to function. There are some high quality DRO systems that can be attached to a rip fence on almost any saw. Ask yourself just how much you'll be using said rip fence and whether or not you'll benefit from the investment. For me, I only use the rip fence on a slider as a "last resort" or for certain kinds of small cuts that I prefer to do with the low fence setup and a push block.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Get a decent slider and put a dro on it. Accurate Technology makes ProScale kits that can be adapted to most saws and they are generally considered reliable. https://www.proscale.com/products/in.../907-3037-001/ A dro on both the rip fence and crosscut fence would be best, but if I had to choose one I would opt for the crosscut fence as working on the carriage side is the slider's strength.

    I can't see putting an Incra rip fence on a slider as it would appear to preclude adjusting the fore and aft position of the fence bar which to me is essential. As well, the Incra setup requires considerable room to the right of the saw to use its full range.

    Sam Blasco appears to have a nice Incra setup on his sliding saw carriage which might work for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ8mPBm2VdY&t=136s If you were to get in touch with him I suspect he would be helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Finding a saw with an integral DRO makes for a harder search when it comes to older machinery and there is the advancement of technology that could present challenges for maintenance should said older DRO cease to function. There are some high quality DRO systems that can be attached to a rip fence on almost any saw. Ask yourself just how much you'll be using said rip fence and whether or not you'll benefit from the investment. For me, I only use the rip fence on a slider as a "last resort" or for certain kinds of small cuts that I prefer to do with the low fence setup and a push block.
    Kevin, I don't like that room on the right needed either, especially since a slider takes up so much already... that said the movable fence isn't really an issue because you can easily add another auxiliary fence on it as it has t slots already on it.

    I've seen the small incra sam uses as a parallel guide and it's already been on my mind.

    Jim, I guess the issue is since it's a new tool to me I don't really know how I'm going to be using it till I start. I'm guessing there will be a crossover period of using it as a cabinet saw till I learn more slider technique, but ultimately I'm looking for the machine to enhance my capabilities, increase safety, and overall allow for more precise work in a quick fashion. The downside has been picking something and understanding the features since most of these companies really don't explain what they offer in options and how they're used! And if used, that challenge goes up.

    My biggest concern, even though some think it shouldn't be, is that I feel like without one of these fence options that I am going to instantly lose the perfect repeatability factor that I've had for the last 15 years since I bought the incra, and how that might impact my work and work flow... mostly cause I've just gotten used to it.

  11. #11
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    Part of the challenge can be familiarity with a system. I run a simple Wixey DRO on my Saw Stop. I have moved this same system from two previous saws. I would hate to be without it. The ability to measure absolutes and switch to incremental at the touch of a button has become a part of how I work and how I think about operations I am going to do so I get that ;-) I do generally check the zero reference when I start for the day or before a super critical operation but this is just habitual and takes a couple of seconds. I would run your new machine for a while to get used to the differences in the operation of it and then look for the best solution for quick, repeatable setup.
    "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." - George Carlin

  12. #12
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    Kurt, unless you get a short stroke slider, you'll be hard pressed to be comfortable using a slide like a cabinet saw for ripping unless it's wider panels. The support structure for the wagon is right about at the place where most folks like to stand with a cabinet saw. For narrow rips, you learn to work from the wagon side. None of that has anything to do with actually setting the fence, of course, and an accurate fence is a good thing. Most sliders have the scale dead on to the fence face and it's easy to set the fence visually, but a DRO certainly can help with repeatable "super accuracy", within reason.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    Kurt my take on this ,you need to connect with someone to try out a sliding saw. You are way over thinking every aspect of what and how and why that would be crystal clear in like half an hour of use. I found so many things were so intuitive as soon as I made a few cuts. Myself I use the whole saw, what I mean is that I figure the rip fence on the right is meant to be used. I rip with it, use it constantly as a bump stop to cut quick repeatable pieces and if I need a piece say 24''x 30" I will set my crosscut fence for one dimension on the wagon and my rip fence for the other. Make one cut then flip piece 90 degrees and make the other cut. I think that just using what is there to begin with will alter your world, worry about upgrades after you have a slider and have used it for a while. Hope this helps you.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Wyberanec View Post
    ...it's so quick to work to the 32nd...
    Both my Unifence and Beismeyer fences are repeatable to a very small fraction of that. It would be a mighty poor fence that would only get you within 1/32".
    Why complicate things by searching for a unicorn?
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kees View Post
    Kurt my take on this ,you need to connect with someone to try out a sliding saw. You are way over thinking every aspect of what and how and why that would be crystal clear in like half an hour of use. I found so many things were so intuitive as soon as I made a few cuts. Myself I use the whole saw, what I mean is that I figure the rip fence on the right is meant to be used. I rip with it, use it constantly as a bump stop to cut quick repeatable pieces and if I need a piece say 24''x 30" I will set my crosscut fence for one dimension on the wagon and my rip fence for the other. Make one cut then flip piece 90 degrees and make the other cut. I think that just using what is there to begin with will alter your world, worry about upgrades after you have a slider and have used it for a while. Hope this helps you.
    Thanks Mike, I totally hear you and I have played around with a few... most of my questions are related to the purchase not the use... I'm frustrated with trying to find a used saw that has everything in looking for (only 1 or 2 so far and couldn't get them) and most new ones are beyond my budget...I guess what I'm looking for is people's opinions who have used both dro and incra and can help me decide which is better for what I need

    As I said I already have the incra so would be great to use it unless I sell it but it might be more frustration trying to adapt it than it's worth, a dro might prove an even better option or more difficult I don't know. I used one recently and it was accurate but I noted 2 things....a) it was definitely slower to dial in than my incra b) because they have difference reference ability it might be easier to make mistakes if I don't take the time to notice which origin.

    Right now I have 3 saws on my plate, 2 would require either an add on dro or adaptation of the incra, the other comes with a dro.... problem is comparing that with their relative prices to what they would cost me all in.... balancing act trying to figure out which features are worth what to me

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