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Thread: Jessem Router Fence Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Topeka, KS
    Posts
    294

    Jessem Router Fence Review

    I posed a question to the group a few weeks ago about the best aftermarket router table fence. Previous post
    Based on the responses and after looking at each in more detail I settled on the Jessem. It was slightly above my price range but I really liked the features it offered. I live a few miles from the nearest store so I opted to buy sight unseen.

    Upon receiving it I was impressed with the weight. It appeared to be very well machined which is why I wanted to buy a manufactured fence in the first place. Iíve built two fences and each one ended up needing shimming to get things square and planar. Soon after looking it over I realized the phenolic fences were not flush with the aluminum T-track.

    The problem was they set back farther from the T-track which would prevent a board on edge from being perpendicular to the table. I called Jessem and left a message with their technical support person. After 3 days I called again and left another message. I then waited another 2 days and this time got him on the phone. He admitted their phenolic supply wasnít a consistent thickness leading to the alignment issue. He offered to send me a set of shims to place behind the phenolic fences to make up for the issue. I agreed as Iím happy enough with the other features I didnít feel like sending it back.

    If I could do it again I would go with a different fence. The fence is very well made but suffers from this design flaw. I measured the phenolic thickness at 0.725Ē and the T-track extrusion is 0.750Ē thick. If they would just set the T-track back another 0.025Ē theyíd eliminate this problem. My real frustration is I gave them ample time to call me back as I was told their technical support person was in the office each time I left a message.

    Iím really surprised Iíve not read of this in any reviews as the technical support person knew exactly what the problem was when I first described what I was seeing.

    Thanks and sorry for the rant.
    Wes

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    7,148
    At the price they are charging I'd offer to return it to them along with their shims and tell you to give you a call when they get a more consistent supply of pheonalic. That response to me is unacceptable.

    That said the simple fence that came with my Jess-UM rout-R-lift bundled with the TS I bought has performed well under my constant abuse for several years now. It doesn't have the t-tracks, but when I need that I just make a simple MDF fence to replace the stock plates and put in a t-track as needed.

    I think its important not to think of any fence on any tool as the do-all, end-all be all solution to your needs. Even a very good fence is merely a starting point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    7,148
    PS...I just made a coping sled for a shaper recently using a piece of pheonalic I bought from Master Carr, and the 1/2" I used measures .5002" on my best dial calipers.

    Perhaps you should send Jessum the link for Master Carr as well? You could also make your own fence plates cheap enough if you are so inclined. On the Master Carr web site they specify the exact tolerences their different grades of pheonalic meet, so you can get a grade that meets your needs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Topeka, KS
    Posts
    294
    Peter, thanks for the comments. I figured someone would suggest returning it but I'm not as upset with the offset as the slow response from Jessem's tech. support. I did appreciate there was an actual human to answer the phone. My plan is to make some melamine zero clearance fences that will work without shims. It is a nice fence other than the phenolic issue. The way it was described to me was that you can't get phenolic to a consistent thickness so your suggestion of McMaster-Carr's tolerances was interesting.

    I may just order some to make a coping sled.

    Wes

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    490
    I have the Jessem fence and do not have the issue you describe. The aluminum extrusion is flush with the phenolic pieces on mine.

    Out of curiosity, did yours come with any shim washers or anything?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Topeka, KS
    Posts
    294
    Travis, to answer your question. Yes it came with a 0.030" and 0.060"? shim. They are sending me two 0.030" shims to compensate for the offset.

  7. ?? I've got the same fence and mine's fine.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Wake Forest, NC
    Posts
    490
    My fence came already assembled, but maybe the shims are the key to getting it out right since phenolics aren't always the same. FWIW, mine I don't believe is solid phenolic but particle board. I haven't cut it up as of yet (and hope I don't), but just what I think it is.

  9. #9
    I just went out and checked mine and it is spot on, flat all the way.

    I had a different type of responce from them, I sent them an email one night and the next morning before I left for work I had a reply and the part numbers to order some extra track nuts.

    As to the fence itself it has just worked out very well and I have NO problems with it what so ever.

    Good Luck.....

  10. Mine is coming in on Thursday, I'll post to let you know if I have the same problem. I have heard of this issue previously but I decided to take care of it should it happen to me too. I am curious do you have the Rockler anodized blue version or Jessem's red version (which I am told are exactly the same). I wonder if there is any variances in tolerances.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Topeka, KS
    Posts
    294
    Jerrold, I went with the Rockler version as my plate and miter track are blue as well. In speaking with Jessem they are the same, just anodized to a different color.

  12. Well Wes, I received my Jessem fence as well, I too have the same problem with the fences being inset from the edge of the top t-track. Could you provide some info as to who you talked to, to get some additional shims to bring out the fence? Thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Topeka, KS
    Posts
    294
    Jerrold, sorry, but I don't remember the gentleman's name at Jessem. I got the impression they only have one technical support person so if you call the number on your manual I'd be willing to bet you'll be speaking to the same person.

    Let me know what they say about your fence. It'll be interesting if the story you get is the same.

    Wes

  14. #14

    scottj owen

    I looked into Jessum also, they used to be set up in Canada, and then moved to the US, they had troubles for awhile finding a supplier for their aluminum who could meet the required tolerences. This is what I was told from my tool dealer, he advised to stay away from them until they had it sorted out. Where I am located in western Canada that isn't a problem because there was also a shortage so they are hard to get. I used one before and loved the sliding mitre part. So hope to get one soon.

  15. I called Jessem's toll free phone number on their website this morning. I spoke with Kara. I explained my problem to her and she seemed willing to help. I was also told that they are currently manufacturing new faces and that they should have that problem resolved. She offered to send replacement faces once they are ready. I will be keeping contact to make sure that I do get these parts in a (hopefully) timely manner. The customer service has been pretty good thus far. I hope it will continue while I wait for the subfaces.

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