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Fixed Fences

Right then, its raining outside so I sneaked off into the workshop for another go at the lucky dip and pulled out a pair of Craftsman Gallery's aluminium (aluminum) fixed fences. Great, I have wanted to try these for a while. The fact that you have arrived here you will realise that I  am hooked on making jigs and attachments and so much prefer the alloy ones. I can drill and tap or cut slots in them you see. To make for a fair review, I will  compare them to WoodRat's existing fences. In the centre is the 'Rat original alloy version which has currently been replaced by the moulded plastic one shown on the left. (watch this space, I can say no more!!) The plastic one was produced to keep costs down. To the right is the Craftsman Gallery alloy one. In the top photo the far ends were all placed in alignment to give an indication of the varying lengths and below left is an end view.

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The photo and chart at bottom of the page show that the CG fence falls approximately mid-way in size between the two 'Rat fences and I feel for general use is pitched exactly right. The size has to be a compromise. If it is any wider, you gain on extra grip but results in the mortise rail being held further away from the channel face (not so good). However the gripping face could safely have been the same depth as the plastic one without any detriment to usability.

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Fixing screws are not provided with the CG fences. You have to use the existing ones. The 'Rat one is above on this photo.

The picture to the above shows the difference in depth with the plastic fence. I do accept that this is probably due to the constraints of available raw stock though. The holes are drilled and counter-sunk to exactly the right tolerance for  a degree of adjustment with relevance to the the top of the channel and I really like the fact that the faces are fully and accurately machined both sides.border="0"

Now Plymouth is by the sea and I suspect that over time the slightly salt air will lead to some corrosion of the aluminium. Therefore I would be prepared to pay a few extra pence for them to be anodised. A deep black would be really tasty, or maybe a royal blue colour would be flash. What? You would prefer red? OK, could you do that Lewis?

The icing on the cake is the fact that each fence has a non-slip abrasive sheet already glued on to the gripping face.

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I often wish to employ a quick clamp as well as the 'Rat camlock to grip the work for extra confidence that nothing is going to move. I don't know whether it was by design or good fortune but the fence is just wide enough for near full engagement of the clamp base as shown on the left. This can't be done with the 'Rat plastic ones.

 

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 *My plastic 'Rat fences had slight dips in their faces from new (probably a result of the injection moulding process) and so I spent some time sanding them flat. This was not strictly necessary as they worked just fine. It just felt better with them dead flat.

OK, all three fences are more than capable of doing their job, but the WoodRat alloy ones are not currently available which leaves the choice between two.

I contacted half a dozen Ratters and the vote was 100% for alloy.

Which ones do I prefer?

Oh, without doubt, the Craftsman Gallery ones for me please.

Highly recommended. Price, only 21 USA Dollars.

 

Plastic

Rat Metal

CG Metal

Length

6" 150mm.

7.75" 195mm

7" 178mm.

Sides

2" 50mm.

1.5" 38mm.

1.75" 45mm

Square

Yes

Yes

Yes

Machined

N/A

No

Yes

Finish

Very good *

Excellent

Good

Abrasive

No

No

Yes

Can clamp to face

No

Yes

Yes

Available

Yes

No

Yes


For more information on The Craftsman Gallery products visit their web site www.chipsfly.com

The Craftsman Gallery Pdf

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