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Reviews 12 part 1

  New Alloy Fences From WoodRat

Henry from WoodRat recently sent me a free set of their new Alloy fences to evaluate. I have not yet had time to fit  and try them out but here I have posted my initial views.
Yes, I know I am 'looking a gift horse in the mouth' but perhaps these shots will help those of you who are sitting on the fence.........ho, ho, ha, ha,.
Sorry but I couldn't resist that one.

 

curved They arrived in a well padded Jiffy bag and when I removed them I was immediately struck by the quality and colour of the silver anodising.
Each fence is accompanied by a separate beech fence/cheek plate. These fences are a very dramatic improvement on the previous plastic versions and are very unlikely to bend or distort.

Each fence is only 150mm long but can of course be fitted with the hardwood face which is 180mm long by 55mm wide by 12mm thick.
They are made from purpose designed and very substantial alloy extrusion and you will notice the machined T-slots in the fence face plus an extra one on the recessed edge of the mounting face.
I was not clear on the reason for that slot but Martin says that a Little Rat cursor can be fitted to it. I feel other uses will become apparent in later use.
They are advertised as "perfectly" square which is a very bold claim but I certainly found them to be very accurate when checked with my engineering squares.
Quite good enough for me!
back slot
end view This sectional view shows the very robust and tapered fence face which is very unlikely to bend in my opinion.
The T-slots receive 6mm nuts into which the hardwood faces are secured.
These T-slots promise lots of purpose made jig holding possibilities for people like me and I am already wondering if I can re-machine the bolt holes and recess on the right hand fence so that I can have the T-slots facing each other.
This is the face that mounts onto the carriage. carriage face
fence face And this is the fence face.
The beech wood faces are very well machined, smooth, straight and parallel. The nuts slide into the T-slots on the fence face to hold the wood in place. They are a good fit but I confess I found them to be a little 'fiddly' to initially slide  in as they must be properly rotated to access the slots. wooden cheeks
allen bolts The Allen screws are recessed into the cheeks and you will require your key that came with the WoodRat to tighten them.
Fine abrasive paper could be glued to the face to improve grip on your work if you wish but until I actually fit and try them out I don't know if it will be needed.
You can of course slide the wooden cheek up and down on the fence to suite your needs and you will notice that the bolt holes are off-set towards one end of the cheek giving even more mounting flexibility. fitted2
fitted Here is a shot with the cheek nominally fitted. In this case the rear edge of the cheek is flush with the fence mounting face.
A close up of the nuts located in the T-slots. Now there is a very clever little design feature with these cheeks. The screw holes are a  little over-size to allow some lateral movement when fitted and are drilled just a little closer to one edge than the other.
When fitting the wooden cheeks to the fences pull the carriage towards you and push the cheek in. This will remove any carriage play or "rattle". Clever eh?!
Just flip the wooden cheek around to vary the amount of engagement as one edge has a greater protrusion.
engaged

 

Minor Flaws

anodising Overall the quality of the anodising is superb and the only very minor discolouring is to be found on the back.
This is insignificant and won't be seen when mounted.
Both my fences have this slight breakout caused during manufacture. The cross clearance trench just happens to be  nearly same depth as the retaining lip of the T-slot. The very thin edge left during the milling process would be liable to chip and break as has happened here.
In practise this is cosmetic only and does not cause any problems. The jagged edge is very thin and can easily be flipped out to clear the slot.
When that is done the 6mm retaining nut will just drop into the slot for easier fitting of the cheek.
machining

 

In part two I will report on how they perform when actually fitted.

Conclusion

So far I am very impressed indeed with these fences.

There is no doubt that they are far superior to the previous versions and feel sure that work holding will be even more secure with these.

The promise of reducing carriage play is a bonus which makes them worthy of very serious consideration.

To upgrade to these fences visit www.woodrat.com

Thanks Henry