Easy and accurate...
Sep 6, 2005 (Updated Sep 6, 2005)
Review by woody2
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:reasonably priced, well built, very accurate, easy to use, slides incredibly well.
Cons:no fence, slippery face, some hidden adjustments
The Bottom Line: I don't know of another gauge in this price range with this kind of ease and precision. Put a fence on it and you're set!
Compared to other stock gauges, I was impressed with the construction quality of the stock cast iron miter gauge on my GI, but it still didn't have the ultra high precision offered by the better aftermarket gauges. Some of the top tier miter gauges fetch in the range of $200, which I couldn't justify for my needs. When the $60 Incra V27 went on sale at Woodcraft, I decided to give it a try and I'm really glad I did.
Recommend this product?
The V27 is Incra's entry level basic gauge retailing at about $60 and is constructed primarily of sturdy steel with some well placed nylon trim pieces. The bottom of the steel protractor head glides on a nylon pad that rides along the table surface. The Incra has a "GlideLOCK" miter bar that consists of 4 expandable nylon adjustment spacers in the bar to be perfectly taylor fitted to the standard 3/4"x3/8" miter slot on your saw. There is a removable t-clip on the end of the bar for added holding stability in slots that have a t-groove. The V27 features 27 indexed angle settings with laser cut notches every 5 degrees plus a couple extra for the most popular angles. It's held firmly in place with Incra's "AngleLock" - a positive locking steel pointer that fits perfectly into the v-shaped notches . It also has one degree hash marks on the protractor compass for more minute adjustments. The push handle is a robust hard plastic round knob mounted just behind the face. Overall it's well built but is a little lighter duty than my stock cast iron gauge. It is however considerably more precise.
My gauge was not dead-on as received out of the package. Adjusting the miter head square to the bar is a bit tedious and requires loosening 4 hex screws in the face using the supplied hex wrench, and manually aligning it to a reference like the miter bar or miter slot. Once dialed in, it's very accurate and stays put. Another task that's a bit tedious involves the Glidelock bar width adjustments. Three of the adjustment spacers are easily accessible and require only a turn of the hex screw to adjust, but the fourth adjustment washer resides underneath the head assembly which needs to be removed in order to access. Again, once adjusted and dialed in, the performance is amazing. There is no lateral slop in the miter slot, and with my hand resting on the table surface using only thumb power, a flick of my thumb launches the gauge to the back of the saw! ("Don't try this at home folks...") The nylon pad under the head is a really effective feature. No other gauge I've ever used slides anywhere near as well as the Incra. Great design feature. The instructions for making these adjustments are clear with good picture examples.
The V27 is extremely easy to use and is very accurate at the prenotched angles. Loosen the AngleLock pointer and the handle, rotate the gauge to the desired notch, and place the pointer firmly back into the form fitting V slot. It's simple and goof proof as long as you use the 5 degree notch settings provided. The AngleLock pointer sits firmly in the indented V notch for the indexed settings, but for finer increments, the pointer gets backed out of the notch and is consistently skewed from this position and doesn't lend itself well to precision with the one degree increments. The Incra 1000 and higher models address this issue with an additional plastic vernier pointer which slides back and forth above the indexed notches and points directly at the printed markings on the compass. I added my own version of this pointer using a small piece of mylar that I aligned with the zero reading, and can be pointed more accurately at any 1 degree marking on the gauge much like the more expensive models.
Another minor complaint... The face of the V27 is rather small. There's no fence, which I was well aware of, but the face is short, narrow and a little slippery. A shop-built fence of scrap hardwood secured through the holes in the face helps tremendously. So would an aftermarket aluminum fence which Incra and other manufactures do offer as a separate item. Incra's higher models offer a fence as a stock feature, but this feature nearly doubles the cost of the V27. Without some additional help securing the workpiece, the piece is prone to slide a bit, so some treatment to the face is a good idea. Speaking of small, even though the miter bar is adjustable and slides wonderfully, it is a bit on the short side making wider pieces more difficult to crosscut.
At $60 the V27 is tremendous value in my opinion. It doesn't come equipped with every feature possible on a miter gauge, but it is entry level and is priced accordingly. Think entry level Mercedes Benz. Incra has done a great job with the basics, and offers a couple of ingenious design features that lay the groundwork for a heck of a miter gauge upgrade for $60. The complaints mentioned above are really intended to be viewed in an absolute sense relative to a perfect world and compared to more expensive gauges on the market. I've got three other miter gauges with adjustable bars. All can be adjusted so there is no lateral slop, but none of them comes close to gliding the way the Incra does. I would have never imagined it possible. My Osborne EB-3 (a hand-me-down) has a great fence with a flip stop and extension that the V27 does not offer. It's also about $160, and unfortunately is one of those with a defective arm and has accuracy problems. It's not quite as simple to operate as the Incra either. One of these days I'll find a way to mate the EB-3's fence to the Incra body. My stock Craftsman gauge has an adjustable bar, an aluminum fence with a stop block, and a hold down clamp, but suffers from accuracy problems like most stock gauges. The basic Woodhaven gauge is comparably priced to the V27 and is very well made, but also suffers from a small face with no fence, and only has angle settings for 45 and 90 degrees....probably a great choice if you only cut those two angles. The Rockler gauge has more angle settings than the Woodhaven but is plastic and didn't appear to be nearly as well made. With about 10 minutes of shop time and some ingenuity, the V27 can fly with the best of them. I currently have my V27 equipped with about a 10" maple fence that allows me to run it in either miter slot with the fence just about skimming the blade on both sides. The small overall size of this setup makes it very convenient to store and install quickly. My Osborne has some advantages for larger materials but seems huge and cumbersome in comparison. If you'd rather have the whole package supplied to you with no additional work needed, the Incra 1000 offers a fence and the factory vernier cursor for ~ $120. There are more models beyond the 1000 as well. The V27 suits my needs well and I'm very happy with it. Highly recommended ....on sale it gets 5 stars!
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