Bought the Ridgid AC1036 fence at Home Depot Friday for $150 plus tax. Thanks to the Ponders for their encouragement and advice, and special thanks to: Charlie Kragle on the Home Depot tip, and Dominic Greco and Rod Peterson for their past upgrade reports!
Disclaimer: Never used a decent fence before (eg. Bies, Vega) so my enthusiasm might be under-informed!Background:
My Craftsman was given to me by a neighbor - he found it in a house he was renovating. It is severely beat up, but I was thrilled to get it. Did a major cleanup, bought a 1 HP Leeson motor (all I had cash for at the time) and got it working. It's Model 113-298240, s/n 3217.P0073 with sheet metal extensions. The fence was an angle-iron rail deal with a screw-action lock in the handle - really a terrible design, and was probably terrible even when it was new.The Choice:
Ponders have been a great help, and I was all set to buy the Craftsman XR2424 fence when Charlie tipped me to the Ridgid fence, which is 12" left and 36" right and designed to fit Craftsman saws. The XR2424 is apparently not offered anymore - it's now "Align-A-Rip 24/24" at the theoretical price of $150, but when I checked it out it turns out that with shipping, etc. it's more like $170. The Ridgid looked good on the HD floor, and the 36" capacity was the clincher.The Purchase:
Our Anderson, SC Home Depot actually had the the fence in stock! It was new to the floor help, and they were very helpful, opening the box to inspect the materials and instructions, etc. Was concerned about a switch and asked for one (the fence comes with a switch bracket). They talked a few minutes, then handed me a nice Skil 1HP switch and said "Here, no charge". Wow! Found an appropriate box and switch plate in elec area and I was good to go.Installation:
The instructions and materials are outstanding. All the hardware and shim washers are included. The rails mount with square-ended "T" bolts and no new holes were needed. I didn't need any shims except for the spacer bar, which spans the gap between the fence rails way out on the 36" side. The spacer bar locking brackets were the only poor part of the design, but I eventually got them set. The rails to a good job supporting the sheet metal extensions - much better than the original rails did. Instructions and T-bolts for attaching jigs, extension fences, etc. were included in the kit.Alignment:
The instructions were great, and the setup was a breeze. Found out that my blade was not parallel to the miter slot (I'd never checked it using the "marked tooth" method Rod reported) and found out my trunnion bolts weren't tight when I started the adjustment! The fence glides along smoothly, stays square and parallel throughout the 36" travel, and locks firmly (didn't budge when I banged it).Testing
With the blade alignment and this new fence, it was like a different saw. My 1 HP motor is under-powered anyway, but with this tune-up it definately was making more efficient use of the power.
I'd recommend this fence as a Craftsman upgrade (instead of the XR2424 since it's not available) for other budget-minded Ponders like myself. My sow's ear is definately not a silk purse, but for the money I'm very satisfied. Next purchase will be a link belt.Mike Conner