Sears "Align-A-Rip" vs "Exact-I-Rip" vs "True-Rip" fences. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-10-2017, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Sears "Align-A-Rip" vs "Exact-I-Rip" vs "True-Rip" fences.

Ok, I'm swinging for the fences here with my in progress rebuild of an amalgam of Sears table saws, and fences deserve a topic of their own.

Fence budget is $140, only because I know that I can get the Sears Align-A-Rip for $119 plus shipping brand new.

The issue is, sometimes "newer" does not mean "better".

And one cannot trust the photos that massive retailers like Sears use to describe their products. Some retailers come right out and say "photo may not be exact, but is similar to what you will receive". So basically, I'm better off buying on Craigslist than brand new, because at least I'll be able to see EXACTLY what I'm getting in a fence, in terms of the length of the rails, the profile of the extrusion, the girth of the fence box, width of the squaring T, the type of lock down, etc.

I have access to a used Exact-I-Rip fence, and in researching that, I came to understand, from a member of WWT in an archived post, that the Align-A-Rip is supposed to be an improved evolution of the discontinued Exact-I-Rip (which itself supplanted the earlier King Seely era "True-Rip". But the same poster said that at the same time Sears introduced the Align-A-Rip, Sears was moving all production to China... something to that effect. I've since lost the post, having too many windows open at once, closing a few down to reduce the tabs. Hopefully that member will see this post and pipe in to clarify.

In the meantime, if you have had any experience with, or have accumulated general impressions about, either of theses Sears special fences, please share your opinion. I've google searched photos of these fences, and even within each marketing name, their are evolutionary differences in the details. I'm not sure how to correlate the visual differences I observe with meaningful functional differences in action. Another member of WWT said this of Sears quite succinctly: "They offered exclusive features no other company offered (because no experienced user needed them) to sucker neophytes into selecting Sears branded equipment". Think radial saws with digital readout scales. Or table saws with flex drives. Gadgets that turned out to be gimmicks and gaffaws.

One letter back from G is F.. for failure. But looking forward, to fences... what say you? Not going to drop $300 to fence what at best will amount to be a $100 Sears saw. I want to try and maintain the Sears vintage and brand, but use the best of what they had to offer (that actually worked, not just seemed like a good idea). I see that orange box store now has the Delta T 30 inch on sale for $179.... tantalizingly close to my established fence budget, but all the re-drilling into the rails or the table or the wings doesn't appeal to me for this project. I would prefer a bolt up solution with the holes already in the right place.

What has the latest thinking evolved to now on the best fence solutions for the Craftsman 113.****** series 27" deep cast iron splayed leg table saw?
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-10-2017, 08:45 PM
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If my budget was $140.00 and I was going to be looking at CL anyways, I would try to find a complete Craftsman, Delta or Ridgid contractor saw with a 1-1/2 HP motor and a good fence already on it.
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post #3 of 24 Old 12-11-2017, 01:39 AM
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I use the align-a-rip and so far I've been perfectly happy with it other than initially I had to file out the 4 holes that connect the fence itself to the t part as the adjustment was off just a tad, but it's aluminum and easy to file.
The "micro adjust" feature is just about useless and I don't bother with it, but it's not exactly tough to tap the fence over a hair anyway..I'm not in the habit of ripping hair except on my head and that's not done on the table saw..
Overall for the 119+ clams I have nothing to gripe about.
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Impressive, huh?
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-11-2017, 08:34 AM
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Ebay as a search tool

You can find parts for Craftsman tools on ebay. Here's the Align -A-Rip fence for instance:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Craftsman-T...ry!48370!US!-1


Earlier fences used a gear drive rail and head:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SEA...IAAOSwpINaHtQC


The crappy ones used a twist lock system:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sears-Craft...MAAOSwKQ9aKbP~

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Last edited by woodnthings; 12-11-2017 at 08:36 AM.
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post #5 of 24 Old 12-11-2017, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
You can find parts for Craftsman tools on ebay. Here's the Align -A-Rip fence for instance:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Craftsman-T...ry!48370!US!-1


This eBay seller above is asking $140 for a USED fence, with two missing pieces, plus $20 shipping, and for a 24/12... the least version of the Align-A-Rip.

On the other hand, one can go to Sears Parts Direct, and order a brand NEW 24/30, the best version of the Align-A-Rip, with all the pieces, and a warranty, for $119, MINUS $20, credited back in Sears Bonus Points, by using the coupon code Sears themselves provide on the selling page for the fence.

It seems that sellers on eBay want the world for the used stuff they find to sell. Figuring they have the entire world for their market, they must believe that old adage about what happens every minute (a sucker is born). But then, craigslist sellers base their asking prices on the pie in the sky prices the eBay sellers want, as if that establishes the value of the item.

All this is to say that it pays to exercise prudence as a bidder/buyer.


Back to fence shopping... and THANK YOU Bill, for posting some photos of the history of Craftsman table saw fences.
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post #6 of 24 Old 12-12-2017, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subroc View Post
If my budget was $140.00 and I was going to be looking at CL anyways, I would try to find a complete Craftsman, Delta or Ridgid contractor saw with a 1-1/2 HP motor and a good fence already on it.

I did exactly this.

Prior to starting this thread, I had already found a complete Craftsman Contractor saw, with a belt drive 14 amp (115v) motor, that had an Exact-I-Rip already on it. My purpose for starting this thread was for this community's guidance in anticipation of making this purchase, sought prior to committing to it, just in case it turned out that the collective experience here believed that the current imported Align-A-Rip was appreciably better than, worse than, or about the same as the domestically made and long ago discontinued Exact-I-Rip. When the negotiated price for the entire saw ensemble dropped significantly below Sear's current pricing for the new imported fence, I pulled the trigger on the used ensemble, which included the domestically made Exact I Rip fence.
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-12-2017, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad View Post
This eBay seller above is asking $140 for a USED fence, with two missing pieces, plus $20 shipping, and for a 24/12... the least version of the Align-A-Rip.

On the other hand, one can go to Sears Parts Direct, and order a brand NEW 24/30, the best version of the Align-A-Rip, with all the pieces, and a warranty, for $119, MINUS $20, credited back in Sears Bonus Points, by using the coupon code Sears themselves provide on the selling page for the fence.

It seems that sellers on eBay want the world for the used stuff they find to sell. Figuring they have the entire world for their market, they must believe that old adage about what happens every minute (a sucker is born). But then, craigslist sellers base their asking prices on the pie in the sky prices the eBay sellers want, as if that establishes the value of the item.

All this is to say that it pays to exercise prudence as a bidder/buyer.


Back to fence shopping... and THANK YOU Bill, for posting some photos of the history of Craftsman table saw fences.
the pictured fence is not a bad fence. its biggest deficiency is the two part front rail. it can flex if not installed properly. i have a 2412 with a similar fence and a one piece front rail and it is every bit as accurate and reliable as the delta t2 on my c-man 113 series 10"CI TS.
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-12-2017, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toolguy1000 View Post
the pictured fence is not a bad fence. its biggest deficiency is the two part front rail. it can flex if not installed properly. i have a 2412 with a similar fence and a one piece front rail and it is every bit as accurate and reliable as the delta t2 on my c-man 113 series 10"CI TS.

Toolguy1000.... a 1000 thank yous for pointing out this seemingly obvious but completely oblivious to me detail. Thank goodness I didn't order the Align-A-Rip fence. I had a feeling that there was something different that was staring me right in the face, but that I yet couldn't see, and that was it.

Fortunately, the older USA made Exact-I-Rip fence that I ended up with has a single piece rail. It also has a larger diameter rail extrusion, which presumably contributes to it's rigidity and trueness. It also has a slightly longer fence bar, and a wider T section perpendicular to the fence. All of these details have slowly revealed themselves to me over the last 24 hours of pouring over photos between the two types. But I had missed the observation that the newer Align-A-Rip has a two piece rail. Makes sense, to substantially reduce shipping costs, but all the same, I'm very happy to have the larger single piece rail of the Exact-I-Rip fence. Dumb luck, is all I can say.

I'm sure that those with two piece rails can manage to install them properly without issue. I'm not so sure that I am one of them, so every little mechanical advantage helps!
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post #9 of 24 Old 12-17-2017, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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What kind of fence is mounted to WWT member "ClarionFlyer"'s table saw in his photo below?





Does anyone recognize it? Is it a Sears Craftsman fence? It doesn't look like any iteration of Exact-I or Align-A-Rip I have ever seen. In fact, the front rail of the fence above looks much beefier, like it would stay straighter, despite any mounting anomalies between it and the table.






If it matters (it doesn't to me, but for some it might), I did notice that the photo above was originally posted by Clarion Flyer over 9 years ago, on October 8, 2008. ClarionFlyer has not been active on the forum since March 21, 2014. Now that those details are out of the way, I'm glad he posted it, and that I searched and found it. Otherwise I would have never known that this fence existed, and I would certainly like to learn more about it, if anyone knows.
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post #10 of 24 Old 12-17-2017, 05:34 PM
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It is probably one of these

These came up as I searched for "aluminum table saw fences"

There are some other fence here equally worthy:
https://images.search.yahoo.com/sear...hs-mozilla-001

Like this one:




This one looks close:
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Last edited by woodnthings; 12-17-2017 at 05:44 PM.
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post #11 of 24 Old 12-17-2017, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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The second one is close (red handle, and arched top of operator side of fence), but look at the huge difference in the front rail extrusion, as well as in the sheer depth of the T part of the fence formation. ClarionFlyer's Craftsman fence appears to have meatier physical characteristics along the front locking rail to T square connection that would seem to predict a much more consistent right angle lock down than the current Craftsman Align-A-Rip shown in your second photo. So close, but not at all quite.
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post #12 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 10:47 AM
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ClarionFlyer's Craftsman fence is the OEM fence on what was referred to as a Sears "zip code" saw, as either the first or last 5 digits of the model number looked like a zip code. as I understand it, they were well regarded saws with good fences and cabinet mounted trunions.

regarding your comment about the size of the tsquare fence head, the head on the second fence will preform well, as long as it is engaged properly. the 2 part front rail notwithstanding, the head must be registered to the front fence rail prior to engaging the lock handle. the OEM fence on my 2412 is a very similar design and, once dialed in for accuracy, is as reliable and easy to use as the delta t2 i have on a 113 c-man.

there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

Last edited by toolguy1000; 12-18-2017 at 10:52 AM.
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post #13 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toolguy1000 View Post
the head must be registered to the front fence rail prior to engaging the lock handle.

What do you mean by "registered"?


Do you mean that we are to make sure that the fence T square head is fully pressed against the bulbous rail, on both arms of the T, prior to engaging the lock handle?


Or do you mean something else entirely by "registration" that I as yet do not know enough to understand?
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post #14 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 05:27 PM
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woodworker's definition of registered is ....

I first heard the term "registered" used here in a different way than I previously had before. Here it is used to mean contacting. For example, if the workpiece is "registered" against the fence it is contacting it along it's length. The fence head must be in contact, actually full contact to insure it will lock down squarely.

Fences are of 2 types, those that register and lock entirely on the front rail and those that squeeze the table in between them. This type is less accurate unless the head is contained/secured to the front rail squarely to start with, not always possible. The older Craftsman fences were this way and were not reliably accurate. :frown2:
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post #15 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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This reminds me of a question I have regarding the older (but not the oldest) Craftsman fences.

I'm talking about the dark gray colored kind with the hot rolled angle iron rails front and rear.

Some versions of these fences have twist handles to lock the fence down. Other versions have a lever action.

Which is better, within the relm of that era and type of stock Craftsmen fence? I know both are crap compared to the upgraded Sears fences that are the title to this thread, but I'm curious if the lever kind is better than the handle twist kind, due to the force applied in rotating the handle to tighten inducing a lateral creep on the fence as it is being tightened. A lever action tightening mechanism might have less of a tendency to creep laterally during the tightening squeeze. Are my suspicions and observations correct?
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post #16 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 09:02 PM
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The twist handles are the worst

Several of the fences I had were of the twist handle variety and they would not self-square to the rail. You had to fidget with them measuring both front and rear to the blade, a real PITA. I eventually modified one so it worked better, but I still wasn't happy until I got a Delta Unifence and rail system, actually 3 of them. They all interchange easily on the 3 saw set up I have, Sawzilla. The cool thing about them is that the fence itself is reversible, meaning you can have it short rail next to the blade OR tall rail next to the blade merely be turning it 180 degrees in the head. It's held with 2 knobs and slides easily in or out another cool feature.

No matter which method the fence locks to the table or rails it should self-square when locked down. Otherwise, you have to measure at each end to the blade and there is nothing more annoying in my opinion.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 12-18-2017 at 10:20 PM.
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post #17 of 24 Old 12-18-2017, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad View Post
What do you mean by "registered"?


Do you mean that we are to make sure that the fence T square head is fully pressed against the bulbous rail, on both arms of the T, prior to engaging the lock handle?


Or do you mean something else entirely by "registration" that I as yet do not know enough to understand?
Do you mean that we are to make sure that the fence T square head is fully pressed against the bulbous rail, on both arms of the T, prior to engaging the lock handle?


Exactly what I meant

there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.
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post #18 of 24 Old 12-22-2017, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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I now need to make a decision about what the best material might be to "line" the sides of the fence with, as a sacrificial fence.


How high above the original fence should that sacrificial material be?


How high above the table should the sacrificial fence be, and should it be higher than the actual fence itself, to allow for chip clearance?


How thick should the sacrificial material be?


How easy should the material be to take on and off? Or in most situations, can it be left permanently in place, until it becomes damaged by the blade?


On a 24/30 fence, should the same material be installed on both sides of the fence?
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post #19 of 24 Old 12-22-2017, 04:22 PM
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As with most things here, the answers to your questions depend on your use of the machine. When I've used an auxiliary fence it's been permanently attached and maybe 5" tall. That allows me to use the spring loaded guides that I have (similar to "Board Buddies") that keep the work tight to the fence and add anti-kickback. The aux fence is faced with Formica for wear and definitely not sacrificial. Thickness is best at exactly 3/4 or 1" including the laminate so my fence tape measure can be used with a known offset. I like it to be only 1/16" off the saw table so I can rip thin veneers without jamming.

Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #20 of 24 Old 12-22-2017, 04:41 PM
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I don't have one but......

I would make a "slip over fence!

Make a 2 sided open channel type that slips snugly over your existing fence. That way "NO fasteners" required and you can remove it easily OR swap it end for end any time you want.



One thing I really like about my Unifence is that it has a high and a low position, meaning it is either 1/2" tall or 2 1/2" tall. When in the low position there is about 2" of space between that edge and the tall portion, plenty of room to get two or 3 fingers or a push block in there. I know when to use which technique, so no safety lectures please. The high position really doesn't offer that much more stability UNLESS your workpiece is above the fence, like when cutting a drawer down to size. I use the low position when ripping 1" boards with no issues.

Here the fence is in the "low" position:


Here the fence is shown in the "high or tall" position:


Make your fence from MDF or Baltic Birch plywood, 1/2" or 3/4" thick.
You should leave a "tray" in the top to hold pencils and push sticks by making the sides about 1/2" taller than the top. That will work for clamping jigs or stops onto the fence also. Use HPL like Formica if you wish, but a nice coat of shellac or other sealed finish will be just as good. Spray both the interior and exterior to avoid warping from moisture changes. The fit should be snug, but not so tight you have hammer the thing on.
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Last edited by woodnthings; 12-22-2017 at 04:48 PM.
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