Incra Miter Express Review

 

Description
The Incra Miter Express is a table saw sled that can be used to safely extend the cross cut capacities of a tablesaw. Unique to the Incra product is its ability to use a miter gauge as the angle setting and fence holding device. Other aftermarket sleds or ones that woodworkers usually make have the fence included with the device. The Miter Express allows any standard miter gauge (Incra brand or otherwise) to be used.

Incra Miter Express

Photo Courtesy Incra

The 18" x 15.5" half inch thick main sliding table is moderate in size and weight. The crosscut capacity of the Miter Express will depend somewhat on the miter gauge and machine used. About 24" or more should be typical. This is about double what one would safely have with a typical miter gauge alone.
Incra Miter Express Kit Assembly
The Incra Miter Express is a kit comprised of six major elements; mainly aluminum extrusions and coated MDF table boards. The other small components are found in clearly labeled plastic bags. These are all assembled together to produce a zero clearance crosscut sled when completed. Note that during assembly the Utility Plate (the main extrusion) may sit on the bottom of the table saw slot and rock side to side. When completely assembled, this piece will be suspended a bit so don't be alarmed if this is observed.

Assembly goes rather quickly but one must first determine which slot to use (for the primary sled). In general, either will work well.

I've never seen a saw that had the left and right slots the same distance from the blade so once the selection is made, it will be that way forever. I generally recommend using the left slot.

All jigs utilizing the miter gauge slots work better and more accurately when they are fitted to the slot. The Miter Express has several screw driven wedges to accomplish this. With the Allen wrench provided, these are simply expanded until the desired amount of free-play is removed. These are conveniently accessed from the top.

Runners

Click to enlarge

Tips:

1. Check the slot to blade alignment of the saw and ensure it is as close to parallel as possible. This is a good opportunity to do an overall saw tune-up and alignment also.

2. Wax the saw top and the slot runners on the Miter Express.

3. Before beginning the guide bar adjustment, ensure there are no burrs or irregularities along the slot as these may affect wear and adjustment.

4. Adjust all of the expansion wedges incrementally to "sneak up" on the best fit. Once the fit becomes close, vigorously run the gauge back and forth to ensure it slides freely. The guide bars will show some wear at this point, this is normal.
5. If a tight spot is encountered, in all likelihood this is a narrow section of the slot and not a problem with the bars. The slot can be trued with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a hardwood block. If it were me, I would move this up to step 3 automatically. Any irregularity is likely to be very small and easily taken care of with this method.

6. Be sure to apply the UHMW strips to the bottom of the sled in areas where they will have continuous support on the machine it will be used on.

7. As with many shop tools, the corners of the extrusions will benefit from being eased. A few quick strokes with a file are all it takes to ensure the edges are taken care of.  See the photo at right.

Eased Edges

Click to enlarge

In Use
As mentioned, the Miter Express was designed to use a miter gauge (not provided) as the angle setting and fence holding device. Whatever characteristics and features the miter gauge has is transferred to the system as a whole. For my tests, I used an Incra Miter V27.

The miter gauge is held into the miter slot of the Utility Plate by 4 cammed Allen screws. These lock the device in fairly securely but not so much as I would ever recommend picking up the device by holding onto the miter gauge only. The slot in the Utility Plate is not a T-slot type so whatever miter gauge is used must be compatible. On Incra miter gauges this is a simple conversion, other makes may require more effort.

The Miter Express itself uses a T-slot style miter gauge runner with the T-slot adapters at both the fore and aft ends of the runner. With the two T's installed, it is very safe to operate and makes tipping at the beginning and ends of stroke very unlikely under normal circumstances. The two T's do mean that it takes a little longer to get the device on and off the machine. If an outfeed table is attached to the saw, the T on the operator side could be safely removed.  Included with the kit are four 1/4-20 bolts with knobs for attaching fences or other items to the jig.

The zero clearance cut design is formed between the sliding panel section and the drop-off support panel. The second rides in the "other" slot and it typically not moved much. Sometimes I don't bother to put it on. Although the half inch sled thickness does reduce the cutting capacity somewhat, this is generally not a show stopper. The sled rides on UHMW strips applied to the bottom so the sliding action is smooth.


Without Miter Gauge

Shown without any miter gauge

Aside from basically working correctly, the feature I like the most about the Miter Express is the Hold Down Clamp. This device is secured via one of the two slots in the main table and securely holds the stock as it is pushed past the blade. I've found that by using a stock clamp, a lot of quality issues (especially on miter cuts) are eliminated. The Hold Down Clamp is affixed to the slot using a standard -20 hex bolt so this may work in other jigs found in the shop also.
Summary
The Incra Miter Express bridges a gap between large cumbersome crosscut sleds and smaller units for detail work. In addition to common 90 degree settings it allows angle settings too. When coupled with an Incra miter gauge, it adds increased accuracy to these angle settings as well.  Any sled should make crosscut operations safer. The T-slot design of the Miter Express and stock clamp add even more to the safety aspect.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, Incra provided this product to facilitate this review.