Micro Fence – Edge Guide Review by Phil Davy, The Woodworker Magazine
Phil Davy takes a look at this beautifully made router accessory, which is ideal for boxmakers and cabinetmakers who demand precision.
A disadvantage of some routers is the edge guide that’s provided with them. I can think of one or two models that seem little more than an afterthought, with no fine adjustment possible. Of course, a router can be used for approximate rebating, grooving or whatever, but most woodworkers rely on these power tools for their accuracy and versatility. Accuracy can be difficult to achieve if the fence cannot be fine-tuned, especially for decorative inlay work or similar. Help is at hand, though, by way of the Micro Fence – Edge Guide.
The Micro Fence is not exactly new, but it’s only recently become available in Britain. Dreamt up back in 1992 by father and son team Richard and Jack Wedler in California, it’s evolved over the years to become arguably one of the most sought after routing accessories. As a system you can add attachments for routing circles, ellipses and more, though these aren’t exactly cheap. Supplied with various screws, spacers and fences, what exactly does the Edge Guide consist of?
The main body is a sturdy L-shaped bracket, machined from 9mm thick aluminium. An adjuster mechanism is fitted to this and consists of a finely-threaded screw plus a rotary depth collar. This is laser etched with very clear graduations, enabling you to tweak a setting easily. A full rotation (via the end adjuster screw) equals 1mm of travel, with increments of 1⁄20th of a millimetre. In fact, the Micro Fence is designed to be used in conjunction with a dial calliper, so you get some idea of the precision here.
The fine adjuster travels on a pair of 8mm diameter stainless steel rods 175mm in length, which also pass through the L bracket. Knurled brass thumbscrews enable everything to be locked solidly in place. Also included are two 300mm long rods with threaded ends, which can be easily swapped when required. At their other end, the rods are screwed into a mounting bar, with three pairs of threaded holes for adding various Micro Fence optional accessories.
A final pair of short rods are spaced to fit your router. The version I tried had 85mm rod spacings, a fairly standard size, which fits smaller DeWalt, Trend, Elu and Makita routers, among others.
Two pre-drilled, 177mm cherry facings are included, which are screwed to the edge of the guide for straight routing. The deeper facing can be notched out to suit a cutter when used for flush trimming work or similar.
Although it may sound complicated, the Micro Fence is dead easy to use. Set the collar to zero, then slide its fine adjuster to the approximate width setting. Lock the outer brass screws, then rotate the collar to fine-tune, finally locking with the centre thumbscrew. Make your first cut, then (using the dial) adjust the width setting in or out as necessary. Using a calliper to measure inlay or check a groove width makes absolute precision possible.
You’re not restricted to straight edge routing with the Micro Fence. A pair of half-round Delrin spacers enable it to be used against curved edges, creating two points of contact as you move the router. This takes some getting used to, so unless you’re used to this technique, it will pay to practice on plenty of scrap material first.
Fantastic if you do decorative work where your cutter may not be an exact match for the banding or inlay, the Micro Fence – Edge Guide would be ideal for boxmakers or cabinetmakers where imperfections can stick out like a sore thumb. Beautifully made, it offers absolute precision, though this obviously does depend on you keeping it held tightly against the workpiece. It’s the sort of product Veritas would make if they produced gadgets for power tools. But don’t assume it will transform a budget router into a precision tool, though. There may be too much play in some cheap routers, which makes them inaccurate from the start.
The price will probably put the Micro Fence out of reach of all but the most dedicated woodworking perfectionists. Costing more than many routers, it’s not likely to be a quick buying decision. It is, however, a superb power tool accessory.
- Mortising & V-grooving
- Drawer construction
- Flutes & reeds
- Inlay work
- Sliding dovetails, and many more routing operations
Precision engineered guide; micro adjustments easy to make
Very expensive; be prepared to raise your woodworking standards…
RATING: 5 out of 5