I’ve had the opportunity to put together lots of JessEm router tables over the past 15 years for various schools and cabinet shops, so I was very interested to have a look at their new fence and see how it compares.
JessEm Mast-R-Fence III and Micro Adjust
MSRP: $359.99 (Fence), $119.99 (Micro Adjuster)
A large part of the reason this fence is coming to market is to reduce JessEm’s reliance on manufacturing overseas and the raw materials there. It also comes at a higher price than their 04010 fence made overseas. It’s nice to see a Canadian-made product, but are we paying more for a flag, or is it actually a better product? After looking it over carefully, I believe that it’s a better product and worth the price increase.
There are some substantial construction differences between this and the previous versions, which were made of a one-piece aluminum extrusion. This fence has a 3/4″ thick phenolic base with an aluminum extrusion for the upright part. The base and the upright are held together with aluminum brackets. All of the hardware has been upgraded; there are no plastic knobs. The knobs for the guard are turned from stainless steel, and the knobs that lock the fence in place are solid aluminum and steel. The fence-locking knobs use a heavier thread than previous versions, and the nut the knob screws into has also increased in size quite a bit. This should definitely keep the fence in place when locked. The phenolic base is reinforced with an aluminum boss where the locking handle passes through. The fence is completed with maple sub-fences that are easy to adjust and easy to replace, if necessary. The fence is quite straight and square when all assembled, even though it’s made up of a number of different parts. The guard has been upgraded, as well. As with previous versions of the fence, there are shims included to offset the out-feed side of the fence for various operations like jointing.
There’s a micro adjuster available for the new fence, and this is a feature I think is long overdue. The micro adjuster moves 1/64th per revolution and has graduations down to 1/256″, which gives lots of control over the movement of the fence. Like the fence, the micro adjuster is well made. Everything about it is beefy. The large dial is easy to read and turn. One downside to the micro adjuster is it can only be used on tables where the fence is mounted with the included hardware to the edges of the table. The fence itself can only be edge-mounted to a table that is 32″ wide by using the included hardware, or it can be mounted using T-slots within the table. The T-slots need to be 17″ apart in order to do that. The fence slides nicely and is easy to adjust.
Overall, I’m pleased with the quality of the fence. Everything about it looks and feels well made and should last the user a lifetime.