I had to move from one end of the hall to the other in order at the International Woodworking Fair to keep my appointment with the folks at Rockler, but I wasn’t disappointed with what they had to show me. Here’s a recap.
Let’s start with the bench cookies. Many woodworkers picked up a set of these hockey-puck-like shop helpers, and I’ll bet you thought these were a great “one-hit wonder.” Not so. Rockler has re-invented the cookie, calling this version the Bench Cookie Plus. The “plus” part is that they have added a threaded insert into the bottom of the disc and are now making screw-in posts that raise the cookies off your bench.
Slip the post in one way and the cookie is raised one “cookie” thickness off the benchtop. Flip the post, and the cookie is raised higher. Thanks to these posts, you can raise your work to allow more depth with cutting tools, or it creates a second horizontal surface to fill.
The most inventive bench cookie idea shown this year is a single post , that also screws into the cookie , that allows you to stick the cookies in bench dog holes (all the new posts fit into 3/4″ holes). With this, you can position cookies on the top edge of sawhorses for additional uses. The new cookies are four for $14, the risers come in pairs and are $4 and $8.
For me, so far, the “I should have thought of that tool” is also from Rockler. If you turn at the lathe, the one thing you do – or at least I do – too many times is set the opening of your calipers. You know the drill: Pick up a rule, hold it with one hand while you set the calipers for the next cut.
Rockler has a handy tool to make that job easier, a new Caliper Gauge/Center finder. The gauge is set in 1/8″ increments for sizes from 1/8″ through 5″ in width. The sizes are shown in large white characters to make it easy to read. And as an added benefit, flip the gauge over and the unit becomes a center finder for round or square stock.
Other items from the folks at Rockler include:
– 4″ dust separator components that turn almost any container into a separator. Sold in pairs at $20, these threaded components (elbow and coupler) are easily fit into 4″ holes. The pieces are made from high-strength polymer.
– For pocket-hole users, look for a clamp ($20) that fits into the hole to help and pull and hold parts together as screws are driven. Also, there’s a nice three-way face clamp ($35) that allows you to tightly fit face frames to cases.
– Last year Rockler brought out a box-joint jig. This year the company is introducing clamping cauls (sold in four packs at $10 per pack) that work with those joints. Each jig has a matching “tooth” to make contact with the appropriate areas to tightly secure the box as the glue sets. In addition, each caul has slots on the outside that perfectly accept a penny. The penny holds your band clamp in place as you apply pressure.
– A shelf-drilling jig ($80) that not only allows for shelf pins to be located correctly, the holes are labeled so you can drill the right locations if you choose not to use every hole.
And take a look at this cool router cabinet. I’ll have more information on that in the next few days, so check back.
– Glen D. Huey