Tool Reviews

A woodworker is only as good as his tools. In a world with enough woodworking tools to fill entire big-box stores, it’s important to know what you should buy (and what to avoid) so you can produce the best pieces possible and save money. Our tool reviews are different. Rather than use pseudo-science, we use the tools in the shop (we’re all experienced woodworkers), and report back how they perform. So whether you are in the market for a new set of chisels or a powerful table saw, we’ve got the best tools covered.

glue pot

Tool Test: Lee Valley Tools Glue Pot & Tabletop Warmer

This stainless steel replica of a late 19th-century double-boiler cast iron glue pot from Landers, Frary & Clark is both cute and useful – despite its diminutive size (3″ diameter x 2-3⁄8″ height). The outer pot holds 2-1⁄2 fluid ounces of water to keep the contents of the inner pot from scorching when it’s...

Festool ETS EC125/3 Eccentric Sander

Festool’s newest 5″ compact tool delivers on comfort and performance. by Andy Brownell page 12 A well-sanded surface makes a huge difference on a finished piece. Unlike many woodworkers I know, I appreciate the relatively mindless nature of sanding. In addition to recently using the Mirka DEROS for benchmarking purposes, my go-to power sander...

CMT’s Inexpensive Moisture Meter

by Christopher Schwarz page 14 If you ever work with wood from unreliable or unusual sources, such as one-person sawmills, it pays to own a moisture meter. I slip mine into my pocket whenever I head to the lumberyard and it has saved my skin several times in the last 20 years. But not...

Bosch Barrel-grip Battery-powered Jigsaw

Because of its lower profile, I prefer a barrel-grip jigsaw to a top-handle. I feel as if having my hand closer to the work gives me better control, not only because the tool feels less tippy, but because I find it slightly easier to guide. And I quite like this new 12-volt, lithium-ion powered...

Tool Test: EZ Pinch Stick for Checking Square on Glue-ups

by Megan Fitzpatrick page 16 “Pinch rods” or “pinch sticks” are, at their most basic, two thin pieces of pointy material that are held together loosely enough at the center to move, but can be locked down. Put a point corner to corner in a carcase, lock the sticks, then check that setting against...

Craftsman 10" Miter Saw

Craftsman 10″ Sliding Miter Saw

This inexpensive compact saw performs surprisingly well. by Christopher Schwarz When sliding miter saws first hit the market, they could cost as much as a decent table saw. So I was shocked when I saw the price tags on the new line of miter saws by Craftsman (starting at less than $200). Surely they...

Grizzly 12 1/2″ Benchtop Planer

Lightweight but solid, this two-knife model is a decent starter machine. by Megan Fitzpatrick p. 16 I admit to some skepticism as I unboxed the Grizzly G0790. This benchtop planer has only two knives, and at just $285 (plus $49 for shipping), I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. And while I’m not completely blown away by...

Vesper Double Square with Mini Blade

by Christopher Schwarz p. 18 Many of the difficult measuring jobs we face are too big or too small for us to accurately assess. For big jobs, I end up making my own giant wooden straightedges or try squares. For the tiny problems, I reach for the Vesper Double Square. This beautifully machined adjustable square...

Jennings-pattern Auger Bits for Braces

by Christopher Schwarz p. 18 Finding good auger bits that work in a brace is almost impossible in places of the world that don’t have a lot of vintage tools (such as the Midwest and West). And even if you do manage to get some of these bits, they are frequently bent, misfiled, used...