Tool Review – You Make The Call | Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Feature Articles
Occasionally, Popular Woodworking receives tools that we immediately recognize as good, if not great, ideas and designs. However, they do not seem to fit into a woodshop in the best way. I don’t want to simply pass on writing about these tools because I know they are beneficial to some of our readers and sometimes I think I might not see how the tools can be used in the shop. You know the  saying, something about not seeing the forest because of all the trees.

So, over the next few weeks, I’m offering up a few tools that fall into this category. I would like for you to evaluate these tools and let me know if I’m right (they are great tools, but are not totally useful in the woodshop) or if I clearly missed the boat and these tools would make terrific additions to your woodworking experience.

First up is the Starrett Prosite 5-N-1 Protractor. This protractor is available at for $85 (link to tool). Popular Woodworking reviewed the earlier version of this tool December 2004. In his review, David Thiel wrote that the angle gauge was very easy to use for finding angles and miters. He also wrote that the szie made it a bit bulky to use to fine-tune machine setup in the shop (Click the link to read Thiel’s review Prosite Protractor.pdf (316.64 KB)).

Today, even with the improvements to the markings , they’re laser engraved , and the addition of a couple charts that help find the appropriate settings for cutting crown mouldings and determining roof pitches, my take on this tool is that it’s a wonderful tool for the construction trade. If I were still in that field, I could find many uses for the Prosite Protractor. But in the woodshop, I just cannot find more than an occasional application.

How about it? Am I missing a great use for the Starrett 5-N-1 tool? Or, is it a great tool for applications other than woodworking? Leave a comment for everyone to see or, if you choose, send a message directly to me. If I’ve missed the call on this tool, I go to the wall to get a review in the magazine.

Next, we’ll take a look at a direct fit air hose system. It’s called APEGRIP and it’s by High Tech Air Connection.

,Glen D. Huey

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Showing 4 comments
  • John

    I probably would not have gone out and purchased one of these. But one arrived in the bottom of a box of tools that I bought at an auction (older model without a couple bells and whistles but does the same job)and I hung it up on the wall to gather dust. But it hasn’t gathered much dust I find myself using it at least a couple times a week when making jigs, copying angles from plans, and setting up various ww tools. So what I thought to be nice gadget has turned into a very useful tool.

  • Michael Holden

    I dont think that many of us woodworkers dont wind up doing some home remodeling – if nothing more than changing the room’s moldings to match the furniture we built for it.
    So in that respect, the tool is interesting. Also, consider how many jigs for crown moldings get reviewed, and the size of crown molding that can be cut is a big part of any review of chopsaws.

    On the other hand, Pop Woodworking is treading a fine path between modern and classic woodworking. It may not be an appropriate fit for the magazine’s intended purpose.

    It would be a good fit for the web page though.

  • Herb

    I purchased the original thinking it would be a great tool for measuring rake and splay angles on Windsor chairs. I study and measure original chairs. I was looking for a more convenient protractor that would be easy on my eyes and more gentle on the old pieces. I had been using an old Craftsmen stainless steel one that could easily scratch the furniture due to sharpe corners. Well after fiddling with the new toy and checking the measurements against several other protractors, I put it away and still use the old simple and inexpensive protractors. Every measured angle came out to be an even number. I was very disappointed since I spent good money on it and had high expectations.

  • dave brown

    I’m sure that some tools will be great for some users and others will look at the tool and say ‘huh?’ Regarding David Thiel’s take on the Prosite Protactor — the guy is a tool junkie, in a Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor sort of way. If I did a lot of framing construction or outdoors projects, I’m sure I’d find the Prosite very useful. In my woodshop, though, it’d end up gathering dust.

    From your perspective, I can’t see the Prosite being useful when building a Chippendale highboy. 😉



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