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You can tell when you’re holding a good tool in your hands. The way it feels, the way it responds, the way it does everything you ask it to. There’s another dimension to a good tool, though: how the manufacturer supports it.

The Nakanishi Emax EVOlution from NSK America is one such tool. This electronically-controlled brushless grinder pairs a base station with a few different customizable power heads and attachments (two headpieces can be plugged in and controlled separately). It’s also able to be controlled with a foot pedal, with an overall speed range of 1,000 to 40,000 rpm.

We’ve used electric rotary tools from other manufacturers in the shop for things like grinding a new slot on a stripped screw head or doing some material removal in a hard-to-reach spot. But they’ve never inspired confidence for serious carving or surface decoration. It was easy to stall these tools out, so you could only take light passes. For real material removal, it felt like using a 4” grinder with a light touch or a corded die grinder were the best options (outside a giant compressor and pneumatic tools).

The EVO gives you all the torque and power you need for carving in an easy to use, ergonomic package. For surface carving, the high-torque head worked best with our choice of small carving burrs. The tool did everything we asked it to – making patterns and hollows on the surface of boards, quickly removing material to shape some organic hand pulls, even doing a little engraving on the side of a hand plane.

That versatility speaks to the high-quality of the tool. This platform is an excellent choice for the serious carvers looking for an electric carving system. As your skills and ideas evolve, the EVO adapts to how you want to work. With the variety of bits, burrs, wheels and other attachments, the possibilities are pretty endless. When it comes to polishing and sanding, this tool shines again. The mini belt-sanding attachment let us quickly get a finish-quality surface in spots where laborious hand-sanding was the only other option.

Of course, like all tools, you get what you pay for, and this tool is an investment. The Emax EVOlution starts at $1160 for the base system with controller, motor, and grinding attachment, and adding additional heads and accessories will run a few hundred dollars. But with pro-level quality and support, it’s still a bargain. To learn more about the Emax EVOlution, contact Cherry Tree Toys at 608-302-4675, check them out on their website or at

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Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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