In Tool Reviews

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GRIZZLY G0636X Band Saw

In the 14 years I’ve been with Popular Woodworking, we have been through more than a dozen band saws of all sizes and all makes. Though there were many good saws on that list, there was never one that we wanted to keep in our shop forever (like our old Powermatic 66 table saw).

This year, however, we brought the Grizzly G0636X band saw into our shop at the magazine and we are in heaven.

This 17″ saw outclasses and out-cuts many of the more expensive saws out there. And – here’s the important part – the saw stays in alignment better than any of the other saws we’ve tested over the years. One of the biggest flaws of many band saws is that you need to fuss with them a lot to really unlock their potential.

This saw’s cast iron wheels are massive, the bearing guides are robust, the rack-and-pinion tilting table is a joy. Everything that should be overbuilt, is overbuilt.

The saw has plenty of guts thanks to a 5-horsepower motor, has a 16″ resaw capacity, a real monster of a fence and all the niceties you’d expect from a first-class machine: foot brake, rack-and-pinion guide adjustment, quick-release tension, and lots and lots of steel. The sucker weighs 675 pounds.

I doubt this bear will ever be allowed to leave our cave.

GRIZZLY  ¦  ¦  800-523-4777

BIG WOOD VISE Classic Vise Screw

We’re a bit obsessed with good vise hardware, and we think you should be, too. A good vise makes every operation easier. Good workholding allows you to focus on working instead of pondering, “How am I going to hold that?”

Woodworker Joe Comunale has taken his metalworking skills and machines and used them to make amazing wooden vise screws, something that hasn’t been available to purchase for a long time.

Wooden vise screws advance faster than metal ones, never mark your work with grease and hold as tightly as you’d ever need. Comunale’s company,, makes wooden vise screws with the fit and finish of a piece of furniture. And they are both a joy to install and use. He offers several versions for different benches, including one with a Shaker-style hub. We installed his Classic Vise Screw on the bench on last month’s cover and couldn’t be happier.



This winner is from the category of: Why was this not invented before? Yes. Adhesive clear tape printed with an inch scale.

Called Red Tape and invented by a Georgia entrepreneur, this cool product allows you to put a rule almost anywhere, then remove it without hurting the surface below. It’s a 55′-long roll of clear adhesive tape with a continuous ruler printed on it in red.

The tape can be stuck to your workbench then removed if you please. It’s great to have a ruler stuck to your bench that allows you to quickly ascertain how long or wide a piece is by simply shifting it over the tape.

You can stick the tape to the curved arm bow of a Windsor chair and use it to lay out the spacing of the spindles. Or you can even stick it to your computer monitor to pull dimensions from a photo or use it to size objects in CAD or a photo-editing program.

I used Red Tape on my monitor to pull dimensions off a photograph of a Shaker hanging cupboard. It was very handy and easier than holding a ruler up to the screen or even working from a print-out.

The tape is marked in 1/16ths, repeats every 12″ and does not stretch, as far as we can tell. The printing job is quite accurate.

FOURTH FIELD  ¦  ¦  706-405-5031 

VERITAS Dovetail Saw

Veritas shocked a lot of woodworkers when it introduced its new dovetail saw for three reasons:

¦  It looks modern but feels like a vintage saw in the hand.
¦  It cuts extremely well.
¦  It’s $65.

While most premium Western saws are easily $125 or more, this new Veritas saw opened up the Western saw market to a new range of woodworkers who might have considered buying a Japanese handsaw (or none at all).

Or, even worse, they might have tried to make do with a cheap home-center saw and given up dovetailing altogether.

The Veritas saw is a remarkable combination of old technology and new. The old: the handle shape comes from a vintage saw and it is attached to the saw with a bolt like a handplane tote – very clever. The new: The back of the saw is made using stainless steel powder, glass fiber and a polymer resin.

How does it cut? Brilliantly. Thanks to a slightly relaxed rake, the saw starts easily in end grain and is smooth in the cut. The company also makes a fine-tooth version of this saw and a crosscut version. That means you can buy two saws for a bit more than you would spend to purchase a single saw from a competitor.

VERITAS  ¦  ¦  800-871-8158

MAKITA LS1016L Miter Saw

Here at work, we get to try every brand of miter saw available. And when we go to our shops at home, a lot of us have Makita miter saws waiting for us there.

This year we brought the Makita LS1016L dual-sliding compound miter saw into our shop, and the entire staff has been overjoyed with it. It has guts. Sure, every miter saw says it’s a 15-amp tool, but Makita’s motors squeeze an astonishing amount of oomph from a wall socket. And the saw features electronic feedback to keep the rpm up under a heavy load.

Also great: This model features four steel rails. Why should you care? Accuracy. Many two-rail saws can deflect. And when mitering, even a little deflection is a disaster.

This saw has great capacity, both vertically (up to 4 3/4″) and with your work flat on the table (12″). The laser is a nice bonus. And the saw comes with a blade you won’t have to replace as soon as you open the box.

Once again, Makita has won our hearts with a world-class miter saw.

MAKITA  ¦  ¦  800-462-5482

MAKITA BTD144 Impact Driver

Makita cordless drill-drivers have long been a favorite in our shop, and so it was a bit of a surprise when an 18-volt cordless impact driver became an object of envy.

There is a lot to like. It’s compact, powerful and capable of great finesse – not something you hear a lot when discussing impact drivers. By pressing a button you can vary the tool’s torque to deal with soft, medium or hard materials.

Add to that Makita’s reliability, battery technology and a useful task light (that we love) and we knew we had a winner.

MAKITA  ¦  ¦  800-462-5482

KREG Beaded Face-frame System

There are lots of ways to make mitered beading in a face frame that require expensive machines, some serious hand skills or a master’s touch with a table saw.

Now Kreg Tool has invented a way for the rest of us to make these eye-catching frames. If you incorporate beaded face frames into many of your projects (or you are a professional kitchen cabinet maker and want to set yourself apart) this is a clever system to consider.

Here’s how it works: Thanks to a special sliding fence you can plunge your stile material straight onto a special notching bit (included with the kit). This bit easily plows out the mitered section in the stile, a cut that many woodworkers struggle to make.

Then you just move the fence’s stop, notch the ends of your rails with the same bit and add your beading. The system is ideal for those who use pocket screws to assemble face frames. PW

KREG TOOL  ¦  ¦  800-447-8638

Product Recommendations

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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