When I attended the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta last year, it was a relatively slow time for new product releases, but manufacturers have made up for that this year at the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) show in Las Vegas. I saw several dozen new products that are worth a look on the first day of AWFS. Here are some highlights:
Building on the success of its Grr-ripper push block system for the table saw, Micro Jig has introduced the simpler Grr-Rip Block that can be used on a jointer, band saw, router table and more. Like the Grr-ripper, this new block features a non-slip base that will securely hold a workpiece as you guide it into your cutter. But what really makes this tool unique is a system of drop-down heel hooks on each end. When you want to apply more force, you simply slide the push block back over the edge of your workpiece, allowing the heel hooks to drop down and hook the end of your board. You can use the hooks when guiding a large board through your jointer or router table. Or, you can turn the push block on its side, (the heel hooks automatically drop down in this position too) and use the Grr-Rip Block to guide for resawing boards on the band saw. An optional deflection shield is available if you want to use the block on your router table. I was impressed by how solidly this tool was made and the cleverness of the design. It’s available now at a suggested retail price of $29.95.
Veritas Shooting Plane & Cabinetmaker’s Trimming Plane
Lee Valley & Veritas will be introducing two new planes this fall and both look promising. Its shooting plane is just under 16″ long and weighs 7-3/4 pounds, giving it the length and heft to slice through stubborn end grain. The plane features a cast iron body with a 2-1/8″-wide surface and a pivoting tote that you can set at a comfortable angle whether you’re planing with the iron facing down or to the side. It has a Norris-style adjuster to set depth of cut and an adjustable mouth as well. This bevel up plane also features a bed that’s skewed at 20° for a smooth shearing cut. It will be available with an iron made of either O1 or PM-V11 tool steel. The plane will be available in left-hand and right-hand versions and the suggested retail with the more durable PM-V11 iron will be $345.
The Cabinetmaker’s Trimming Plane is 6-1/2″ long by 1-3/4″ wide and has an exposed blade at the end so you can plane right up to adjacent surfaces. This chisel plane has a 15° bed angle and a blade with a 20° bevel, creating a low angle for shearing cuts. It comes with an oversized thumb wheel that makes it easy to adjust depth of cut. And the body is made from heavy-duty cast iron that has been machined and precision ground. This looks like it would be ideal for flush-cutting plugs, dovetails, inlay and more. The plane will come with a 01 steel blade and suggested retail will be $129.
Kreg has introduced a more advanced jig for cutting perfect pocket-hole joints. The K5 has several interesting features, starting with a ratchet clamp that easily adjusts without tools to hold workpieces of different thicknesses. You just push the clamp up against the back of the workpiece, then pull down on the K5’s front handle until you hear two clicks that indicates you’ve set the clamp for the proper pressure. Then you pull the front handle down all the way to lock the workpiece in place. The jig has a dust-collection port that can be swiveled left or right to move your vacuum hose out of the way and support wings to handle large workpieces. The wings double as storage bins and are filled with a number of nice accessories. There’s a stepped drill bit and stop collar, a square-drive bit, starter sets of screws and plus and a set-up block to help you quickly set the stop collar on your drill bit for the proper depth of cut. The K5 will be available in September at a suggested retail of $139.
Excalibur by General International Router Table
Excalibur is introducing a new line of router tables with products for both the high-end and low-end user. I especially like the 40-070EK cast iron extension table that you can mount to your table saw as a replacement for your outboard wing. Excalibur says the router table will fit any table saw with a 27″ cast iron table top, providing a substantial routing surface for a shop where you’re tight on space. The router table comes with adjustable legs for added support, a 27″-long router fence and a phenolic router plate. The table is available at a suggested retail price of $399 through March 2014.
Rikon 10-350 Band Saw
The first thing new you’ll notice about the Rikon line of machines is their new color. They’ve dropped the long-time green for a more distinctive royal blue. Along with the new color, the company is introducing a series of 14″ and 18″ band saws that fit price points above and below the saws in their current line. The most impressive is the 10-350 14″ saw. It’s available with a 2-1/2-horsepower (hp) or 3hp motor and has a number of clever safety features. There are microswitches that automatically shut off the motor when the saw’s access doors are open and an emergency foot brake as well. Also, there’s a microswitch tied to the quick release tensioner so the saw won’t start if the blade isn’t properly tensioned. Rikon says that feature was added after customers admitted they’d damaged blades by accidentally starting the saw with blades still sitting loose on the wheels. The 10-350 will run at two different speeds and can handle resawing up to 14″ and workpieces as wide at 13-5/8″ between the blade and body. The table tilts 45° right and 10° left. The saw has a solid steel body and balanced, cast iron wheels. Suggest retail is $1,400.
Laguna Revo 20-36 Lathe
As a turner, I can appreciate the look of this Laguna lathe. At first inspection it appears to be rock-solid and fully featured. The lathe weighs in at 840 pounds and is available with a 20″ swing over the bed and a 2hp variable speed, reversible motor. (There’s also a model with a 24″ swing and 3″ motor.) You can turn spindles up to 36″ in length and the headstock spindle can be locked at various degrees, making it easy to precisely flute that spindle. Even more interesting, you can run the headstock down to the end of the body for turning pieces up to 32″ in diameter on the outboard side. The 20-36 retails for $3,500.