New Tools from IWF
I’m just back from a few days at the 2012 International Woodworking Fair at the Georgia World Conference Center in Atlanta. If you’ve never been, it’s a huge show with almost any tool manufacturer you can think of – whether they make specialized hand tools or huge industrial CNC operations – as well as hardware, lumber and suppliers of just about every material you could imagine a woodworker using. This is where manufacturers go to launch and show their latest tools and newest innovations. What follows is by no means a full list of the all the new products announced at the show but just a peek at those you’ll be seeing for sale now or soon (many of which you’ll also see reviewed in upcoming issues of Popular Woodworking Magazine). I’m still waiting on images of cool new tools from a few manufacturers, which I’ll add to this post as they come in. So check back in a few days.
Starting with hand tools, Lee Valley Tools/Veritas has an impressive array of new products launching, all of which will be available September 1st.
First up is the Veritas Jack Rabbet Plane. This thing is a beauty, and will sell for $299. I gave it just a quick test run and it felt good in my hand and cut well. We’ll make sure to get in the PWM shop for a longer look. It’s also a great excuse to make shavings on a weekday afternoon.
Also new to the Veritas lineup is a set of chisels (based on the company’s earlier designs) that uses new and proprietary PM-V11 steel, touted to hold a keen edge at least twice as long as A2 steel, as well as replacement plane blades made of PM-V11. To learn more about the new steel, which Christopher Schwarz has already put though its paces here for PWM, with very positive results. Veritas also showed for the first time its set of inlay tools, all of which look well designed. The company’s hope is that this new set will become the go-to tools for string inlays, whether you’re doing it for the first time or the thousandth. I’m anxious to give the string inlay tools a try.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Lee Valley also introduced what feels like a really solid limited-edition Veritas marking gauge made of stainless steel. Also new is a small infill plane, a low-profile planing stop that works like a bench dog but spans two dog holes instead of one (dogs are adjustable to fit your particular bench) and an adjustable bar gauge, which comes with three different tips that fit the ends of the bars so that you easily can measure both inside dimensions or outside ones. Not pictured is the wide blade conversion kit (we’ll have a review for you soon) that allows you to use both straight and tongue-cutting blades on the small Veritas plow plane. Also new are set-up blocks that measure down t0 1/32″, magnetic studs that attach to your existing pegboards for securing tools, as well as a beautiful little infill plane.
Guhdo, one of the leading blade manufacturers in Germany but new to the American market, introduced a line of saw blades that will compete with the industrial lines from Amana, Freud, CMT and other high-end woodworking blades, some of which are much higher priced. They’re manufactured with electrostatic coatings and no harmful chemicals. I won’t be surprised if we start seeing Guhdo blades in a lot of serious woodworking shops. Guhdo also introduced a line of its 48 top-selling router bits, made in Israel with proprietary carbide and comparable in price to those from Amana.
Speaking of router bits, fans (like me) of Freud’s Quadra-Cut router bits, which are designed with four cutters instead of the traditional three (with very clean results), will be glad to hear that they are now available in not only 1/2″ shanks but also 1/4″ shanks.
Also new to the Freud lineup are a number of different blades. Most impressive was the “Ultimate Plywood & Melamine Series” designed with a very steep angle to its ATB design (see photo). Other blades from Freud include Double-coated Miter Saw blades (which gave really clean results in the demo) and Industrial Miter Saw Blades.
New from Micro Fence is the small-footprint Plunge Base which works with a Dremel tool or other high-speed rotary tools and pencil die grinders. It works in much the same way as the company’s successful line for larger routers, and is compatible with the Micro Fence Edge Guide/Circle Jig and various other Micro Fence Accessories. The projected price for the new base is $349.
New router accessories from General Tools look as if they took a now fairly common lift and fence design and gave it a facelift – and possibly a round of steroids. The cutout for the lift insert is equipped with more levelers and the lift itself is driven by a chain-drive four-post system based on the technology used in lunchbox-style planers. Once you’ve used a router lift it’s hard to go back to a traditional cutout, and I’m anxious to take a closer look at this one in the future. General also added a number of models to its existing CNC line for home and small shops.
Just launched this past spring is Woodpeckers’ micro-adjust mechanism for the company’s existing router fence. In the few minutes I spent with it, the action was smooth and precise. If you’ve already got the Woodpeckers fence, this micro adjuster would come in handy.
In terms of lager power tools, Powermatic’s 15″ band saw (yeah, 15″, a new category as far as I know) looks like a sweet machine, based more on the heavy-duty 18″ band saw than the traditional 14″ model. Slated to be available this fall, the $2,899 price tag is more motivating than those hanging from the company’s larger models.
On the Jet side, I found a really nice 12″ table saw with riving knife slated for an October release. It will retail for around $4,000 and looks to be a nice machine for a serious woodshop.
Though I’ve never considered myself a serious turner, the new Laguna Revo 24/36 lathe made me wish I was. It runs off a 3-horsepower (hp) motor, which is adjustable down to 50 rpms. The end of the lathe has an extension that extends the normal 36″ between centers to more than 40″. The extension on the end also swings out of the way for bowl turning, which increases the swing from 24″ to 36″. It looks to be a solid tool for a high-end turner and will cost $4,000. A smaller 2 hp version with 36″ between centers will also be available.
Fans of dowels, or those who are curious, will be glad to see the affordable doweling jig available from Rockler. At first blush it looks like a smart and well-designed tool, much more substantial than you’d expect for the low price of $14.99.
If, like me, you tend to use the same finish over and over, you’ll appreciate the new Mixing Mate Rockler just launched, which allows you to stir, pour and store a quart or gallon of finish without having to wrestle the top on and off every time you need to do a little finishing. The gallon version will sell for $19.99 and the quart version for $14.99.
Rockler also showed its new and successfully simple Adjustable Straight Edge Dado Jig, designed to be used with a 1/2″ straight bit to cut and position dados anywhere from 1/2″ to 1″ wide. You can also use 1/4″ or 3/4″ straight bits, by simply doing a little math and accounting for the offset from the side of the jig to the edge of the router bit.
Not pictured, there are also a few other affordable accessories available from Rockler worth mentioning. Bench Cookie fans will also like the new Bench Cookie Plus, which takes the original design and places a threaded insert in the bottom so that you can easily raise work off the bench or other worksurface, or attach them to the top of a sawhorse. The Bench Cookies themselves sell for $14.99 and either of the new attachments go for an additional $9.99. And though it may sound a bit simplistic, I’m always throwing away glue brushes because I don’t make it to the sink soon enough, so the new Silicone Glue System, which comes with a glue brush, spreader and small glue pan (all made of silicone), will make cleanup simple – even after the glue dries. With a sale price of $14.99, I’ll sure give it a try in my own shop.
The new Kreg Jig HD, which was launched at the show, works like the company’s traditional pocket hole jig but with #10 screws. While Kreg has existing jigs to work with stock less than 1″ thick, the HD jig can be used on 1-1/2″ thick stock and could come in handy around the shop and on jobsites.
Kreg also announced its new role as the U.S. distributor for Triton tools. As a fan of Triton routers (bit changes are a breeze), I’m glad to see that the company will be expanding its line of available tools. One that caught my eye was a new palm belt sander, which will compete with a similar tool from Porter-Cable.
Bosch introduced a new plunge base to accompany their popular Colt Palm Routers, and it can be purchased alone or as part of a combo pack. Sold by itself, the plunge base will cost between $89 an d$99. The better deal is the Bosch PR20EVSPK Colt™ Router Plunge Base Kit that comes with a Colt Palm Router motor, fixed and plunge bases, and will sell for $199.99. A tool-less motor clamp on the bases makes it easy to switch from one to the other. The kit will be available in November.
If you’ve ever used a pin nailer, you’ll never be able to tack up a piece of molding – to a wall or a piece of furniture – without wishing you had one. With that in mind, Bosch also introduced the FNS138-23, a 23-gauge pin nailer. The nailer is light and feels good in your hand. At a glance, I also liked the small head on the tool, which should make it easy to see exactly where you’re driving a pin, which is key when you’re attaching small moldings.