Launch Slideshow

Heavyweights of the IWF

Heavyweights of the IWF

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    Jet Cabinet Saw. Jet’s new JTAS-12-DX cabinet saw takes a 12-inch blade, weighs over 600 pounds, and has a full length cast iron surface that’s nearly seven feet long. Features include a single-phase five horsepower motor, a riving knife, and a modern multi-component guard assembly. Jet is owned by the Walter Meier Group – which also owns Powermatic. Price: $4,089

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    Powermatic Band Saw. The PM1500 band saw is my favorite machine from the IWF show. It’s a true beast, with the power and capacity to resaw lumber and cut compound curves in thick material. This is Powermatic’s second entry in the “deluxe” band saw market—the first being the larger PM1800. Features include a single-phase three horsepower motor, a manual foot brake, 15-inch cast iron wheels with urethane tires, and a viewing window to make tracking adjustments easier. Along with a quick release tensioning lever, the saw employs a micro-switch circuit that prevents the saw from being powered if the blade is not under tension. The saw includes a sturdy T-square fence and has a large cast iron table; 14-inch resaw capacity, and a 14 1/2-inch maximum throat width. Price: $2,800

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    Oversize Kreg Jig. The biggest name in pocket screw fastening has an even larger jig. The Kreg Jig HD was designed for fastening the 2-by and thicker material used to construct deck railings, fences, and framing projects. The HD jig is compatible with the clamping accessories used with the brand’s standard size drilling jigs but makes 1/2-inch pocket holes (instead of the usual 3/8-inch size) to fit a new larger fastener that is said to be 50% stronger than standard Kreg screws. HD fasteners are 2 1/2-inch #14 self-drilling screws with large heads and a protective coating for outdoor use. Price of Jig: $60.

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    Outdoor Pocket Screws. Kreg’s Blue-Kote, Protec-Kote and stainless steel screws are intended for outdoor use and are sized to work with standard Kreg Jigs. Available in 1 1/4- to 2 5/8-inch lengths, they allow you to take the versatility of pocket screw construction outdoors for fastening deck boards or prefabricating trim assemblies. Price: varies by size and quantity

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    Self-Adjusting Clamp. Kreg has long offered locking-plier clamps for holding their jigs and keeping work pieces aligned when you screw them together. Their new Automaxx Clamp has a self-adjusting feature that saves you the time of having to fine tune the size of the opening with each use. Available in standard (shown) or bench mounted versions. Price for KHC-1420 six-inch face clamp: $38

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    Portable Panel Saw. A division of Safety Speed Cut known as Panel Pro makes the smallest, lightest vertical panel saw available and they’ve made some improvements since we last saw their ultra-portable rig. The latest Panel Pro Pro2K model has a stronger saw unit, a better switch, and available bottom support extensions for faster and easier one-man use. In addition, inexpensive optional brackets let you fit the saw with a mid-height wooden fence that you can clamp a simple stop to for making repeated crosscuts. With the extensions unbolted this lightweight saw is small enough to be slide into the back of a van or pickup by one worker. Price: Pro2K panel saw; $900. Right and left bottom extensions; $99. Fence brackets; $20.

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    Flooring Spacers. Bessey has introduced a line of installation tools for laminate and hardwood flooring, including strap clamps, wall edge clamps, and adjustable spacers. The AV2 spacers expand with a twist of the central knob to help start your first row of flooring straight and even. They adjust from 5-to 20-mm (about 1/4- to 3/4-inch) and are only marked in millimeters. Price: $12 for a set of four

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    Wolfgang Starker

    Rapid Action Bar Clamp. As the saying goes, you can never have too many friends or too many clamps; lucky for us, Bessey keeps inventing new ones. Their latest—the Rapid Action bar clamp--has its lead screw reverse-threaded inside a steel cylinder that moves only forward and back instead of spinning (right inset). This construction has two benefits: surplus glue cannot foul the threads, and the clamp’s contact pad cannot twist against the surface it is clamping. There is also a speed advantage to this double-threaded mechanism; for every inch moved by rotating the lead screw, the moveable clamping pad advances about 1 3/4 inches. Instead of the more common square-shouldered Acme threads, Bessey uses triangular threads that are said to produce less friction. A hardened set screw engages the serrations against the bar (left inset) so the clamp should provide years of slip-free operation. Available with 4- or 6-inch throat depth, and 12-, 24-, and 36-inch clamping capacity. Prices start at about $40

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    HighPoint Screws. Among the thousands of products woodworking retailer Woodcraft sells are some of their own proprietary brands. HighPoint screws were developed as an upgrade over ordinary drywall and so-called “deck” screws for wood to wood connections. The screws are made with greater tensile strength, self-drilling tips, and reinforced square- and combo-drive heads for better results in woods harder than framing lumber and plywood. Dozens of SKUs are available in different sizes and finishes, but listed and shown is the brand’s general purpose, zinc coated #8 by 1 1/2-inch flat head screw. Price: $5.29 for a box of 100

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    WoodRiver Hand Planes. This is another house brand from Woodcraft. I tried out their bench and block planes and was impressed by how little effort it took to produce wispy shavings. These planes are in their third generation and the build quality makes them competitive with the top brands. They have nice thick irons and their heft makes them feel good in the hand. The fit and finish of these tools is equal to that of the vintage planes in my collection. The bench planes (#3 through #7) are modeled after the premium Stanley Bedrock models. The block planes emulate the Stanley #18 and #65 knuckle cap models instead of the more common #9 1/2 and #60 1/2 often replicated by other brands. Price for low angle block plane: $95

No, not a wrestling federation, the IWF is the International Woodworking Fair, a trade show devoted to woodworking tools and shop equipment. I spent four days at the show and saw a lot of cool products; here are a few of my favorites...

Some of these tools are actually heavy; others are not — but all rate high in terms of features and innovation. Click the photo below for a slideshow of 10 top tools from the 2012 IWF show.

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Michael Springer has worked as a high-end remodeling contractor and is the former Executive Editor of Tools of the Trade.

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