Tool Tests and Reviews

  • A push-button switch starts the tool and toggles through high, medium, and low speeds (the other button stops the tool). The sander takes 5-inch 8-hole hook-and-loop disks.

    Makita LXOB01 Cordless Sander

    This 18-volt tool is about a half-pound heavier than comparable corded models, but it feels similar in use.

     
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    DeWalt DWV012 Dust Extractor

    This self-cleaning HEPA vacuum is designed to collect the fine dust produced by sanding drywall, demolishing plaster, and cutting, grinding, and drilling concrete.

     
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    FirstTest: Two-Handed Sanding

    Just after we completed our 5-inch random-orbit-sander tool test for the Winter issue, Makita announced the release of an updated model.

     
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    Tool Test: 5-inch Random-Orbit Sanders

    The workhorse sander for most tradesmen is the 5-inch-diameter random-orbit sander. Thanks to its ability to hog off stock with a coarse grit disk and leave a smooth, finished surface with a fine grit, this single tool has replaced the old progression of belt sander to half-sheet finish sander for...

     
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    2010 Editor's Choice: Ridgid R1005 Angle Grinder

    When we saw Ridgid's new R1005 angle grinder, it immediately struck us as an ergonomic solution to this category's age-old problem.

     
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    Stanley Sweetheart Socket Chisels and #92 Shoulder Plane

    Stanley is reviving its old Sweetheart branding yet again, this time for a line of bench chisels.

     
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    Lee Valley Tools Veritax Skew Block Plane

    Lee Valley Tools comes up with a lot of thoughtful designs, and its Veritas brand Skew Block Plane ($189) is no exception.

     
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    Kunz 5 Plus Jack Plane

    Kunz has a new premium plane line.

     
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    FirstTest: Lee Valley Plane Irons

    As with any edge tool, a hand plane's blade, or iron, is the key to its performance. Yet many people try to make due with their irons poorly tuned and sharpened. The irons on common planes usually need a significant amount of work before they will cut suitably, and then even more to cut really well.

     
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    First Test: Porter-Cable's High-Tech Sander

    Porter-Cable's new 390K 5-inch random orbit sander looks different because it is different. It is built around a new type of DC motor that Porter-Cable calls the EnduraTech. Besides not having brushes to replace, the motor has 71% fewer wear components, which should result in much longer tool life...

     
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    First Test: Metabo SE 12-115 Burnisher

    Metabo's SE 12-115 burnisher basically is a slow, variable-speed angle grinder with an extended spindle that fits accessory wheels up to 4-inches wide and 4 1/2-inches in diameter. A key on the spindle fits a groove in the wheels to provide a positive mechanical drive, and spacers of different...

     
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    Portable Thickness Planers

    Whether you are setting up a woodworking shop or just need to dimension trim on a jobsite, a thickness planer is one of the first tools you should buy. Planers come in many sizes, however; the 24-inch width model we use in our shop weighs close to 700 pounds–not a real portable tool. Smaller 12- to...

     
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    First Test: T-Drill T-35 Tee-Forming Tool

    A T-Drill is a unique, incredible plumber's tool that I've relied on to give me a competitive edge for nearly a decade, yet most people–including many plumbers–have never heard of it. So when I was asked to review the new T-35, I was eager to see what kind of improvements they made to this amazing...

     
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    Bosch and DeWalt Angle Grinders

    As a professional wood carver, I've had a 4-1/2-inch or 5-inch angle grinder with a carving disc attachment in my hands for six to eight hours a day for the last eight years. Speed, power, and dependability are all important to my productivity (as my wife and I say, 'If I don't carve, we starve.').

     
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    Portable Planers

    When I was working as a wooden boat builder, there were times that I couldn't tell where my hand ended and my portable planer began; no tool got used more. Since I've used these tools so much, I'm sensitive to their features and performance, and I take poor design and false promises about them...

     
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    Microplane Sanding Discs & Rasp Plane Blades

    The older I get, the less tolerant I am of certain things, and sanding wood tops my list. Choking on sawdust is bad enough, but there's also the tedium involved. So when a new product comes along that promises to make this work quicker and easier and less of a pain in the lungs, I'm eager to check...

     
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    Festool Joining System

    Festool's Domino isn't just a brand new type of joining tool; it's a whole new joining system. Based on mortise-and-tenon joinery, the Domino combines the qualities of biscuits and dowels with a stronger, self-aligning joint. A loose tenon of solid beech called a Domino fits into a slot cut by the...

     
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    New Tools, Hands On

    In my snowboard manufacturing shop, we use a circular saw primarily for cross-cutting hardwood lumber to rough lengths prior to laminating it into blocks. This operation is all about speed. With thousands of feet of lumber in 16-foot lengths delivered at once, we really need to move through the...

     
 
 
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