Tool Reviews

A woodworker is only as good as his tools. In a world with enough woodworking tools to fill entire big-box stores, it’s important to know what you should buy (and what to avoid) so you can produce the best pieces possible and save money. Our tool reviews are different. Rather than use pseudo-science, we use the tools in the shop (we’re all experienced woodworkers), and report back how they perform. So whether you are in the market for a new set of chisels or a powerful table saw, we’ve got the best tools covered.

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Earlex Steam Generator for Steam-bending

Steam-bending has always required a certain amount of jury-rigging to make the steam: adapting a propane burner, retrofitting a kettle or tweaking a wallpaper steamer. Now Earlex has made steam-bending a little easier by offering a steam generator that is simple to hook up to any steam box via a 1⁄2″-diameter hole. In essence,...

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Arbortech Contour Random Sander

I’ve been building a stacked-lamination piece with plenty of concave and convex curves that require a good deal of sanding. Arbortech’s new Contour Random Sander has helped. Out of the bag, the sander includes everything you need – a metal stem containing two independently rotating shafts that produce the “random” action, a flexible rubber...

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Grizzly Track Saw ‘Master Pack’

I’ve long been a fan of the track saw. For me, there’s no faster, safer or more reliable way to break down sheet goods into sizes I can handle. While I can wrestle a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 3⁄4″ plywood onto the cabinet saw if I must, it’s not easy and there’s every...

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DEROS Random-orbit Sander

Mirka’s compact electric sander performs like an air-powered tool.  by Megan Fitzpatrick page 12 I avoid sanding as much as possible – but sometimes it has to be done. Since early 2010, when we got a Mirka CEROS (Compact Electrical Random Orbital Sander) in for pre-release testing, that’s been my go-to tool for this dreaded...

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Bosch ‘Power Ready’ Wireless Charging System

by Megan Fitzpatrick Page 14 Although wireless charging is nothing new (it’s been around for years for home and mobile phones), the Power Ready system from Bosch is a first in the tool sector. As of this writing, the system includes only the WCBAT612 18-volt thin-pack 2Ah battery ($89), which is backward-compatible with all...

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Veritas Bevel-down Bench Planes

Blade carrier helps to preserve cap-iron settings with ease.  by Christopher Schwarz page 14 When Veritas redesigned its bevel-down bench planes, the Canadian company started from scratch. Released in the fall of 2014, these tools share almost no DNA with the company’s previous generation. And, in the Veritas tradition, the company’s engineers also chucked...

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Tormek T-4 Water-cooled Sharpening System

by Megan Fitzpatrick page 16 I’m not usually a wet grinder kind of woman, because a dry grinder does the same work faster, then I move to waterstones to polish and hone. I might be a convert, however, when it comes to tools that are difficult to grind on a dry grinder, including carving...

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Shellac Tiger Flakes from Tools for Working Wood

by Christopher Schwarz page 16 Because shellac is my favorite finish, I have tried nearly every brand of flakes on the market. By far, my favorite brand is the premium dewaxed flakes – Tiger Flakes – sold by Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y. Because there are no lac bugs in Brooklyn, this...

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How to Read & Write Tool Reviews, Part 3

For experienced woodworkers, it’s easy to ignore tool reviews and say: “I just buy the brands that have served me well.” But what if you know little about the different brands? When I was growing up, Skil made fantastic circular saws. Black & Decker made good drills. Craftsman put its name on some good...