Encouraging news for woodworkers from Opening Day at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta: Many manufacturers of tools and woodworking accessories debut new products. In spite of the tough economy that’s dogged the last couple of years, I saw countless new products, an encouraging sign that not everyone hunkered down during the recession and cut spending to the bone. Here’s a few of the best and brightest:
• I told you two months ago about DeWalt’s new line of 12-volt lithium-ion cordless drills and drivers. They’ll be available this fall. But today DeWalt and Porter-Cable launched new “compact router kits” that are essentially trim routers with fixed and plunge bases. I got a behind-the-scenes look at these routers at DeWalt’s headquarters in June, but could not discuss them publicly due to confidentiality agreements. Well, now they’re public. The two kits are similar. Both include a 1-1/4 hp trim router motor, fixed base, and plunge base. But DeWalt’s motor has a variable-speed motor and LED lights around the collet; Porter-Cable’s motor is a single-speed motor and does not have the lights. The DeWalt kit will sell for $199 and the Porter-Cable for $189.
• I also got another look at Delta’s new 18-inch drill press. This machine, which will replace the 17-inch drill press in Delta’s line, has lots of great features, but the two most prominent are an unprecedented 6-inch quill stroke and a unique idler pulley that applies tension to the drive belts—no more adjusting the motor for belt tension. This drill press will sell for $$829.
• And the third product I saw in June behind closed doors was Porter-Cable’s new QuikJig pocket-hole joinery system. This heavy-duty jig lets you drill pocket holes in wood from ½” thick to 1-1/2” thick—all without ever changing the depth stop collar on the drill bit or the jig itself. Once you set the bit’s depth, it never changes. This is because the jig adjusts automatically to the thickness of your board and sets the drilling position and depth. This sturdy aluminum and plastic jig will sell for $230 and be available in September.
• Lee Valley and Veritas showed off a great new bench sliding tail vise. This vise is unique in that it mounts to almost any existing workbench with a solid steel plate, and then you add a custom-made jaw to the perpendicular plate. For opposition, you simply attach a section to the edge of your bench. You can mount this vise in either a left- or right-handed position. It sells for $269.
• Woodpeckers launched a new shelf-pin drilling template that sells for $50. This 3/8-inch-thick phenolic template has 21 holes in a row on 1-inch centers and 15 holes on 32-mm centers. It comes with ¼-inch and 5-mm indexing pins, but not bit. However, any self-centering bit that fits the holes will work. Or you can buy an optional drilling guide for use with regular ¼-inch and 5-mm twist or brad point bits.
• Freud debuted its new thin-kerf version of its award-winning Premier-Fusion 40-tooth general-purpose tablesaw blade. This new blade has the same tooth grind and plate coating, but with nearly half the thickness of the original blade. Freud also launched new blades made specifically to fit the Festool plunge-cut rail-guided saws, which require metric dimensions.
• SawStop added another tablesaw to its lineup with the debut of the 1-3/4 hp Professional Cabinet Saw. Essentially a hybrid saw, this model has a closed cabinet, bottom-hung 110-volt motor, T-square rip fence, riving knife, and SawStop’s blade-brake safety. This saw will sell for $2,299 with a 30-inch rip capacity.
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