One of the great things about attending woodworking tradeshows as a member of the working press is being surprised by new-product launches that you didn’t expect. That doesn’t happen as much as it used to (due mostly to the last 4 years of recession cutbacks and such), but I was surprised by a few things at the opening day of the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.
First up is an improvement to a saw blade that I wasn’t aware even needed improving! Freud announced that it will make a rolling change to its Ultimate Plywood and Melamine blades this fall to a newer, better design. Never content with a good product, the folks at Freud have delivered a blade for cutting these often-troublesome sheet goods that does an even better job at preventing tear-out on the top and bottom surfaces. The new blades, all thin kerf and available in three sizes, feature a 38° tooth rake angle and an axial grind pattern of 5° on alternating faces—a sort of spiral design that better shears surface fibers for a cleaner cut. These blades will be available in 7-1/4” 60-tooth, 10” 80-tooth, and 12” 96-tooth sizes.
Freud also announced that it will bring its patented Quadra-Cut feature to its 1/4”-shank router bits. If you’re not aware, Quadra-Cut bits have two primary cutters that cut on an upward shear angle and two smaller cutters that cut on a downward shear angle. This feature provides a cleaner cut, especially in end grain where pesky wood fibers on the top surface can resist cutting and require sanding to remove. This feature has been available in ½”-shank bits for 4 years, but Freud has finally found a way to add this complicated system to the thinner shanks. Look for them this fall.
I had a nice sit-down conversation with Barry Schwaiger, head of product development for Jet and Powermatic. While many of you might be familiar now with the new 24” Powermatic wood lathe launched a couple of months ago (I’ll have a more detailed report of that tomorrow), I learned much more about both brands. Schwaiger said Powermatic will continue to roll out new machines in every category over the coming years, and not just any machines. These new ones will be “legacy” machines that will require you to dig deep into your bank account to buy them, but Barry says they’ll be “once-in-a-lifetime” tools. I got a look at prototype models of a 15” bandsaw and an 18 drill press. The bandsaw, modeled after Powermatic’s beefy 18” bandsaw launced 4 years ago, has loads of heavy-duty features, most notably an electric cutout relay built into the blade tension-release lever that will prevent accidental startups when the blade has been detensioned. It will sell for $2,900. The 18” drill press, which will sell for $1,300, has a variable-speed control that ranges from 250 to 3,000 rpm, controlled by a handwheel rather than the locking slide lever found on the current PM2800 model. Look for these machines late this year.
Finally for today, Kreg Tools announced it will now control all distribution of Triton portable power tools in the U.S. Many of you are familiar with Triton, a brand of orange and black tools made in Australia. Well, that brand is now owned by a manufacturer from England, with most manufacturing take place there and in China. Kreg representatives said Triton tools will continue to be sold at a number of woodworking and tool retailers throughout the U.S. Quality improvements will be made to several products, and new tools coming from Triton will include two sizes of portable hand planers, a belt sander, and a 6” dual-mode random-orbit sander.
Also new from Kreg is a rolling change to all its clamps used for pocket-hole joinery and other clamping purposes. These new clamps will feature an automatic adjustment mechanism that will allow you to clamp any thickness workpiece from paper-thin to a 2×4 without adjusting the clamp (similar to the Bessey Auto Adjust Toggle Clamps launched last year).
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