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Bob Hunter

New project: A box full of blocks

My sister and her husband in Indiana recently adopted a one-year-old girl from South Korea. Since this is their first child, she asked me to make a set of building blocks for her. So I did just that, making over 100 total blocks in 12 different shapes. I made them from cutoffs from 2×10 and 2×12 Douglas fir construction lumber. After they were all cut out and sanded smooth with edges rounded over, my wife and daughters and I painted each shape a different color. Then I stacked all the blocks into a haystack-like shape, measured the stack’s dimensions, and built a box to store all the blocks. I made it about an inch larger in all three dimensions so my niece wouldn’t have to be precise in stacking the blocks back into the box. The box is also made of Douglas fir, with 3/8-inch box joints at the corners and Rockler Lid-Stay Torsion Hinges on the lid to keep it from slamming on her fingers. This was not a particularly difficult project, but it sure was fun to do knowing she’d have lots of fun playing with the blocks for years to come. And, when they came to visit us in Iowa a month ago, in true kid fashion, she liked playing in the box almost as much as playing with the blocks.

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AWFS Fair delivers innovative tools and products

Despite what we all know are tough economic times, many tool and woodworking-product manufacturers continue to bring new and innovative tools to the market. I got to see many of these first-hand the past few days at the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers Fair in Las Vegas, the biggest U.S. tradeshow of the year for woodworking. Over 500 manufacturers showed up to display and demonstrate their new products (and some launched in recent years), hoping to generate business with retail distributors and end users.

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Dremel adds new tools, new features to older tools

Sticking with what must be a company directive, Dremel is launching four new tools this year that are compact, versatile, and hold broad appeal to users of varying skills and interests. Representatives from Dremel stopped by the WOOD Magazine offices today to show us these new tools, as well as lots of new accessories to go with them.

First up is an all-new tool, a hybrid of an angle grinder, oscillating multifunction tool, and circular saw. The Saw-Max, due out in October, is a compact cutting tool that uses 3”-diameter blades embedded with abrasives (carbide, diamond, aluminum oxide) for cutting edges rather than teeth. Powered by a 6-amp motor, the Saw-Max generates 17,000 rpms. The tool has a spring-loaded shoe that’s adjustable up to a ¾”-deep maximum cut, or can be set at zero and the tool used as a plunge-cut saw for cuts where you don’t want an entry or exit. Four blades come with the standard kit for cutting wood, tile, and metal; one blade has an offset flange to allow for flush-cutting at the edge of the blade housing. (There’s no blade guard on the left side of the tool.) The kit with four blades will sell for $129. Attachments also available will be a dust-collection port, a straight-cutting guide to fit a 2×4, and a miter- and bevel-cutting guide.

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Bosch launches innovative new tools

Never a company to sit back and rest after launching a line of tools, Bosch instead keeps on finding ways to make their tools better. I spent two days this week at Bosch’s U.S. headquarters in Chicago getting a first-hand look at new cordless drills, random-orbit sanders, a benchtop tablesaw, measuring tools, and lots of other tools related to construction and concrete work.

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New Delta CEO says customer’s won’t notice the transition

Woodworkers who buy or own Delta machines should not notice a difference in availability, performance, or price following last week’s acquisition of the Delta brand by a Taiwanese manufacturer, says Bryan Whiffen, the new president and CEO of that company. Delta Power Equipment Corporation, a subsidiary of Chang Type Industrial Company, purchased the full line of Delta’s woodworking tools and machines, as well as the Biesemeyer line of accessories, from Stanley Black & Decker. This comes just six years after Black & Decker purchased the Delta and Porter-Cable brands from Pentair Group. (Stanley Black & Decker still owns the Stanley, Bostitch, Porter-Cable, and DeWalt brands.)

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Stanley Black & Decker sells off Delta line of woodworking tools

Stanley Black & Decker, the conglomerate that has, for the past year, owned five of the major brands in woodworking tools (Stanley, Bostitch, DeWalt, Porter-Cable, and Delta), has sold the Delta line of stationary and benchtop tools and machines to a start-up company, Delta Power Equipment. A source inside Stanley Black & Decker confirmed this morning that the deal was finalized late Friday. He said no jobs would be cut at the manufacturing facility in Jackson, Tennessee, where Delta made its Unisaw tablesaw and radial-arm saw.

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Finished Hall Bench

Earlier I blogged about building an entry-way bench for my church. Well, here’s the finished version. It’s made of red oak with a red chestnut stain to match an existing pair of tables. I sprayed it with three coats of polyurethane for a durable finish. I did not finish the interior under the hinged lid since it will be used for storage. As with every project I build, it has a cross to identify it with my faith. Now on to more projects, a bunch of cutting boards for Christmas gifts.

Bob Hunter, Tools Editor, WOOD Magazine

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Nearly finished hall bench

I’m a little behind on posting updates throughout this project build (actually, I’m almost finished), but here’s a quick look at it before final sanding and finish. I’m making this Arts & Crafts hall/entryway bench from red oak for my church. We built a new addition on a few years ago, and are still finding needs for furnishings and such. This bench will go in the entryway near the coat rack. Loyal WOOD Magazine readers might recognize this bench, or at least its inspiration, from issue 145 (November 2002). The original plan was open below with a shelf and fixed seat. My bench has a hinged seat, and I enclosed the front to provide storage inside (and out of sight). Rather than doing all the joinery with screws, as in the original, I made nearly all the joints with mortises and tenons. The front panel joins the sides with a full-width stub tenon into a routed groove. And the arms I did join with screws. You can still see the plugs standing proud over those screws; I just need to trim them flush and sand. I’m hoping to have this bench done in a week or so.

Shamrock tables are green wood, right?

A friend from church dropped off these Chinese Elm slabs the other night, wondering if I could make anything out of them. Although I’ve never made a natural-edge project since I hammered two sticks together when I was about 8 years old, I’m willing to give it a go. I’m thinking these would make a nice pair of shamrock-shaped end tables. But I’ll have to wait about 3 years for them to dry thoroughly, so mark your calendars and check back in 2013!

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Day 2 Report at IWF

Despite covering what seemed like dozens of acres of exhibits of tools and such on the first day of the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, the second day brought just as many booths and setups packed with new woodworking products. Here’s some of the highlights:

• The word “innovation” gets tossed around with nearly every new tool launch in this industry, but in many cases the innovations are a judgment call. However, Bosch’s new 12-inch sliding mitersaw truly is innovative because instead of the traditional tubular rails it uses a hinged, articulated arm system with ball bearings for sliding back and forth very smoothly. Because of that, this saw can sit up against a wall and the articulated arm simply folds up; a typical sliding mitersaw needs 6 to 10 inches of rear space for the rails. This saw has many of the features Bosch is known for (front-mounted bevel controls, miter detent override, tall fences, and large miter and bevel ranges). I first saw this mitersaw over a year ago when I was at Bosch’s headquarters for a behind-the-scenes look, and I knew right away it was revolutionary. It will be on the market this fall, selling for $799.


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