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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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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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I’m not into the World Cup; but bowls, yeah, I can do that

It’s been three years since I dug out my mini-lathe from under a bench and put it to use. So in recent weeks, while working on an article for the magazine about bowl turning, I began to get the itch again. But before I could use my lathe, a 12″ Rikon, I had to clean it up and give it a fresh coat of Boeshield T-9 to ward off rust, followed by lube to make the banjo and tailstock slide smoothly. This was also a great time to try out the one part of equipment that had until now been missing from my turning arsenal: a sharpening jig. I’ve had an 8″ grinder with good wheels, but freehand sharpening my turning chisels was proving to be a disaster. So I broke down and got a Oneway Wolverine sharpening attachment for my grinder. It works perfectly with a little practice. Now my chisels are sharp, and I can quickly touch them up with repeatable precision.

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So after a few failures at turning some dry chunks of firewood—actually I decided to call that practice—I turned out a decent bowl from a piece of 2″-thick red oak (on the left). Then I decided to glue together a bunch of the scraps that I seem to collect and make a few bowl blanks. The one on the right is the result of this, an 11″-inch diameter bowl that turned out decent. After blowing apart a maple bowl, I wrapped up the weekend with the elm bowl in the back. (It still needs a little sanding.) But overall I’m having fun getting back into turning. Bowls make nice gifts, so I’ll probably be making a few more over the next few months. I also want to practice my spindle turning skills so I can get back to making furniture.

TOOL NEWS: Rikon adds two new benchtop tools

Rikon, long known for making high-quality bandsaws, has added two more tools to its growing lineup. First up is a 16″ benchtop scrollsaw, model 10-600VS, that sells for $160. This saw features a variable-speed control from 550 to 1,650 strokes per minute, a cast-iron base, an aluminum table that tilts up to 45°, 2″ workpiece-thickness capacity, a flexible-neck task light, and a 1-3/8″ dust port.

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Next is a benchtop belt/disc combination sander, model #50-150, that sells for $120. It features a 1/3-hp motor to power the 1″-wide sanding belt and 5″-diameter disc; both are equipped with 100-grit abrasives. The 3-3/4″ x 7-1/4″ disc sander aluminum table tilts up to 45°. The belt table also tilts to allow for sharpening chisels. Two 1-1/2″ dust ports help you control dust.

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For more information on these tools, go to rikontools.com or call Rikon at 877-884-5167.

Day 2 at the AWFS Fair

Day 2’s biggest news at the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers Fair in Las Vegas was the revelation that Rikon Power Tools is launching nearly two dozen new tools. While many manufacturers debuted anywhere from zero to six new tools—primarily because the down economy has put a hold on product development—Rikon rolled out 20 new models. This effectively doubles Rikon’s product line.

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