The International Woodworking and Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) 2000 kicked off Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, and WOOD magazine is well represented at the show.

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Thurs. Highlights

The International Woodworking and Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) 2000 kicked off Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, and WOOD magazine is well represented at the show with nearly a dozen WOOD staffers working the show. About 80% of the main exhibition hall at the Georgia World Congress center is filled with automated "woodworking" machinery that turns large stacks of plywood into furniture with little human intervention. The remaining 20% are manufacturers you know well: Porter-Cable, Delta, Jet, CMT, Hitachi, Grizzly, DeWalt. Meanwhile, I've found some of the most interesting and innovative items in some of the display areas outside the main hall. Here are a few of today's better finds:

Hoping to eliminate most tablesaw injuries, the inventors of the Saw Stop have come up with a fascinating safety device that operates on much the same principle as the so-called "touch lamps" that were popular a few years back. Any skin contact with the tablesaw blade launches an ABS plastic block into the teeth of the blade, causing it to stop almost instantly. They demonstrate it using a hot dog, as shown in the photo above left; unfortunately, my reflexes on the camera shutter aren't nearly as fast as the SawStop, so I couldn't get an action shot. When the wiener touched the spinning blade, there was a sharp BANG, then silence.

During that fraction of a second, the blade turned less than a quarter-turn (see photo below), the motor stopped, and the blade and arbor dropped into the saw body. The hot dog survived with barely a nick in its skin. (Steve Gass, the inventor has tested it with his own finger, and the tiny cut didn't require so much as a bandage.) You won't be able to buy SawStop for your saw-it requires some special modifications under the table-but it's being shown here in hopes that saw manufacturers will consider it as OEM equipment in the future.

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The folks at BenchDog have come up with a router-table extension wing (model RT250) that mounts on any tablesaw. Instead of relying on your tablesaw's fence, it has its own split fence, miterslot, and T-track for attaching accessories. The left-mounting table will sell for about $300. You can also see a pair of BenchDog's Featherlocks, in use on the RT250's fence. Inverted, it becomes a work stop. On a fence, or using the optional 38 X 34 " miter bar, it can be used as a feather board. One nifty feature is the indexing feather that allows you to set just the right tension every time. A pair of Featherlocks will set you back only $30; a single Featherlock with the miter bar is only $25.

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The people who brought you the RoutRSlide and the RoutRLift, have expanded their horizons a bit with a new horizontal boring system for your drill press. JessEm Tools' "Angle Right" uses a right-angle gearbox that chucks into your drill press and a sliding table with stop for clean, accurate horizontal boring. When you want to use your drill press for normal vertical duties, unchuck the gearbox, lock the sliding table in place, and you're back in business. The fixture comes completely assembled and bolts to any drill-press table, and will sell for about $459 when it comes out in November.

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Fri. Highlights

Greetings once again from the Georgia World Congress Center and the The International Woodworking and Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) 2000 in Atlanta! First off, thanks for your replies to the question I posted on the General Woodworking and Tools & Tool Buying d-groups yesterday (see "Question from Atlanta" in those groups now). The Saw Stop was awarded the Challenge Award for best new product at the show, and the show floor continues to buzz about the "guys with the hot dog on the tablesaw." Meanwhile, I walked the rest of the show area Friday and found some more neat things to tell you about. Look for us to give the products a full review and test report in upcoming issues of WOOD magazine. Meanwhile, back to the show...

In our August issue, we told you it was coming, and now it's…. almost here. Bosch's new 1619EVS variable-speed plunge router made its public debut in Atlanta and was well received. The 3-12 hp 15 amp soft-start machine allows you to defeat the plunge springs by pushing a button. That means that with this router mounted in your table, you don't have to fight both gravity and the springs to raise the bit. They've also designed a calibrated micro-adjust system that works above or below the table. The model I saw at the show was a pre-production model-still with a few cosmetic changes to iron out-and Bosch hasn't yet begun making the tool, but they expect you'll be able to buy it for about $280 when it comes out in November.

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We knew there had to be a good way to use those ubiquitous laser pointers in the shop, we just hadn't yet figured it out. But the folks at Big Horn Corporation did. They mounted one to the top of a router and used it to follow a paper pattern above, to machine a workpiece below. I suspected the laser might vibrate too much to easily follow the pattern, but it was remarkably smooth, thanks to shock-absorbing material sandwiched in the laser's mounting rig. And the laser isn't one of those kind the kids shine across the stadium at concerts; with it's 2" focus, the beam broadens quickly beyond that range. That should prevent kids from fooling with it and injuring their eyes. Laser "Guided" Routing is already on the market, costing about $60 for the laser and mounting rig. Or, you can buy the laser, mounting rig, and folding pattern holder for just under $100.

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From Woodworkers Supply comes a new lathe designed with the bowl-turner in mind. The basic unit offers a 20"-diameter swing and 20" between centers. Additional accessories can add 18" to the spindle capacity, or allow you to work an 18" diamter bowl on the outboard end for smaller turnings. Without accessories, the manufacturer boasts this lathe weighs over 700 pounds. Even with the large turning in the photo in progress, I felt little machine vibration. This mammoth will cost you: prices start at $4,250 for the basic 1-1/2hp model, and can go as high as $7900 fully tricked-out, including a 3hp motor.

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Finally, it's not a new product, but we bumped into a group of guys who met through the WOOD ONLINE discussion groups. A couple of years ago, they decided to meet and wlak the IWF together, and this year, their group has grown to at least six. Shown in the photo are (l-r) WOOD ONLINE Manager Marlen Kemmet, Denny Schweitzer of Prescott, AZ., WOOD magazine Editor Larry Clayton, and Robert Lovell, also of Prescott, AZ. The other guys got antsy and went back to the show floor before I could grab their picture. Thanks for stopping by, guys!

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