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2012 WOOD® magazine Innov8 Awards

Here are the eight new products we judge most innovative for the coming year.

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2012 WOOD® magazine Innov8 Awards

Tool manufacturers live and die by the innovations they bring to the woodworking marketplace. Here are the eight new products we judge most innovative for the coming year.

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No-fuss toggle clamps self-adjust to thicknesses

Toggle clamps have been around for years, but getting them to apply just the right amount of clamping force takes a lot of trial-and-error tinkering. With Bessey's Auto-Adjust hold-down clamps, you set the bolt to an approximate depth, and the spring-loaded tensioning system automatically locks your workpiece in place-even when going from 1"-thick stock to 2". And you can vary the amount of clamping force, from 25 to 550 lbs, by adjusting a screw under the handle.

These clamps come in hold-down style with low-and high-clearance mounting bases, as well as inline style for vertical mounting. The hold-down clamps have a capacity up to 2 5/8"; the inline clamps have 1" of clamping range.

Bessey Tools

Auto-Adjust Toggle Clamps, $20-$25 each

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Multitasking screws don't need a pilot hole

Few screws bore their own pilot holes, and those that do usually have a pan or hex head that stands proud of the wood surface. Quickscrews' Spiral-Point Funnel-Head screws not only bore a pilot hole with a self-tapping point, but they also have flat heads (with square-drive sockets) that also make their own counterbores. And they do this without splitting the wood! Available in #8 (1"-3" lengths) and #10 (3 1/2"-4") sizes, these screws sell in packs ranging from 25 to 1,000 screws.


Spiral-Point Funnel-Head screws, $5 and up


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Box-joint jig adjusts to fit your blade or bit

After a one-time calibration, rotating a single knob adjusts Incra's I-BOX over an industry-leading range of finger sizes, from 1/8" to 3/4". After this, its unique positioning mechanism ensures precise finger spacing, and you use the microadjuster instead of switching pins to match your dado set or router bit. The self-supporting fence has its own adjustable miter bar and a 1/4" hardboard backer that you'll eventually need to replace. Trap the workpiece between the backer and the front cutter guards, loose enough to be able to move the board freely yet snug enough to keep it from moving during cuts, then step-and-repeat for perfect-fitting joints.


I-BOX box-joint jig, $150


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Pared-down benchtop tablesaw cuts weight, not performance

Bosch's newest 10" jobsite/benchtop tablesaw combines the best features of its high-end saw with the portability of a suitcase. By foregoing a closed cabinet in favor of a tubular-steel frame, Bosch engineers stripped this saw down to its essentials: a 15-amp motor, self-squaring rip fence, blade guard and riving knife, miter gauge, push stick, and blade shroud with 2 1/2" dust port. And all the components store underneath the saw when not in use, making it easier to transport without damaging these accessories.


Portable Jobsite Tablesaw, #GTS1031, $350

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Super-thin blade saves waste and gives a tablesaw more cutting power

The Micro-Kerf 40 carbide-tooth blade cuts a kerf just under 1/16" wide-less than half that of a full-kerf 1/8" saw blade and about 1/32" less than most thin-kerf blades. To stabilize this ultra-thin blade, the makers sandwich it between two heavy brass plates. As a result, when coupled with the manufacturer's recommended ½" tooth-tip clearance above the workpiece, those plates limit cutting depth to 2". Still, it's a great way to minimize waste when ripping wood, especially pricey exotics. And because this blade cuts such a super-thin kerf, it will require less strain from your tablesaw's motor-an especially good benefit from a 110-volt saw. (Because this blade is thinner than any saw's riving knife, consider buying the matching splitter for $17.)

Total Saw Solutions

Micro-Kerf 40 tablesaw blade, $175

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Rapid charger gets you back to work in 3 minutes

If your cordless drill's battery runs dead just a few screws from completing the job, and you don't have another fully charged battery ready to go, you're forced to cool your heels while the charger slowly replenishes it. But Craftsman's Nextec Quick Boost charger restores 25 percent of a Nextec/DieHard 12-volt battery's capacity in just three minutes! All you do is push the center button for the quick service. If you don't need that timeliness, or once the charger achieves that quick charge, it simply slips into regular mode and restores the full charge more slowly.


Nextec Quick Boost Charger, #5325, $40

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Cyclonic separator keeps vacuum filters clean

Like the quest to build a better mousetrap, constructing a dust separator for shop vacuums has met with mixed results. Rockler's Dust Right Vortex Separator distinguishes itself for two reasons: It works, and it does so without being cumbersome. Connect this unit with its two-port lid—configured with tapered channels to direct the airflow—between your vacuum and the tool, and it effectively traps all but the finest dust in the 10-gallon tub. Hardly anything gets through to plug up the vac's filter. And this separator rolls around smoothly on five casters, so it's less tippy than other separators. It comes with a 2 1/2" x 3' connector hose.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

Dust Right Vortex Separator, #40530, $70

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Random-orbit sanders say bye-bye to vibration

Sand for more than 15 minutes or so with a random-orbit sander and you'll find your hand tingling from the vibration. That could be a thing of the past with Bosch's new line of sanders featuring "vibration control." Where other sanders screw the plastic housing to the base, the housing on these sanders "floats," resting against multiple foam pads that absorb most of the vibration; the housing connects to the motor shroud with two plastic clips. Featuring a 3.3-amp motor, the sander comes with a 5" or 6" sanding pad—or both. It also features a new dust port with a paper-lined canister that's easier to clean than previous Bosch models.


Random Orbit Sander with Vibration Control, #ROS65VC-5, $229; ROS65VC-6, $239; ROS65VCL, $299


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