Great Gear: Issue 97

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This article is from Issue 97 of Woodcraft Magazine.

SensGard Ear Chambers #166870, $22.99

Ears, safe and cozy

I struggle with ear plugs. I find them uncomfortable and they inevitably pop out whether I want them to or not. Over-the-ear muffs aren’t much better. Too hot in the summer in my unairconditioned shop, and bulky to boot. But I had assumed that was the price to pay to protect my hearing. Then I discovered SensGard Ear Chambers.

These hollow headbands with a NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 26 db are lightweight, easy on-and-off, and their foam tips fit securely in my ears. When I’m not making noise, I can hang them around my neck or fold them up for stashing in my apron pocket. The SensGard’s passive (no batteries!) chambers selectively dampen frequencies so that I can hear the kids playing next door, but the screaming router in my hands is just a low hum. While I may still don a pair of muffs for an extended machine session, the SensGard Ear Chambers are perfect protection for everyday shop use.

—Chad McClung

Forrest 4-Piece Finger Joint Set #420748, $273.99

Brilliant box joint blades

Dedicated box joint sets are like dado stacks in that a series of blades slide onto your saw’s arbor to cut wider kerfs. The difference is that box joint blades, with their flat-top grind teeth, cut perfectly square corners and leave flat, smooth surfaces. This four-piece set from Forrest features matched blade pairs that each cut two notch sizes by switching their position on the arbor. On one pair, the carbide teeth on each blade jut inward for a 3/16" notch. But orient the blades so that the teeth jut outward, and you can cut 5/16" notches. The same goes for the 1/4"–3/8" pair.

You owe it to yourself to pick up a set if you cut a lot of box joints. These blades excel at sawing precise, flat-bottom, and square rabbets and grooves too. In fact, I don’t own a stack dado. I use this blade set instead. Sure, sometimes I have to bump over my saw’s fence and make a couple of extra passes, but the simple, shim-free setup and dead square cuts more than make up for that.

—Chad McClung


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