Hot New Tools: Issue 29

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This article is from Issue 29 of Woodcraft Magazine.

The new, improved Unisaw

Delta Unisaw

More than four years in the making, and more than 70 years in the waiting, Delta has officially unveiled its new Unisaw. This American-made machine was redesigned from the ground up, or more accurately, trunion out. The unique one-piece casting, coupled with an equally high-tech cast-iron table, is the heart of what makes this saw one of the most accurate saws on the market.

If you haven’t yet read about this saw’s features, the list is impressive: upfront controls, odometer-style bevel gauge (accurate to one-half degree), bi-level dust extraction, adjustable-height riving knife, split-design blade guard, Marathon motor, and a Biesemeyer fence. A few more noteworthy extras: the saw offers an onboard storage drawer for blades, guards, and other gear, and comes with a newly-designed premium blade. The end result is a machine that may convince you to trade in your old Unisaw for this solid step-up.

#412405   $2874.99

Tester: Jim Nuckolls

(Editor's Note: We’ve requested a saw for our own tests. Look for a new cabinet saw comparison in our October issue.)

Extra hand for sheet goods

Leg Up Panel-Lift Table Saw Accessory

Unless I can enlist a willing shop assistant, I usually wind up breaking down sheet goods on the floor with my circular saw (see page 66). Ripping plywood on the table saw might be faster and produce a cleaner cut, but dead-lifting heavy sheets isn’t easy to do single-handedly, nor is it worth a trip to the chiropractor.

Enter the Leg Up. This lever clamps to the edge of your saw’s table or fence rail. A J-shaped hook holds the bottom of the panel while the mechanism neatly pivots it onto your table with a minimal amount of muscle. The sheet pivots higher than the center point of a 4'-wide panel, so the plywood won’t topple onto your tabletop, but you can adjust the tension of the guide arm for additional control.

#842599   $49.99

Tester: Jim Harrold

Stanley planes blend old with new

Stanley Sweetheart Planes

Having made millions of planes, chisels, and countless other tools from the late 18th century to the early 1940s, Stanley had established itself as America’s king of tools. Unfortunately, quality declined in the 1960s when the company set its sights on the handyman crowd. But here’s the good news. If you aren’t lucky enough to own the planes that put Stanley on top, you can now buy a Sweetheart for a sweet price.

The name hearkens back to the old iron, but these planes aren’t like what you’ll find in your grandfather’s toolbox. Like other premium planes, the new Sweethearts are made of “hammer safe” ductile iron, 1/8"-thick, A2 blades, and fully-machined frogs and soles. Both the No. 62 and No. 4 sport comfortable cherry totes, adjustable mouths, and unique locking Norris-style adjusters. The No. 4 wins the “most improved” award. Unlike my favorite Stanley Bailey (which bears its heart on its blade), this smoother plane is now a bevel-up blade with a one-piece base and frog. The new design promises chatter-free cuts, plus the ability to adapt to figured woods by increasing the blade’s bevel angle. Such versatility makes it a handy addition to my arsenal.

Priced slightly less than other premium planes, you owe it to yourself to wrap your hands around one before making any additions to your tool collection.

#149859   No. 91/2 block plane   $99.99
#149860   No. 601/2 low angle plane   $99.99
#149861   No. 4 smoother plane   $179.99
#149862   No. 62 low-angle jack plane   $179.99

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

Corrosion insurance for tools

Zerust Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors

You’ll never beat that all-pervasive monster, “rust,” but vapor corrosion inhibitors (VCIs) do a good job of keeping the rascal at bay. VCIs are metal-seeking molecules that bond electrochemically with metal surfaces, creating an invisible, self-repairing skin that seals out air and moisture. With a solid track record in marine, automotive, and electronic industries, packaging the chemical in woodshop-friendly emitters is a no-brainer. I use the large capsule in my plane cabinet, the smaller capsule in my toolbox and router bit drawer, and the drawer liners to protect my measuring and marking tools. Since then, my tool polishing days are reserved for flea-market finds.

The downside? They don’t last forever, and there’s no way to tell when the VCIs have left the building. Depending on the emitter, the rust-fighting properties last for one to five years. Rather than risk under-protection, I mark “installed on” dates on my capsules and liners so that I can pop in fresh ones before they expire.

#149663   12" × 72"   $8.99
#149664   23" × 118"   $19.99

#149661   VC6-2   $29.99 (6' coverage radius)
#149662   VC2-1   $6.99 (2' coverage radius)

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

More than a mini

Steel City Five-Speed Granite Mini Lathe

Substituting granite for cast iron, Steel City has created a super solid, smooth-running lathe at a good price. The 6017G features a 1/2 hp, totally enclosed, fan-cooled, five-speed motor; a 12" swing over the bed; and enough bed length to turn spindles up to 27" without an extension (longer than other lathes in this class).

In addition to being rustproof, the granite bed makes for an extremely smooth-running tool rest. Thanks to all that granite, the lathe weighs in at 161 lbs., enough to dampen any vibration but, admittedly, less portable than most metal minis.

#842721   $319.99

Tester: Jim Nuckolls


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