Hot New Tools: Issue 33

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This article is from Issue 33 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Diamonds are forever

DMT Work Sharp Kits

From the first time woodworkers tried sandpaper-on-glass sharpening, they’ve wrestled with the fact that most abrasives can’t stand up long against steel. The Work Sharp’s plate and guide design accelerates the effect. The consistent touch point quickly wears away a ring of abrasive, especially when using the coarsest grits. Worn paper encourages the user to press harder, which doesn’t make sharpening any faster and overtaxes the machine.

Diamonds fix the problem…for good! Although the startup fee costs more than several packs of sandpaper, the manufacturer claims that the discs will outlive the machine. I haven’t burnt out our Work Sharp yet, but the diamond discs give the feel of using a fresh abrasive disc every time. In addition, the DMT plates attach to the glass discs with a unique magnetic mounting system.This quick-stick solution means that you won’t need as many glass plates, and it really speeds up the sharpening process.

Two kits are available. The Sharpening Kit comes with two diamond discs (325 and 600 grit) and a mounting disc. The Honing Kit consists of one diamond disc (1200 grit), two ounces of 8000-grit diamond paste, a buffing disc (to use with the paste), and a mounting disc.

DMT Sharpening Kit
#150669   $94.99

DMT Honing Kit
#150668   $74.99

Tester: Kent Harpool

Faster than rasps, smoother than files

Iwasaki Carving Files

Files that cut fast and leave a smooth surface? Look closer to discover the trick. The teeth are milled and then chemically etched to super sharpness. That, combined with a diagonal groove pattern, results in files that cut shavings like a plane, but with very little cutting resistance and little to no clogging.

The high-tech files come in double-sided flat and single-sided half-round patterns, in three sizes. The small- and mid-sized files include cushion grips; the larger files have a tang end that fits into standard file handles. Don’t let the smaller sizes fool you. These files don’t require the same long stroke to remove stock. All the files are safe-edged, which means you can use them to tweak a mortise or tenon or, like a float, fine-tune the bed of a wood plane, without digging into adjacent surfaces.

The files come in coarse, medium, and fine, which, to the uninitiated, makes about as much sense as comparing waterstones to sandpaper solely by grit numbers. I found the best balance with the medium files. Despite their speed, the resulting surface could be easily smoothed over with a light sanding.

#150554-67   $17.99-37.99

Tester: Ben Bice

Machinist blocks made for wood

Kreg Precision Router Table Setup Bars

When gauge blocks migrated from metal shops to woodshops, woodworkers were amazed by the utility of such a simple design. Now, Kreg has redesigned the basic block set to make the blocks even more useful for woodworkers.

The difference is in the details. Compared to white-bread machinist blocks, the Kreg blocks feature three distinct measuring points: a notch for setting bit or blade height; a tab for checking the depth of cut; and a tongue that serves like a plus-sized feeler gauge. The bars’ size and thickness make them easy to set on my tabletop, while the eye-catching color makes the type easy to read. Besides working well with my table saw and router table, I found these blocks to be quite handy at my drill press and plunge router.

Last but not least, the blocks come with a case and an insert to help ensure that all seven bars (1/8", 3/16", 1/4", 5/16", 3/8", 7/16" and 1/2") are returned at the end of the day.

#150664   $39.99

Tester: Peter Collins

Workbench to go

Vika Quickbench

Every woodshop deserves a full-fledged workbench—plus additional counter space for stock and machinery. For those times when you need more room or want to take your shop on the road, consider Quickbench. As the name suggests, Vika’s folding creation is less sawhorse and more mini, modular workbench. Lightweight (23 lbs.) but sturdy (300 lbs. capacity), this portable workstation offers a 25 × 30" work surface, a three-outlet power strip, plus a full-width removable vise. Drop the folding top, and the aluminum legged A-frame has a surprising 3,000 lb. capacity. And, like every portable horse, the bench folds up quickly and easily so you can carry it out when the job’s done or stack it flat against the garage wall providing room to park your car.

Portable benches and sawhorses aren’t new, but saddle two (or more) Quickbenches side by side and things get interesting. The interlocking tops let you combine horses to create a larger workstation. I found that the double-bench table worked nicely as a temporary platform for benchtop tools, and when weather allows, as an outside sanding and finishing station.

#150313   $89.99

Tester: Kent Harpool

Master sander

Fein MultiMaster Sanding Pad Kit

While a following of devotees has established the MultiMaster as the ultimate multitasker, as a sander, it has come up short. The problem: the sanding heads were only suited for detail work. If painting or finishing, you’d still need a regular random-orbit sander. Fein’s new 4½" diameter sanding pad changes that. Designed to mount to any MultiMaster, the head takes full advantage of the Multi’s 21,000 oscillations per minute. Although it does not rotate like a regular random-orbital, the sanding action is as fast and similarly swirl-free.

This pad utilizes an 8-hole, hook-and-loop paper designed to work with the unit’s dust-collection system. The Sanding Pad Kit includes: 4½" sanding pad and two each of the 60-grit, 80-grit, and 180-grit sanding discs.

#150652   $34.99   Tester: Andrew Bondi

Smarter hand sanders

Festool Sanding Block Set and SYS Mini

Think all sanding blocks are created equal? Think again. The best blocks offer comfort, control, and make the most of the sandpaper that’s stuck to them. Festool’s blocks deliver on all fronts. Designed to work with the same 150mm (6") diameter abrasives used by the Rotex and ETS sanders, the hand-powered blocks reduce the need for a second sandpaper collection. By using torn, or lightly worn, discs they might even save you some money.

The three-piece hand-sanding set consists of a pair of pads (hard and soft), a square-shaped pad for sanding up to flat surfaces, and a mini systainer for storage. If you haven’t been bit by the Festool bug and don’t feel the need for a special case for your sanding supplies, the blocks can be purchased separately. A $25 sanding block can quickly shift from luxury to shop necessity the first time you need to squeeze a little more life from a disc that’s too worn to stick to your random-orbital.

#M0107   $75.00

Tester: Andrew Bondi

C-Y-O-B (Cut Your Own Blanks)

Makita 14" Electric Chainsaw

Turners know that super stock can come from your own backyard, provided you have a saw to trim logs to size. In addition to helping find blanks in firewood, the small chainsaw can perform tasks beyond the reach of circular or reciprocating saws. This hand-sized corded saw has already built a reputation in woodworking and carpentry circles as an all-purpose tool for rough-cutting slabs, carving (chair seats, logs, even ice), even trimming and notching deck posts.

#150102   $259.99

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

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