Hot New Tools: Issue 34

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This article is from Issue 34 of Woodcraft Magazine.

One good turn deserves another

General Mini-Lathe Duplicator

General International has devised an affordable solution for my square-mindedness: a duplicator specifically designed for use with any mini lathe with cast bedways. Once installed, woodworkers can easily and consistently shape legs, pulls, posts, and spindles (up to 17⅞" long and 7" in diameter) from either an existing turning or pattern.

The duplicator works much like a key cutter. A stylus traces the part mounted on the duplicator in front of the lathe, while a high-speed steel cutter machines the blank. A hand wheel connected to a chain drive moves the cutter from left to right, and a lever controls the entry of the stylus and cutter into the pattern and spindle blank.

Because the cutter has a maximum cut depth of ⅛", I found it faster to rough the blank by hand. Once engaged, the duplicator followed the pattern as smoothly and precisely as larger duplicators used on full-sized lathes. The cutter leaves minor ridges, but they can be easily removed with sandpaper or a scraper.

#844256   $199.99
Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

No-slip grip

Wera Professional Screwdrivers

In my home, screwdrivers fall into two categories: those I use at my workbench and those that I keep in the kitchen drawer. After testing out my new “bench set” from Wera, I’m tossing my old kitchen drivers and buying a second set. They’re so much better, that I don’t want to use anything else.

The drivers’ hardened, laser-grooved tips make all the difference. Apply a little torque, and the tip grips (it feels as if it’s stuck to) the screw recess. In addition to better torque transfer, the improved bite all but eliminates the chance of tip-slip injuries (to either the workpiece or user) or stripped-out screw heads.

The handles have hard and soft areas that provide a firm grip without tiring your hands. Tip-identification symbols on the handle tops make it easy to find the right driver in a tool pouch or drawer.

Wera screwdrivers are sold individually, but I suggest buying the six-piece starter set. The manufacturer also offers a top quality Micro Set (without laser tips) for small screw assignments.

#150470   $35.99
Tester: Darin Lawrence

Nicely-priced pinner

Freeman 23-Gauge Pin Nailer

I haven’t yet met a woodworker who was disappointed after buying a 23-gauge pneumatic pin nailer. Leaving a hole that you can hide with a hint of glue and some sanding dust, these tiny fasteners are perfect for attaching moldings and as an all-purpose substitute for small clamps. However, not everyone’s ready to pay $125-$200. Enter the $55 Freeman.

Testing the tool next to pricier pin nailers, I found that the gun held its own. The pinner left a slightly larger hole (I would not have known the difference if I hadn’t been doing a side-by-side comparison), but it drove 1" pins into maple just as consistently as the competition.

Perhaps because of its smaller size (just 6⅝" from nose-to-tip), the Freeman seemed louder and had a little more kick than the other guns. But considering that it’s backed with a seven-year warranty, light weight doesn’t mean light-duty. Its compact size might prove to be an advantage in the workshop, enabling it to drive pins where a larger gun wouldn’t fit.

#845001   $54.99
Tester: Jody Garrett

Dead-on dadoes

Whiteside Plywood Bits

Many woodworkers rout dadoes to join cabinets made from hardwood plywood. Unfortunately, hardwood plywood is actually 1/32" less than its nominal thickness, so using a standard ¼-, ½-, or 3/4" router bit results in a 1/32" gap in the joint. One solution is to make the cut in two passes using a smaller bit. However, the easiest approach is to use a “plywood bit.”

Whiteside’s plywood bits match up with common plywood and wallboard thicknesses. Use the 7/32" bit for ¼" plywood, the 31/64" bit for ½" plywood, and the 23/32" for 3/4" plywood. The larger two bits are carbide tipped while the small one is solid carbide for the rigors of cutting grooves for drawer bottoms. The bits are sold individually, but the three-piece set is a cost-effective way to ensure that you’ll have the right bit on hand.

3-pc Plywood Dado Bit Set
#150756   $49.99
7/32" OD × 3/4" CL Dado Bit
#845066   $24.99
31/64" OD × 1" CL Dado Bit
#24K17   $19.99
23/32" OD × 1" CL Dado Bit
#24K19   $19.99
Tester: Peter Collins

Slick new shave

WoodRiver® Spokeshave

Like the first hand planes, spokeshaves started out as simple wooden-bodied blade holders. Transitioning from wood to metal meant additional design changes, mostly for the better, but for shaping a chair leg or spindle, I haven’t found anything that can compete with my low-angle Stanley #84 razor edge spokeshave…until now.

The WoodRiver spokeshave’s resemblance to the #84 is intentional; the new ductile iron shave was designed to match the fit and feel of my boxwood original. The new spokeshave features an adjustable iron shoe to regulate depth of cut; the blade slides from front to back

to adjust the size of the throat. For easier sharpening and lapping, the 2⅜"-wide high-carbon steel blade screws off from its posts.

Although I’ve used my #84 for years, I was impressed by the new tool’s smooth, chatter-free cut, due to its ⅛"-thick blade and heavier iron body. If you enjoy the hunt, you can try to find and buy an antique, or you can buy this tool and make shavings the same day.

#150740   $49.99
Tester: Kent Harpool


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