Hot New Tools: Issue 36

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This article is from Issue 36 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Make a plane in a day

Hock Shoulder Plane Kit

A shoulder plane might not be the first plane on your wish list, but once you wrap your hands around one, you’ll wonder how you got along without such a handy shaver. This tool picks up where power machining leaves off. It’s most often used for trimming tenon shoulders and cheeks, but it’s also well suited for other cross- and end-grain trimming chores like cleaning up rabbets and dadoes. The blade can be set either flush or slightly proud of the side, allowing this tool to knick into corners out of the reach of most other planes. If you don’t own a shoulder plane—perhaps because the cost of a metal-bodied model has given you pause—consider building one from a wood kit.

The Hock kit is designed for woodworkers who lack the equipment to accurately make the parts, or for those who simply want an easy jump into plane making. Hock supplies the carefully milled bubinga and beech parts, an O1 Hock blade (of course), and full assembly instructions that ensure positive side alignment during glue-up. (To watch Hock assemble the kit, go to You can assemble the basic plane in a few hours, but I suggest spending a little extra time to shape and finish the body to your personal preference.

#151095  $89.99
Tester: Ben Bice

Slick sliding honing guide

Sharp Skate II with Angle Dock

The quick and repeatable edges provided by honing guides opened my eyes to the efficiency and pleasure that come from super-sharp hand tools. While most of the guides that I’ve tried work with most chisels or plane irons, they often fall short when attempting to grip certain shapes. The Sharp Skate II is a cut above. Unlike the competition, this guide’s hold-down has a series of flats that grip the sides of the blade perpendicular to the wheels. The hold-down works as well with my 1⁄8" chisel as it does with the 23⁄8"-wide blade on my jointer plane. In addition, it swivels to grip skewed chisels and plane irons at the correct angle. The included dock makes setting the honing angles simple and precise.

One of the guide’s most distinguishing characteristics is that the wheels are in-line with the body, much like an inline skate. The jig’s side-to-side sharpening action is different than the back-and-forth motion dictated by other guides, but I adapted to it quickly. I also found it easy to work every inch of my waterstones.

Considering the price, you might think twice about buying yet another honing guide. However, I’d liken the step up to a Sharp Skate to my history of buying tablesaws. Had I invested more in my first saw, I could have avoided the cost of the several upgrades that followed.

#150926  $169.99
Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

Oil glamour in a water-based can

General Finishes Enduro-Var

Woodworkers want it all: the warmth and durability of an alkyd-based finish along with the speed and easy cleanup of a water-based finish. Enduro-Var, from General Finishes, successfully mixes the best of both worlds into a single can.

The water-based urethane employs a lightly tinted resin that darkens over time, much like an oil-based finish. Having tested the product on maple and cherry samples, I would have assumed that I was using the company’s oil-based Arm-R-Seal, except that I could rinse out the brush with soap and water. In addition to easier cleanup and lower VOCs, Enduro-Var cures much faster than its oil-based competition. My samples were ready for scuff-sanding and recoating in about two hours. After three days they had cured enough to be put into service.

(Read the label carefully. The new Enduro–Var is not the same as General Finishes’ Enduro pre-catalyzed urethane. Both offer the same durability, but the Enduro–Var is the one that imparts the amber color. Enduro-Var also costs less.)

Satin #151029 Pt. #151030 Qt.
Semi-gloss #151027 Pt. #151028 Qt.
Gloss #151025 Pt. #151026 Qt.
Pint, $16.99, Quart, $26.99
Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

Sweet little sander 

Rikon 1 × 30" Belt/5" Disc Sander

Many years ago, Delta introduced the original mini belt/disc sander. The pint-sized machine developed a loyal following of model builders, knife makers, and woodworkers, all of whom appreciated the tool’s flexibility. Rikon’s new sander was designed to replace Delta’s cult classic, which is no longer in production. A 1/3 hp totally-enclosed fan-cooled motor runs a 5" disc at 3,450 rpm and a 1 × 30" belt at 3,340 sfpm for efficient stock removal. Cast aluminum tables help you guide your work at both the wheel and belt. My favorite feature is the belt backer/platen that can be removed for contour sanding of curves or oddly shaped work.

#150936  $119.99
Tester:  Andrew Bondi

A jig that teaches you how to go jigless 

Rob Cosman Angle Trainer

Many woodworkers, including hand tool guru Rob Cosman, believe that sharpening needn’t be so tied to jigs and fixtures.

To help them appreciate the speed and convenience of freehand sharpening, Rob engineered a guide that helps develop the requisite muscle memory to go jigless. Designed for a blade ground to 25°, the triangular guide supports the blade at the proper honing angle, like a set of bicycle training wheels. The guide provides support, but encourages the user to develop the proper grip and feel for the process.

In keeping with Cosman’s sharpening regimen, the guide offers 29° for honing a secondary bevel, and 31° for honing the final edge. To use it, rest the tool on the jig and slide the blade forward until the bevel touches the stone. Magnets set into both faces hold the jig to the tool as you hone.

I haven’t yet developed enough of the feel to go freehand full-time, but by using the Angle Trainer jig and the technique demonstrated on his Web site (, I was able to successfully hone an edge on plane blades in about as much time as it would take to set up a blade in a honing guide.

#150879  $29.99
Tester: Kent Harpool


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