Hot New Tools: Issue 77

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This article is from Issue 77 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Bora Router Guide

Panel-perfect dadoes and grooves

Bora Router Guide and WTX Modular Clamp Edge Guides

It’s annoying enough that most hardwood plywood doesn’t live up to its nominal thickness, but it’s downright disturbing to discover that panel thickness can vary from one sheet to the next as much as 1/16". This little detail becomes a big problem when you want snug-fitting dadoes, grooves, and rabbets. Undersized “plywood” bits offer a partial solution, but there’s no guarantee that such a bit’s 1/32"-reduced diameter will be an exact match to your material. There are classic tricks for routing perfect dadoes involving spacers (see p. 18), but now there’s a simple, slick router jig that beats ’em all.

The Bora Router Guide is designed to work perfectly with the Bora WTX Modular Clamp Edge Guide, which serves as a guide rail. The working principle of the system is that a cut is made in two overlapping router passes with a 1/4"-, 3/8"-, or ½"-bit that’s bigger in diameter than half the width of the dado. The included 1" O.D. Porter-Cable style guide bushing ensures that almost any router can be fit to the jig’s plastic base.

Using the guide is simple: First, place a scrap of the plywood you’re using in the guide’s jaws and tighten the lock knobs, as shown top right, facing page. Next, clamp the guide rail to your workpiece, using the notch on the baseplate (indicating the bit’s center) for positioning. (To simplify things, I made a mark on tape to indicate the first pass’ outer edge.) Make your first pass, then set the bit offset slider to correspond to your bit’s diameter.

Now loosen the knobs, and shift the base toward the fence, which presses the slider against the appropriate stop to guarantee that the second pass creates a groove that exactly matches the width of your stock (bottom right).

The router guide can be adjusted to fit other commercial or shop-made guide rails from 215/16 to 33/16" wide, but it’s designed to work with Bora’s new WTX self-clamping guide rails. Unlike some other self-clamping rails I’ve worked with, the WTX quick-release locking mechanism has a particularly tenacious grip, and the extruded aluminum track does not deflect in use. The 36" rail works well for cutting dadoes in standard-sized cabinets. With the optional circular saw base, it could also be used for crosscutting doors and countertops. The 50" rail would be handy for crosscutting standard sheet goods, while the 100" rail serves for ripping full-sized sheets lengthways.

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

Axe makes the cut

Carter Products Axe Carbide Turning Tools

I’m a big fan of carbide-tipped lathe tools because they stay sharp so much longer than high-speed steel tools, especially when shaping my cast-resin turnings. So I was happy to give Carter’s new Axe turning tools a test spin. Initially, they seemed very similar to the competition in that the replaceable carbide tips come in square, radiused, round, and diamond shapes. However, I discovered a few details that help them stand out from the crowd.

The obvious difference is in the namesake handle. Its axe handle shape is unorthodox, but I appreciate how the flat faces offer feedback about the orientation of the carbide tip, giving me greater control when it’s hidden in a bowl or vase. I also like how the shape fits within the meat of my palm, dampening vibration better than a traditional handle.

The faceted handle works in tandem with the tool’s uniquely shaped shank. On both the square- and round-tipped tools, the shank includes a flat section on the underside for positive tool rest registration. However, it transitions to a round cross-section, which enables you to roll the tool to make a smoother shearing cut, reducing cleanup work with sandpaper.

Experienced turners will enjoy these tools, but I think they are a particularly smart buy for beginners. They are ready to use right out of the box, and the carbide tips eliminate the need for a bench grinder or additional sharpening gear. When the carbide starts to dull, simply rotate the screw-locked cutter head, and get back to turning. ­

Tester: Keith Lackner

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