Hot New Tools: Issue 90

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This article is from Issue 90 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Earlier this summer, nearly 100 manufacturers gathered at the Woodcraft Vendor Trade Show to share their latest offerings in hand tools, machinery, finishes, and accessories. Here are just few of the items that caught our eye. For more details go to, or check them out at your local Woodcraft store.

British invasion

A few years back, Thomas Flinn & Co. (a UK-based saw maker since 1923), acquired Clico, the maker of Clifton hand planes. This merger has resulted in a new line of bench planes (3, 4, 4-1/2, 5, 5-1/2, 6, 7) and a block plane to complement their existing offering of shoulder planes and spokeshaves.

These premium planes incorporate the best attributes of both Stanley and Record (many of the employees apprenticed at Record Tools), coupled with exceptional fit and finish. Based on the Stanley Bedrock design, the bench planes sport machined frogs that rest on matching machined pads in the body. The frog can be moved to close or open the mouth of the plane without removing the blade. The soles and sides are ground to the British Standard for bench planes (0.003") for optimum performance for standard planing and for use in a shooting board. 

The most noticeable difference between the new Cliftons and vintage planes is the heft. Thicker castings mean more mass; granting greater momentum for gliding through tough grain. The O1 steel irons are 0.125" thick (more than 50% thicker than the industry standard of .080"), and are hardened to HRC 60-62. They are also cryogenically treated to improve edge retention.

If you’re serious about hand tools and interested in taking the next step, go to for more info.

Clifton #41⁄2 Smoothing Plane
#166421, $404.99

Clifton Low Angle Block Plane
#166429, $374.99

Super powerful primer 

The folks at General Finishes don’t hyperbolize, so a description that includes words like “strongest” and “revolutionary” warrants special attention. This water-based interior sealer sticks to almost everything and creates a barrier that prevents stain, dye, and tannin bleed-through.

Having tested the product in my shop, I was impressed by the primer’s self-levelling abilities (the brushed-on samples looked almost as good as the sprayed boards). After two coats, the samples looked as if they didn’t need a top coat.

Innovation doesn’t come cheap, but based on this primer’s ability to handle the problems associated with painting over other finishes, it’s a reasonably-priced insurance plan for tough paint jobs.

General Finishes Stain Blocker Primer
Quart, #166814, $41.99

Invisible guardian 

Tired of the annual exercise of applying top coat sealers to your outdoor projects? Maybe it’s time to step up to 21st Century technology. Made by the folks who also make Anchor-Seal, Seal-Once is a non-toxic, non-film-forming “inner sealer.” Based on its track record in the log home and decking market, it might be your best weapon in the fight against Mother Nature’s weathering forces.

According to the manufacturer, Seal-Once penetrates the wood’s surface and then coats the wood fibers with nano-polymers. The polymers allow water vapor to escape, but restrict water intrusion that leads to mold, mildew, rot, warping, and splitting. Seal-Once can be used under other paints or finishes, or tinted and used as a stand-alone stain. The coating lasts up to ten years on vertical surfaces and six years on horizontal surfaces.

Seal-Once Nano Guard Wood Sealer
Quart, #164465, $26.99

Perfect partner for PC dovetail jigs

Porter Cable’s dovetail jigs may be some of the most popular dovetail jigs on the market, but users discover that routing the parts for a drawer or two produces a prodigious amount of dust and chips. With the Leigh VRS1200 Vacuum & Router Support, PC 4210 and 4212 jig owners can now enjoy almost dust-free dovetails. 

The vacuum box is the key to cleanliness. This box clips onto the guide bushing and slides in tandem with the router to collect chips when cutting pins and tails. In addition to supporting the vacuum box, the beam keeps the router from tipping and offers a safe resting spot when making board changes.

Leigh VRS1200 Vacuum & Router Support
#166417, $79.00

Hello, helical. See ya’ Snipe. 

Jet’s newest helical head planer deserves to be seen and heard. Compared to straight-blade machines, the JWP-15B’s 48-tooth carbide insert, helical head planer not only delivers a superior finish, but does so with a lot less noise. The planer is powered by a 3-HP, single-phase, 230V motor with V-belt transmission to reduce vibration and running noise. A two-speed gear box—operated by a push-pull knob—provides dual material feed rates of 16 fpm for a smooth finish, and 20 fpm for quick dimensioning. The motor is operated by an easy-to-access magnetic switch, which has a green safety light that illuminates when the planer is powered. 

The most interesting innovation is JET’s Precision Air Strut System (PASS™). This pair of heavy-duty gas struts exerts upward pressure on the cutterhead with upward pressure, preventing it from dropping and causing board snipe.

Jet JWP-15B 15" Helical Head Planer
 #722155, $2,599.99

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