Hot New Tools: Issue 97Comments (1)
This article is from Issue 97 of Woodcraft Magazine.
Take your woodworking to a new level
Noden Adjust-A-Bench Craftsman Hardware Package
- Heavy-gauge steel components
- Adjustable from 27"-44" (with a 13⁄4" thick top)
- 11⁄2" adjustment increments
- Locking, retractable casters allow excellent mobility or solid footing
- Customizable for nearly any size benchtop
Since using fellow editor Paul Anthony’s Adjust-A-Bench some years ago, I’ve suffered a bit of bench envy. So I jumped at the opportunity to test Adjust-A-Bench inventor Geoff Noden’s new Craftsman Hardware Package. I recently built the bench shown here just in time to make the party trays on page 23. And I’m glad I did because this workbench’s core feature came in handy for the myriad layout and routing tasks required of the tray build.
Noden developed the Craftsman package to be a lower-cost alternative to the original Adjust-A-Bench. The original features steel U-channels that form the nesting legs or “trays” that allow adjustment. With this new package, you provide plywood panels and bolt them to the supplied pieces of steel angle to form similar trays. The well-conceived package comes with the all the necessary hardware for assembly.
At the heart of this hardware set are four lengths of 3/16"-thick steel angle milled with a series of saw-tooth-like notches. These, coupled with two spring-loaded steel rods, allow the bench to ratchet upward in 1-1/2" increments when you lift an end. After lifting the other end to match, you’re ready to work—it’s that simple. Lowering the bench is just as easy. After lifting one end slightly, depress the kit’s foot pedal to retract the spring-loaded rod and lower the top to the desired height, repeating at the other end. My new bench can raise from 27" up to 44" (with its 1-3/4"-thick top).
With the legs completed, I bought a top, and lumber for the rails. The only trouble I had was finding 48" long lengths of threaded rod to connect the rails to the legs. But rather than ordering them and postponing the build, I improvised by using couplers to join shorter pieces of threaded rod.
I also tested Noden’s Caster Package. It came with high-quality, lockable casters providing excellent mobility. The kit’s wide stance adds to the bench’s stability, but even with the casters locked, the bench rocked slightly. However, when I need a rock-solid bench, the casters retract with only a couple of turns of each mounting bolt, allowing the legs to sit directly on the floor.
My only complaint lies with the directions. Rather than supplying comprehensive written instructions, Noden provides a link to online videos. While the videos are informative, I would prefer a set of written directions.
Using the bench is a joy, although the up-and-down mechanism isn’t as smooth as Paul’s heavier duty Adjust-A-Bench leg set. I suspect that parts of my bench are binding. I’ll have to track down the culprits. That said, being able to raise the bench to a comfortable height for laying out the trays and then lowering the bench to do the routing made the job easier. If you need a new bench or even an extra one, I’d seriously consider Adjust-A-Bench.
—Tester, Ken Burton
Innovation comes to an old standby
Irwin Speedbor 8-piece Spade Bit set
- Available from 1⁄4"-1" in 1⁄16" increments and to 11⁄2" in 1⁄4" increments
- Available in sets or individually
- Faster cutting and longer lasting than the traditional design
While I don’t typically use Speed-bore bits (also known as spade bits) as a furniture maker, I do use them frequently when I have on my carpenter’s belt. On the job site, they’re my go-to bits for boring large holes such as those for recessing lags screws or drilling studs for electrical wires.
When I received this new set from Irwin, I noticed they were somewhat different from the flat, paddle-like shapes I was used to. For instance, their cutting edges are ground with a short bevel similar to the edge on a Forstner bit, an innovation implemented in 2006. (Obviously, it has been a while since I had to buy new Speedbore bits.) This “new” grind allows the bits to cut faster than the older style. Another significant difference is that the corner spurs have been replaced with chamfers, an improvement rolled out in April of this year. (At least I’m not 14 years behind on this upgrade.) With the old design, the spurs defined the hole’s perimeter and helped provide a clean cut. But those spurs were often the first part of the bit to dull.
Irwin claims the chamfered design lasts longer without compromising cut quality. I haven’t drilled enough holes to speak to the bits’ longevity, but I can attest to how cleanly they cut. After several walls’ worth of electric cable holes, my new 3/4" bit is still cutting cleanly on entry with minimal exit tearout. Pick up a set from the hardware store for your next home improvement project.
—Tester, Ken Burton
In regards to the Modem adjust a bench, I did have written instructions. My only problem I have is the castors fail to level the table, the threading is stripped & now I cannot level the table, only can raise or lower.
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