Hot New Tools: Issue 98

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This article is from Issue 98 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Fresh potential at the entry level

RIKON Model 20-800H 8" benchtop jointer

Overview

  • Full table size extends from 301⁄2" to 511⁄2"
  • 2"-dia. helical-style cutter head with 16 two-sided carbide inserts
  • 4" dust port
  • Motor: 10A, 120V, 60HZ
  • Speed: 20,000RPM

RIKON 8" Benchtop Jointer #172628, $599.99

The benchtop jointer market is chock-full of 6" machines, but not many 8" models. RIKON Power Tools has addressed this lack with their new 20-800H 8" jointer. They essentially installed 8" tables on a base similar to that of their popular 6" jointer (20-600H). But being able to dress 8" stock for about 600 bucks is newsworthy indeed.

While its machined aluminum tables are the same length as on the 6" model, the 20-800H supports longer boards via extendable metal arms that increase the combined infeed and outfeed length from 30-1/2" to 51-1/2". The fence can be adjusted to any angle between 90° to 135°. Lever handles securely lock it into place anywhere across the length of the knives. Unfortunately, it’s a challenge to keep the fence square to the tables. The depth-of-cut adjusts by rotating a knob under the infeed table, which locks in place by tightening a knob located on the machine’s front just to the right of an easy-to-read depth scale. Below that lies an on/off switch featuring a removable plastic safety key. The cutter head is what RIKON calls helical-style. This is to say that it doesn’t have full-length knives, but rather 16 indexable carbide inserts that are offset in six in-line rows. (Four rows have three cutters, two rows have two cutters.) When one of these double-edged cutters gets dull or nicked, simply rotate it 180° to bring the fresh edge into play. (For additional specs, see Overview above.)

RIKON touts this 50-pound machine as portable. Sure, you can move it around, but hoisting the jointer by its tables or extension bars may well knock them out of coplanar. My advice: unbox the machine, and immediately bolt it to a stand outfitted with lockable casters. You do not want to throw the tables out of alignment, as readjusting them is a truly vexing proposition.

The 20-800H performed well at general edge-jointing, and when face-jointing lumber from 1/2" to 1" thick at lengths from 12" to about 30". It produced square stock with smooth surfaces in a myriad of domestic and exotic woods. To prevent the modest motor from bogging down when making wide cuts in thicker, heavier boards, a very shallow cut and steady feed rate will usually do the job. All in all, the machine’s 8" capacity and its extension arms absolutely expand the variety of projects a beginner can take on. And, at the entry level, that’s a big deal.

—Tester, Chad McClung




Next Wave Shark SD100 CNC Machine #172181, $1199.99

Pint-sized CNC packs a well-conceived punch

Next Wave Shark SD100

Overview

  • XYZ travel 12 × 13 × 3"
  • Includes VCarve Desktop design software
  • Cuts wood, plastics, and even soft metals
  • Compatible with all Next Wave Accessories 
  • Rugged composite/metal construction
  • Made in the USA
  • Can trade in when you’re ready to upgrade

Cue the music: Baby shark, dooo, dooo, dooo… My experience with large industrial CNC (computer numeric control) machines left me a little skeptical when the Next Wave Shark SD100 swam into my shop. But I was pleasantly surprised by this minnow-sized machine’s ease of use and what it has to offer the small-shop woodworker interested in dipping their toe into CNC waters.

 Next Wave has thought out everything well. The machine came out of the box fully assembled and included everything I needed except for a computer and a trim router. All I had to do was attach a router, install the included software onto my computer, and connect the SHARK SD100 to my computer via the included USB cable. (The router holders accommodate any trim router on the market.)

The machine comes with two pieces of software to install. VCarve Desktop allows you to create your designs and generate toolpath files. Ready2Control aligns the bit with your workpiece, and runs those toolpath files to make your cuts. Both interfaces are straightforward, but as with any software, there is a learning curve involved. Fortunately, the SHARK SD100’s owner’s manual is well-written and comprehensive, and the Next Wave website (www.nextwaveautomation.com) is also quite helpful when it comes to operating the machine. VCarve Desktop is from a second company: Vectric (www.vectric.com). It is one of the most popular toolpath programs and there is plenty of help available online to take you to the next level after you exhaust the information provided.

Once configured, the machine ran well and did everything I asked of it. The one problem I encountered occurred when I went to move the router out of the way so I could clamp down a second workpiece. I inadvertently drove the gantry up against its stop blocks using the keyboard arrows. This didn’t harm anything, but the machine did lose its zero point. This meant that instead of being able to make a second part immediately, I had to go back and reset the bit to zero. A minor but important point to keep in mind.

The only other potential problem I see involves its size. The Shark SD100 is a great, relatively low-cost way to get into CNC, but if you see yourself eventually cutting out furniture parts and templates, you’ll outgrow it. But Next Wave has considered this and allows you to trade in for a larger model. Next Wave then refurbishes your old machine and donates it to a worthy school program. Now to get back to my next computer-enhanced project. If only I could get that song out of my head… 

—Tester, Ken Burton

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  • JS from LAKE GENEVA
    I found the CBC software very difficult to install! And it only works on a PC, not apple/Mac compatible .

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