The Toolbox: Issue 2

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This article is from Issue 2 of Woodcraft Magazine.

MADE OF JESSEM’S TRADEMARK RED anodized aluminum, the Mite-R-Excel includes a fence-mounted stop

JessEm Mite-R-Excel

The new Mite-R-Excel miter gauge from JessEm Tool offers an unsurpassed level of accuracy, reliability and value. Designed (and priced) specifically for the serious woodworker, this fine-quality precision instrument is CNC-machined from heavy-gauge 6061 aluminum components for rigidity and rock-solid performance. Following the trend of JessEm’s recent introductions, this new tool has the bright red anodized look of its siblings.

The miter gauge pivots 45 degrees in both directions and features JessEm’s innovative dual-indexing angle location system, which utilizes a brass push-pin arrangement to index positive stops at 5-degree intervals. Additional pin locations allow for quick, accurate angle location down to every 1/2 degree and a separate vernier scale allows additional angle settings to 1/10 degree.

the mite-r-excel fence extends from 24" to 36".

The gauge mechanism locks firmly with a twist of the solid-aluminum knurled grip handle. The 20" solid steel miter slot bar uses a T-slot washer that fits standard 3/4" miter slots. The bar features user-adjustable “snuggers” designed to eliminate slop in the miter slot.

The fence is built around a heavy flex-free aluminum extrusion. The fence length is 27" in the closed position, but extends out to a maximum measured cut length of 36" with stop. The fence also features a unique dual-reference adjustable scale that allows accurate cutting measurements from the blade to 24", and out to 36" when using the telescoping fence extension. The fence comes complete with a flip-stop that seats into grooves in the fence face for accurate positioning of your workpiece. 

IN ADDITION TO POSITIVE STOPS every 5 degrees, another pin allows the Mite-R-Excel to be adjusted in 1/2-degree increments.

In addition to quick and easy adjustability with solid brass lock knobs, the fence has multiple T-tracks for attaching jigs or sacrificial subfences for zero-clearance crosscuts. 

Beautifully designed and engineered, the Mite-R-Excel tool’s performance is as good as its looks, and it’s sure to become your most prized table saw accessory. It retails for $219.99. For more information, contact JessEm Tool Co. at (866) 272-7492.      

− Tim Rinehart

THE DUO WORKBENCH, shown with optional drawer and door boxes.

Sjöbergs “Duo” Workbench

When setting up shop, finding homes for bench-top tools and equipment usually isn’t an issue. But sometimes the layout of the workspace dictates where the bench itself goes. When I set up my garage shop, my old workbench could go in just one spot. Unfortunately, that meant that the bench’s tail vise – set up for right-handed operation – was inaccessible for regular use without constant rearranging of shop contents. If only the tail vise was on the other side.

By the same token, even with no workspace restrictions to hamper a workbench’s location, a left-handed woodworker might find a standard bench difficult to adjust to with the vises located in the “wrong” places.

With Sjöbergs’ new “Duo” workbench, shop placement and user handedness are no longer issues, as you can shuffle the location of the two vises to suit your needs. Changing locations is a matter of unscrewing the vise all the way out, slipping it out of position and into its new location, and giving the handle a few spins to set the threads. The whole thing takes a few seconds. As to options, the Duo has locating holes and threads on both ends of the front edge, as well as tail positions both left and right.

FOUR SETS OF VISE HOLES and threads allow the Duo bench to be set up to suit its owner.

The Duo bench offers a veritable kennel with 34 dog holes on the surface of the bench, two more on the top of each vise, plus six more on the fronts of the trestle legs for a total of 44. The Duo comes standard with eight bench dogs, along with a pair of adjustable holdfasts that can be mounted in any of the surface dog holes or on the front of the trestle legs. A pair of aluminum vise-jaw protectors is also included.

The Duo lacks the tool tray common to many benches, which is fine with me. I’ve found that having a tool tray almost guarantees that my tools end up collecting there, instead of being put away.  The Duo’s work surface measures 53" x 21", every square inch of it usable.

Made of beech, the Duo workbench (without the optional under-bench storage boxes) weighs in at 86 lbs. The top thickness is 1" in the center portion, and 2-3/4" around the edges. The working height is a comfortable 34". 

The Sjöbergs Duo bench is priced at $499.99. Optional drawer/door boxes that fit inside the trestle base are available in several configurations, and are priced from $150-$215.  

For more information, visit            − A.J. Hamler

Fein HandyMaster ABS 14

Fein HandyMaster Cordless Drill Series

Power tools have been around for more than a century, with the German company C. & E. Fein laying claim to having invented the handheld electric drill way back in 1895. Actually, “handheld” is a bit of an understatement. With a large wooden grip on either side of the motor and a round belly plate mounted opposite the business end, this primitive tool required the operator to use both his hands to hold the device steady and add a push from his midsection to propel it through the workpiece. 

Over the past 109 years, power tools have evolved with lighter, more powerful motors, better insulation, more functional designs and eventually battery-powered, cordless operation. However, it wasn’t until about halfway between the development of those first electric drills and today, in 1950, that the term “ergonomic” was coined. Now Fein has taken ergonomic design to the next level with the introduction of their HandyMaster line of drill/drivers and hammer drills. We got our hands on a model from the middle of the pack, the 14.4-volt ABS 14. And, while the word “ergonomic” is sometimes little more than a buzzword, I had to admit that the ABS 14 fits the hand quite well.

EACH OFFERING IN THE HANDYMASTER LINEUP comes in a hard plastic case with charger, two batteries, a hand strap and a pair of double-ended driving bits.

Measuring just over 10" from the base of the battery to the top of the tool, and slightly more than 9-1/4" from the rear of the motor housing to the tip of the chuck, the HandyMaster ABS 14 is extremely well-balanced, allowing for protracted periods of use without fatigue. In addition, the T-handle grip features vibration-attenuating soft padding on the back for an extra measure of comfort and safety. The tool can be used either left- or right-handed with a locking function. It is equipped with a single sheath drill chuck with internal spindle lock and chucking power safety device. 

The motor on the Fein HandyMaster ABS 14 is rated for operation at up to 1400 rpm under no-load conditions and develops 327 inch/pounds of maximum tightening torque, configurable to 10 different stages, including the drilling stage. The variable-speed motor features both forward and reverse gearing and there is an electronic speed regulator to ensure smooth drilling and screw driving operations. 

Fein packages the HandyMaster ABS 14 in a kit which includes the drill, two 14.4-volt NiCad battery packs rated at 2.0 amp/hours, a rapid charger, hand strap, two double-ended screwdriver bits – one with a pair of Phillips heads, the other with both Phillips and slotted. I was a bit disappointed that there was no snap-in onboard storage for a driver bit or two, though, as I’m prone to misplace them. 

Everything comes packed in a hard plastic carrying case, with a suggested retail price of $199.99 for the NiCad-powered version. You can upgrade to a pair of 14.4-volt NiMh batteries rated at 3.0 amp/hours for about $30 more. 

Other NiCad models in their HandyMaster line include the 9.6-volt ABS 9 ($119.99),  the 12-volt ABS 12 ($179.99), and the 18-volt ABS 18 ($229). In each case, the NiMh version is priced about $30 higher.

Finally, while not commonly used for woodworking, Fein also offers hammer-drill versions of the 14.4-volt and 18-volt drills. 

For more information, contact Fein USA at (800) 441-9878, or visit                     — Lee Gordon 

Veritas Auxiliary File/Rasp Handle

This is one of those shop accessories so simple in concept that it makes you wonder why you’ve never seen one before (or, more to the point, why you didn’t think of it yourself).

Just slip this auxiliary handle over the end of your file or rasp, tighten down the hardwood knob, and it instantly turns your file into a two-handed tool. High-density plastic pads on both the underside of the adjustment knob and upper side of the bottom surface grip the file firmly without damaging it. The handle fits just about any profile file or rasp up to  1/2" thick and 13/16" wide, and it can be placed anywhere along the length of the file that gives the best grip for a particular task.

It retails for $14.95. For more information, contact Lee Valley Tools at (800) 871-8158 ((800)267-8767 in Canada).     − A.J. Hamler


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