Hot New Tools: Issue 23

Multi-faceted protractor is your mitersaw’s best friend

Starrett 5-in-1 Combination Protractor

Starrett’s new 5-in-1 Combination Protractor was designed to eliminate math and guesswork when cutting angles, and I had the perfect test—helping a friend trim out a fiberglass bathtub in the bathroom of his old farm house.

Our challenge: no two tub dimensions or angles measured the same, and room corners were out of square and plumb. Plus my friend wanted panels to cover the tub’s front three angled facets and a step on the front center facet—all matching the bathroom’s oak trim. Fortunately, the 5-in-1 really made this job easier. I didn’t have to fuss with matching the mitersaw’s angle to a sliding T-bevel or sneak up on an angle with repeated cuts. I just fitted the 5-in-1 to an inside or outside angle, read the saw setting for the needed miter, set my saw, and cut. By the time we finished, I had decided this is best mitersaw accessory you can buy.

Scales include the overall miter joint and the cut angle needed to join matching miters. Also: a compound cut comparison table tells the miter and bevel angles for 38° and 45° crown molding cuts, and another table shows common roof pitches.

#148875 $89.99

Woodcraft Tester: Tim Rinehart

Versatile bracket puts dust-collection piping on hold

Dust-Collection Combo Services
Hanger Bracket

As a certified “tool junkie” I seldom get excited about an accessory that really isn’t a tool at all—but these new Hanger Brackets, now that’s another story. Anything from a simple strap to “hooks” fashioned from scrap can serve as a hanger, but nothing to date matches the efficiency of this bracket to organize and route your dust-collection piping and hoses from your machines to your dust collector. As an added bonus, molded in the bracket web are a 1" diameter hole and a 3/4" diameter hole for conveniently routing air lines or electrical conduit. Also in the web is an open notch to keep electrical cords off the floor, minimizing tripping hazards. Each molded hanger bracket supports 4", 5", and even 6" O.D. pipe or hose and can be horizontally or vertically mounted on either ceiling or wall. An adjustable vinyl strap locks pipe and hose lengths in place.

During installation, the first thing I did was mount a number of these brackets horizontally on every other stud down all four walls of my shop. Then where I had a dust-collection hose drop for a machine I placed a couple of brackets vertically to keep the drops organized as well.

#148750 $6.99 (4 or more $5.99 each)

Woodcraft Tester: Peter Collins

Epoxy adds mirror shine, protects against damage

System Three Mirror Coat

If you want to give your tabletop or countertop a mirror shine, you should try System Three Mirror Coat. This self leveling, two-part epoxy topcoat produces a clear, smooth, glossy coating that’s hard, scratch resistant, and impervious to alcohol.

My kitchen table takes a beating between homework, meals, and being used as a general purpose work surface. When it came time to refinish it, I wanted something durable and protective that would let the wood grain show through. Mirror Coat seemed the perfect solution, but epoxy and I don’t always get along. (I was concerned about the consequences if I screwed up.) Actually, the process could not have been easier. Instructions for figuring the amount needed, surface prep, mixing, and application were very clear, and the application went off without a hitch. Now, my kitchen tabletop is not only bomb-proof but beautiful. The 11/2" pt. kit covers approximately 4.8 sq. ft.

#143153 1½ pt kit, $36.50
#143154 1½ qt kit, $63.50
#148352 3 qt kit, $102.99

Woodcraft Tester: Kent Harpool

Coping sled manages stock efficiently and protects hands

Pinnacle Premium Coping Sled

Pinnacle has designed its new Premium Coping Sled with safety, accuracy, and efficiency in mind. Features include a ridged 18" aluminum fence, three T-slot hold-downs to clamp stock, and a standard dimension phenolic guide bar to ensure smooth operation even in aluminum miter tracks. Also, the sled offers a variety of offset positions for the guide bar via several pre-drilled holes, and a simple fence stop allows for repeatable cuts. When I gave the Pinnacle Premium Coping Sled a test run, I especially liked the way it allowed me to keep my hands farther away from the spinning router bit as well as the ability to hold a backer board tight against the workpiece for tear-out free end-grain cuts.

#148485 $139.99

Woodcraft Tester: Peter Collins

Flexible abrasive pads good for hard-to-work areas

Mirlon Total Scuff Pads

Mirlon Total is a new fine finishing and surface preparation product from Mirka Abrasives that I especially like because the 41/2 × 9" pads are only 1/8" thick, making them extremely flexible. Mirlon pads are made from cut fibers coated with resin and abrasive, giving them a three-dimensional structure that has depth and flexibility unlike a piece of regular, flat sandpaper. In comparison to its competitors, the Mirlon pad measures half the thickness, and features stronger, more flexible fibers with a denser coating. According to Mirka, Mirlon Total provides a more consistent scratch pattern and lasts longer. The pads are available in 360, 1500, and 2500 grits.

I first used Mirlon Total when finishing a cabinet for housing some electronic equipment. The flexibility of these pads made it easy to get into contoured areas such as trim. Unlike conventional sandpaper, I was able to use both sides of each pad. I then tried it while turning a spindle and was again impressed with the results on the irregular surfaces. You can even extend the useful life of each pad by simply blowing air through the open strands to remove accumulated dust.

#148877 360 grit, 3 pack, $5.99
#148878 1500 grit, 3 pack, $5.99
#148879 2500 grit, 3 pack, $5.99
#148880 assorted grit, 3 pack, $5.99

Woodcraft Tester: Tim Righter

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