Hot New Tools: Issue 26

Router lift with dial-in precision

Pinnacle Premium Router Quick-Lift

Conventional router lifts provide decent bit adjustment, but most still leave you with an endless cranking chore when it’s time to switch bits. The Pinnacle Premium Router Quick-Lift is different. With a quarter-turn twist, the spring-assisted lift wrench releases and then helps support the carriage to make changing bits and resetting the rough bit depth a fast and smooth operation. To dial-in your exact cut height, simply switch over to the built-in thumbwheel. The wheel’s gearbox has a 3/4" range of movement and a built-in brake to keep the carriage from slipping in mid-cut. Presently, the lift is designed to fit around the P-C 7518, one of the best routers in the 3 HP+ category, but the manufacturer will be offering motor housing grips to fit different-sized models in the next few months. This lift won’t let you down…unless that’s the direction you want to go.

#149078    $299.99

Woodcraft Tester:  Peter Collins

Oil-free nailer, oil safe finish 

Porter-Cable 18GA 2" Brad Nailer Kit

Woodworkers cringe over silicone contamination on their projects, but most fail to consider a leading culprit of the oil stain—until your air nailer spits a few drops in the area of your fasteners.

Lucky for us, Porter-Cable has redesigned their nailers to be oil-free, eliminating one more potential cause of finish problems. Like its oil-using predecessor, P-C’s new 18-gauge gun drives 5/8"- to 2"-long brad nails and sports a depth-of-drive adjustment. The 18GA comes in a carrying case complete with a pair of back-up safety glasses, so there’s no excuse for not wearing a pair.

I already own a small arsenal of pneumatics, but I’m buying this gun for my workshop. The chance of some mini-oil spill ruining my next project is slight, but considering the number of times I use brads instead of clamps for assembly, this gun is an affordable insurance against a flawed finish.

#149165    Kit includes 1,000  1¼" brads    $99.99

Woodcraft Tester:  James Nuckolls

A workbench that offers a step up

Vika Twofold

With a solid MDF top, polypropylene tool tray, and a 3-outlet, 15 amp surge-protected power strip; this 48-pound fold-away bench already does more than just offer an extra 19x40" work surface. Presently, our test model is seeing regular use as a chop saw station. And when tested with a universal vise, the Vika functioned surprisingly well as sturdy second workbench. Although it’s not ideal for handtool woodworking, but as a general-purpose garage workbench, or as a jobsite bench for decks and other exterior projects, it’s almost perfect.

There’s more. Flip up the top, and you’ll find a non-skid, honeycomb polypropylene deck; retract the legs and you’ve got a sturdy scaffold capable of supporting two people (500 pound capacity). The 21" tall legs might not sound like much, but they can make all the difference when it’s time to hang wall cabinets or tackle some less exciting household task like painting or wallpapering.

#149184    $149.99

Woodcraft Tester: Kent Harpool

These knives were made for carvin’

Hock Carving Knives

Most folks don’t know that master plane-blade maker Ron Hock started out as a knife maker in 1981. After years of encouragement, Ron revisited his roots to produce a new line of carving knives featuring sculpted bubinga handles that he designed for both comfort and control. The knives cover the basic range that most carvers need—small and large detail knives, roughing knife, and a pair of chip-carving knives.

I spent several hours using the roughing knife and both detail knives on a small carving for my daughter. Not surprisingly, the knives held their edge well, requiring only an occasional stropping. I was really impressed by the handles, which don’t have any uncomfortable rub points. I found myself carving long past the point where my hands might otherwise be too tired to keep their grip.

#148534 Style A   #148535 Style B   #148536 Style C

#148537 Style D   #148538 Style E   (All styles: $29.99 each)

Woodcraft Tester:  Tim Rinehart

Battery-powered breath of fresh air

Trend Airshield Pro

My shop already has a cyclone dust collector, two air filters, and a sizeable collection of dust masks and half mask respirators. So why do I need a powered faceshield? Because it fills the gap in my dust defense. The cyclone catches most of the big stuff; the air filters catch the fine after they are floating around in the same shop air I’m breathing. Unfortunately, the problem with dust masks and respirators is that they’re so hot and/or uncomfortable. For those reasons, I tend not to wear a mask when tackling quick sanding jobs or enjoying a long afternoon at my lathe.

Trend’s new Airshield Pro is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn. The rear-mounted battery and motor balance the helmet so you don’t have the feeling of holding up a heavy weight when you tilt your head. With better balance comes improved performance. Airshield’s new twin filter design provides 400% more filtration area than the original, and helps maintain a strong steady flow of air across your face to keep you cool and prevent the mask from fogging. It’s a good thing that the Ni-MH battery runs for eight hours on a charge because my turning sessions are becoming quite a bit longer than before.

#149030    $399.99

Woodcraft Tester:  Tim Rinehart

Customize your finish for high endurance

GF Cross Linker for Water-Based Finishes

Like the name suggests, General Finishes’s new cross linker causes the molecules in the water-based finishes to crosslink to create a harder film. Performance varies with the product it’s mixed with (it can be used with all of GF’s water-based topcoats), but when used with HP Polyurethane, the cross linker increases chemical resistance by 23% and abrasion resistance by 20%. This extra durability is a worthwhile investment for projects that will see a lot of abuse, such as hardwood floors, or a breakfast table I recently refinished for my family.

A big difference between the GF Cross Linker and other catalysts is its user-friendliness. The 4 oz. bottle is enough to enhance a gallon of finish, but if you want to supercharge a smaller can simply eyeball a mark on the side of the bottle. Once mixed, the finish has a forgiving 10-day pot life. And if you don’t use it all during the finish, the cross linker simply deactivates, leaving you with useable leftovers possessing the performance attributes of the original finish.

#149267    $27.99

Woodcraft Tester: Kent Harpool

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