Hot New Tools Issue 45

Dovetails that don’t have to stop

Leigh R9 Plus Joinery System

Priced on par with entry-level dovetailers, Leigh’s latest template-style jig makes quick work of through dovetails and box joints exceeding the ability of competing jigs to rout wide workpieces. The trick is the way the template jumps down the beam and locks onto awaiting pin plates. Rout the first 9", move the template to the next position, and continue routing. Using the three plates included with the kit, you can join boards up to 27" wide (taller than most blanket chests).

The template comes with the necessary hardware, but Leigh leaves the beam building to the user. Fortunately, the instructions and drawings are easy to follow. Using the assembled jig is just as simple. Secure the template to the first two pin plates, clamp your 

board to the beam, and rout your tails with the included dovetail bit. To rout the pin board, flip the template and use the included straight bit. If the joint isn’t quite right, twist the elliptically-shaped guide bushing (e-Bush), and dial in the fit.

The R9 cannot do half-blind or variable-width through dovetails, but with additional bits and bushings supplied with the accessory kit, it can rout through dovetails and box joints in three different widths.

#153668, $149.00
#153669 accessory kit, $79.00

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

New finishing twist for turners

General Finishes Wood Turners Finish

Water-based finishes have had a big impact on woodworking, yet many turners still seem stuck on solvent-based finishes, which can pack a punch. This is a problem during months when the weather’s too cold to open windows for proper ventilation. Thankfully, General Finishes has created a viable low-VOC alternative that makes turning safer and less smelly.

This new water-based urethane formula dries surprisingly fast. Using a pad or detail sprayer, lay on two or three coats, wait a few minutes, buff it out, and you’re done. (Unlike other water-based finishes, this one contains an oil resin. It adds a bit of color that will continue to darken over time.) Another plus: the finish resists hand oils and acids.

#153331 (8 oz.), $11.99
#153332 (pint), $15.99
#153333  (quart), $24.99

Tester: Kent Harpool

Nice pair of gents

Lee Valley Gent Saws

Cash-strapped woodworkers wanting to improve their hand-tool skills have often been forced to choose between buying a good crosscut saw (for cutting tenon shoulders) or a ripsaw (for cutting tenon cheeks and dovetails). By offering a pair of quality saws that costs as much as one good saw elsewhere, Lee Valley has solved the problem.

Gent saws were intended for “gentlemen woodworkers,” or hobbyists, but don't let the name fool you. With 7 7⁄8"-long blades that have a cutting depth of 1 5⁄8", these mid-sized saws are equally useful for precise cuts on thick stock. I found the 22 tooth-per-inch (tpi) crosscut perfect for cutting tenon shoulders. The 20-tpi rip saw cuts smoothly, without being as aggressive or grabby as my 14-tpi dovetail saw. I find myself reaching for it for all sorts of quick at-the-bench cuts.

A boon to beginners, both saws tracked straight out of the box. The saws look identical, but labels on the blades help you reach for the right one.

#153791 20 tpi Rip, $49.99
#153790 22 tpi Crosscut, $49.99

Tester: Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk

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