Hot New Tools: Issue 55

Super Smoothers

WoodRiver® No. 4 1⁄2 and No. 5 1⁄2 Bench Planes

As with the previous WoodRiver planes, careful machining, thick blades, and ductile iron bodies combine to make these tools high achievers in the home shop, and from a user’s point of view, they’re a breeze to tune up. The feature that makes these planes particularly desirable as smoothers is the Bedrock-style frog adjustment mechanism. This includes a precisely milled ramp that effectively anchors the blade to the sole, reducing chatter for super-smooth cuts. In addition, you can adjust the frog without removing the blade, allowing you to close the plane’s mouth easily to help tame tear-out when planing highly figured woods or other difficult grain.

Your biggest quandary may be deciding which plane to start with. With a 2 3⁄8"-wide iron and 10"-long sole, the No. 4 1⁄2 is regarded by many woodworkers as their go-to finishing plane. The No. 5 1⁄2 can also be used for smoothing, but its heft and size make it handy for other chores, such as flattening boards. (The 2 3⁄8"-wide blade is 3⁄8" wider than a No. 5. for a wider swath each pass.) The 15"-long sole makes it not as well suited to jointing edges as a 22"-long No. 7, but it’s a perfect size for use with a shooting board.

No. 4 1⁄2,  #158001, $169.99

No. 5 1⁄2,  #158002, $189.99

Tester: Kent Harpool

Almost-instant woodworking

Nexabond 2500M Instant Wood Adhesive

Bioformix’s Nexabond 2500 may change how you assemble your next project, and it will definitely shorten the time it takes to finish the job.

To test the glue’s viability as an all-purpose wood glue, I face-glued joints using a variety of sample woods and then hammered them apart. I expected the joints to crack along the glue-line (CAs tend to be brittle), but the wood failed and splintered instead, similar to a PVA glue joint. I even used my dishwasher as a torture chamber. The Nexabond joints held and remained stuck even in the intense heat and moisture.

Nexabond provides a reasonable open time (about five minutes). A full cure takes about an hour, but after five minutes of clamping time, the bond strength will allow you to remove the clamps and move on to the next assembly. Nexabond’s water-free formulation means that you can sand projects immediately without worrying about water-induced joint swelling and shrinking (a problem with PVAs).

Nexabond costs more than PVA and isn’t as easy to clean up, but its combination of speed and strength makes it a valuable viable alternative when you’re facing time constraints or a lack of clamps.

#158792, 4 oz., $16.50

Tester: Joe Hurst

Premium pocket-holer

Kreg K5 Pocket-Hole System

Not happy to rest on their laurels, the folks at Kreg listened to pocket-hole jig users and created a brand-new jig that not only streamlines the making of pocket-hole joints but also contributes to a cleaner, more organized workshop. 

The most obvious improvement is the K5’s ratcheting clamp. Designed to hold workpieces from 1⁄2" to 1 1⁄2" thick with uniform pressure, the clamp adjusts without tools. Simply slide it against the back of the workpiece, and then pull down on the front toggle to lock it in place (a rubber pad on the clamp’s face prevents marring your work). To ease setup and use, the jig includes a gauge block for setting the drill-bit stop collar and a face-frame stop to ensure consistently positioned pocket holes. The swiveling dust-collection port and storage compartments in the support wings might seem like minor improvements, but these details have done the most for making pocket-hole drilling a cleaner operation and helping me keep track of parts.

#158631, $139.99

Tester: Peter Collins

Not-so-little Laguna

Laguna 14|12 bandsaw

At long last, Laguna has responded to woodworkers who want a rock-solid 14" steel-framed bandsaw but don’t have the big bucks to spend on one or the desire to wire their workshop for a 220-volt machine.

This 1 3⁄4 hp, 110V bandsaw bears a striking resemblance to its award winning 3 hp, 220V bigger brother. The 14|12 employs the same ceramic guides as the larger saw, an oversized table, tracking and tension windows, and a heavy-duty trunion. Additionally, the saw comes equipped with other user-friendly features including a quick-release blade tensioner, lighted safety switch, high/low resaw fence, and built-in 110V outlet. Optional accessories include an adjustable work light and mobility system.

Woodworkers who routinely resaw wide boards might opt to save for a slightly taller and more powerful model. However, for those who rarely max out the capacity of their 12" thickness planers, the saw offers plenty of capacity and power and comes ready for duty in any garage or basement.

#854323, $1,110

Tester: Andrew Bondi

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