VERSATILE HOLD-DOWNS WITH MAGNETIC PERSONALITIES
THE PRODUCT: MagJig
MADE BY: Magswitch
WHAT IT DOES: Powerful magnetic hold-down that works with jigs and that can be switched on and off for quick attachment and release.
AVAILABLE AT WOODCRAFT: MagJig, 20mm, #147832; MagJig, 30mm, #147833
PRICE: #147832, $24.99; #147833, $29.99
TESTER: Jim Harrold
By themselves, one or two of these powerful, switch-operated devices may not do much for you and may seem quite mysterious. But when incorporated into a variety of scrapwood jigs, they can do wonders in their role as firm hold-downs, replacing cumbersome clamps and saving gobs of setup time while increasing safety.
THE SETUP: To employ the MagJigs (we recommend having a minimum of two), first choose the jig to use items with. In order for MagJigs to work, the selected jig needs to be something you intend to attach to a steel surface, such as a drill press or table saw table. The jig could serve as a guide, or a hold-down. It could contain other hardware parts to increase its functionality. Also keep in mind that whatever jig material you use for the MagJigs—Baltic birch plywood, MDF, or hardwood—it needs to be 11/16" to 3/4" thick so that the bottom of the MagJig is flush with the attaching scrapwood surface when in place.
Now, drill sized holes in the scrapwood to install the MagJigs. For the 20mm MagJig, bore a 30mm or 11/4" hole; for the 30mm MagJig, a 40mm or a 19/16" hole. Leave enough wood along the edges and ends of the scrapwood (from 3/4" to 1") to avoid breakage or weakness. Drop in the MagJigs (a friction-fit lets you quickly pull them out for use in another shop jig), or screw the devices to the jig for continued use.
Finally, adhere the scrapwood jig to the tool’s steel surface by turning the MagJig knobs clockwise to activate the magnetic force in an instant.
THE TEST: Using the four jigs featured here in actual shop applications, I was able to rip stock safely through our shop table saw, cut crown molding on a table saw, drill accurate holes in the slats for our cross-brace chair (see page 10), and resaw a 7"-wide piece of wenge on the bandsaw. I was amazed at how little time I needed to make the above setups. And the setup for cutting the crown on the table saw provided the needed safety for this somewhat intimidating cut. By simply locating jigs and locking them in place with a turn of the wrists, I was ready to go. Trying to clamp such jigs to the underside of a steel tool table can be trying at best, while forever seeking the perfect spot.
BEST APPLICATIONS: Not knowing what to do with the MagJigs is likely the biggest challenge manufacturer Magswitch has in selling the items. Consequently, the company spent this past year developing jigs that are well suited for the MagJigs. We borrowed them to give you four practical shop applications. Complete with dimensions, they’re yours for the taking.
JIG 1: THE THIN-STOCK HOLD-DOWN
This clever jig is made from one piece of solid wood and consists of four graduated steps for holding down
1/8" -, 1/4"-, 3/8"-, and 1/2"-thick stock.
JIG 2: COVE MOLDING AND DADO GUIDE SYSTEM
Employing a pair of stock-containing scrapwood guides, this jig includes two MagJigs in each opposing guide strip, as well as a T-track, and a Magswitch vertical featherboard (#147528, $11.99).
JIG 3: BANDSAW RESAW JIG
Consisting of just two pieces of scrapwood, this screwed together jig locks in place at the desired distance from the blade, allowing for an even cut from top to bottom.
JIG 4: UNIVERSAL FENCE
Shown here in a drilling operation, this right-angle jig, held together with pocket screws, makes quick work of any number of fence-dependent tasks.
TESTER’S TAKE: Though I’m not crazy about the price, I am a little nutty over the possibilities for using MagJigs. A good place to start is to own just two and make a bunch of jigs that they fit into. The holding power is impressive. I asked Magswitch if they would supply a free pair to the reader who submitted the best original workshop application, and they seemed quite agreeable. Submit your idea to our “Tips and Tricks” address on page 21 and we’ll make sure Magswitch gets it. We’ll also publish the best idea in the magazine and award the originator a $100 Woodcraft gift card.
Finesse Your Bandsaw into a Scrollsaw
THE PRODUCT: Carter Stabilizer
MADE BY: Carter Products
WHAT IT DOES: Allows the bandsaw to function like a scrollsaw by serving as a guide for small bandsaw blades
AVAILABLE AT WOODCRAFT: #140819
TESTER: Mark Duginske
Although the bandsaw is capable of lots of operations such as ripping and resawing, the use of smaller blades for more intricate tasks like cutting curves increases the tool’s versatility. Using a 1/8" blade the bandsaw can make a curve the size of a pencil eraser while a 3/16" blade will cut a 90° turn. Small blades cut faster than a scrollsaw and can also be used to cut much thicker material than a jigsaw. And, unlike the scrollsaw, the bandsaw blade cannot pick up the wood and vibrate it.
However, there is one problem with using small blades on the bandsaw: the blades are easily damaged if the metal guides are not set perfectly. Even when the side guides are perfectly adjusted, the small flexible blade can deflect enough so that the sides of the teeth contact the steel blocks, destroying the teeth. The Carter Stabilizer Photo A solves this problem.
Carter’s patented Stabilizer bandsaw guide provides stability and versatility when cutting with blades 1/4" or less in width. The patented design consists of a bracket that supports a roller on a bearing with a groove in the middle where the blade rides. The bottom guide is retracted, allowing the Stabilizer to control the blade from the top guide position.
THE SETUP: On the standard 14" bandsaw simply loosen one screw to remove the top guide holder and slip the Stabilizer in the slot as shown in the photo. Setup takes less than a minute. If you own or are purchasing a Carter full guide kit then it’s as easy as sliding out the upper guide and sliding in the Stabilizer, and at this point you’re ready to cut.
Setup for bandsaws larger than the standard 14" models is more involved because the large bearing guides are hard to adjust for small blades. Carter’s solution is to make a Stabilizer Guide Bracket Photo B for the most popular large saws [available from Carter Products—carterproducts.com, (888) 622-7837]. Simply loosen and remove the top guide, which is easy to do, and replace it with the custom made Stabilizer. Woodcraft carries the Stabilizer for the large 18" Rikon and other popular large saws.
TRIAL RUN: There is a trick to using the Stabilizer. Track the small blade in the center of the tires with the guide retracted so nothing touches the blade. Run the saw for a second to see if the blade is tracking correctly. That is the “neutral” position of the blade. Next advance the Stabilizer so that it touches the blade and the blade is centered in the groove. Then advance the Stabilizer forward about 1/8" so that it pushes the blade forward. Small blades are flexible and tend to wander. By advancing the Stabilizer forward it stabilizes the blade and makes the small blades more rigid so they behave better.
Double-check to make sure that the blade tracks in the middle of the top wheel. You may need to angle the top wheel back slightly. The pressure stabilizes the blade and also prevents the blade from coming forward if you back out of a cut.
BEST APPLICATIONS: The Stabilizer comes in handy when cutting out patterned pieces that have a lot of scrollwork that includes tight turns. The groove in the bearing roller supports the blade but also allows it to rotate slightly which is great for scrollwork.
Tester's Take: There is no perfect guide system for every situation. This product helps you cut curves with small blades. However, joinery—cuts such as when making tenons and dovetails—goes beyond what this product is designed for.