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For the purposes of this article, there are basically 2 kinds of electric motors, "brushed" and "brushless". Brushed motors have been around for about 150 years, but vast improvements in the early 1900 have left them almost unchanged since then, and for what they are, they are an excellent, efficient motors.
With the invention of the transistors in the 1960s, motor development took another step forward with the invention of the brushless motors. It is only because of higher technologies that these motors can work in a high enough efficiency to make the commercially viable because instant internal switching needs to occur.
Milwaukee of course have taken some of the early steps in this field by producing a series of brushless drills, Impact Wrenches and Hammer Drills.
In Brushed motors, there are something called brushes that make contact with a specific part of the armature of the motor, the part that spins. In a brushless motor there are no brushes, the spinning is done by using permanent magnets and and switching poles internally in the motor in order to make it spin. Here is a great video from Learn Engineering that explains in detail how this works and compares it with brushed motor ....
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Dremel was the original rotary tool, and when it came out in the market in 1932 it was quite revolutionary. Mr. A.J. Dremel was apparently quite the prolific inventor and it was easy to see all the applications that a tool like this could be and so began the marketing of the bits and accessories.
Over the years others have come along to make their version of this popular rotary tool in an effort to provide customers with a convenient way easing into a specific line of tools. Milwaukee brought out their 12 volt like of power tools a number of years ago and since that time they have been adding tools and accessories to the line that all operate with the same 12 volt capacity batteries. Such is the case with this rotary tool version.
The tool itself is similar to many other rotary tools. One of the few added features of the Milwaukee version is display of battery charge left in the cell. While there are many battery operated rotary tools, few will let you know how much life is left in the battery before it needs recharging. That is one nice feature of the Milwaukee tool ...
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There are many different brands of router bits available on the market, from good quality brand name router bits, to much lower quality unknown names. The better quality brand name router bits almost always will come with some sort of a guarantee, the no-name brands may or may not come with some sort of a guarantee, you need to ask.
How much use a router bit gets is often one determining factor on whether or not to purchase a brand name bit or not. If a router bit is being used a lot, maybe even in a commercial setting, good quality bits are essential, not only because of their warranty and performance, but in some cases, also because of the longivity as a working tool bit.
There are also many small and hobby woodworkers who do not run production facilities and from time to time need to use a router and router bit. In some cases, they may only use a router bit once or twice in their lifetime, if it is some sort of specialty bit. Sometimes novice woodworkers simply are unable to afford the price of premium bits, and in these cases they look for alternative bits.
It's often hard to select a router bit with an unknown name, while you are standing in a store. Often you have to take the clerk's word on whether it is good or not, if they even know or have any experience with the bit, and often they have never used them first hand, only getting feedback from other who may have used them. So how do you find a decent quality bit when you are on more of a budget. The first thing to do is to look closely at the bits, do they look well made? does the coating on the bit (if there is one) appear to have been applied in professional manner (i.e. there are no drips or runs on the shaft of the bit), does the carbide appear to be well seated, and what kind of warranty does the bit come with. This alone will sometimes tell you the quality of the bit, if someone provides some sort of warranty on the bit, it means they will stand behind it.
The next issue is to see how well it performs, and the only way to do that is to take the bit and try it out in your shop. Single bits, i.e. those not it matched sets, are less likely to have problems, regardless of the manufacturer, but even single bits can have issues and that is why they need to be tried out.
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Working with wood can be challenging enough with out having to be fighting tools as well. One of the drawbacks of working with wood is that it is always moving due to moisture in the air that wood is constantly either absorbing or releasing depending on the humidity.
As woodworkers we are always striving to make the most accurate, and straightest cuts we can and that is why we purchase expensive machinery with highly accurate fences and micro adjustments, so that we can make perfect cuts. The reason we want perfect cuts is the wood is MUCH easier to work with when we work with flat, straight and right angle cuts. When these cuts are bad, wavy rough or otherwise at some sort of an angle, it either means wasted wood, or having to re-do of fill something, which costs more time and money.
One of the best investments is purchasing excellent quality table saw blades. Even if your saw is not the best in the world, you can still make excellent cuts if you have an excellent blade to work with. One of the features of a good blade is reduced vibration during cutting. A blade that is "dead" is far more likely to product a good, straight and accurate cut that one that wants to vibrate.
We decided to test some Freud blades with their non-stick Permashield trademark coating to see if this actually make any difference to the "resonance of the blade" ... have a look a the video and you will see that an excellent quality "dead" blade is not created that way with coating, but during the actual manufacture of the steel. There is no substitute for good quality tools
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There is nothing more annoying than trying to drill some accurate holes in a project and having the holes all ragged, or even worse, having them off centre because the drill bit is dull. I'm always amazed at home many times we drill holes in things, no wonder manufacturers are always coming out with newer and better corded and cordless drills ( and drill presses too). Woodworkers are a lucky bunch, we can use almost any drill bit to drill wood and most will at least do an acceptable job ... that is ... if they are sharp.
Of course the most common drill bit is the simple twist bit. Certainly it is not the oldest type of bit, in fact it really only came along with the introduction of powered tools to drive a bit of this design. Prior to power drills we had to use braces and similar tools with auger and spoon bits to drill holes. But twist bits remain the most common, though not always the most ideal for the job ... but none the less, the most common because they can drill wood, metal and plastics. Other bits like auger bits, Brad point tipped bits and forstner bits are pretty much only for wood.
There have been tools and jigs around for many years that can be used to sharpen twist bits, but we have not found any that are easy and convenient to use. To sharpen twist bits you really need a dedicated machine, and thats precisely what Drill Doctor has done. They have introduced a line of sharpening tools that will sharpen a long list of twist bits and some Drill Doctor tools will even Masonry bits.
The Drill Doctors are easy to use and will produce consistent results of sharp drill bits. If you find that the diamond grinding grit wheel in your unit is becoming warn, it is easily replaced with either a 100 grit or 180 grit wheel for finer grinding points. In Canada the Drill Doctor tools are available from fine woodworking stores like KMS Tools among others.
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The Ridgid Lamminate Trimmer is basically a small hand-held router and in many ways similar to the Bosch, Makita and other small 1/4 inch mini routers. The Ridgid Trim Router features a moulded grip that makes the router easy to hold on to and seems to conform to your hand as you hold it, and when you think about it, a hand held router should feel good to hold onto, after all it IS a hand held unit.
The Ridgid trim router that we tested also comes with a nice canvas case and includes both a square and a circular base, and even and edge guide along with the chuck wrench for installing and uninstalling bits. This unit is one of the few laminate trimmers that also features variable speed. At the outset, having variable speed may seem like a small feature but if you are using the trimmer for a variety of jobs, you NEED variable speed because trimming different materials requires a different speeds, like triming laminate or arborite uses a different speed than trimming burl wood veneers. The one thing we loved was the location and ease of changing speeds with this unit.
We found changing bits was a wee bit awkward as the base really needs to be removed altogether. To help facilitate this there is a quick release, but then there is also "stop" near the end that needs even more effort to get past. All in all, changing bits was not a big issue. just something we needed to get used to. We weren't thrilled with the off on switch which is a indented square block at the top (in fact we to really look to see where the off/on switch was). On the other hand we didn't know what we would do to improve this and we did appreciate that this design although not as easy to turn the trimmer on, is VERY easy to turn the trimmer off which is more important.
In using the router we came to like the micro adjustment that changes the height of the bit in relationship to the base. We found that we could some very accurate cuts and lock the position firmly and that it was positive and smooth to operate, but held firmly.
Laminate trimmers have been around for quite some time but have never been wildly popular and now that we have used this unit, we wonder why that is? These small hand held routers are convient, easy to use and have a multitude of uses such as ...