Rockwell SoniCrafter Review

 

You can always tell a “good idea” when others start imitating you. Such is the case with the Rockwell SoniCrafter Oscillating tool. If you are familiar with the original tool of in this ever expanding field, the Fein Oscillating tool then you will know what the SoniCrafter is like too, at least to some degree. Others have recently brought similar oscillating tools into the market place like Bosch and Dremel.

These oscillating type tools are often the kind of tool you think you will likely never need … until the time you finally realize just how handy and time saving they can be. True they are probably not the tool a woodworker might use every day, but for those otherwise very tough and time consuming jobs, these oscillating tools shine.

What we really liked about the Rockwell SoniCrafter is the vast range of accessories that makes this tool as versatile as possible. Not only does it cut things like wood, tile and similar products, it can also grind, shape, sand and polish these items that most other tools are useless at.

The SoniCrafer has a nice solid feel to it and thanks to the rubberized construction, is easy to hang on to. We also liked the fact that this unit was a corded one for one very important reason. We felt that similar tools that are battery operated, and yes battery operated is a nice feature … except when you have a tool you use infrequently (most likely like an oscillating tool) and the batteries are dead. It is far more inconvenient to have to charge a battery in order to get a job done than it is to simply plug the tool in and actually get the job done.This tool is very much a cross-utility tool in that DIY home reno users as well as dedicated “woodworkers” can get equal use from a tool like this. We found the tool easy to use and attaching the accessories and different cutting, grinding and sanding attachments fairly easy and quick to affix.  
 

It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a detail sander or are installing a new floor and need cut off the bottoms of door mouldings to fit the new floor, this tool is the perfect match. The variable speed control means that it has a wider breadth of applications when it comes to cutting and sanding. We have heard of complaints that the tool can get a bit warm to use after extended use, we did not find the heat excessive, but then we didn’t find any applications that we felt called for long usage.

All in all we found the Rockwell SoniCrafter to be a well put together tool with a nice variety of attachments, AND at a price that is very attractive for a tool of this type. Even for someone who is more of a casual user, there is a price package to fit your budget and you can get other attachments later on if you need them.

 

 

DeWalt 18Volt Drill DC720KA

DeWalt has worked hard over the years to establish itself as a reputable tool provider and their efforts have paid off. The DC720KA is a real workhorse in the DeWalt line. Packing 18 volts of power means this drill will do almost any job around the house and for more serious woodworkers, this unit is serious work tool.

 Despite the fact this tool is carrying 18 volts worth of battery power and yes, it is somewhat heavy at 4.8 lbs (at least in our opinion) as can be expected, DeWalt seems to have been able to offset the weight issue by keeping the balance and grip of the tool such that it is easy to handle. We found the drill easy to use for extended periods and the extra power and battery life made this tool a must have.

 The unit has two speed settings, a high speed setting used more for drilling, particularly through wood and a slower speed setting often used more for power work or for driving screws. The speed selector switch is readily available and slides easily between positions.

One of the things we look for in testing cordless drive / driver units is the maximum speed of the drill. In this case the DeWalt DC720KA has a variable speed range in both high and low speed ranges and peaks at a very nice 1700 RPM. To compliment the speed setting is a 17 position  clutch setting which again works in both high and low speed settings, and when combined with the variable speed trigger, this drill can be used for almost any conceivable drilling or driving application.

 One nice feature of this tool is the LED light which, at first, we thought was not all that useful but then began to thing of all the number of times we are in confined areas, trying to drill holes, or more … trying to drive screws and having a light on the drive to actually see what you are doing in huge benefit, so to that we say Great !

 The last thing we look at is the chuck. For general purpose drill / driver units we prefer keyless chucks and this unit provides that. One of the disadvantage with some keyless chucks is their tendency to loosen with use, we did not find that with this tool. Both drill bits and drive bits were gripped firmly until we elected to remove them.

 Overall we were quite happy with this drill, we liked the power, the gripping power of the chuck and found the battery life for our testing purposes was excellent. From out testing this appeared to be another great tool from DeWalt.

Lie-Neilsen Low Angle Jack Plane

This a fairly "specific-use" tool, but really top flight. They used to be called butcher-block planes because they were used mostly to flatten endgrain maple butcher block. I carve large pieces of poplar with alot of end grain glue joints and with my regular compliment of planes and sanding equipment, I wasn't able to get really dead flat joints. The low angle jack plane is a very well machined handplane. It is a "simple" block plane with an iron body that has an adjustable throat, a bronze lever cap and cherry handle and knob.

The blade is a hefty 3/16 " and is adjusted with a bronze knurled screw. There is no lateral blade adjustment, but the bed is ground so true and the forward adjustment is without any slop so you dont need it. Every piece of the plane is rock solid so even on end grain you get perfect curls.

I also use this plane on tough woods (curly and birdseye maple) long and short grain with great results.When I look at this plane as a machine, with the exception of a few carving tools, nothing I own is as well made. I had always looked at $225 planes like jewelry, nice but unneccesary. But You really do get what you pay for atleast with this plane. On a 1 to 10 scale it's an easy 10. If you use hand tools extensively (you caveman!!) certainly try out one of Lie-Neilsen's planes. The only downside is the price, but it will last your lifetime. Incedentally, this plane did not need any "tuning" before use, five minutes on the blade with a leather strop and it was perfect.

Jet 10 JWTS-10JF 10" Table Saw

 For a mid-level price saw, in my opinion, you cannot beat this saw.  The motor. 1 1/2 HP is  quiet compared to other saws we have tried.We also like the positioning of the off/on switch, although it did take a while to get used to, but we soon remembered where it was and found it to be in a handy, convenient location.

After assembly, it gave me true and accurate cuts right out of the box. something that I was impressed with, but you should check your own, you might not be so lucky.

     

Although the fence system is good, it not fantastic. Like most fences I wish it was a bit longer, but then I wish that about my sailboat every time I take it out too. I like the saw because it is sturdy and well built like all Jet equipment and feels comfortable to use.

The trunions (which hold up the blade assembly) are extra heavy, which is one of the primary features that sold me on this saw. Nothing is more annoying than having to re-aligh the blade every few cuts and this one will really button down that trunion assemble unit.

 

If you watched the video, you have seen the features this saw has.

All in all, this is an excellent saw and an excellent value.

Collins Complete Woodworkers Manual

Submiitted by GRUE Collins Complete Woodworkers Manual by Albert Jackson and David Day Format: Hardback Price: £24.99 UK Publication Date: October 3, 1996 Imprint: Collins ISBN: 0-00-414005-2

USA released as - The Complete Manual of Woodworking
 
I was looking for some up to date references for my woodworking classes and came across Collins Complete Woodworker's Manual.

YES! Printed in a way that would attract 21st century teen-agers through to seasoned veterans. It's comprehensive, with up-to-date illustrations on woodworking and includes stunning colour photographs. A special feature is a chapter detailing with the characteristics of a huge variety of timber with plates clearly showing each, and the effect of applying a clear finish.

To give you an idea of how well the book is illustrated, a lecturer in publishing commented: "I would recommend that anyone interested in the design and production of explanatory drawings should take a look at this book by way of example."

Importantly the book deals brilliantly with design, and provides ergonomic data, using actual three-dimensional designer's sketches, to illustrate the basic principles of chair, table and storage-unit construction. Gee this is well done! There are ideas for selecting everything from the best joint for the job to the most efficient order of assembly.

For the tool buffs, this book boasts an unrivalled illustrated survey of every type of tool “ from the bench plane to the power router, and a Japanese saw to a universal machine “ and each is comprehensively described to help the novice, inform the tool buyer and assist the experienced woodworker to plan and stock a safe machine shop.

There is great chapter on joint making with photographic examples, working text and step-by-step drawings of every type of joint. It even shows you how to set out a beveled dovetail!

Whether it is turning, woodcarving, veneering or marquetry, bending or finishing wood, the book provides detailed coverage of those crafts and would be appealing to every woodworker. There is even advice on using such materials as metal, glass, marble and leather in combination with wood. Add to this a comprehensive range of fixings and fittings – from the latest in adhesives to locks and handles “ and you have everything you need to complete the job.

Looking at other reviews the book is variously described as "A fine book", "Well thought out and well designed", "A friend to lean on", "Thoroughly authoritative, well-illustrated and well-produced" and "An absolute must for the bookshelf"

The authors, Albert Jackson and David Day are the authoritative writers on DIY, home improvement and maintenance. They have made many television appearances, and have presented two major BBC series on furniture making and renovation. Their best-selling books include the ˜Collins Complete DIY Manual'

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO WOODWORKING TOOLS, MATERIALS, TECHNIQUES & CONSTRUCTION EVER PUBLISHED

CutList Plus Review

As a woodworker, I enjoy the time spent in my workshop building furniture and other challenging woodworking projects. Because I'm not working with an unlimited budget, I need to keep my eyes on the bottom line throughout the entire project to make sure I don't underestimate it. This task is unfortunately the least enjoyable because it's mostly done out of the shop with a piece of paper, a calculator, and messy sketches.

But I now have a new tool as useful as my table saw to help me out with this chore and it's not what you think… It's a software called CutList Plus developed by Bridgewood Design (http://www.cutlistplus.com). This product serves two main purposes: powerful estimating and sheet layout optimization. As for the estimating part, everything use in your project from the wood, the hardware, the finishing products, and the labor can be calculated to generate accurate estimates for yourself or your clients. There's no important learning curve issue involved here because the user interface is very similar to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which uses tabs, columns and rows. You simply enter your list of parts of rough lumber, dimensioned lumber or sheet goods and CutList Plus does all the work for you to figure out the amount of wood you will need and how much it will cost.

Getting all that information is worthless if you have no clue how the software has laid out your parts on the material. Here comes the powerful layout optimization to tell you graphically what will be the best fit. You can print out those layouts for yourself or those in charge of cutting the parts. The gem of this product lies in the variety of optimization patterns available individually for each sheet good. You don't have to accept blindly what the software gives you in the first place. It's all up to you to pick other choices that may suit your work habits better. Speaking of optimization, you can also tell CutList Plus to optimize the layouts by using your off-cuts first, minimize the overall cost, or minimize the waste, etc. You can also specify individually for each thicknesses of sheet good your preferred first cut direction (with the grain or across the grain). Playing with all those variables will produce a wide array of possible layouts to choose from.

If CutList Plus was only that, it would be a great tool already but it has a lot more to offer. You can manage your inventory of material by increasing or decreasing your inventory levels based on your cut list as well as entering your own wood species or sheet goods dimensions. CutList Plus works in metric and imperial.

I've used CutList Plus for the first time about 1.5 years ago for a big furniture project which had a lot of MDF sheet goods in it. I had to go through several design changes throughout the project and I was getting up to date estimates in a manner of a few minutes of work with the software. CutList Plus is now offered in a French version at: http://www.cutlistplus.ca.

Get some workshop time back for yourself and leave your calculations and layouts design worries to CutList Plus.

Copyright Colin Knecht
woodworkweb

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