Woodworking Tools

Steel City 10" Granite Top Tables Saw 35920

Think your table saw is heavy? ... Try this granit top little gem at 467 pounds. Yes thats right, a granite top table saw. At first I wondered what would be the purpose of a granite top over steel, then it gradually began to dawn on me that first of all granite does not rust. Now if you live in Texas or New Mexico you don't have to worry so much about that but in the soggy west coast or the humid east coast rust is a real problem.

This "left tilting" table saw has a few features we really liked and Steel City is well on it's way to shaking up the market by bringing out some new and innovative features. First of all we liked the fence, yes there are are other very good fences out there, but we still liked this one. It is smooth, accurate and well built. We liked the position and size of the off / on switch. It is easy to find and easy to shut the saw down should things start going awry one day, with a BIG red paddle.

The entire saw base is enclosed except for a 4" dust port, so you really don't get a chance to see the trunion system, which is the real heart of any saw. We dug around and found a very well made, cast system that is mounted with about as much strength as one could imagine for a table saw, this system is not going to move on you once it is set.

 Its nice to see manufactures putting quakity componets into their tools and Steel City has done so with the motor a dual 110/230 volt (115/7.5 AMP) 1 3/4 horsepower motor, not the biggest in the world but certainly satisfactory for most woodworkers.

Another important factor on any saw is the blade guard and splitter or riving knife. When you are ripping wood that starts has a mind of it's own and starts move on you as you are cutting it, a riving knife is critical for your own safety. The beauty of this unit is when you need to take this assmebly off, it comes of easily, you don't have to struggle with it.

Finally, finally, finally, a manufacture who sees the value in providing a built in wheel base. Yes, the unit we tried actually comes with a mobile base.

All in all we thought this was an excellent tool, innovative enough to catch our attention and tough enough to be a tool we would want in our work shop.

DEWALT D-Handle Router DW618D

The first thing that strikes one when just looking at this router is huge  yellow “D” shaped handle. The DEWALT DW618D is a bit unique looking but was specifically designed for easy in accomplishing certain jobs. The large “D” shaped handle which includes the on/off swithch (which can also be locked in the On position). For anyone doing hand routing jobs, this unit is an edge above most others when it comes to actually holding the router. Lets not minimize that role. Imagine if you doing an edge job on a counter and trimming laminate or rounding an edge, it is VERY simple to make an imperfect cut, especially if you don’t have a good grip on your tool. DeWalt makes it easy with this tool by providing a large, easy to hang on to handle, AND an opposing smaller black round grip to make the woodworker will have all the gripping power needed.

 Lets talk a bit about the tool it’self. The version we tested was a fixed base unit, which means the depth control is set manually for each cut. We liked the idea of the micro adjustment which even gave us control of 1/64 inch adjustment. This will accommodate even the most fussy woodworker. Changing the bits in this tool means lifting the motor from the base, which, with the quick release clips made the job quick and easy. We also liked that the spindle “locked” into position so we could change bits with just one wrench.

Another important point on this router is that it does come with both ¼ inch and ½ inch collets, further the collets are what we call eight finger collets which means better grip on router bits.

 We did not try this unit it a router table, DEWALT has other routers more suited to table use, not that this unit could not be used in a table but it has been specifically designed for “job site” work and that is how we tested it.

The DW618W is a 12 amp router, rated at 2 ¼ horsepower (at maximum load, which is how all router manufactures are now rating their tools). At over 8 pounds, this router is a good solid tool because typically you do want some weight in a router to perform smoother cuts.

 All in all we found this a good solid router, not outstanding just a good solid tool for anyone doing a lot reno or job-site work.

DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router

We were a bit anxious to get our hands on the DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router for a couple of reasons, first of all it boasts a 3 horsepower motor, which is about what you would expect from a 15 amp unit, and this is a plunge router, which is what we prefer given a choice.

 We used this router both on and of the router table and found it easy to use and very capable of anything we challenged it to do. We liked the soft start feature, which in a 3 hp unit is very nice. I means when you start the tool it doesn’t try to jerk it out of your hand every time you start the unit up, a very nice feature and a good safety feature too.

 The DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router uses a variable speed motor which runs between 8,000 and 22,000 rpm. Useful for doing a wide variety of jobs. We found the rack and pinion mechanism for moving the router up and down to be smooth and move. We also like that the scale on sliding ruler was magnified somewhat for easier viewing. We also wondered what this scale and magnifier would look like after a few months of use, would the dust start masking the scale? Then we surmised a bit of blown in air would probably solve the problem.

This unit also incorporates a multiple level preset height adjustment scale and micro adjustment mechanism that would ensure as accurate a depth cut as one would ever likely need. We did use the dust extractor attachment that comes with the router and found it fairly easy to attach and very helpful for keeping dust and chips in check

The DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router comes with both ½ inch and ¼ inch collets, which we would have expected as other DeWalt units come with these as well. As usual the eight finger collets grabbed our bits tightly and made sure even when we challenged the router to so tough jobs, the bits did not slip. Changing bits is easy with the DeWalt spindle lock mechanism and one wrench, even when the unit is positioned in a router table.

 

The DW625 EVS is a heft 11 pounds, no lightweight when it comes to routers so using this router free hand, although it worked fine, we felt it’s best and most useful home would be in some sort of a router table.

 As with all DEWALT routers we have tested, this unit is also capable of using guide bushings, which DEWALT declares as “standard size” … what ever that means? There are a number of different guide bearing sizes so we are not sure what they are referring to as “standard size guide bushings for template work”.

 All in all we really liked this unit, we liked the smooth action, the power and easy of use both in and out of a router table, this is definitely one we would recommend.

Bosch Table Saw Model 4100-09

 

Although this unit can easily be classified as a portable tables, which are often skeptical about, we loved this Bosch table saw. The Bosch 4100 comes as a basic “worksite table saw”, that is, you put it on a couple of saw horses or some other sort of bench, or you can purchase an optional two-wheel portable stand.

Lets talk first of all about the saw itself. Although the actual table top is not that large (22” x 29”) it is still a good useable size. One of the features that sets this unit apart from some of it’s competitors is the ripping fence. This unit has a very good, accurate fence system. And if it goes our of alignment, it is easy to re-set it. The quick-lock system of the fence holds if firmly in place and is also and adjustable feature. You can snug the fence down by adjusting the tightness level that suits you best.

Next we looked a blade changes, because as you know, we almost never use the blades that are supplied with tables saw, not even this Bosch. We discovered that after raising the blade to get better access to the 5/8 arbor nut, the locking mechanism was lever that locks the blade so that the wrench can be used to release the arbor nut holding the blade. The wrench for changing blades is conveniently and securely attached to the side of the table saw.

After changing blades, we decided to rip some wood and lowered the blade to about half a tooth above the level of the stock we were going to cut. The raising and lowering of the blade is very smooth, yes this was a new saw and yes it had little sawdust accumulated yet, but we still felt extra care had been taken with the internal mechanisms.

When we first started the saw it was immediately evident that this unit was also equipped with a “soft start” circuitry. The 110 volt, 15 amp motor brought the blade came up to speed quickly but did so in a controlled fashion. We like the new blade guard and splitter system. In the past, and with other models some of the blade guards have been rather cheesy, seems they were only installed so the manufactures could boast they had a blade guard or that they were there simply go observe some local law. Not so with the blade guard on the Bosch 4100, this is a whole new design that doesn’t get in the way (at least most of the time) and it is solidly built with anti kick back design.

We then performed some cross cuts using the mitre gauge supplied with the saw, and again it performed seamlessly on the ¾ inch plywood we were using for testing.

Lets take a moment now to talk about the optional stand that is available for this saw. At first glace, the stand appears like it will be insufficient for the saw, but not so. When the table saw is mounted on the stand, not only do you get excellent mobility, you also get a saw that can be stored vertically … and easily. The mechanism that allows the stand to fold and unfold is quick and easy to operate and when the saw is set up in its cutting position, despite the fact it is sitting on a couple of wheels, the table saw is very stable.

In conclusion, we loved this saw. It was accurate, easy to operate and powerful enough to do most jobs a woodworker would need. Additionally if you are working in a confined space (aren’t we all) the Bosch 4100 when equipped with the folding stand takes up less space and provides an easy to fold out option. I dare say, if you have ever wished for two table saws in your shop for those times that changing blades becomes a nuisance, the Bosch 4100 would make an excellent addition to any workshop

Bosch Colt TM Variable Speed Palm Router

No router section is complete without talking about the often forgotten palm routers. If you have ever talked to anyone who has one of these they always rave at what a great, handy tool they are … I confess, I do not have one, so taking one for a test drive was high on my agenda.

 Palm routers or hand-held routers as they are sometimes called are simply smaller versions of the bigger routers. The only take ¼ inch bits, but owing to the fact they have smaller horsepower, this is not a drawback.

 The Bosh Colt comes with a one horsepower (5.6 amp), soft-start, and variable speed motor (there is also a fixed speed version of this unit). What struck us the moment we opened the box was the contouring of the body of the router. When we picked it out, it seemed to conform to out hand. I weighed a bit more than we were expecting but because of the grip it really wasn’t noticeable.

 This unit comes with a fixed base, but it is very easy to adjust and includes both a macro and micro adjustment that was very accurate. We started off by using a flush trim bit and cutting off piece of ¼ inch plywood, about three feet long. The router hesitated only slightly at the start, then immediately picked up speed and ploughed its way easily through the plywood to make an nice neat trim cut. We can see that this kind of a tool and these kinds of bits would be very popular with home reno and house construction people, but we also envisioned many places of using this tool in the woodwork shop.

There is limit to the size (diameter) of a bit that this unit will take  which is 1 5/16, which shouldn’t be problem, if you need more, get a bigger router. Taking the base off was a snap too, and again, we could see where there would be many instances where someone might want to use this tool as a free hand trimmer, carver, sander, sharpener or edger.

 

 Changing bits was nearly identical to the larger Bosh routers. The main shaft has a locking device so only one wrench is needed to change bits. The Collet is also a self extracting one, which means the bits literally drop out when they are released.

 This tool is definitely going on my most wanted list! Can you imagine a tool like this for doing dovetails or trimming edges. It is so easy to handle, light and powerful, we were really impressed. The list of jobs for this unit is endless, trimming, inlay work, hinge mortising … the list goes on and on, this tool far exceeded our expectations in terms of usability and of features … excellent tool !!!

Bosch Fixed Base Router 1617EVS

The fixed base Bosch Router 1617EVS is a nice 2.5 horsepower router, and one that can be used freehand or, more often for mounting in a router table. The 1617EVS has many of the features of other Bosch routers such as variable speed, soft start and “constant response under load” circuitry, macro and fine adjustment for depth control, right of left on / off switch.

 One feature the 1617EVS does have that is not wide spread among it’s competitors is the ability to adjust the height of the router – above the table! For anyone who uses a router a lot, and especially those using the router in a table, this feature alone will capture hearts.

We only used this router in a router table, which was really too bad because when you look at the tool it has such lovely hardwood handles, its almost a pity to hide them under a router table.

  We did find in using the router, the common attributes of Bosch routers, smooth operation, ease of use, convenience etc. This router with only 2.5 hp, we felt was a wee bit weak in power. We did try it with some larger panel bits and found that when cutting maple, we actually needed to make 3 or 4 passes to get suitable cuts. For most other work the Bosch 1617EVS performed flawlessly, even when we challenged it somewhat with a large round-over and some red oak. The bit did not slip and the router zipped through the wood with no problem.

 

Another fine product from Bosch and one we would recommend, particularly as a router dedicated to a router table, his unit would make a great second router.

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