Hi guys, welcome back to behind the sawdust our weekly vlog about what goes on when the cameras are off in the Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal shops. We’re just days away from the July issue release and I’ve been spending most of my time trying out some new tools. I’d like to say testing tools gets a little old, but it doesn’t. I love tools. If there’s a cool tool out there, I want to try it. Tools are like friends that you can force to do all the hard work, and if you make a mistake, you can just blame the tool because the good ones can take your abuse. A tool never tells you you’re stupid, even if you’re about to do something stupid. They just cut through the wood, fingers, whatever it takes to get the job done. They’re focused. They never take time off. They never complain that you horked the last cold one or sneezed on their lunch. And they speak your language, even the Chinese ones. If I had to choose between some people and some tools, well, let’s just say that some people are tools. Especially the people who borrow yours so they don’t have to buy their own. I don’t like people borrowing my tools because the moment they walk out of my workshop they lose their sense of direction and can never navigate their way back to return the tool. Ever have someone borrow a tool and then offer to lend it back to you as if it’s theirs. Oh, yeh. That’s happened to me. My neighbor walks with a limp now.
The point is, I take my tools seriously. And I enjoy a good tool review. Tool reviews aren’t just for serious shoppers. Maybe you aren’t in the market for a fancy water cooled sharpening system, or a European beech workbench. I’m not currently shopping for a Lamborghini, but they sure are fun to see! So every month we try to find a few tools that are interesting, unique, or just plain awesome. And we share them with you so you can say wow, or check that out, or maybe even drool a little. I’m not saying you have to own them or you aren’t a good woodworker. I’m just showing you some cool stuff because it’s fun to check out cool stuff. Sort of like show-and-tell when I was in elementary school, except we don’t have any Gi-Joes or Garbage Pail Kids. What we do have are five awesome tools from five different companies. A couple of the companies are also our sponsors, but I also tried to include some tools from places that we aren’t connected to. Not that it matters anyway. I’m not going to tell you a tool is great if it’s a piece of junk because I’m not a liar. So what kind of stuff have we been playing with this month? Stick around and find out.
This is the power chisel by Arbortech. Arbortech is not a sponsor, I just saw the tool and it looked interesting. So I asked them to send one for us to try out. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive when I took it out of the box. It’s just so big. And I was afraid that it would vibrate too much in my hands. I actually found the opposite to be true. It is big, but not much bigger than a chisel and mallet, which is what this thing replaces. I spent a couple of hours carving this portrait with it, and I didn’t have any issues with the vibration. It was actually very subtle. What wasn’t subtle was the noise. This thing is loud. So hearing protection is a must. I don’t think this thing is going to replace traditional carving tools by any means. I think it’s more for removing large amounts of material quickly, or getting into areas on large carvings that would be awkward with a chisel and mallet. But with a little practice I was able to do really detailed work with it, and I did find some real benefits to using it that may surprise you. You’ll see more in a video about portrait carving in the July Issue of Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal. I’m also intrigued by the straight chisel attachments. I would like to see how those can be used in place of traditional chisels in woodworking joinery applications. So stay tuned on this one.
Another tool I was playing with this week is this dovetail jig sent to us by YouTube Woodworker Jonathan Katz-Moses. I’ve seen similar jigs before, but this one is different. It guides you throughout the entire dovetailing process. Strong magnets keep your saw at the perfect bevel for cutting tails, at a matching angle for cutting pins, at ninety degrees for cutting shoulders, and it even guides your chisel for chopping perfectly perpendicular to the work piece. I did find that it doesn’t work well with some western dovetail saws, particular the common Veritas saws. The spine strikes the jig before you can cut deep enough for ¾” stock. But it worked really well with my Japanese pull saw. We’ll talk more about in a future video while we use it to cut a few different dovetail joints by hand.
In the meantime, I’ve also been trying out a couple of new cutter heads for my jointer and planer, which I got from mywoodcutters.com. These both feature four sided carbide cutters, but the planer’s cutters are wrapped around the head in a helical pattern, while the jointer’s cutters are aligned in a V shape. Do you think that difference will have an effect on their performance? That’s what we intend to find out. But first I had to install the things, and I admit that I was more than a little intimidated. I lost the instruction manuals for my jointer and planer years ago, and the ones I found online didn’t show how to remove the cutter heads. There were no installation instructions that came with the new heads, which is understandable because every woodworking machine is different. They can’t make manuals for every one out there. So I started tearing into my jointer, hoping I would figure it out as I went along. And do you know what, I did. It wasn’t that difficult. Once I removed the fence and dust shield, I could see the two bolts that held the old cutter head in place. It lifted right out, and the new head, which came with bearings already installed, slipped right into place. I did have to use a puller to remove the pulley from the old head so it could go on the new one. But that was easy enough. I was really impressed with the quality of the machining on the new head. It was a perfect fit for my machine. The whole process took a little over an hour, and that’s only because I hadn’t done it before.
The planer was an entirely different story. I don’t know about other machines, but the people who designed my Delta clearly did not expect its future owner to upgrade the head. Or they did, and they thought it would be funny to make it as difficult as possible. I had to tear half of the thing apart, stuff that wasn’t even near the cutter head had to be removed so other things could come off, so things that were near the head could be disassembled, and finally the head slipped out. That’s when the real problems began. Even though new bearings came with the new cutter head, I had to get the old bearings and pulley off so I could re-use the flanges. And There was no way my puller would fit in the tiny gap I had to grip onto. I had to go buy a special bearing puller. The good news is, this may not be a problem on your planer, depending on how it was designed. And even if it is, you can rent pullers at many auto parts stores for a lot less than buying one.
Anyway, I got the thing back together, which was a miracle considering how many parts I had scattered around. So, I’ve got both cutter heads installed and in use right now. We’ll be making a video about the results of our comparison shortly. But I will say that these things are both amazing. The cut cleaner than my old steel knives, the carbide will stay sharp much longer, the cutters are so much easier to change than my jointer knives were, and wood that was once prone to tear out is now much easier to plane. There are some down sides to these heads, they take more power to run, and they are expensive, but we’ll talk about all of that, and how the helical head compares to the v-shear head later.
Another cool tool I’ve been playing with this month is the Point-to-Point MK2 which was sent to us by M-Power. It doesn’t look like much, but this is a very useful layout tool. As you expand it, the eight points on each side maintain an equal distance from each other. So say you want to lay out shelf pin locations of a board, or you want to put a row of hooks or pegs on something that are all evenly spaced, whether they be one inch apart or four inches apart. At first I thought the uses would be minimal, but when I started thinking about how often I want to divide something into equal parts, I began to see how handy this thing could be. Maybe I want a row of screws or nails located evenly, maybe I’m edge gluing a panel with dowels or biscuits. It can even be used to evenly divide a board when I’m laying out dovetails. I’ve used several of M-Power’s tools, and the quality is excellent. So this may be one you should check out. I believe they sell for under $25.
Finally, I have something from Harbor Freight. I didn’t intend to buy this tool, but I’m glad I did. It’s the bearing puller I used while installing the cutter head in my planer. I opted to buy rather than rent because I have to remove pulleys from time to time on motors I use to build homemade woodworking machines. In the past I used a pulley puller, also from Harbor Freight, but I always found it awkward, especially with small pulleys, and if the pulley was too close to the motor on the shaft, it wouldn’t work. This one works a lot better, it was a lifesaver for me. They sell a couple of different kits, but I like this one because it comes with large and small sizes, so it’s more versatile. I think it was around $50. I don’t know how long it will hold up, but it seems to be well built. If I was an auto mechanic I may go for a better one, but for occasional use here in our shop, this does the trick.
Well, that about wraps things up for this special show and tell edition of Behind the Sawdust. This video was sponsored by some great people. They didn’t tell me what to say, they didn’t even know I was making this video. Heck, they may even cringe at some of the stuff that comes out of my yapper. But they help us pay the bills. And in exchange I ask you to go visit their websites via the links in the description below the video. Not only are they great people, but they make great products. So it’s win-win for everyone.
Be sure to check out the latest issue of Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal, our weekly digital magazine full of tips, projects, tutorials, and even some cool tools. You can subscribe for free at Stumpynubs.com. Now it’s time to sit back and have a cold one, because you’ve earned it, my friend!
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