LINKS TO TOOLS SEEN IN VIDEO (clicking on these links helps support us, at no cost to you)►
M-Power Trammel Set: http://amzn.to/2lgkQu3
Dremel Moto-Saw: http://amzn.to/2kO3jcA
Rockler Dust Right Small Port Kit: http://amzn.to/2kM6vJF
Rockwell Bladerunner Saw: http://amzn.to/2jok8OR
Homemade Jig Saw: http://www.stumpynubs.com/jig-saw.html
Stanley 10' measuring tape: http://amzn.to/2kNTlI9
Keychain measuring tapes: http://amzn.to/2jot5b1
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Hi, I’m James Hamilton from Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal, and every month we do a tools episode here on the Behind the Sawdust vlog, that shows you a few of the cool tools that we use here in our workshops. Today we’ll have a look as an innovative layout tool set, a mobile scroll saw, a cleaver dust collection solution, a benchtop jig saw, and an adorable little measuring tape. If you decide you want to check out one of the tools yourself, please use the links below the video, which mostly take you to Amazon where you can read more reviews, and if you do buy using one of those links, it helps us out a little bit. And don’t forget to visit our website for a free subscription to Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal. Now, let’s get started!
First up we have an innovative little layout tool set from M-Power. Trammel sets have been around since, well, forever. I have an antique set that I use from time to time, that are designed to attach to a stick of wood- which is sometimes called a beam compass. But the M-Power set fits on anything up to 1/8” thick. So, if I were to attach them to a metal meter stick, I could create a circle nearly 6-feet in diameter. Of course, how often do you need a 6-foot circle? So I use them more often on a shorter ruler, like the one from my combination square. But what’s especially interesting about this set, is that it does more than just draw circles. There’s an included attachment that cuts circles and arcs as well. I use that feature on paper or on wood veneers once in a while, but where the cutting end really comes in handy is if I wasn’t to draw a circle or an arc with a very precise line. Just like a traditional marking knife or panel gauge, the cutting end of this trammel set will scribe a precise line. But unlike those other tools, this one will do it in a circle or an arc. That’s far more accurate than a pencil compass, especially since a pencil’s point blunts quickly on wood, making the line thicker. Another thing I use this for is to mark a line parallel to an edge using my combination square. In fact I can mark a double line if I want to by adding a second pencil. Or I can use the precision cutting tip to scribe a line like a traditional gauge. I also like that that the parts are not plastic, they’re made out of anodized aluminum. In fact, Woodpeckers, which is well known for their high-quality anodized aluminum tools has this set on sale right now for about $20. I’ll put a link in the notes below the video if you want to check it out.
Next up is a tool I first saw in April Wilkerson’s shop, and she said she really liked it, so I got one a couple of months ago and it’s already come in pretty handy around our main workshop. It’s the Dremmel Moto-Saw and it’s essentially a small scroll saw, that can be used with a table, or even handheld. We have a couple of large scroll saws in the other shop, but here in the main workshop I occasionally need one. Not enough to justify the expense, or the space for a full size saw, but often enough that I am glad I have this thing. I do have a couple of small complaints though. First, the clamps that you use to attach it to the edge of a bench aren’t wide enough for my benchtop. So, I clamped a piece of plywood to the benchtop, and then the saw to that which solved the problem pretty well. I also find the blades changes to be a little fiddley, certainly not as bad as a lot of other scroll saw’s I’ve seen, but the first few times I changed the blade it took me a couple of minutes. I’m getting better at it though. The blades themselves are 4” long, with pins on the ends, and they aren’t particularly expensive or hard to find online. So that’s a good thing. And the saw seems to have plenty of power, but the length of the stroke is short, so it does cut a little slow through thick materials. One nice feature is the attachable dust collection. I’m not entirely sure what size shop-vac hose it’s designed for, but I don’t worry about that anymore because I have one of the Rockler Dust-Right universal hose port kits. So I can stretch it over any size port on small tools like this, which is a lifesaver since there seems to be no real standard size for sanders and other small port tools like this. Anyway, the saw’s dust collection isn’t perfect. It seems to collect about half of the dust, maybe a little more. But it does keep the path of the blade clear, which is essential if you were cutting on a pattern line. I tried to cut some metal with the included specialty blade, and it does cut through even thicker metals slowly, like this piece of steel conduit and even this heavy gauge steel. It did not bog down the saw, but the cuts were very, very slow. It’s really designed for thinner metals like this. I wish I had some brass to test, I think it would cut that really well. Of course, the most intriguing feature of this saw is how you can use it handheld, without the table. I like the idea of taking the saw to the workpiece rather than the other way around. It does take some getting used to, you have to be sure you keep the flat portion of the saw against the workpiece. But it does cut just as well in this mode as it does in the table mode. I think it may be handy for removing the waste between dovetails, I’ll have to try it out for that. Interestingly, hand-held scroll saws aren’t a new innovation. But the old ones will vibrate the crap out of your hand, while the new Dremmel version’s wider base helps keep the saw more stable against the workpiece. Bottom line is, this is a great option for someone who wants to do some occasional scrolling, but doesn’t have the need or the room for a full size saw. You’ll find a link in the notes below the video.
While we’re talking about handy saws, this is another one I use quite often. I actually built a homemade version which works just as well- I’ll put a link to the build video and the plans below if you want to go the homemade rout. My problem is that my homemade version is at the other shop, so when I saw the Rockwell version on sale one day, I bought it. What I like about this type of saw is that it gives me more control over the workpiece compared to a handheld jig saw. Blade changes are really easy from above the table, with no tools needed. And it uses common jig saw blades, so you can buy all sorts of specialty blades for it, including blades for cutting tile and even metal. It cuts though the steel conduit much faster than the scroll saw, and even does a reasonably good job on thicker sheet steel. I use it in that capacity occasionally for odd jobs and jig making. But what I use this saw for the most, is making pierced cuts that I couldn’t make with a band saw. It’s remarkably accurate as long as you don’t overfeed the workpiece. I can track a line pretty well, easier, in fact, than it would be if I was using a handheld jig saw. It comes with dust collection, but the port is really small. Thankfully I have that Rockler set. The smaller of the two rubber adapters will just stretch over this port. As far as performance, I would say it collects about 75% of the dust, which keeps the path clear as you cut, but still can make a little bit of a mess if you’re doing a lot of cutting. The included fence does a good job too, I didn’t even bother trying to square it to the table, I just clamped in on a made a cut. One end of the cutoff ended up about a 32nd of an inch wider than the other end, but I wasn’t very careful about keeping it against the fence during the cut, so that’s remarkable accuracy for what is really not intended to be a precision tool, in my opinion. I like that the saw is really lightweight and portable. Not that my homemade version is heavy, but the Rockwell version is a bit lighter and more compact. Anyway, whether you buy one or make one, I think you will find that you use this type of benchtop jig saw a lot more than you expected. I honestly use one or the other all the time. I’ll put the links in the notes below the video.
Our last tool is perhaps the best value I have seen in a long time when you consider how often I use it compared to what it cost. It’s a mini measuring tape. I got it off Amazon for $5, in fact I bought several of them because I love them that much. I keep one in my apron pocket in the shop, one on my desk in my office, one in the drawer in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in my wife’s office, one in the car, my wife has one in her purse… you can’t believe how handy it is to have a mini measuring tape close by at any time. This is a 10” one made by Stanley, I use other brands too, but the Stanley is a good balance between length, at 10-feet, and small size. The other ones are usually only 5 or 6-feet long. I also have another smaller one on my key ring. I know you may be wondering why someone needs to measure things so often, but once you have that ability you’ll understand what I mean. Best bang for the buck of any tool, hands down. I’ll put a couple of links to my favorite ones in the notes below the video.
That wraps things up for this month’s cool tools video. Next time we’ll do something different on the Behind the Sawdust vlog. Of course we produce a lot of other videos that aren’t vlogs, including tips, techniques and tutorials- all of which come together in each issue of Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal, so head over to Stumpynubs.com where you can read and subscribe for free. Then you can sit back and have a cold one, because you’ve earned it, my friend!
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