Woodworking News
(updated April 24, 2017)


More Ergonomical Parts Handling

Located in Portland, Maine, the Southworth Corporation makes materials handling solutions. In late March, the company introduced its new PalletPal Roll-On, a platform that lowers to floor height so that pallets can be placed and removed using a hand pallet truck. Ideal for woodshops that make parts and/or manually load and unload a CNC, the platform has a built-in turntable that rotates product so the woodworker is always loading or unloading pallets from the near side. The unit’s capacity is 2500 lbs. and its 44” x 48” platform accepts a variety of pallet sizes. The fully raised platform height is 30”. As parts are loaded, the platform is lowered so that each succeeding tier of goods can be loaded at the same height. Raising and lowering is controlled by either a pushbutton pendant or foot switch.

Two New Vacs

The German manufacturer FEIN Power Tools, Inc. has just released a pair of powerful, professional grade wet/dry shop vacuums. Both models, the Turbo X and the Turbo X AC, come with extensive accessories, and the lid is shaped to securely store tool cases for various other Fein tools. The company, which has offices in Pittsburg, PA, added a built-in push handle to make it easy to move one of these vacs around the jobsite or shop. The AC model has fully automatic filter cleaning (AC refers to 'automatic cleaning') for uninterrupted work and longer service life of the flat pleated filter. Either model can handle all types of debris from liquids to fine dusts, and both are approved for dust class L because of their PES flat pleated filters and electronic safety shutdown when in the wet vacuuming mode. The motors have an autostart with power-on delay to prevent electric current spikes, and both come with a 25-ft power cable and a 13-ft suction hose, to provide a large operating radius. The Fein Turbo II X AC Wet/Dry Dust Extractor sells for $549 at Fein tools Online.



Handheld CNC

The Shaper Origin is a handheld CNC router with a screen on board. You move the machine to its approximate location, following a line on the screen, and the router actually moves in its housing to make fine adjustments and deliver accurate cuts. The operator sticks a special tape on a board to allow the CNC to zero out. The concept is magnificently simple, and the first generation of the tool made a lot of industry heads turn. Now, the second generation is being offered for sale before its release. According to the company, it "combines robotic precision with hand tool simplicity". Origin is a portable, intuitive, and powerful tool that is capable of handling a wide variety of materials and projects. A limited number are available now for pre-sale. Batch 1 pre-orders that were taken prior to Feb 1, 2017 will begin to ship this September, and batch 2 pre-orders (taken after Feb 1, 2017) will begin to ship in January, 2018. There is a video of it in action on YouTube, and the tool sells for $2,099 with some discounts available for early ordering.

New Power Drawbar

Wisconsin based Tormach offers milling centers that are ideal "for prototyping, short run production, education, and hobby CNC milling", including the PCNC 440 which tops out at 10,000 RPM and has a base price of $4,950. The company has just introduced a new Power Drawbar that is designed to reduce tool change time. Instead of opening the spindle cover, using a wrench to loosen the drawbar bolt, inserting the new tool, retightening the bolt and then closing the cover, operators can now simply press a button to swap out cutting tools. The power drawbar "doesn’t just make tool changes quicker, it makes them effortless". Many people find themselves purchasing machines on a budget, and therefore tend to skip some of the flashier accessories, or buyers don’t see a need to make tool changes quickly if they are only machining for hobby, prototyping, or some other non-production purpose. But the power drawbar is an accessory that most users place in the “need” column, instead of the “want” column. The power drawbar is designed for use with the Tormach Tooling System® (TTS), and it easily pivots away to allow manual tightening of the drawbar if necessary for conventional R8 tooling.



Powerful Portables

Adwood Corp. in High Point, NC has introduced its new Adamik Manual Plus Portable Edgebander. The tool is compatible with ABS, PVC, wood veneer and Melamine from 0.3 to 3mm, and while it's lightweight and compact for portable use in-shop or on location, it can also be bench-mounted.

And Makita Tools has unveiled its powerful new XSRO1, which it bills as the world's first cordless, rear-handle, circular saw. It's powered by 36 Volts of Lithium-ion power (two 18V batteries).


Wooden Acoustic Panel CNC

The next time you're having lunch in a busy restaurant and can't hear your client over the clatter of conversation, think Vitap. The company's new and compact Point Grooving CNC machine features one sleeve of blades in lieu of spindles, and these are used for grooving wood-based panels rather than drilling them. The machine was designed specifically for the manufacturing of acoustic/sound absorbing panels, and different blades can be used for various grooving patterns. Plus, grooving from below greatly improves dust collection and removal of excess material. For more information, visit Atlantic Machinery.


  Oliver Machinery is based in Kent, Washington and has been building woodshop machinery since 1890. Now in its 127th year, Oliver is still known for rock-solid, reliable woodworking equipment, but it's adding updates such as helical and spiral cutterheads, plus automated controls and sensors. So, in keeping with the times, the company has now released its 2017 catalog as a digital file that's viewable online.

Test drive cut-to-size scanners

If your sawmill is growing, or your hardwood flooring operation is expanding, optimizing scanners are probably the next logical step. Oregon-based Ultimizers has now opened a training area in its factory where graders can give some of the company's cross-cut and ripping solutions a test drive. Ulti-Vision builds scanning and optimizing systems for cut-to-size operations. Their scanners use smart camera technologies to find defects such as wane and knots (scatter defecting), infrared lasers are used for profiling, and color cameras deliver a true image showing the full board with defects.



Portable Miter Saw Stand

PortaMate’s new PM-8000 miter saw workstation is compact (31”x29”) and fits any miter saw up to 26-½” wide. With its side extensions in the raised position, it provides up to 7 ft of work support. The adjustable tool tables can raise to the height of your miter saw, and the large 10” wheels can handle most jobsite terrain. It's also ideal for bench top planers and some other tabletop tools. (Nope, the saw isn't included!)

Affinity Tool Works manufactures BORA, Portamate and HTC brands, and is also the exclusive North American distributor for Fisch, Tormek and Sjobergs.


Impact-rated bits for the DuraSpin auto-feed screw system

In March, Ohio-based SENCO introduced new impact-rated bits for its DuraSpin auto-feed screw systems. DuraSpin is particularly popular with deck installers who can use an extension to drive screws without getting down on their knees. Manufactured from high-grade tool steel that is tempered with a custom heat treatment, the new impact-rated bits are designed to reduce breakage and extend bit life up to five times longer than standard bits. The shaft narrows just above the hex profile to absorb excess torque and impact energy that would otherwise transfer to the tip, causing it to fracture. A variety of bits including #2 Phillips, #2 square and Rex Drive are available, in sizes ranging from 7-3/4” to 9” long. The bits are available in 25-piece bulk packages.



An old friend has a new store...

Keller & Co. is located in Petaluma, California and the dovetail jig manufacturer has just introduced a new online store. The jigs, designed for hobbyists and small pro shops, all come with both the standard dovetail and the straight carbide-tipped industrial bits, with ball-bearing template guides and illustrated instructions. Shown at left is Dave's model 1601, which is the most popular model in the company's Pro Series. It was first introduced in 1984. Each Keller Dovetail System consists of two templates and the router bits.

General International's newest maxi lathe

The new 25-114A from General is available through retailers such as Home Depot and is in the $800 price range. It has a speed range from 250 to 3500 rpm and can handle projects up to 14" in diameter (10-3/4" over the tool rest), and 17" between centers (or up to 40" with the optional 23" bed extension, item 25-116). The spindle thread is standard 1"x8 so it fits most accessories, and the motor is beefy enough at 1HP, 6 Amps. The lathe weighs 93 lbs, which is enough stability for onsite demos and shows. The variable speed ranges are 200 to 900, 350 to 1600 and 700 to 3500. The machine also features positive indexing in 15° increments (so, 24 indexing positions). The tool rest and banjo are substantial, and optional accessories from General include centers, face plates (3" and 6"), a metal stand and a self-centering pen blank vise.



Affordable Power Feeder

In December, Washington state's Grizzly Industrial introduced a new power feeder, the G0826. It's powered by a 400 Watt (1/2 HP), 220V, 1.8 Amp, brushless motor, and comes with a variable-speed feed adjustment dial for a speed range from 7 to72 feet per minute (FPM). There's a large digital readout, push-button ON/OFF and both sforward and reverse feed directions. The feeder has three rubber rollers, each with 3⁄4" of suspension travel. Overall, there's 6-11⁄16" of vertical adjustment, 17" of horizontal movement, and a 360° swing, so it can be adjusted to a number of tasks. It weighs approximately 117 lbs and sells for $795.00 direct from the company with a one-year warranty.


The Great Lakes Woodworking Festival

The first annual GLWF will take place at the Sam Beauford Woodshop in Adrian, southern Michigan on Sunday May 7th. More than thirty wood artists take part in the free festival, which features both kid and adult activities that touch on everything from woodturning (shown with Lynn Southward, at left) to making a toolbox, canoes, Shaker boxes and Windsor chairs. GLWF is also an opportunity for woodworkers to sell handmade goods. There will be music and food available, too. For artisans in and aroun the area (Adrian is halfway between Detroit and Fort Wayne, near Toledo), the organizers are "always looking to collaborate with woodworkers, media outlets, sponsors, and like-minded individuals who can bring something new to the table".

Virtual Reality Kitchen Preview

Several big box stores such as Lowe's are offering the latest trend in design software - a virtual reality tour for casework customers who can now 'walk' through a room in three dimensions and get a real feel for the new space. One supplier of the technology, Marxent/VisualCommerce offers a 45-second video on its website that gives one an idea of just how effective 3D product visualization can be. The customer can operate - and even choose - different hardware at the touch of a finger. The company says that the tool "makes it easier for buyers to visualize and configure custom cabinets, surfaces and other home improvement products at full-scale in their intended environments".


(Photo courtesy Marxentlabs.com)

3D printing at the 2015 Interzum show (Photo courtesy Koelnmesse)

Several Global Trade Shows in May

The fun begins in Las Vegas with the National Hardware Show from the 9th through the 11th, where 83% of the attendees say that new products are their primary reason to attend. Then it's off to Cologne from the 16th through the 19th for Interzum, the world’s leading trade fair for furniture production and interior design. And staying in Germany, the LIGNA show takes place in Hanover from May 22nd through the 26th. This is billed as "the #1 marketplace for the woodworking and timber processing industry", and the numbers are impressive - 1,500 exhibitors and more than 90,000 attendees from around the globe. HOMAG Group will present the Innovation Center, which showcases not just technology but also business methods - mostly lean - that are at the forefront of growth in the woodworking world.


CNC Classes Becoming The Norm

Used to be a woodshop had to train its own personnel in-house on CNC programming and operations, with a little help from the router's supplier. Then a few major colleges began to offer comprehensive courses and shops in larger markets could bring in knowledgeable applicants and go from there. Now high schools and junior colleges are working hard to train students in this essential art. For example, Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas announced on March 24th that it will be offering training on its Sulphur Springs campus. The continuing education course will be conducted from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday from April 3rd through the 14th. And on March 22nd. The Minden Courier in Nebraska reported that “woodshop students at Minden High School can anticipate more than just a new shop next year. A Laguna Swift CNC wood router was recently purchased with funds donated from area businesses and foundations, to be used by the department in the new high school.”



Mereen-Johnson is Expanding

Located in eastern South Dakota, the company manufactures an assortment of machinery including stationary and moving blade multiple rip saws, rip optimizing and material handling systems, single and double end tenoners, CNC dovetailers, panel sizing systems, plus I-joist and other structural wood production lines. This May, for the first time in over 15 years, the company will be displaying working machines at LIGNA, the huge woodworking show in Germany. "Our strong presence at LIGNA is another indication of the growth in demand for our machines," said Paul Wilmes, Mereen-Johnson's CEO. He's talking about the fact that his company has doubled its sales over the past five years in both new machines and parts. So it broke ground on a new addition this March that will increase the size of the assembly and machining area by 20%, and upgrade several aspects of processes and plant equipment.

HOMAG Ambition 1100 and 1200

February saw the release of two new entry-level Brandt edge banders from HOMAG, both of which are designed to ensure that even the smallest of workshops are able to invest in the latest technology. They provide "flexible production whether it is for batch size 1, bespoke products or mass panel production". The 1110 to 1120 FC (shown) series can be configured with EVA or PUR precision gluing units, and its automatic fixed length magazine can be used for coiled and strip material of up to 3mm thickness, for flexible edgebanding. And the 1210-1230 FC models offer a complete processing solution that was previously only available on larger machines - including a tiltable end trimming unit for both straight and chamfer trimming and a top/bottom trimming unit for perfect edge finishing. It can also be configured with a joint trimming unit, contour trimming unit, radius scraper, glue joint scraper or a buffing unit to eliminate the need for hand finishing.



Laguna Tools' impressive new Lock Dowel solution

A new boring/inserting machine for use by cabinet manufacturers that use Lock Dowel fasteners is faster and more precise when drilling and inserting these products. It's perfect for cabinets, drawer boxes, closets, desks, solid wood furniture and many other applications. According to Laguna, "the fully-automatic machine is expected to revolutionize the manufacture of cabinets of all types". The new SmartShop LD4 automatic boring/inserting machine drills and inserts Lock Dowel E clip products. And when used in conjunction with a SmartShop CNC router, it creates a complete fastening solution. The LD4 has four zones and two drilling units; one for 5mm and one for 8mm. Its two vibratory barrels have the ability to insert 30mm or 40mm spring pins and Lock Dowel E clips, H-clips, or channel locks. The SmartShop is listed at $59,995.