02 Oct The 2021 Pro Tool Innovation Awards for Woodworking
Each year the Pro Tool Innovation Awards are judged by a panel of industry professionals who handle and use hundreds of new tools each year. They make their decisions based on personal use on the job site, plus exposure to tools at media events and industry trade shows. The goal of the Awards is to recognize the year’s most innovative tools and accessories, and to that end they tested nearly 500 tools from 89 manufacturers to determine this year’s winners. If you’re going to invest in new tools, it might be a good idea to invest a few minutes beforehand in visiting the Pro Tool Innovation Awards website.
Below here, we are showing this year’s awards in the woodworking category, along with the PTIA comments (courtesy of Clint Everett DeBoer). Many regular WoodEzine readers will recognize several of the winners from our own coverage. If you visit the PTIA site, you’ll also see what the manufacturers said about their tools. Here we go…
Quality air filtration in your shop is more effective thanks to General’s Smart Floor Air Filtration System. Its cylindrical shape allows the unit to collect from 360°. While it’s highly effective at clearing particles from the air on its own, there are available active carbon and HEPA filters if you want to take filtration to a higher level. What we really love about this model is its auto mode. A sensor can pick up particles more than 1 micron in size and kick the unit on to deal with it. Even outside your shop, smoke, household dust, pollen, mold, and more can automatically be filtered out of the air without having to manually turn the system on and off.
Hart’s Side Strike design makes for a more versatile chisel, opening up one of the sides as a wider cutting edge in addition to its traditional edge on the front. A strike cap ensures durability when you’re using a hammer while its flat edges make for easy sharpening. As we’ve come to expect from Hart, it’s also a great value.
DeWalt Hybrid Trigger Clamp DWHT83602/DWHT83603
We love the robust design and high clamping force of DeWalt’s Hybrid Trigger Clamp. It combines the easy-to-adjust design of a trigger clamp with the higher force potential of an F-clamp. Add to that a soft release trigger to avoid popping the handle and it’s already one of the best designs we’ve seen. It gets even better, though. DeWalt has a coupling feature that allows you to connect two of these clamps and get 48” of clamping capacity!
DRILL BITS GUIDES
One of the great things about Beadlock loose tenons is the ability to use a router to make your own and save some money. But those odd-shaped tenons are tricky to create mortises for. Rockler’s Beadlock Pro Jig helps you set up to make perfect mortises using a 2-step process and your drill. It’s simple to use and easy to learn in just a few minutes.
Tool-activated power has been the norm for portable dust extractors for a long time, but it’s a fairly unknown feature on installed shop dust collectors. General’s Smart Dual Action Switch Dust Collectors include it, kicking on when you turn the tool on and staying on for 6 seconds to clear the line once you turn it off. Not only is it more convenient than walking back and forth to a switch, but it also reduces the overall noise in your shop.
We’ve been using cordless trim routers for a while and wondering who would crack the nut on the larger class. Metabo HPT did it first with their 36V cordless 2 horsepower router. With the performance and design to be a full replacement for your corded model, Metabo HPT also sets a bar that might not be crossed for a long time—hybrid power. When you have a power source that’s convenient to use, just switch over to the AC adapter and don’t think twice about runtime.
As the next generation of woodworkers begin to take their place, Ryobi’s 15-piece router bit set is a great way to make the most of your router. All 15 bits have ¼-inch shanks, so you can use them in your trim or cordless routers with no problem. With bits for decorative edging, joining, and trimming, the carbide cutters promise a long life. And with a price tag under $65, it costs less to get your woodworking projects underway.
CUTTING & ROUTING ACCESSORIES
MPower’s CRB7 Mega Bundle includes their Universal Combination Router Base MK3, Mortise Hinge Lock and Flute Jig, Edging and Dowel Trim Kit, and Universal Router Edge Guide Side Fence. The combination of these accessories takes your router to a whole new level of function and closes the gap between high-value and ultra-premium router systems with 11 different functions and the ability to work with some 650 routers.
CORDLESS JIG SAWS
The big deal with the Ryobi PBLJS01B cordless jigsaw is its HP Brushless upgrade. With this latest generation, we’re seeing new levels of performance without forcing the tool into a bulkier form factor. Add in Ryobi’s Pro-level feature set that includes tool-free bevel adjustments, variable speed selection, and a quick-release lever and you have an impressive jigsaw that works with the extensive 18V One+ system of tools and batteries.
JIG SAW BLADES
Spyder hasn’t been content to live on traditional designs and tends to push back against inside-the-box thinking. Their 12-piece jig saw set includes a couple of blade designs that raised our eyebrows and sets them ahead of the competition. For those straight, fast cuts, we love the Skeleton blade’s cooling vents. We also give a big thumbs up for curved cutting with Spyder’s dual-sided blades that help you make your turns more effectively.
CORDLESS MITER SAWS
Why carry a bigger saw than you have to? The Ryobi 18V ONE+ 7-1/4” miter saw’s ability to crosscut up to 2” x 10” means you can cut your case, base, and a wide range of other materials using a much smaller and lighter saw. We also like the value proposition here. With mitering and left bevel, it’s a cordless compound miter saw that’s less than $200.
The original Bench Cookie is a great way to lift your workpiece off of the surface you’re working on and hold it for sanding (or cutting or routing). The Bench Cookies Connect is larger—8 inches in diameter—and connects in all kinds of different ways so you can design the support you need no matter what shape your workpiece is. You can even connect multiples to cover larger areas.
CABINET TABLE SAWS
When accuracy and repeatability in your table saw cuts are high priorities, check out General’s 850-series table saws. With digital control over the blade height and angle, you know you’re set up the way you want. Plus, the fence control is also digitally controlled, giving you confidence in the full accuracy of the setup. With multiple power and size options available, it’s a serious table saw for Pros that demand perfect results.
PORTABLE JOBSITE TABLE SAWS
Skil packed a ton of value into their 15-amp table saw. It has a rack-and-pinion fence system that’s so much easier to use and keep square than other designs. Legs that fold right up into the saw’s frame mean you’re never without your stand when you need and can use it as a benchtop saw when you want to. The performance is also there with a 15-amp motor turning the 10” blade up to 4600 RPM. The best part is the price—all this comes in at just $299.
CORDLESS TABLE SAWS
Until recently, you couldn’t rely on your 18V/20V Max platform if you really wanted to cut the cord with a table saw. Milwaukee’s new High Output batteries and large frame brushless motors open the door for the M18 FUEL Table Saw. Milwaukee ONE-KEY is an added bonus. If you’re wondering how well an 18V battery can actually power a table saw, you need to give this a try. It’s surprisingly smooth and powerful!
TABLE SAW ACCESSORIES
You can buy a perfectly stable table saw and calibrate it precisely, but if your workpiece isn’t at the correct angle, you won’t get the results you were hoping for. That’s what we love about Rockler’s Perfect Miter Setup Blocks. Simply select the number of sides for what you’re building, push the block against your miter gauge to set the proper angle, lock down the gauge, and cut. Even if you can’t read the numbers on your miter gauge anymore, the block does. the hard work for you.