Well-equipment shop

Price-Cutting Saw

Got $100? That’s about all it takes to buy Deltas MS250 compound miter saw—a saw that recently sold for as high as $170. Miter saws are great for the shop and as fix-stuff-around-the-house tools, and compound miter saws provide even more versatility. On a compound saw you can angle and bevel the blade. This is especially useful when installing crown molding.

With its 10-in. blade, the MS250 will cut through 2×6 and 4×4 (nominal) lumber at 90 degrees and at only 28 Ib., this machine is a breeze to move around.

A 13-amp motor powers the MS250. This will get you through hardwood, but more expensive machines have more powerful 15-amp motors. The table angles 47 degrees left and right with positive slops al 0,22-1/2 and 45 degrees. The blade tilts from -3 to 48 degrees. This is an area where I he MS250 falls short. Many miter saws offer a greater span of angles, up to 60 degrees, as well as more positive stops, though not at this low price.

Kink-Free, Lightweight Air Hose

Do you ever feel like the convenience of using air tools is outweighed by the rubber air hose python you have to drag around? Let that snake hibernate and have a look at the new Flexeel polyurethane hoses from Coil hose. They’re lightweight, flexible and easy to coil, but resist kinking. They come in cool colors, too. Coil hose makes Flexeel hoses in a range of diameters and lengths. The 1/4 in.x25-ft. coil hose costs $18; the straight hose is $19, without fittings.

It’s amazing how easy it is to work your way around a cabinet with the Flexeel hose, and even more amazing that it doesn’t cost much more than a good-quality rubber hose. A Flexeel hose weighs less than half of a rubber hose and it doesn’t mar like a rubber hose if you happen to drag it across your work.

All the Flexeel hoses are transparent, so you can watch for problem moisture or oil migrating from the compressor to the tool.

Rock-Solid Coping Sled

When you make doors on the router table, the tricky part is coping the end grain of the rails. You need a darn good grip on the material and a backer board to prevent blowout. Eagle America has you covered on both counts with their new coping sleds. Choose from the Original, $40 or the Pro model, $60.

The toggle clamp grips your material, and a replaceable guide block of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic backs up the cut to eliminate tear-out. With two stout handles, holding the sled and feeding across the cutter is a breeze. Sure, you could build one of these, but when you roll in the price of the toggle clamp and time spent to do it, these sleds are a great value.

The Pro model has a slightly wider base than the Original, and includes a «keeper» on the front to help hold material against the guide block. Maximum width between the keeper and the guide block is 3-3/4 in. Both models use a self-adhesive abrasive tape to help keep your work-piece from slipping.

With adequate pressure from the toggle clamp, a sharp bit, and smooth feed rate, the Original sled works fine, but if you’re brand new to door making and want a little extra insurance against rail slippage, you’ll get it from the Pro model.

After using the sled once, you’ve got a set-up gauge for your next door. Just use the cope profile that’s been cut into the guide block to set the height of the bit.

Space-Saving Cyclone System

Dust collectors with balloon-like filter bags have a way of eating up precious shop space. A new 2-hp cyclonic collector from Oneida Air Systems offers cartridge filters instead of bags. Cartridges take up less space and filter better than bags. Oneida filters are made of high-quality filter material and capture over 99.9 percent of test material between 0.2 and 2 microns.

This new collector comes in two versions. The one with an internal filter, $882, has a footprint of 24 in. x 24 in. The other version, with an external filter, $977, has a footprint of 24 in. x 46 in. A 35-gallon drum for collecting chips makes the system 86-in. tall; with a 55-gallon drum, it’s 99-in. tall.

The external cartridge is a lot easier to clean than the internal cartridge, which must be removed to be cleaned. The external cartridge can be blown from the outside. The dust falls into a plastic-bag-lined dust pan, and the bag can be easily removed and dumped.

Connected to a typical ductwork system, these units pull 900 cubic feet per minute, great for a small to medium size shop. The new 2-hp unit can run on 120 or 240 volts, but draws 20 amps on 120 volts.

Online Carving Classes

There’s nothing like hands-on carving instruction with an expert teacher looking over your shoulder. But if you want to hone your carving skills using cutting edge technology, and do it for free, check out www.2carve.com.

This Web site offers four free tutorials in chip carving at the beginner level and 11 free tutorials in relief carving at the beginner and intermediate levels. The tutorials can be downloaded from the Web site and printed. The instructions are clear and include good photos, not sketches. However, it may take your computer a while to digest the photos. The files, although compressed, are big, so it’ll take some time with dial-up connections.

A paid membership ($25 per year) gets you access to a greater variety of techniques like sharpening and finishing, as well as many additional carving projects. The membership also includes a CD with the free tutorials, so you wouldn’t have to download them. The free tutorials are a great way to see if this is a learning style that works for you. If you like them, you can go on to the paid membership.

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