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HUGE news

Filed under: Tools,Vendors

The Big Johnson is back! Well, not the Big Johnson itself, but it’s the exact same product under a different name. Actually, I think, the original name: the Fisco Big T.

If you don’t recall, the Big Johnson was the best measuring tape ever. I love it and I was heartbroken when it was no longer available, probably six years ago. Fisco was selling it through Sears/KMart for a little while, but it was still hard to get. Ordering it direct from the UK really wasn’t an option.

But now it appears multiple people are selling the Big T on Amazon. It appears to be identical to the Big Johnson measuring tape I dearly love and available in multiple widths/lengths as well as standard/metric/mixed markings.

On a side note, be very careful when purchasing items on Amazon from 3rd-party sellers. Amazon is being flooded with counterfeit Chinese products with horrible quality. Always check out the “Sold by” to see the seller’s rating. Look for a seller with at least 90% positive feedback and at least a couple dozen feedbacks spread over at least several months. You should never purchase anything on Amazon from a seller that is “Just Launched” or has very recent feedback. You can’t believe the “Ships from”, they’ll say they’re shipping from the US but they’re lying. You’ll most likely receive a horrible quality product that doesn’t even look like what you ordered or never get your order at all. The scam is that they try to make excuses and drag you past the 30-day limit for returns. Yes, you can probably get your money back from Amazon but you’ve wasted a lot of time and hassle.

Click here to see the original review

Click here to see the full list of Fisco Big T Tape Measure models on Amazon

Another Grizzly Failure

Filed under: Tools,Vendors

As I’ve noted before, I’ve added Grizzly to my world-famous Never, Ever Buy Anything From These Companies Again list. This time, it’s the mini pallet jack I purchased a few years ago. This thing has literally seen maybe 200′ of loaded use and spent the vast majority of it’s time sitting in the corner of my climate-controlled workshop.

This morning I spotted this strange stuff around the wheels. What is it? That’s right, the “polyurethane” tires have completely decayed and fallen off the steel wheels.

I’ve learned the hard way that Grizzly stuff is inexpensive because it’s cheap.

Carvex is on the way

Filed under: Tools

Well, after over two years of delay, the new Festool Carvex jigsaw is about to be released. I’m really excited about this, since the PSB 300 (or was it a Trion?) is the only Festool I’ve ever returned since I could never get a perfectly perpendicular cut in thick materials. I was anxiously awaiting the Carvex back in the Spring of 2011 when the North American release was suddenly canceled and I, like many others, was bitterly disappointed. In the next couple days, I’ll be receiving a pre-release model to check out and I’ll be posting my thoughts as soon as possible!

Festool as a general dust collector?

David writes:

I am trying to decide how to proceed with dust collection/extraction in my shop. I am principally a wood turner. I have a Robust American Beauty lathe (I, like you, believe that money spent on good tools is rarely wasted) and the problem is, of course dust when power sanding dry wood. My approach to dust collection while turning is three phased. I see a dust extraction unit to collect the majority of the dust directly at the work as part one; a HEPA filtered air breather helmet (3M AS400) to protect the lungs as the second part; and a ceiling mounted (directly above the lathe) air filtration unit to collect the particles “that got away”as the final step. Presently, I have a large Rikon air filtration unit (61-1250) that I turn on prior to sanding. My practice is to leave the air filtration unit running while sanding and during shop clean up. I turn it off prior to turning off the lights and closing the shop door. I presently use a large shop vac with the hose set close to the work as my dust collector. You can see the vac taking the dust away (I have installed the bags designed for collecting drywall dust in the vac) but this soon has to change. The mystery to me is what to replace the shop vac with. My research indicates that Oneida makes some of the best cyclone dust collectors but I see them perhaps as overkill when my prime concern is collecting dust at the lathe. The larger units (3HP and up) are expensive but I would pay the money if I could be convinced that the money would be well spent. This long winded background story (sorry) leads to my question: I am wondering if you have experience using the Festool dust extraction units while turning? I have read your review on the Festool but you did not specifically mention whether you use it for collecting/extracting dust while turning.

Unfortunately, no, I’ve never used the Festool DE while turning. Offhand, I would think it wouldn’t be a good idea because a) turning tends to generate a *lot* of shavings and would quickly fill up the very expensive bag and b) power sanding on the lathe generates a lot of really fine dust very quickly that would tend to cake up on the inside of the bag or blow through and clog up the even more expensive HEPA filter.

I use a 3hp cyclone from Grizzly that I’ve been extremely happy with, I did a lot of research and felt the Grizzly was just about as good as the Oneida but considerably less money. Given your limited needs, the 2HP model may suffice, especially with a very short duct run. I have a drop by my lathe that connects to a 6″ flex hose that I hold in place with a plywood jig that affixes to the lathe bed with a switchable magnet. While this doesn’t catch all the heavy chips and shavings, it’s pretty good and it’s especially good with sanding, as the airflow is tremendous and gets nearly if not all of the dust.

Ultimate precision drill press

Filed under: Tools

I needed to make some very precisely placed holes in some existing furniture parts. After puzzling over how to make a jig on the drill press, it hit me: just use the milling machine instead!

It worked perfectly. I was able to place the holes absolutely centered and on target. The cross-sliding table was a godsend for being able to precisely tweak the position in thousandths of an inch.

For woodworking, you don’t need a very expensive mill. If you’d like to add this kind of capability to your shop, looked for a used Chinese-made mill. They’re not all that great for metalworking, but really fine for wood.

Save on Makita & Bosch!

Filed under: Tools

Amazon is offering a $25 gift certificate with Makita purchases over $100 and $25 off all Bosch purchases over $100.

Update to the drill review

Filed under: Tools

One of the very most popular pages on TheWoodNerd is the Lithium Ion Drills review. While updating the pricing, I found that the Makita drill had gone up 25% recently! Given that I thought it was barely suitable before, I have to remove my recommendation now. At $230, it’s just not worth it. The Bosch 36618-02 is hands-down the best drill AND the best value of that bunch.

A question on Festool sanders

Filed under: Tools

Erik writes:

I’m new to woodworking and I’m trying to make things happen in a multi unit apartment with a small attached garage…so I’m trying to manage my sound as much as possible. Fortunately the garage is bordered by other garages and a stairway, and seems to have decent sound dampening from the walls.

Finding multiple sanders sanding on the same video without music drowning out the sanding has been challenging so I’m hoping you might be able to provide insight. I about to make my first Festool purchases in the form of a TS 75 + MFT/3 package and a CT 26 E + ??? package. My first thought was to get an RO 150 as a primary general purpose machine., then later add something like an ETS for smoother work when I get there. Further considering also has me wondering about inside corner work (if/when I can’t finish sand before assembly and such) has me considering delta and rectangular sanders.

Do you have a perspective on the RO 150? How much louder it its random orbital mode in comparison to the RO 90 random orbital mode?

If I got the RO 150 I thought of paring it with a RTS 400 for corner, narrow edge and finish sanding…though my Festool rep keeps pushing me towards the Rotex and ETS lines. The largest concern is that some people say the RTS pads will grind up against and scuff materials sticking out perpendicularly of the face you are working on. This argues for consideration of the DTS 400 or RO 90 delta pads.

If I was to try to find one or two sanders for mostly furniture style work what might you consider?
RO 150 + DTS 400 (< 90 degree corner capacity and angled pad edges but can't rotate abrasive sheet)
RO 150 + RTS 400 (90 degree corners but no angled pad edges, good abrasive rotation ability efficiency)
Mirka Ceros 150mm pad/5mm stroke random orbital (Quiet, quiet, and quiet and good for large flat surfaces) + RO 90 (delta for corners, angled pads, abrasive rotation and those cool spacer/bumpers)
RO 90 only, wait to buy something else later if desired?

Hmm, that’s a lot of ground to cover :)

As for my experience, I own the RO90, ETS150, and LS130 sanders. I also did a week-long test-drive of an RO150 demo model from my local Woodcraft dealer. While I don’t recall specifically if or how much louder the RO150 was vs the RO90, it couldn’t have been substantial or I would have noted that. I did, however, find it substantially more difficult to control and decided that I greatly preferred the RO90, whose only downfall was the small head when working large areas like cabinet sides. The ETS150 filled that gap quite nicely and I’ve been very happy with it.

Given your situation, I think you’d be happy with the same RO90/ETS150 combination, although you should also look into the ETS125 instead of the 150 if you don’t need the extra capacity. You could use the savings towards an RTS400 or even an LS130, which are both sweet little machines. I can’t really recommend the RO150 as a finish sander, although it’ll do the job I found it just too heavy and off-balance for fine control.

On a side note: You should check out the section titled The CT26 versus it’s siblings in my review of the CT 26, specifically that I would recommend the CT 36 instead.

A Big Johnson by another name …

Filed under: Tools

Chad writes:

I currently have two big johnson tape measures and have been looking frantically for more. I read your article and agree with you completely. If you know of any sources to locate some it would be greatly appreciated.

I had read a while ago that Big Johnson tapes were actually manufactured by a company in the UK called Fisco Precision Tools. I can’t vouch for that, but their “Big T” tapes certainly look the same. Sears and K-Mart (which are actually the same company) sell them.

Questions about my SawStop/Incra setup

Filed under: Tool accessories,Tools

Eric writes

“I am looking at picking up exactly what you have, the incra and a sawstop. Do you have a benchdog router top on it? Did everything match up between the incra and saw stop, or did you have to drill holes for anything?”

I’m using a Pinnacle router plate, sold by WoodCraft. It’s solid aluminum vs the phenolic models now being carried. As I recall, it was actually made by another company (Woodpeckers?) and sold under the Pinnacle brand. If I had to buy one now, I’d go for a Bench Dog ProPlate or incorporate an Incra router table top.

The Incra fence system (which I consider without a doubt the best) fits the SawStop perfectly, no modifications necessary on either part. The double-headed version I have, where the saw and router fences share a common positioner, is a custom modification that requires a specially machined adapter and an extra fence. And yes, I’m considering manufacturing and selling the adapter. I get a lot of questions about that :)

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