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With the first project effort behind me, I went looking for a second small craft item to turn on the Delta lathe. There are about a thousand great projects to do, but I was looking for something with a little flair. Luckily, a trip to the local Rockler store never fails to provide. There, my dad and I found a pizza-cutter kit on sale for $15 and a bit of olive wood — just the thing we needed.

Stopping by Rockler in my family is a little like sending grown men into a money hole. We normally go in pairs to keep the other one from spending the grocery money on rare woods and tools. On this occasion, it was even worse, as the local shop in nearby Richardson was holding CNC routing and turning demonstrations. After drooling over the displays and checking out a few demos, the paternal unit and I stumbled across Rockler’s excellent pizza-cutting kit that features a large steel-cutting roller and mounting hardware. All you need to do is supply a handle.

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After reading a ton of stories about lathe accidents, horror stories of amateur woodtuners’ disfigurement, and the “reassurance” from friends and family, it’s easy to think of lathe work as the devil’s own. After working my first project on one I can say it’s not that way at all. Turning is both pretty easy to get started with and simple to understand once a few basics are clear.

Since all the pen-making paraphernalia hadn’t arrived yet, I was determined to do something on the lathe. All the books and how-to articles recommended I start with a cylinder; this seemed pretty boring but I thought I’d try it out. The cylinder plan didn’t last very long. Turning fever sunk in quickly and then things started to get interesting.

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A few months ago while talking to our friends at Delta, I mentioned I knew next to nothing about turning wood — but the thought of making spindles, cups, pens, and bowls interested the hell out of me. We chatted a while, geeking out about turning like wood freaks do, and had a good time. Then the casual interest turned into a burning need. Being the good sports that Delta are, they lent us one of their 46-460 Midi-Lathes to play with.

Of course, I do have another lathe at hand in the ShopSmith; however, it’s a floor or maxi-lathe and isn’t as perfectly suited to smaller work as a dedicated smaller unit. The 46-460 with its 1 HP(max) motor, 12 1/2″ swing capacity, and variable speed three-pulley system provides a generous range of flexibility for those like me who are just starting out in turning. Delta thinks it’s a fine machine to begin on.

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Most of the “heavy machinery” in my shop has a smooth uncoated metal surface on it somewhere. From the ShopSmith tools to the 13″ Delta planer sitting in the corner, there are plenty of opportunities for rust to happen. Applying a coat of paste wax twice a year just doesn’t hit the top of my list very often. OK, so never.

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We’re guessing Delta is a little tired of hearing that they’re “moving overseas” when they’ve worked diligently for the better part of a year to set up shop here in the states and crank their production into gear. That might explain the latest press release from them telling the press and consumers in general about the completion of 300 units of their Unisaw/cabinet combos in the new factory.

“I hope this news will put to rest anyone thinking we were moving overseas,” said Bryan Whiffen, President and CEO of DELTA Power Equipment Corporation. “We believe strongly in the DELTA Made in the USA tradition and are working hard to continue that tradition.”

300 units doesn’t sound like a ton of progress, but keep in mind a few facts that might help put those numbers in perspective: Delta isn’t like Ford; they don’t crank 1,000 saws a day on an assembly line. That would be nice, but it’s not that kind of fast production line. They build each saw from scratch, test them to standard, then package them up and send them out. So 300 is a good milestone to reach and a sign that Delta is now fully functional and doing what they do best — building great woodworking equipment, once again.

36-L352 Unisaw [Delta]


How many times have you been watching a movie where you see a guy cutting a hole in a 2″ steel plate with a little portable plasma cutter? Every time it happens I want to stand up and scream “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A) That’s a tough job for a mounted big-ass cutter, and B) the duty cycle on a little 20A plasma cutter lasts about 20 seconds — not five minutes!” So we have to offer the producers of Green Hornet a big Toolmonger kudos for getting it right: Notice that the Hornet himself (Seth Rogen) in the screencap above is cutting the head off his father’s statue with a gas torch. Nice.

This is doubly-cool considering that so much of the movie is (hilariously) farcical. Love the car workshop, by the way. If I ever happen to end up that rich, you can bet I’ll have such a shop — though I’ll be the one working in it.

The Green Hornet [IMDB]


About a week and change after posting our first article on the beginnings of our compressor test, we found two things. We’d missed a few brands that needed to go along with that test, and we’d have to wait a little to get them and put them through the same ringer the rest of the field endured. In that spirit, a Bostitch, a DeWalt, and a Porter Cable compressor joined the cast of competitors.

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Remember Skil’s XBench? We wrote about it back in 2008 and to decent response, but it looks like Skil recently released an updated version that looks a lot more like Black & Decker’s industry-standard Workmate. In fact, it looks a whole lot like a steel and aluminum version of the X-Frame [What’s This?].

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Skil claims its version will support up to 440 pounds (versus the X-Frame’s 350), and the XBench looks more portable — like it’ll fold up smaller and weigh less. I definitely like the track-sliding work holders as opposed to the B&D’s, which install into just a few pre-drilled holes. Sandwiched between those pretty aluminum rails and the steel frame you’ll find good ‘ole MDF benchtops.

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The first day it arrived in the shop and we began cutting with it, we knew that the Bosch axial glide miter saw would make our favorites list this year with gusto to spare. It’s large, loud, rugged, and elegant all at the same time. Though competitors won’t admit it outright, this is a home run and everyone on the other teams knows it.

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If you’re a fan of the little 3-3/8″ circular saw we mentioned last month, Makita’s now offering it in a combo kit along with their 12V Max cordless driver drill, two batteries, and a charger for $200. While the kit’s driver isn’t our favorite in the field, it’ll certainly drive a few screws, which makes this kit an interesting buy for anyone doing trim and finishing work.

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