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For my workbench project I needed to cut sheet goods on the length, and I wanted the cuts to be straight since I’m going to be looking at ’em for awhile.  I found Swanson’s CG100 cutting guide at Lowe’s for $20 and figured it was worth a shot.

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A new spin on the traditional carpenters pencil, the Swanson AlwaysSharp contains eight replacement tips in the body, so you can ditch the sharpener.  When a lead wears out, just pull out a replacement and swap it with the old one.  The tips last longer, too, since they’re not ground up in the sharpener, and a plastic cap protects the tip when you’re not using it.

The AlwaysSharp costs a bit more than traditional pencils:  about $2 for two.

AlwaysSharp [Swanson]
Street Pricing [Google]


The traditional framing square serves its purpose well, but a few things could be improved.  You can’t fit your square into your toolbox — unless we’re talking a large job box or a truck box, it ain’t happening.  How about laying out repeatable angles?  Yeah, it can be done, but it takes a bit of practice. Swanson designed their $30 Framing Wizard layout tool not only to address these issues but also to replace five tools:

  • Framing square
  • Try square
  • Miter gauge
  • Angle Finder
  • Saw Guide

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What’s a wood magnet? It’s a level that press-fits onto a 2×4 to make one hell of a long beam level.  Assuming you can find an un-bowed and un-warped 2×4, it sounds like a decent idea.  Of course, that’s a pretty big if.

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