New Tools for 2011 – A Drill, A Cyclone Separator, Blades and Planes!

Article - March 25, 2011

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I kinda like tools. Hand tools, power tools, tools that cut, tools that smash, tools that just look cool on the wall; its all good! So I thought I’d share with you a few tools/products I’m excited about for 2011. Some are already on the market and a few will be released later this year.

The Dust Right Vortex

The Dust Right Vortex is a cyclone separator: basically a trash can with a fancy lid that allows your shop vac to act like a dust collector. I am lucky enough to have a ducted cyclone system in my shop, so I won’t be purchasing this unit myself. But I am excited about the concept behind this. Truth be told, this is nothing new and people have been making their own trash can separators for quite some time now. But its a mass-produced product like this that helps raise awareness of the need for good dust collection. Frankly, I don’t care whether you build it or buy it, as long as you’re doing something to protect your lungs! For those that don’t have the budget or room for a large ducted system, the Vortex is a great option. And if you are looking to build your own, check this out!

Stanley and Wood River Planes

I have been a big fan of Lie Nielsen and Veritas planes for years. While some folks like to tune up old planes, I much prefer to spend a few extra bucks on a tool that works properly from day one. Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a cost and these high-end tools will quickly drain your bank account. Making matters worse, they are much like potato chips: you can’t have just one! This is why I am excited to see the latest releases from both Stanley and Wood River. Both companies are now producing decent quality planes for a significantly lower asking price. For example, lets look at a basic smoothing plane: $300 from Lie-Nielsen, $179 from Stanley, and $129 from Wood River.

Of course these planes are not quite up to the overall quality level of a Lie Nielsen or Veritas plane, but they are narrowing the gap with every iteration. This gives the average Joe or Jane an opportunity to work with a plane that doesn’t require a degree in metallurgy to get it working properly.

Festool’s CXS Compact Li Ion Drill

In June, Festool will release the latest addition to their line of premium drills: the CXS. While many folks feel that bigger is better, I prefer a more compact form factor when it comes to drills. Now if I were on a construction site all day, I might want a monster 18V cordless drill. But in my shop, light and nimble is the key and no one does ergonomics better than Festool. This drill comes in at under 2 lbs!!

Like all Festool drills, the FastFix chuck system allows you to easily switch between several different chucks, including the Centrotec chuck, the keyless chuck, and the right-angle attachment. Of course this bad boy doesn’t come cheap. It is Festool after all. Retail price looks to be $225.

Tenryu’s Full Kerf Gold Medal Blade

A few years ago, I reviewed Tenryu’s Gold Medal Blade GM-25540. While the blade cut like butter, I was upset that they only offered the blade in a thin kerf model. Thankfully, Tenryu has been hard at work creating a full-kerf blade that performs as well as the thin kerf version. Here’s some info from Gary Haines, a sales manager for Tenryu:

Tenryu spent over a year developing a specially shaped carbide tip to reduce cutting friction as much as possible. The objective was to provide the same perceived ?feel? when using the full-kerf version (.125″), as opposed to the thin-kerf (.111″) version we have become famous for producing. This new special tip design provides:

  • Reduced friction/resistance
  • Feeding that mimics the thin kerf design
  • Higher rate of sawdust/chip extraction
  • A reduction in ?grabbing? of the material edge while cutting (results in less burnishing)

I had the good fortune of testing a few of these blades during development, and I must say they absolutely met and exceeded my expectations. Back in my previous review I stated that if Tenryu ever came out with a full-kerf version, they’d have a customer for life. I am proud to say I have followed through with that promise and the Tenryu is now my “every day blade”.

So what tools are you looking forward to in 2011??