A guard for your hands and eyes

Incra are well known for their significant contributions to woodworking, particularly at the highly engineered end of the spectrum, with their precision tools (such as accurate fence positioning).

So when they bring out a new tool, it is worth taking note, so I was interested when Incra released a push block to see just what they have bought to the party.

rta_pushguard_main_zoomSold in Australia by Professional Woodworkers Supplies

The first thing that you notice is the clear shield.  It can be easily removed when the job doesn’t need it (or moreso, if it would be in the way), but for jobs that result in the cutter being exposed in particular, having added protection to prevent wayward wood chips flying in the direction of your eyes is a neat addition.

rta_pushguard_detail1_zoomThe handle is a decent size, not only so you can (just) fit two hands, but also so you can get a good positive grip on it, to control the workpiece.

Speaking of controlling the workpiece, and that is where the 178x75mm working surface comes into play, providing a decent contact area.  Often, you would want to work with two of these guards, not only further increasing the working area, but so you can further control the orientation of the workpiece relative to the tool, and prevent it twisting out from under the pushblock.

Unlike most pushblocks, the Incra one also has a double-walled ABS hand guard (grey) further protecting your rather valuable tools (hands).


I’d see a definite use for these on the router table, and the jointer particularly.  In an ideal world, I’d have 4 of these, two with the clear guard attached, and two without to cover all the jobs I’d want to use these on, without having to remove and replace the clear guard, but they are pretty easy to remove and replace even so.

Safety equipment is always something that comes secondary to the tools that allow us more capability in the workshop, but as I was told years ago when I got my motorbike license, if you can’t afford the safety equipment, you can’t afford the bike, and the same thing applies to woodworking.

The Karate Kid of Sharpening Systems

wax on wax offWax on, Wax off

There are so many sharpening systems out there, it can be rather daunting.  Powered or unpowered, hollow grind or flat, single bevel or secondary micro-bevel, oil, water or dry, friable or fixed surface, open or closed grit, wax on or wax off.

I’ve come across another system recently, which has an interesting take on the process.  It is the Precision Sharpening System from M Power.


It is based on diamond stones, and has two fixed angles 25° as a primary angle, and 30° as a secondary angle (such as for a microbevel).  The stones are exceptionally easy to change, held in place magnetically.  There are grits from 100 through to 1000 available (with the unit coming with a 220 grit and a 450 grit stone).

Where the system is somewhat different, is the direction of sharpening.  Most systems have the grinding direction in line with the chisel, where the PSS works perpendicular to the blade.  Secondly, most systems have the stone (grinding surface) stationary, and the blade is bought into contact and moved against the abrasive.  The PSS has the tool stationary, and instead the stone is bought to the tool, back and forth, creating a flat grind.

PSS1-Sharpen-small-chisel-484It is an interesting grinding direction.  Takes a little getting used to, but I can’t see that there is any particular disadvantage to the resulting tool edge.

The carriage is captive in the base, but has a bit of movement, which allows the sharpening surface to float fully on the tool. You can then apply as little or as much pressure as you like or need.

The body of the sharpener is best secured down, and there is a hole and screw made available for just that.


The system has a particular distinct advantage – speed of setup.  There is no jig that needs to be set up, or clamped to the blade.  The tool is placed on the flat bed, held against the lip at the side to keep it perpendicular to the sharpening stone, and a few swipes and you are done.

Remove the stone carriage, flick it around and a few swipes for a micro-bevel.  Change stones in seconds to move between grades.  It will not take every type of blade, but anything straight, such as a chisel or plane blade up to 2.5″ wide is no problem (3mm to 64mm).  The ease of setup and repeatability means regular, quick touchups are no problem, and you may find you use it more regularly given the ease of use.  With the result being continually, satisfyingly, sharp blades.

Available (in Oz) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.



Biting the Bullet

After much internal debating, I did decide to move over to the PRL2 (Precision Router Lift) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and now the only in-cabinet adjustments I need to make are speed changes on the fixed-base router.

I thought the router would be at least as noisy as the Triton, but it was definitely not the case – quite a bit quieter which was a pleasant surprise.

The coarse height adjustment will take me a little to get used to – while very fast, I found I would overshoot the mark easily.  Granted, I only tried the whole thing for a few seconds – too many other demands on my time.  The fine adjustment is very fine.  It has a 32nd” thread, compared to the 16th” thread of the previous router lift.  The 16th” never seemed overly coarse, so this is very fine.

Now you may wonder – why do I need two router lifts?  One that can fit a plunge router, and one that fits the fixed-base router that it comes with.

Well there is a really simple answer.  I don’t.

I did an upgrade deal with PWS, so they now have my router lift to sell (just as soon as I drop it off!!)  Based on one other that they had to resell recently, it won’t last long!

It was a hard decision – I do like that router lift!

Back to my new PRL2, I do have one interesting idea about the microadjuster wheel.  That red wheel looks perfect to engage a motorised drive.  Be interesting to see how practical that is.

How’s it hangin?

The ol’ router table that is?

Ever lusted over a router lift, being able to precisely dial in a router bit height, make a pass, and need a 0.1mm adjustment to make it perfect?  That is what a router lift can give you.

Sure they are not cheap, but then the router table is one of the main workshop tools, and if you are prepared to put some bling into some of the other tools (tablesaw, bandsaw etc), then perhaps consider giving the router table some love.

I am coming from the other side of the decision, having had a router lift and the Incra fence for a number of years.  I’ve always enjoyed the accuracy, and it comes as second nature these days.  Guess it has improved my woodworking, but that isn’t actually why I have it. (Probably should be!!) I just like being able to use good gear when I am pottering around.

We did think the day of the router lift in Australia was numbered, when the Woodpeckers Router Lift ceased manufacture. The Router Lift was specifically designed for plunge routers, which are just not popular in the USA for some reason.

However, that is not the only form of the router lift that is out there, and the American version, the Precision Router Lift Version 2 (or shortened to PRL V2) is now available here.

This has some cool features that my router lift doesn’t have.  Such as a spring loaded plunge handle to quickly set the height close to what is desired, without winding and winding.  The other, and this is even more interesting, is it has a built-in large diameter knurled wheel to dial in the precise height (it is bright red in the photo, so hard to miss!)

This lift cannot fit a plunge router, but then having a plunge router under a lift is a bit of a waste anyway. I haven’t taken my plunge router out of the table for years.  Probably so full of sawdust now, it may not be able to plunge properly anyway.

So what do you use instead?

Well the PRL V2 from Professional Woodworkers Supplies comes with an 1800W 1/2″ (and 1/4″) fixed base router. So that takes care of that problem!

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are looking for a kick-ass router table, having a router lift with such accurate adjustment, it will certainly have appeal to some.  Given my Triton is struggling (age catching up with it), this is a rather tempting option, and solves one of the final issues with my current setup – how to do through-table bit changes, without having to adjust both the router lift, and the Triton router.  Something I’ve put up with for the overall benefit of the lift.  Guess I really like the look of that red dial!

Divide and Conquer

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It is an interesting tool.

Capable of performing a function that would normally require a tape measure, calculator, and a number of measurements and marks to achieve.

Yet can do so without a single calculation, and in one step, not many.

So what can this tool do?

Take a board of a wide variety of widths, and divide it evenly across the width into anywhere between two and six parts, without having to actually measure the board width once.



 This is the Point.2.Point, available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  Simple concept, simply executed.

Episode 112 Sabretooth

Plans from MakeCNC

Drilling fine

While woodworking often doesn’t require extremely fine and/or accurate holes, there are times when a fine set of drill bits would be very handy, and when it comes to fine bits, they don’t get much finer than these sets from Zona Tool.  They are supplied in Australia by Professional Woodworkers Supplies.


Whether you are model making, making jewellery, working with wood, metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, even stone, the ability to drill incredibly tiny holes is achievable.

But what do I mean by fine? How about 0.3mm to 1mm in 0.05mm steps (then from 1 to 1.5mm in 0.1mm steps)?  0.3mm, or 300µm.  Sure, that doesn’t sound too small when talking about sanding, where we are working with particle sizes in the 10s of microns (or less), but these are drill bits we are talking about!

To put it in scale, consider the humble Australian dollar coin.  It may not be angels dancing on the head of a pin, but here are the three finest drill bits in comparison.


Of course you won’t be mounting these bits in your standard power drill!  So in the first photo, you can also see a couple of bit holders/drivers from Zona as well.  One is double ended for larger and smaller bits, the other is a twist-drive, which can hold the finest bits.  None of these are particularly expensive either, with the drill bit set around $25.

They are available in metric and imperial, and interestingly, the blue box above are diamond coated bits, which is why glass, stone, ceramic etc are also able to be drilled with this precision.

Now while talking about sanding, PWS also have sanding/polishing sheets that go from 30µm, down to a miniscule 1µm.  That is the same particle size as the extra-extra fine diamond stone from DMT.

Zona-2That is so fine, you can use these to polish out scratches on CDs and DVDs. (Let alone achieve a mirror finish on an object).

1µm. 6 times smaller than an anthrax spore. Around P8000 sandpaper!  If that isn’t smooth enough, you have a real problem!


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