After whetting our appetites at the Melbourne Woodworking Show with the new products in their range, they have arrived and are now available for sale (which is great with the Brisbane Woodworking Show on next weekend!)
Some we have seen already, and have just undergone a colour change to “safety yellow”, a change that I am actually very pleased with – makes quickly spotting the required jig in the workshop a lot easier!
Now onto the new stuff.
A really cool one, and one that is awesome to see added to the range: the Universal Featherboard. It goes both ways 😉
It doesn’t restrict you in its operation, being able to be used on both sides of the tablesaw (fence on the left or right of the blade), and also on the fence (if its cast iron!), and router table. If I had to choose only one MagSwitch featherboard, it would be this one. It is so versatile.
Now one thing I was rather surprised about when I opened the package. The Universal is based around a 20mm MagSwitch, and not a 30mm. However, after querying this with the company I found out what the thought process was behind it. Obviously cost is a definite factor, and there is a price difference between having 2 x 20mm MagSwitches in a product and 2 x 30mm. The featherboard primarily has to resist a shear load, and so what they have done is applied a Titanium Nitride coating to the magnets, which boosts the shear load capacity of the 20mm jig up to the same of the normal 30mm MagSwitch.
You can see the colouring caused by the Titanium Nitride in the next photo. It is also worth noting that a finish like this is not a surface, added to the metal. The coating actually penetrates the surface, and turns the outside layer of the parent metal into an alloy, with its own properties (in this case increased magnetic shear strength).
This also gives a very good view of the double-sided aspect of this featherboard.
Next, is what a lot of people have been waiting for – the MagFence Combo Kit.
The vertical fences have either one, or two bearing rollers, depending on the application. The kit itself comes with both, and one universal base (and two 30mm MagJigs). The base is interchangeable between the two fences, so you can use whichever is suitable to the task at hand.
It is also a good value kit – if you take the $200 price tag, and then realise that the two MagJigs that it comes with are worth $100 on their own ($50 each). And these MagJigs can be used anywhere – switch them from task to task (and jig to jig) as needed.
The single roller one I have been particularly waiting for. It is designed (and is perfect for) resawing on the bandsaw. The idea is that because a bandsaw blade has a real tendency to track, the operator guides the work as needed to cut a uniform thickness piece (such as a veneer). Setting a single point of contact the right distance away from the blade really aids this, and being only a single roller means it still allows the operator full control over guiding and compensating for blade tracking.
Here the fence is set quite away back from the blade (for the photo). If I was setting up for a veneer cut, the fence would be within a couple of mm of the blade.
This image of the back of the fence reveals a number of details. The base is interchangeable as mentioned, and it only requires 4 hex bolts to be undone to switch between them. The diagonal members are the same as is used for the vertical attachment featherboard. The difference is the addition of the ‘sled’ below the support member which has the butterfly bolt sticking out. This is so the angle of the fence can be controlled to ensure the roller is vertical to the table.
There are the two 30mm MagJigs as mentioned. I have fixed them down with the supplied bolts, but that isn’t actually necessary – the jigs work equally as well without the MagJigs fixed down.
The fence itself (either one or two rollers can also be used on other tools, as here as a holddown on the planer.
Here you can see both the single and double roller unit. The roller bearings are supplied equally spaced as you can see, but you can rearrange them if a different layout is needed.
The last part of the kit is simple, and clever – good engineering. The holes in the Universal base are designed for the 30mm MagJig, but you may prefer to use 20mm MagJigs (or fit 20mm MagJigs into another jig with a hole for the 30mm).
In the foreground you can see a standard 30mm MagJig (base). Behind it, a 20mm in an adapter (also shown to the left). Simple, smart.
The final item, and again really simple, and very clever, are adapters that allow the vertical featherboard to be converted to horizontal, resulting in a multiple (high) featherboard.
This is what is provided in a single kit. There is a longer set of bolts required for the triple featherboard orientation that you have to provide.
These are the layouts you can achieve with the various combinations and orientations.
In the final image as mentioned, I needed to provide my own bolts, and the middle featherboard is one of the old ones. There is no difference, except in colour. That’s a bloody large featherboard when it is tripled up!
So that’s a look at much of the new range. Watch out for me at the Brisbane Wood Show (on the MagSwitch display), and even better, get some for your own workshop – they are great!