It’s not often I am blown away by a new power tool (Well, except for Festool ) but from the moment I opened my new Makita 1 1/4 hp router kit I knew I was in love. Sorry lovely wife–just a figure of speech! I have had a couple of the Bosch Colt routers and for the most part, liked them, although I did struggle with the cheesy height adjustment. I have been a big Bosch fan for years, but move over Bosch, Makita’s got you beat on this one. As soon as I picked up the router with the fixed base from the case I immediately felt the difference. The router is definitely heavier than the Bosch. Then I really got excited when I noticed the rack and pinion height adjustment. It actually works! Smoothly–Effortlessly!
The kit comes with multiple bases including the standard fixed base, plunge base, tilt base, and offset base. All the accessories you will ever need are also included. The offset base is great for laminate work when you need to rout closer than any standard base allows.
The tilt base is useful for angled grooves or chamfers using a straight bit, thus having the ability to chamfer at any angle.
I have mixed feeling about the fabric case, While it contains and organizes all the pieces well, I find it awkward to carry with long straps. I wish it had a simple handle, but with all the other great features of this kit, that is a pretty minor issue.
The sky is the limit using this tool. With the adapter you can use standard template guides. Supplied with the kit is also an edge guide for use on both the fixed and plunge bases, and a bearing guide for curved work.
I typically have sold the Bosch Colt but a customer had me special order this kit for him. I thought it looked promising so I ordered one for stock for the store. I had it for a couple of days before I succumbed to temptation and bought it for myself. Obviously I can get more!
Check out Festool’s latest–the Vecturo Multi-Tool. With 400 Watts of awesome power, you will wonder where this tool has been all your life! Before you slam the price, compare specs. This ain’t no throw away toy. There is only one other multi-tool on the market that compares, the Fein SuperCut, although it doesn’t offer the optional plunge base that Festool does. Great for cutting out for electrical boxes in sheetrock or wood or anytime you need to cut a section of molding. I even used mine to cut away tree roots interfering with some underground plumbing. Undercut door jams and base for tile with ease. Multi-tools are indispensable for all kinds of remodeling projects. With the proper blades you can cut metal drywall, pvc, some masonry and wood.
Unless you live on a deserted island, you have probably already heard about the new SawStop Crosscut Table. Of course if you live there you are probably not seeing this either!
I received my store demo a couple of weeks ago and was blown away by the design and quality of it. Installation was simple. The hardest part was having to remove the fence rails, as they need to be cut down a bit. This is a pretty simple process, but does take some time. If you can’t cut the rails yourself, any metal working shop should be able to take care of that for you. Other than that, it is a simple matter of removing the left cast iron wing and replacing it with the new table with the four bolts that held the wing. Using the standard mounting you will have a full 48″ crosscut capacity. If you prefer, you can move the sled forward so that it is not in your way using the saw normally. You will loose about a foot in crosscut capacity, but could be a good compromise.
With the fully adjustable fence, cut any angle up to 60 degrees with ease. Two flip stops come standard, so repeat cuts are a breeze!
Due to high demand, it can take awhile to get yours so consider ordering now. I love mine and know you will too.
Work safe and be Happy!
I have recently become a dealer for General’s CNC Machines. I sold my first one on the condition that I would set it up and assist in training the new owner how to operate both the machine and the software. The machine itself is ready to go out of the box. Basically, unpack and find a place to put it–preferably something solid. Needless to say–there is a learning curve with the software and operation of the machine. After some initial issues with getting the software loaded and working (and consulting wih General’s “amazing technicians” –their words, not mine, although he was helpful) I got it working. After that the iPicture 1.2 software that drives the machine was actually very user friendly (the software’s friendly, not the user–I’m a grump) This machine comes with a CD which includes a lot of gray scale drawings, ready to load into iPicture and carve. This process is quite simple.
I will go into greater detail in a later blog on using the software. Once you enter the artwork you wish to carve and save the G-code, it is simply a matter of saving to a flash drive. You then insert the flash drive into the machine and go through a quick process to prepare the machine for carving. Trust me, if I can do this and carve something that quickly, it is not rocket surgery!
The General also comes with Artcam Express, allowing you to create your own custom carvings. The learning curve can be a challenge, especially if you are not familiar with art programs, but there are several tutorials available to help you learn. I would highly recommend watching some before you tackle your first project.
This is my first attempt at designing in Artcam Express. The background texture and the rose are provided in the software. You can also import pictures and images to create your own. Again, I intend to address this in a later blog.
Whenever Festool is mentioned, there are always two totally different responses. One is–I absolutely love it and can’t wait until I can buy more of their products, and two–it is way overpriced and there is no way I’ll ever spend that much on a power tool! My answer to either is the same as my blog on tool value. Maybe, just maybe, both answers are actually very valid, depending on your needs. I do ask though, have you actually used the tool? Being a professional woodworker for most of my life, I tend to look for the best tools I can find, unless it is truly a one time special job, and then I will rethink that. Often cheap tools have cost me much more in the long run.
Now, back to the Rotex 125. This is certainly not a cheap sander, but having used it, I would highly recommend it if you need a versatile, hardworking tool. While I use other Festool sanders, the RO 125 could be the only sander you own, and not be a sacrifice at all. Since getting the sander, I have basically retired my Porter Cable belt sander. I don’t miss the noise or the dust at all. Even using dust collection, I could sand for 5 minutes and come away covered inside and out with dust. As with any Festool sander, when using with one of their dust collectors, there is virtually no dust, even after a prolonged sanding session. The tool is smooth (when in the fine sand mode) and feels great in your hands. It can be used one-handed, but I recommend using both. The balance is better.
I have been working on quite a few boxes lately, and have been thrilled with the results using my Rotex. I can do a complete box without ever-changing sanders. I am starting with 60 grit paper to get the joints, splines and mill marks cleaned up, and working my way up to 220 grit. With the hook and loop pads, the paper changes are quick, and the paper can be reused until worn out. Using the aggressive mode with the flick of a switch, I quickly cut the surface down flat with out the frequent dips from my belt sander. The size of the 5″ pad is perfect for what I do. Having also used the 6″ RO 150, this sander is better for me.
Then we are back to the original question–Is it worth it? In my opinion–yes!!!
Over the years I have gone through multiple sanders, and without a doubt, Festool beats them all. And when you look at buying an expensive belt sander and a random orbit sander too, then maybe the price is not necessarily so high after all. With the added value of unmatchable dust collection, I ask my self why I waited so long. I love their stackable Systainers too! It makes transport and storage so much better. Come to think of it, I have yet to find anything I don’t like about my RO 125.
For the last year, I have been spending much of my spare time developing my new line of custom boxes. This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Each “kreation” comes alive with it’s own distinct personality. I get a thrill with the completion of each box. With the availability of so many types of wood, there is no end to the possibilities one can come up with. This is a small sample of my work. I hope you will check out my website. Maybe you will find something you can’t live without.
Thanks for looking.