October 2001 #124
Straight Talkon ToolsThe only guide that recommends tools worth buying
637 TOOLS COMPAREDEDITORS PICK THE 97 BEST!
BAND SAWS PG20
HAND TOOLS PG50
MITER SAWS PG62
TABLE SAWS PG82
THICKNESS PG86PLANERSEXCLUSIVE FAR EAST REPORT
What You MustKnow AboutChinese Tools
POPULARWOODWORKING October 20012
Admit it. Spending money on tools andmachinery for your shop can producelots of anxiety. Your budget is limited, andso is your knowledge of all the product lines.Go to the store, buy on-line or over the phoneand the salespeople arent giving you anyconfidence that youre making the right de-cision, either. If youre lucky, you may havea friend who owns a tool youre interestedin, but its several years old and there are lotsof new models to consider now.
We publish this comprehensive ToolBuying Guide for only one reason. That isto give you the best chance you have to makethe right decision the first time when se-lecting a new piece of equipment for yourshop. Our goal is to arm you with more thanenough knowledge to put you in the com-fort zone when you open your wallet.
On the following pages youll find 17 cat-egories of woodworking tools as well an im-portant article about whats going on in man-ufacturing these days. In specific tool cate-gories, ranging from table saws to combina-tion squares, we give you three importantpieces of information:
We tell you what are the important fea-tures to evaluate and compare among all thetools in this category (as well as those fea-tures that dont count for much at all).
We list all the brands and models avail-able in the U.S. market with their specs andstreet prices.
And we go the extra mile and makespecific recommendations about the mod-els we have actually used in the PopularWoodworking shop and have confidence in.
We also know that all woodworkers arenot alike. Some of you are just getting start-ed, others have years of experience but keep
a casual attitude about your hobby. Othersare passionate about spending time in theirshops almost every day, or are pros depend-ing on their skills and tools to make a livingand support a family. Clearly, different wood-workers make different demands on theirtools and have different expectations aboutreliability and how much to spend.
For these reasons, we make our buyingrecommendations in three user categoriesso you can match yourself to the right tools.
In this years Guide we added the mostessential non-powered woodworking handtools as a category: low-angle block planes,combination squares and chisels. For spaceconsiderations, we dropped scroll saws andlathes for this year. In the cordless drillcategory, we focused on 12-volt models only.In our opinion, this is the right sized cord-less drill for most, but certainly not all, wood-working shop applications. These 12-voltdrills deliver the power and runtime to getthe job done without the weight that makesyou feel like you just did 100 arm curls.
And if you fret over the question of ad-vertiser influence on editorial recommen-dations, dont. Our job is to serve you, ourreaders. Not only is it our job, but truthful-ly, your subscription or newsstand purchasegoes a lot further in paying our bills thandoes advertising income.We just couldntafford putting anyone other than you first.
One final note, many thanks to the EdwardB. Mueller Company in Cincinnati, Ohio,for allowing us to shoot photos in their store.PW
FROM THE EDITOR
Buy With ConfidenceSave money and find your comfort zone.
Contents6 CHINA BOUND
A lot more tools are nowbeing made in China. Whatdoes this mean for pricesand quality?
14 12 VOLT DRILLS
20 BAND SAWS
28 BISCUIT JOINERS
32 BRAD NAILERS
38 DRILL PRESSES
44 DUST COLLECTORS
50 HAND TOOLS
62 MITER SAWS
82 TABLE SAWS
86 THICKNESS PLANERS
T O O L B U Y I N G G U I D E 2 0 0 2
The Toughest Glue on Planet Earth
Hardwoods, softwoods, pressure-treated or exotics Gorilla Glue
is tough enough to hold themall. Incredibly strong, nearlyinvisible glue lines, and100% waterproof. Just the wayserious woodworkers demand it.Call 800-966-3458 for adealer near you, or visitwww.gorillaglue.comto find out more.
POPULARWOODWORKING October 200014
August 2001, Vol. 21, No. 4 www.popularwoodworking.com
Editor & Publisher Steve Shanesy
Art Director Tricia Barlow
Senior Editors David Thiel,Christopher Schwarz
Project Illustrator John W.Hutchinson
Photographer Al Parrish
Editorial Intern John Tate
Editorial Assistant Barb Brown
Contributing EditorsNick EnglerBob FlexnerGlen Huey
Scott PhillipsTroy Sexton
Technical Advisers:Bill Austin Makita USA. Inc.Scott Box Delta International
Chris Carlson S-B Power ToolBill Crofutt Grizzly Industrial
Dale Zimmerman Franklin International
General Manager Jeffry M.LapinEditorial Director David Fryxell
David Lee, Director
Lynn Kruetzkamp, Group Manager
Barbara Schmitz, Director of ManufacturingMartha Wallace, Magazine Production Dir.Heather Griffin, Production Coordinator
National Sales RepresentativeBill Warren, Five Mile River Assoc. LLCRR1 Box 1400, Stockton Springs, ME 04981Tel. (207) 469-1981; Fax (207) 469-3050
Joe Wood, Tel. (513) 336-9760Fax (513) 336-9761
firstname.lastname@example.orgClassified Advertising Sales
Joan Wright,Tel. (800) email@example.com
Advertising Production CoordinatorDebbie Thomas, Tel. (513) 531-2690, ext. 219
SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Subscription inquiries,orders and address changes can be made at
www.popwood.com (click on Subscriber Services).Or by mail:Popular Woodworking,P.O.Box 5369,
Harlan, IA 51593 or call (515) 280-1721.Include your address with all inquiries.
Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.
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ATTENTION RETAILERS:To carry Popular Woodworking in your store, call ReadersService at 800-844-7075, or write: Popular Woodworking
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Back issues are available for $6.50 ($8.50 Canada; $10.50 otherforeign). Ohio residents include 6% sales tax. Send check or
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Circle #116 on Resource Directory Coupon
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If youre not in the habit of check-ing labels on your new tools andmachinery purchases, you might besurprised to learn that Made inChina is showing up a lot more fre-quently these days. Dont make themistake and think this means theproduct was made in the Republicof Taiwan, the island country off thecoast of mainland China.
With increasing frequency, prod-ucts once made in Taiwan are nowbeing manufactured in China. Whatcan we expect from such a shift? Willquality suffer? What about prices?Just who is having woodworkingequipment made in China now? Andwhy would manufacturers make sucha huge change just when their prod-ucts have finally won broad accep-tance with U.S. woodworkers?
Importers and manufacturers ofTaiwan-made woodworking equip-ment have worked hard during thepast 15 years for respect in the mar-
ketplace. Whether the bad rap Madein Taiwan was deserved in the earlydays is not only debatable but, likemost issues, a lot more complicatedthan consumers imagine.
From the first days that Taiwaneseequipment began arriving in ourports, there were real quality differ-ences among the various importers.Quality differences still exist and canvary on what may seem to be thesame product coming from the samemanufacturing plant. But its fair tosay now that overseas manufactur-ers are producing millions and mil-lions of dollars in good-quality wood-working equipment. Some of itsmade by companies that import theirentire line from Taiwan; some of itsmade for venerable names who once
built exclusively in the United Statesand now import some products. Eitherway, the American woodworker isreaping a huge benefit from theseimported tools.
As woodworkers, we groan reg-ularly at constant price increases forlumber. But when it comes to toolsand equipment, particularly ma-chines from Taiwan, we dont stopto think what a bargain they are.A case in point: I bought my firsttable saw, a Delta/Rockwell model10 contractor saw, in 1981. I addedlong guide bars for the fence and cast-ers and paid just over $850. Whatsthat saw cost today? Equipped witha Biesemeyer fence, just over $850.Essentially, its the same saw with afar superior fence.
Just for fun, I went to a web sitethat allows you to calculate the costmy table saw in 1981 and then ad-just it for 20 years of inflation. Today,my $850 saw should cost $1,833.
Now that Taiwanese woodworking tools are accepted by U.S. woodworkers,
manufacturing is moving again. This time, to mainland China.
What will this mean for American consumers?
Woodworking tool manufacturing is