High end tools and alternatives

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Woody 11 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #3662

    Daryl Rosenblatt

    I just got an email from Woodpecker, on their latest One Time Tool, a series of precision ground straightedges. We all need them, but their 12″ straightedge is $60. You can go to McMaster.com (a great resource for almost anything BTW), like Grainger but I think a bit more complete, and get the equivalent in steel for under $25. Or go to a machine shop nearby and see what they might be giving away as scrap.

    The point is not to say no to a great manufacturer. There are frankly no substitutes for a Starrett Combination Square (and no Mitoya and the others are not nearly as good, sorry), and the Lie Nielsen bronze low angle block plane is likely the best hand plane ever made by our species, so get them both. But for almost anything else, look for alternatives and maybe some raw stock that, with a little elbow grease (steel straightedges clearly need none), you can have the same or better done to your personal satisfaction.

    If you don’t know about McMaster-Carr, it’s worthwhile to check them out. Their website is as good as Amazon’s in ease of use, and you get to exactly what you need incredibly quickly. Plus just about everything they sell has a shop drawing. Grainger has a local warehouse, and if they have it, you get it then and there, or they can ship it to their warehouse and pick it up for no shipping costs.

  • #3665

    Bill Leonhardt

    I’ve had really good results in the past with McMaster. When I was working, if I ordered by 7pm, I would have the material by 10:30 the next morning. Maybe it will be a little longer to a residence.

    No doubt Woodpeckers make great, high quality stuff, but they are out of my league cost-wise.

  • #3666

    Daryl Rosenblatt

    When they deliver to my house, it’s usually a full day. Order on Monday, get by Wednesday. The website is amazing, I urge everyone to just check them out.

  • #3667

    Joe Bottigliere

    Another alternative to pricey straight edges is masonry screeds. I bought mine from Amazon for under $30. It 4 ft long 4″ wide and about 3/4″ thick. It is filled aluminum but it is flat and straight and light weight. They are available from 1′ up to 10′.
    Here’s a link.

    Point is, there are plenty of alternatives to expensive tools that work just as well.
    Also, while looking on Amazon, I found other copies of Veritas Al S.E. for at a lower cost. Don’t get caught up with precision (at least not where it isn’t vital). Many alternatives are more than acceptable.

  • #3668

    Daryl Rosenblatt

    When I got my Felder stationary tools, I joined what was, at the time, a very modern thing:The Felder User Group. In it, members posted jigs they made for their machines, making them, so they said, accurate to a tenth of a millimeter. And while I am jealous of both their ability to machine that fine, and even more, to SEE that well, most of my wood expands and contracts more than that. And I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the steel parts in my tools does that since I’m in my garage, and it gets really cold in the (W word, I won’t say it since it’s still here and clearly evil) and hot in the summer.

  • #3671

    Charlie James

    As most have mentioned woodwork does not require accuracy like machine work does because wood moves anyway. I do use a steel straight edge for cutting my veneer. That must be dead on when it’s jointed. The veneer saw has no set so it can’t bite into the steel. If I’m checking a long piece of solid wood for straightness I have a piece of 3/4″ square X 5′ long aluminum tubing that I’ve had for more years than I remember. It’s light and in a pinch it also fits in the table saw slot…

  • #3673


    I was introduced to McMaster by Norm Bald and ordered a few items and was very satisfied. The selection of materials and hardware is quite impressive.

  • #3674
    Ben Nawrath
    Ben Nawrath

    Aluminum extrusions are terrific for straightness by their very nature. Steel is good, but it can bend so be nice to it 😬 Online metals is cheaper than McMaster, but probably not as quick. As someone who orders from McMaster weekly if not more for work, I’ll say they aren’t cheap. But their site IS great, they have downloadable 3D models for almost everything (even screws and washers), and it’s super fast. Also great for stuff like jig knobs, probably T track (but the rockler kit goes on sale a lot).

    Also my new favorite thing for raw steel/iron parts that I want to keep the steel look but not rust is rustoleum clear paint. Unless it’s a bearing surface like lathe ways or a screw on a vise where you’d use dry lube, it’s awesome.

    Speaking of alternatives, after our router thing the other night I went looking for a magnetic tool switch for my drill press. Found this on amazon. It just has spade terminals on the back, so it’ll take a few bucks in wiring supplies to hook up, but the price isn’t bad!

    POWERTEC 71054 120V Magnetic Paddle Switch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IEM2DSM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_D-wYAb351TDAW

  • #3676


    Ordered the same switch; easy hook up. Works great. Whoever is doing the website my thanks. It is easy to navigate and loaded with good “stuff”.

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