If you’re interested in residential home construction and remodeling, the place to be is the annual Design & Construction Week (DCW) – a combination of five trade shows, featuring 3,700 exhibitors from the home construction, remodeling and decorating industries. I know these shows well. I’ve been attended them for the past 15 years, but this year was different. My past visits were on behalf of the remodeling, woodworking and home improvement magazine that I was writing for during those years. This is the first time I’ve attended with the sole purpose of finding only products that impact the world of woodworking and small workshops. As I hustled through the seemingly endless aisles of granite slabs, window displays and plumbing fixtures (did I mention this show fills more than 4.7 million sure feet of exhibit space), there were moments when I felt like I was searching for a needle in a haystack.
The good news is that I did manage to find several interesting new products at the International Builder’s Show (IBS) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the two shows which take up most of the Las Vegas Convention Center. I apologize to those of you who were hoping for updates on the latest window coverings, home furnishings and flooring – skipping those areas was a tough call that had to be made (although I may need to circle back and follow up on a rumor I overheard about some groundbreaking developments in the world of curtain rods).
Here’s a round up of my favorite finds from these shows:
Centipede Work Support Systems
Cross a folding camp chair with a sawhorse and you’ve got the Centipede Tools work supports. These show stoppers drew a constant crowd to watch them expand from a compact bundle into full-size tables. The 2×4-ft. and 4×8-ft. models both collapse to fit in a travel bag for easy storage and transport – just like a folding camp chair. The engineering of these supports makes them surprisingly sturdy, with the 2×4-ft. version supporting up to 1,500 lbs and the 4×8 version holding up to 3,000 lbs. Both supports are available on the Centipede web site.
Watch the Centipede demo video:
Osborne Legs Ready for Wiring
One of the challenges of installing a kitchen island can be finding a place for the necessary outlets. Osborne Wood Products offers a new solutions with their table/island legs that feature a pre-installed electrical box and a pre-bored channel for routing the cables up through the leg. You couldn’t easily make the mortise for the box and bore that channel with most small workshop equipment.
Starrett Jig Saw Blade Prevent Tear Out
The Starrett Dual Cut blade features a dual tapered blade and dual direction teeth for cleaner cuts through laminates and other materials that are prone to chipping and tear out. The dual tooth direction and tapers result in the tips of the teeth cutting into the material on both the upstroke and downstroke.
RIDGID Introducing More Tools Than We Can Talk About
It’s not that we don’t have the space to write about all the new tools coming up from RIDGID (no page counts on the internet), the problem is that we were asked not to – some of them are still a secret. So secret that I had to meet them in an off-site hotel room (real covert-ops stuff).
What I can tell you is that they will be introducing the new 18 Volt GEN5X 5-piece combo kit. Highlights of the kit include a new circular saw that features a 7-1/4-in. blade. The biggest benefit of this blade size is it’s availability – much easier to find at most retailers for just about any application. There’s also a new hammer drill that is packed with new features, including a torque setting wheel with over 100 levels – it feels like nearly infinite settings. The hammer drill also features cool built-in work lights (second photo) that distribute the light so evenly there are almost no shadows. In addition there’s a new impact driver with three speed settings (a feature I love). Plus, a reciprocating saw and work light. The complete kit including a redesigned charger and two 4.0 Ah batteries will retail for $499 in March.
RIDGID is also introducing a new GEN5X 18 Volt 5″ random orbit sander as a bare tool (no battery included). It features a dust collection system that they claim is 90% effective. The fact that sanders draw a lot of power has left them out of most cordless tool lines, but RIDGID claims this sander will run under normal use for 45 minutes on a battery charge. Suggested retail is $59.97.
Pull Out Storage for Pots and Pans
Last year Glideware introduced their cabinet pullout storage system for pots and pans (top photo). It’s a great way to maximize cabinet space. This year they partnered with Blum to create a sleaker, hidden hardware version that also features soft-close functionality (bottom photo). Combine either system with a pullout tray on the bottom of the cabinet and you’ve got a great system for keeping pots and pans organizes and easy to access.
Big Light – Small Package
The new Big Ass Light from the Big Ass Fans is only 24-in. long, but it delivers an amazing 13,000 lumens – enough to light a single car garage. It’s also available with an optional motion-sensor switch so you’ll never walk into a dark garage.
Super Easy Switch Plate Upgrades
This one really doesn’t have a strong application in a workshop, but it’s so innovative and easy that I had to include it. Last year Snap Power showed me their first invention the Guidelight – an outlet cover plate with build-int LED lights. Both also feature light sensors, so they only turn on when you need them. Installing it is as easy as replacing any cover plate. This year they are launching a switch plate version of the Guidelight and a new cover plate with a built-in USB charging port.