What’s Your Tool Review Wish List?

Magazines are a funny business when it comes to keeping track of time. Here at Woodworker’s Journal, we’re waiting for the December issue to hit the mail—(that’s happening real soon, by the way). In the meantime, we’re deep into production on the January 2011 issue, despite the fact that it isn’t even mid October yet. That’s how publishing goes. Sometimes, between print assignments, our eZine tasks and planning ahead, I forget exactly which month I’m currently in. My wife, however, won’t accept “job” as a reason for my forgetfulness. She’s convinced these are actually the onset of “senior” moments…

But hey, even though we’re hard at work on the first issue for next year, that doesn’t mean we have the entire 2011 editorial calendar written in stone just yet. So, here’s my point in writing this entry: as you know, I do quite a few of our tool reviews each year. We come up with those tool test ideas based on lots of factors, but I’d like to add another one to the mix. I’d like to hear your input.

What types of tools would you like to see us put under the microscope next year? I can’t promise we’ll take every idea that comes in and run with it (we do have some ideas of our own, for gosh sakes!). But, a good magazine should be informed by its readers. So, do you have any big tool purchases in mind for next year? Have you been toying with the idea of buying a new whatchamacallit for some big project? Maybe it’s time to step up to a bigger jointer, a flashy new router or a bad-boy-sized air compressor. If any tools are on your wish list, I’ll bet you’d love to see an article that helps you make a more informed decision. Here’s your chance to throw a tool review idea into the collective hat and let us know how we can help you buy right.

I hope you’ll take a minute or two and jot down a response here. There are still some openings in our tool review calendar. Maybe you can help us fill them—and get a little hardware feedback before you write that big check.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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  • Steve

    I’m increasingly interested in learning about what factors go into a quality hand tool: handsaws, chisels, and hand planes. I don’t know if it’s a general trend in the industry or my own changing tastes, but my hobby is leaning a little bit towards including more tried and true hand tools in my shop.

  • Mike

    The different CNC machines. from the Carvewright to the bigger machines.

  • Victoria Thompson

    In the next few years I will be looking at band saws and lathes for wood turning. Perhaps sprayers for finishes. You do really good job of hitting my interests and needs already.

  • This year I finally got a fully furnished shop. So my biggest challenge will be selecting good tools to get precise machine setups after changing knifes and other adjustments. Many of my manuals do not go into detail on how to get the most out of your machine and the pics to show you how are crappy. So I would love to see articles on using setup tools properly. I have learned over the past few years that you can have the steadiest hand and great focus on the task at hand, but if your tools are not tuned up your end result is based on luck. To get back your question I would like more reviews on your everyday supplies from abrasives to finishes. One more thing is circular saws, I rarely use one for woodworking projects. It seems like their is construction grade then it skips to the high end ones. Since I don’t use one often I do not want to spend lots of money but when I need one I want a good cut.
    Thanks, Ken

  • There seem to be a lot of reviews of table saw blades. How about steel and carbide bandsaw blades? Also, different aftermarket jointer/planer knives and cutterheads such as straight HSS, straight carbide, helical carbide, and Shelix carbide.

  • Jim

    There seem to be a few new bench top jointers. Are they worth buying? They seem ideal for a small shop with limited space.

  • John

    How about Festool Domino alternatives like the Beadlock Joinery system and others?

  • Peg

    Planners and jointers as well as CNC machines are things I’d like to learn about, and possibly purchase. My home is in the state with the most trees, according to our electric company. I’d like info on band saws with re-sawing in mind.
    Peg in Maine

  • sheppy

    HVLP paint sprayers! What do you look for in a good quality home work shop sprayer? How much should you pay for a unit with out taking a mortgage on the house and still get a decent job out of the product?

  • Dean

    I’d like to see a review of the following Track Saws: Festool vs. EurekaZone vs. DeWalt vs. Makita. And, any other track saw that may be on the market by the time you might do the review.

  • I’m about to buy an air compressor to drive a spray outfit. I know nothing about them, such as how big a tank I need, how fast it will refill, and so forth. Unfortunately, I will be making the purchase before you are able to cover them. But, if I have the question, others must have it too. And, it might go well with an article on spray outfits.

  • Don

    Please do a test on the new Black and Decker Lithium ion 20 volt Drill.
    Also compare it to the Skil, Craftsmen and Ryobi Lithium ion products.

  • Jim Neff

    Would like to see a review on two machines:
    1. Combination 12″ disc/6″ belt sanders and
    2. Hvlp spray rigs suitable for professional results
    Keep up the good work!

  • i am a big time vacuum cleaner lover.i would like to see a review of shop vacuums.especially the 16 gallon units put shop vac the orginal aggianst the new comers.i would also like to see the review of tool activated vacuum cleaners.i would also like to see the review of turbo hand vacs shark vs scorrpinvs everstart vs black and decker vs other brands.
    please send me the issue if you do any of my ideas.

  • Ray Lawrence

    As you say in your eZine article, Trend routing are well known in the UK, It would be good to see a comparison between popular US brands (Porter Cable, Milwaukee etc)
    These makes are rare here in England but would be a good benchmark to quality and performance(We can’t all afford Festool)

  • don gigger

    would would like to see sound ratings for tools,its importaint to myself ,neighbors and household members.a lot of times i will not buy a tool if i get to hear it run before buying,need a common comp not just numbers, need to be spicfic

  • Elaine

    Ditto Chris on the hand tools. Also table saws – when we should upgrade and why? I’ve been saving my lunch money for a Saw Stop – (when) are the competitors going to use similar safety equipment?

    • Chris Marshall


      From what we’ve learned regarding blade-stopping safety technology, other manufacturers will not be following suit anytime soon. SawStop’s original technology was available to manufacturers before SawStop began making their own saws, but other companies decided, for one reason or another, not to pursue it. If you have your plans set on a SawStop, because of the revolutionary technology it offers, the upside is that SawStop is putting it into all of their table saws across the price range. So, there’s probably a model to suit your budget. I wouldn’t look for other competitor saws to have the same safety feature for a long while, if ever, unless regulations change across the industry.

      Hope this helps you in your table saw decision-making process.


      Chris Marshall

  • SL

    I really like comparisons of not just one tool brand to another such as one router bit to another, but when it is coupled with best use of that type of tools vs other types of tools, such as using a router vs table saw to do dado cuts. The pros vs cons in setup time, cost, and quality of cuts. Right now I’m looking at table top bench jointers vs sticking with using my router, planner, and table saw to prepare wood. I have a small shop so cost and size is limited. Would it be better to putting that money into software designed for wood workers. What is out there in computer land that is worth investing in?

  • Morris

    Lookin’ at a bench planer & 14″ bandsaw. Try to stay in the lower pricing bracket as $1,000+ is way beyond this ol’ boy’s price range.

  • Allan

    This is the year I’ll buy a 13″ planer. Tool reviews of the past 5 years are reasonably consistent, with the DeWalt setting the bar. But now there is a helical cutter head in this same price range (General International 30-005HC M1). So how does helical stack up against the HSS 3-blade models?

    • Chris Marshall


      I’ve never compared three-blade planers head-to-head with a helical model, but I have used both styles of planers in the past. In terms of cutting smoothness, both styles are comparable to a conventional-knife planer when the blades are nice and sharp. The advantage to either of these over the typical knives is how easy they are to replace and adjust. Three-knife, replaceable (and indexed) blades are probably a little cheaper to buy than the carbide inserts, but I’ve got about two years of mileage on my inserts and still haven’t needed to flip them to a fresh edge. They last a LONG time. Regardless of which type of cutterhead machine you buy, I think you’ll appreciate the knife-changing/setting convenience of the newer styles. I know I sure do.


      Chris Marshall

  • I want a big air compressor at least 80 gallons however they are very expensive. I was thinking it would be much cheaper if I got all the parts to a air compressor and built it my self. I would like to know what type of motor a 80 gallon air compressor would use. Note I am not going to weld together a air compressor tank. That’s dangerous to do by my self with all the pressure it will have in it. I will buy a tank already made. Thanks.