AWFS: Steel City benchtop tools cost less and save space
AWFS is largely an industrial show, so I was happy to see that Steel City Toolworks hasn’t forgotten about the little guy, or at least the guy with little space! New woodworkers especially should check out Steel City’s new Blue Line, a growing number of benchtop versions of essential woodworking machines. These machines cost much less than full-size models, take only a few feet of countertop or bench space, and are portable if need be.
My favorite currently available machine is a 10-in. bandsaw (model 50110) for just $260. With 6 in. of resaw capacity under the guides (that’s for turning a board on edge to saw it into thinner slices), this saw will be great for smaller projects of all kinds. And it will have no problem cutting almost any curve.
We also saw a new 8-in. benchtop jointer-planer combo machine that was very intriguing. It’s not available yet, but it promises to do most of the milling and dimensioning needed in a small shop, for around $400! For you newbies out there, having a jointer and planer means you are not stuck with the limited thicknesses, warpage, and higher prices of presurfaced stock.
Even more experienced woodworkers will like the new benchtop drill press in the Blue Line. This one is pricier, at $360, but designed with big-shop capacity and some innovative features. It has a big motor, a 3-1/4-in. stroke, instantly variable speed with a digital readout that also shows depth, and a built-in lamp. The table is small and designed for metalworking, but that is because the product guys expect most woodworkers to put their own plywood auxiliary table on top, they told me.
Other Blue Line tools include a couple of combination benchtop sanders and a collapsible, adjustable stand with work-support wings ($139), for mounting any of these tools.
There were also a few new benchtop models in normal Steel City grey, like a lighter-duty planer, the 40100, for just $250; and a simple wood-topped tool stand for just $49.
All of this adds up to good news for new woodworkers. Tell your kids and friends!
Steel City's model 50110 bandsaw offers 6 in. of resaw capacity for just $260. Take it off the stand and it could sit on a benchtop.
Blade changes are a bit easier as you don't have to turn a corner to exit at the side of the table. Instead the fence comes off easily and the blade comes out in a straight line.
The model 20130VS benchtop drill press is pricier at $360 but has full-size capacity and power, with an innovative digital readout.
Press a button and the screen shows either rpms or drilling depth. You can zero out the bit on a board, and then drill to a precise depth without measuring or setting a stop.
Coming soon is a very small planer-jointer combo that boasts 8 in. of milling capacity for $400!
Available now is the 55105 benchtop combo belt/disk for $200, perfect for shaping and smoothing curves, and fine-tuning parts of all kinds.