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AWFS Tool News: Rockler Rolls Out New Crop of Innovations

comments (10) July 20th, 2011 in blogs

AsaC Asa Christiana, Special Projects Editor, Fine Woodworking magazine
thumbs up 9 users recommend

Rocklers steam box kit includes everything you need, except the actual box. But plans are provided so you can easily build your own with the hardware provided.
These push pads were so grippy, I had a tough time moving them across a slick, finished maple work surface.
Rocklers through-the-wall dust port allows you to keep your dust collection system in a separate room, greatly cutting down on workshop noise.
The new three-way dust port junction is designed to work with Rocklers 4-in. blast gates.

A few years ago, goaded by the endless stream of inventions coming out of Lee Valley/Veritas, Rockler hired some new product engineers, and the results showed almost immediately, with market-changing products like the Bench Cookie. The beat went on this year at AWFS, and we had a good time at the Rockler booth, seeing a new list of cool gizmos in the "why-hasn't-anyone-else-thought-of-that" mode.

My favorite is a $90 steam-box kit, which includes a steam generator, hose, plans for a box of any size, and all the hardware needed to make it. Steam-bending is a wonderful way to make curved parts, but a lot of woodworkers are daunted by finding some sort of boiler and connecting it to a box etc. I'm one of them, and I'll be building one of these Rockler kits the next time I need bent parts.

My second favorite is large, grippy new push pad, covered with the same spongy stuff found on the Bench Cookies. It gripped a slick finished benchtop extremely well when I tried it out atthe show. I asked if the guys had considered putting some kind of flexible hook in the pad, to grab the end of boards but flex out of the way when not needed. They said they had, but that the new material is so grippy they didn't need the hook. Can't wait to try this one out in my shop, though the Bench Cookies have proved remarkably grippy, even with dust on them. The new pads also have a larger, more comfortable grip handle.

Filling out the list of innovations is a bunch of small but handy items. A three-way dust junction, which when combined with Rockler's blast gates, will make it easier to group machines together in a shop and connect them all permanently to a dust-collector, instead of rolling the collector around and connecting and disconnecting hoses constantly. And a through-the-wall hose port makes it easier than ever to put a noisy dust-collector in the next room.

 Kudos to Rockler for continuing to innovate, even in a down-market.



posted in: blogs, , AWFS, tool news, new tool news


Comments (10)

daltxguy daltxguy writes: Criticism is just as useful as so called 'innovation'. If nobody likes it here, nobody will be rushing out to buy these things and product manufacturers ( ahem, do they actually manufacture anything?) - product designers will have to work harder. Product designers want this feedback, so why lighten up? American manufacturers used to be tops at innovating and producing high quality tools. I won't spend money on things I can make for myself and that were invented hundreds of years ago.
Posted: 6:39 am on September 3rd

mayordoug mayordoug writes: WOW! Some harsh criticism. Geez, lighten up guys!
Posted: 1:47 pm on July 29th

perikles1 perikles1 writes: Rockler has been putting out cheap crap for years. The bench cookies are a joke--I wasted my money on those things.

The best ideas are ones that individual woodworkers come up for themselves.
Posted: 7:29 am on July 26th

Metsch Metsch writes: Kiln tried oak can be bent just fine. That's all I can get around here and at 1.25" it bends just fine.
Don't do your steaming inside your shop unless you want to rust all your machines.
Posted: 5:58 pm on July 24th

deforestm deforestm writes: As for the steam box kit. Finding a steam source is relatively easy. Even a tea pot will work. The important things to remember are: Use only green wood that is between 20% and 30% moisture content (MC). Kiln dried or air dried wood that is 10% MC or lower will not bend no matter how much it is steamed. Only particular species bend well. And when making a box make sure there are plenty of exist holes in the bottom of the box for "cool" steam to escape to allow new "hot" steam to enter and circulate keeping the temp in the box at least 200 degrees. How do you know if it is 200 degrees? Drill a hole and stick in an esspresso thermometer. The wood has to be cooked at 200 degress or more for 1 hour per inch of wood.
Posted: 10:11 pm on July 23rd

woodchuck1954 woodchuck1954 writes: Hmmmm! It looks to me like the "Inovative" push pad is NOT a Rockler product, but one by Bench Dog.
Posted: 3:01 pm on July 23rd

timrowledge timrowledge writes: Strictly speaking you didn't 'innovate' since that requires not just having an idea and making a working example but actually producing a sellable product and getting a business going.

Inventing something can be as simple as realising "if I add this to that I get a better back massage" or as complex as "after thirty years of billion dollar research we can finally make kitty-litter that doesnt smell:. Until there is a business making money selling it, it ain't innovation.

So taking a simple idea that might have been used forever and making a successful product out of it is innovation even if it isn't terribly inventive :-)
Posted: 11:55 am on July 23rd

davehu davehu writes: well, it is good that someone trys to innovate, but I have to agree with daltxguy about the push stick. Same with the bench cookies. I made my own with scrap lumber covered with non-slip drawer liners for pennies, a year before rockler had theirs in the stores. Didn't know I'd "innovated".
Posted: 9:01 am on July 23rd

kennyswood kennyswood writes: Wow,thats a little harsh dont you think.These might not be tops in their class but its a start.We dont get great products unless someone tries.Its a hit and miss sometimes
Posted: 7:59 am on July 23rd

daltxguy daltxguy writes: I hardly think a push stick is an innovation or anything else listed here for that matter. Mostly just commercialization of ideas that others had probably self produced to meet a need.
Lots of plastic things.
Posted: 7:14 am on July 23rd

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