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Makita chain mortiser: best tool for framing, making dovetails, tenon sides, etc

best chain mortiserChain mortiser is a unique tool helping you to do framing quick and effective. It saves more than enough time and efforts to justify its cost of use. Of course, you always can make frame mortises with chisel and drilling work, but your shoulder and wrist joints won’t thank you, especially when you are getting older. Nobody of my professional woodworkers regret buying the chain mortiser. They also use it any time that they need to hog out material – dovetails, sides of tenons, mortises, etc.

Chain Mortiser: Why Do You Need It

chain mortiserTimber framing is very labor-intensive. And if you use only hand tools it gets just crazy. It you need to finish the barn before you get old, use power tools and don’t underestimate the labor involved. I have the Makita chain mortiser, and it’s brilliant and fast. The machine is easy to use and cuts very quick once you have got everything marked up. It’s also no problem to come in from both sides on larger pieces.

A chain mortiser can be a bit intimidating at first, but you’ll get used to it  pretty quick. And although it isn’t often noted for accurate work, you can repeatedly and comfortably use the unit to within 1/8″ on your layout lines with the balance being finished with framing chisels.

Stationary chain mortisers are also widely used in the furniture industry. The horizontal slot mortiser is the best choice for a small shop to produce accurate and repeatable results, even with a novice operator. The low rpm is convenient for horizontal boring and dowel drilling.

The size of mortise required on almost any oak framing is too big (say 40 wide, 150 long and 100 deep in a 200 x 200 beam) for a  mortising attachment and square hollow chisel drill bit. Another advantage of the chain mortiser is mobility. You can’t get a piece of 200 x 200 oak into a pillar drill. With a mortiser, you carry the unit to the post. You can even make a mortices high above the ground, with the machine clamped to a vertical beam.

Of course, you can get a good forstner bit the size required, drill out as much the wood as you possible and pare back the rest with a chisel. Or just use a chain mortiser and do it quickly.

Makita chain mortiser

Even if you only do one project with your Makita chain mortiser and sell it on it will be worth it in the efforts you save. This fantastic tool will save you days and your sanity! 12 amp 100 volt models have enough power to use it without any problems.

 

 

makita chain mortiser with replacement chain
Makita 7104L Chain Mortiser

Mafell chain mortisers are top end machines no question, the Festool units are a beast as well. Both are pricey, but the Festool is waaaay tool expensive. The Makita is a little slower but affordable option.

This chain mortiser is productive and reliable machine. You can use it for months and years with tightening and oiling the chain as the only maintenance. The chains are quite expensive, but you can cut each beam for a 30 x 50 foot barn using the original chain. Just let the weight of the unit do the working and don’t force it too much.

Chain mortiser tips and tricks

Do not rush

A chain mortiser is quick and productive tool, and it is possible to do a lot of damage to a timber when you make a mistake with layout. A boring machine or drill drill gives you more time to think. Attentiveness = accuracy, as ever.

Chain sharpening

Mortise chains are expensive and Makita says they can’t be sharpened, but but there are plenty of companies who will do it for you. Just google and you’ll find quite a few.

Safety

A good operator is the best safety. Chain mortiser is a cutting power tool and accidents unfortunately happen.

Reselling

A chain mortiser is an expensive, but easy-to-sell tool. You can build few frames and then maybe resell the unit and lose a couple hundreds on it. Believe me, such a ‘renting’ is something you would gladly do for a couple hundred dollars. Or, if you don’t want to invest (at least temporarily) then a a chisel and drill will be your companions on a trail of misery.

Conclusions

I vote for getting the chain mortiser. The traditional methods are good, I admire and respect, but sometimes you need to conserve your energy for tasks that don’t have power assistance option. And you’ve certainly  seen lots of people looking for used ones so it won’t be a problem reselling it.  The chain mortiser was the first tool I bought other than chisels when I started framing.

I don’t like buying a second hand, but if you are not ready for such investment, carefully check chain condition, locks, etc carefully. A used tool may not look great, but main parts shouldn’t be worn out. If you are buying the first mortiser, look for a brand new one with a warranty.

 

Best Mortise Chisel Set: important features, sizes, hand chisel sets review

Mortise chisel should have enough thickness to withstand malleting into the wood  and levering out to remove chips. Blade angle of the tool is designed to resist abuse and prevent chipping the blades. They are heavier, come with massive beech or oak handles to take pounding. However, we will help you to find your best mortise chisel set that will be easy to handle and a joy to use. Read our article to make a good decision!

What features should the the best mortise chisel set have

For paring chisels, wear resistance is most important quality, but for mortise chisels, I believe, this feature is somewhat secondary. My opinion is that ability to withstand the pounding trumps its ability to hold a the cutting edge sharp for a long time.

The oval handle helps to keep the blade square to the mortise and the slight relief of the non-parallel blade sides makes it easier to use.

Some carpenters prefer Japanese steel, so they’ll vote for a Japanese mortise chisel. They are easy to sharpen and hold an edge for a long time. 6 mm  Japanese mortise chisel instead of 1/4″ is not a problem, if you’re making a regular mortise and tenon joint, you just set your marking gauge based on your chisel, so whether it’s 1/4″ or 6mm doesn’t matter.

Sash mortise chisels are lighter version of the tool and work good for chopping the relatively shallow mortises. Most common and versatile are heavy duty sash mortise chisels. Having the square chisel section, they are a little less comfortable to use but they are also less expensive and more reliable – good choice for the occasional mortise (see also chain mortiser machine for large volumes of wood and square hollow chisel mortise drill bit for using with a drill press)

Crown Tools mortise chisels

Crown Tools Mortise Chisels are made by reputable European tooling company. The steel is high carbon and not top notch, but they are very heavy duty. The chisels are well built, the sockets and handles are very sturdy. A leather washer is fitted between the blade and handle to absorb shock. The tips dull  with heavy use, but for mortise chisels occasional sharpening is not a problem.

best mortise chisels
Crown Tools 5/8″ Mortise Chisel
hand mortise chisel set
Crown Tools 1/2″ Mortise Chisel

The Crown tools chisels are a good way to start. They are not the best, but you can afford them as a good set of chisels. If sharpened properly and guided by the right hands they are nice tools.

Narex mortise chisel set 2,900

Narex mortise chisel set
Narex mortise chisel set – (4-pcs chrome-manganese Rc59 steel)

I’ve bought the Narex mortise chisel set, and it works fine for me. Keeping it sharp is not a problem at all. I use chisels frequently and rarely have to take the tools back to the stones. While I prefer traditional “pigsticker” handle, Narex handles are easy enough to use. The set was about $75 and it was more than I had budgeted myself. Nevertheless, they are great tools, and they should last me a long time. And I keep HF chisels for riskier work.

The blades are the same thickness and the smaller is taller than wider. They are sharp out of the box but you may made them crazy sharp. I don’t see much sense in this, but many of my friends spend 10 mins per chisel to polish the bevel using fine diamond stone and strop. I think it’s better to quickly knock the non-cutting edges down with stone or sandpaper since all edges are moderately sharp including corners of the shaft.

Narex chisels cut mortises with clean sides and they won’t bend when you lever out the waste. They stay sharp for a long time and leave a shiny surface on the wood end grain of each cut.  Narex cut through hardwood like a hot knife through butter. They are moderately priced, but have similar quality to the most expensive brands and with some care will last just as long.

I would recommend Narex mortise chisel set to anyone as reasonably priced high quality tools.

Tips and tricks

Sharpening

Sooner or later the chisel becomes dull or bump into a nail and you’ll sharpen it.  Make sure that you are not overheating the tip. Moderate heat from grinding won’t be a problem. If the tip is too hard and chips easily, you could heat it and let it cool slow. That would soften the steel up a bit.

What size mortise chisel do I need

In general you’re going to use a tool about 1/3 the width of the mortise stock. In this way for typical 3/4″ mortise you need a 1/4″ (or 6-8mm) chisel. 7/8″-1″ mortises are made with a 5/16″ chisel and thicker than 1″ – a 3/8″ chisel. If you are going to buy two chisels, I recommend to get 1/4″ and 3/8″ tools.

Three chisels set should be 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″. Some carpenters who work with a heavy tables and workbench type pieces, substitute the 1/2″ for the 5/16″.

Conclusions

I am very impressed with Narex chisels. Good steel, sharp from the box, relatively flat backs. I sharpened all 10 in about an hour. The only con is they are metric, but wood sizes don’t really follow rigid standards, nobody really care if it is 10mm instead of 3/8?? See also Mortising drill bit: square hole hollow chisel mortising bit review

Best Drill Press Mortising Attachment in 2021: Mortise Drill Press Review

Best Drill Press Mortising Attachment in 2021: Mortise Drill Press ReviewBeginner woodworkers often wonder should the buy a mortising attachment for a drill press or they need a mortizer. Most of professionals who make dozens of mortise and tenon joints a week do not recommend mortise drill press and steer you towards a dedicated device. Nevertheless, I use an attachment on my drill press for occasional use, and it works perfect for what I need to use it for. Read our article to make an informed decision and buy the best attachment for your needs.

Hollow Chisel Mortiser Attachment for Drill Press

Hollow chisel attachments work well for occasional use, especially if you don’t need to work with really hard wood. Yes, a drill press has less leverage and its quill feed mechanism is more on lighter duty side. Therefore, mortising will be harder both fore the machine and your arms. But mortise drill press makes all right and if you are a hobbyist, DIYer or don’t have more shop floor space for a dedicated machine, the hollow chisel mortiser attachment is a good choice. It is also good for beginners. Good attachments last long and you can sell it later to use the money for buying a chain mortiser machine.

Ironton Mortising Attachment

Ironton mortising attachment comes with with four chisel shank sizes: 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ and works well with a Craftsman 1/2 hp craftsman 34985 and Delta benchtop drill press and others – different size collars for different machines.

I’ve also used the adapter on a 16.5″ Delta stationary press with satisfactory results. My way of using the DP attachment is running the chisel at lower speeds, about 800 rpm and get no smoking whatsoever. It allows to work without burning or any problems and extends the life of the hollow chisel and auger bit. As for the setup time, it takes about 10 minutes to get started. Not a big problem.

drill press mortising attachment.
Ironton drill press mortising attachment.

Ironton mortising attachment is a good starting tool to start getting into mortising. It will allow you to create a square mortise hole with minimal time and effort. Of course, you can’t expect a $60 machine to do the work of a $400 mortiser. Don’t hurry up and don’t expect to quickly carve a large size mortise out of solid hardwood. This tool is able to make nice cuts and may last for many years.

And one more detail. If you have never used mortising attachment, invite a fellow specialist for the first time or watch the tutorial videos on YouTube. Using the machine seems to be quite difficult at first.

Woodstock Mortise Drill Press Kit

Woodstock attachment comes in carrying case with cast iron chisel holder and fence. There are  1/4-Inch, 5/16-Inch, 3/8-Inch 1/2-Inch chisels in the sets, 3 two-piece  and 3 split bushings

mortise drill press
Woodstock D4031 mortise drill press kit

The chisels in the set are roughly machined and need to be sharpened as all cheap ones. The case is on low quality side too, the parts easily pull out of their seats when shaken. And all this for about $190. I think, the Ironton looks better for its money.

Sealey Wood Mortising Attachment

There are three 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ square hollow chisel bits in the Sealey mortising attachment kit, collar diameters are  40, 52, 55, 60 and 65mm.

The set works well so long as you don’t try to over do it. For its $100 anyways. It is fine in pine, even with a biggest chisel upto full depth, but  it struggles a bit in hardwood. The accuracy is descent. The only con of the attachment is a plastic fence. Most of us prefer a cast iron locating rail.

hollow chisel mortiser attachment drill press
Sealey MA10 hollow chisel mortiser attachment drill press

In summary – the attachment does it’s job especially in softwood for the odd job, but if you have a lot to do buy a dedicated Mortiser. And no one will stop you from selling this set on eBay for a few dollars cheaper (see also best mortise chisel set review).

Mortise Drill Press: Conclusions

The main problem with the drill press mortising attachments is set up time. But if you can leave the tool on a drill press full time it’s OK. Besides, for For about $50-60 you probably can’t go wrong. Yes, mortising machines produce better cuts, but I’ve never had any complaints on my drill press. However, I suspect that the use of the attachment on a cheap small presses will cause “flex”, amplify any play in the DP quill and produce a poor cut. But nobody is going to make huge mortises on a compact drill press, right?

Best replacement wheelbarrow handles in 2021: handle kit review

replacement wheelbarrow handlesWhen my neighbor moved, he gave me his old wheelbarrow. It was in a terrible condition, outside probably most of its life. The wood handles were on their way out via rotting and snapped on first heavy load. Nevertheless, solid replacement wheelbarrow handles brought it back to life and it is still in use.

Wooden Wheelbarrow Handle Kit

I prefer go wood handles because all my metal handle kits actually rust through rather quick. Paint rust and chips, just nasty. Good wooden handles don’t rust and will last a long time if the wheelbarrow is not left in the rain all year round. The wood handles are usually a much larger diameter, they are more controllable and a lot more comfortable as well.

wooden wheelbarrow handles

AMES Company wooden wheelbarrow handlesIf you want your wooden handles last for decades, treat them with linseed oil, thinned down a bit with paint thinner. Even if the wheelbarrow sat out in the sun, rain and snow, it will last almost forever. Some wood handles  kits have a coating on them, and I’d sand them a bit enough for the linseed oil to penetrate. The linseed oil almost does not weather away and your abused handles will be in great shape.

True Temper Wheelbarrow Replacement Handles

True Temper wheelbarrows come with a metal bucket and wooden handles, that are thinner than I want. They are quite lightweight but will serve you for years with moderate use.

wheelbarrow handle kit
Wheelbarrow handle kit – True Temper C Series Hardwood

Replacement handles are far better quality, made of hardwood and are more sturdy than the original ones. The finish is very thin and will begin peeling within a few months of sitting outside. Better to sand them out and oil to make them last.

Steel Wheelbarrow Handles

Steel handles are good for those who are rough on a wheelbarrow and the wooden ones did not cut it.

truper wheelbarrow handles - steel ones for really tough use
Truper wheelbarrow handles – steel ones for really heavy loads

If you want to extend working life of the metal, paint the handles and wedges with a rattle to help them survive after some time in the weather. Of course, some of the paint will flake off, but the handles will be in good shape.

Another con of the metal handles is rubber. With time it tend to get gooey and if you remove it, hot or cold handles are not pleasant also. In this respect, wood is always better.

Conclusions

As I mentioned  above, all you need is to buy or make sturdy wooden handles. If you take a few coats of linseed oil before install and once a year do an occasional ‘tuneup’ – it is usually all that is necessary for them to last 50 years 🙂 Oh, and wear good gloves. It protects your hands from lots of bad stuff and makes handles less irritating.

 

Mortising drill bit: square hole hollow chisel mortising bit review

If you want to create mortise and tenon joints quickly and easily, mortising bit is a no-brainer choice. They are not expensive and may significantly reduce labor time and construction costs. Read our review to choose the best mortise drill bit for your project!

Mortising Bit – What it is And How it Works

Mortising drill bits in a common meaning are tools that can drill out a square holes. In fact these bits are used with a “dedicated” mortise machine also known as a hollow chisel. You also can find mortiser square drill bit that works on a drill press (with a mortising attachment).

mortising bit
Mortising bit – the quickest way to make mortise-tenon joint

Basically, mortiser square drill bit is a drill bit that works inside a hollow chisel. A lot of force is needed to push the square chisel in the round hole. The cleanliness of the bottom is similar to Forstner bit. In general, square hole mortiser drill bits work well but they are tedious for large areas.

Choosing Mortise Drill Bit

I’ve purchased mortise drill bit set and use bits a lot. The 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8 are the most used. In those sizes, the Powermatic brand bits a pretty good.  I have also had good experience with the bits sold by Woodstock. The Austrian bits made by Delta don’t seem to hold their cutting edge as well.

mortise drill bit set
Great mortise drill bit set – Powermatic 1791096

Powermatic chisels are super sharp, nicely ground and the edges are smooth and straight so you don’t really need to polish and sharpen them. There are minimal burrs on the chisels. The Auger bits inside the chisels are also sharp, and well fitted. Therefore, if you are looking for quality, Powermatic are the best. They produce superior results comparing to anything I have used.

High quality bits are pretty expensive and last long with proper use and sharpening. Some of my colleagues don’t like sharpening and the low price  bits are preferable for them. Indeed, you can just throw the bit in a trash when it becomes dull. The 1/4″ bits heat up and break, whether they cost $30 or $90, if you abuse them too much without cooling down. Using cheaper bits lets you be less careful with them, and you may like it.

mortise bit set
Cheap mortise bit set – twice as many bits for half the price of the Powermatic

Mortise Chisel Bit Tips and Tricks

Sharpening and honing the chisel might make some difference to how the cheap mortise chisel bit perform. So, try to buy a set of cone sharpeners and work with the chisel.

mortise chisel bit sharpener
Mortise chisel bit sharpener SCOTTCHEN PRO

Many of the carpenters I know also polish the outside faces of their square hole mortiser drill bits to reduce friction and make withdrawing them easier. I think, spraying the chisel with a little Dri-Cote won’t hurt either.

Do not overheat hollow chisel mortiser bits. All they build up heat. Let them cool from time to time. Avoid overheating and ruining them, pay attention to their temperature during use. If you overheat even the best bit, it will lose the temper and become useless.

Set up your mortise bit correctly. The auger end should extend the correct distance below the bit. Sharpen both chisel and auger bit. Do not use too large mortiser square drill bit. For example, a small Jet mortiser even with sharp drill bit set struggles with 1/2″ and 3/8″ is it’s comfortable maximum.

Choosing a Mortising Bit: Conclusions

Cheap mortising bits as they come from the store are not ready for use. If you want them to work well they need to be sharpened and polished on the outside of the chisels. It doesn’t take a lot of time but saves much efforts later. Expensive tools are ready-to-use and work better, but you still need to be careful and do not let them overheat.

My advices is to buy cheap bits if you have a good floor stand mortiser. Good powerful and sturdy machine will deal even with a roughly machined chisel. Cheap bits are more cost effective and you don’t have to worry too much about.

If you use drill press with mortising attachment, buy the best bits or you can afford. High quality bits facilitate the work of the equipment. You will need to brace the table and take a good deal of pressure so it will be a workout.

Choosing the Best Electric Chisel in 2021: Power Chisels Review

best electric chiselDo you want to do the work a normal hammer and chisel can do faster and easier? The electric chisel will help you to perform a pretty smooth, controllable and continuous carving with perfect depth and direction control. Moreover, you can find many chisel profiles for a decent price and change your chisel blade at the click of a button. Intrigued? Read our article to find out more!

What is an Electric Chisel and how it works

The power chisel uses a reciprocating action, with the user simply guiding the tool during carving. Electric chisels are used to make joints, precise corners, for wood carving, etc.

Carving process is different to shaping (see also best Dremel bit for cutting wood). The carving is achieved by slicing the chisel by pushing it into the wood. On the other hand, a rotary tool shapes wood by its abrasive nature and leaves much rougher finish than hand chisel.

In my opinion, using a power chisel is not “really” carving and nothing is like hand made. However, electric chisels reduce work time and increase productivity in a pleasant finishing phase.

Once again, neither rotary tool, nor electric chisel can’t do everything. Power tools leave machine marks you need to remove, and very fine details like fur, hair and feathers need to be carved by hand chisel.

Power chisels review

Arbortech power chisel

The most common use of Arbortech tool is to take out the bulk of the wood and finish off using the power sanding and hand chiseling for a finer finish. The the tool works really efficiently and is easy to use.

arbortech power chisel
Arbortech power chisel

The chisel is equipped with a 710W motor and the blade makes up to 11000 strokes per minute for continuous cutting even in the hardest wood. The noise and vibration are relatively low for the power. Good news here are for allergists and asthmatics: it makes chips and not dust. The chips are also easier to clean up.

My advice is also to get better chisel pack for a larger variety of uses and cut types. The blades included in the set are of inferior quality, do not hold an edge and need to be sharpen too often.

Of course, it is noisier and heavier than hand chisels. It’s too heavy to hold comfortably for a long time. The wrists became sore after 5-10 minutes and I couldn’t achieve the results I want with this carving chisel. You have to use a little oil every 15-20 minutes. It isn’t a big deal, one way or another you need to rest your hands.

Lighter electric wood carving chisel

An Automach electric chisel is much lighter, less powerful but more convenient for detailed carving. The vibrations are almost invisible, the noise is low too.

The chisel is equipped with 80W motor, the body is made of aluminum. The weight is 1.75 pounds (Arbortech is about 6.4 pounds). Similar to previously reviewed device, the tool keeps blades motionless until pressed against wood. The chisel blade does at 10 000 one millimeter strokes per minute. The set Includes rear switch, 6′ cord, five blades and a hanger.

electric wood carving chisel
Smaller electric wood carving chisel – AUTOMACH Power Carver

This electric chisel is very good for detail work, it changes direction pretty much as you wish it to do, without tear out. And it makes much less stress on wrists, hands and arms. The only downside to this power chisel is that for about 20 minutes it gradually heats up until you can’t hold the tool comfortably. With 2 machines, you can let one cool while working with another.

The gouges included are decent quality, but if you order the Flex-cut Power gouges, it will be a good pairing. All in all the Automach electric chisel worth the price, it is very well made and will last forever for moderate duty tasks.

Power chisel for Dremel or similar rotary tools

You can attach power chisels to a Dremel or another rotary tool (see also best Dremel bit for cutting wood). These chisels are the most compact, lightweight and are the most convenient devices for carving small details. Since they don’t have own motor, the price is the lowest too.

Since the chisels for rotary tools are portable and compact, they are good for cleaning up difficult corners and working in tight places. These attachments are also pretty reliable, usually quite a few flexible shafts need to be changed without any problem with the device itself.

Given the extremely low power of Dremel tools and problems with flexible shafts fitting, my advice is to overpay an extra $50 and buy something like VEVOR Electric Chisel. It is equipped with a 350W variable speed motor and is capable of operating for hours under moderate load.

power chisel for dremel
VEVOR electric chisel with a rotary tool

Conclusions

The choice of an electric chisel depends on the tasks you set for yourself. The more material you need to remove, the more powerful and large the machine should be. At the same time, smaller units are easier to operate, better controlled and better at carving small details.

Stone Chisel Guide: Choosing the Best Rock Chisels in 2021

Stone ChiselStone chisel is hit with heavier type of hammer to increase the force, so it is to be tough and heavy. For example, a rock chisel for demolition work is typically used with a hammer weighing three pounds or more.

You can also find brick bolsters with a wide and flat blade that are used for cutting. Sculptors work with a bent spoon chisels with the bevel on both sides, etc.

In our post we’ll discuss the most common chisel types to help you make an informed decision and find the best tool for your project.

Stone Chisel: What is it Made of?

rock breaker chisel
Finder 12-Inch Flat Chisel – rock breaker chisel with bi-material hand guard

Common steel the industry uses for stone chisels is shallow hardening alloys with a high amount of carbon. The rock chisel should be hardened, and a temper is drawn from the center to the ends. Thicker tools are made softer than ones with thinner shanks. Over time, the top of the chisel begin to mushroom. Remove flared metal with a grinder, or they may fly off and cause injury.

Chisels for large scale stone removal are often made of chrome vanadium steel. And tools with a softer shaft in my practice work the best by far. The shafts on fully hardened chisels would split quickly.

Good example of reliable tool is an treated chrome-vanadium Finder chisel. The handguard of the tool protects the hand from overstrike, but it is not very tough. It may break after several hard hits. Nevertheless we recommend to buy the product for the indestructible chisel and take into account that you  can always buy or make your own guard.

For fine carving work, sculptors use Mn Alloy Steel chisels with asymmetrically ground edges or even tungsten carbide tipped ones. Carbide tools are very brittle. But they are very hard and keep the cutting edge sharp for a long time. It is very important if you are working hard stone.

rock chisel
Rock chisel for carving usually a lot smaller like you see here in CSLU 11pcs Set

Choosing the Best Rock Chisel for Your Project

If you work with stone a lot, you’d be fine with a range of cold chisel sizes.  Bigger rock chisels for the bigger cobblestone, smaller – for breaking stone down a bit further. My advice is to get chisels with hand guards; There is nothing more frustrating than hitting your wrist or hand with a hammer!

chisel for breaking rock.jpg
Cold chisel set for breaking rock – Mayhew Pro

Masonry chisels will work fine for some types of rock. The hardened “cold”  chisels are tougher and come in all sizes too. You will definitely find a use for a several small cold chisels and they will cost for about $10 each.

Choosing Rock Hammer and Chisel Set

The handle and the head of the rock hammer is all one piece of steel. The head has an end that looks more like a pick and another side is for striking. One piece construction helps to deal with the amount of force to break the rocks and withstand heavy load. Hammers with polymer shock-absorbing grips are much more comfortable than leather ones. Some of these “rubber” type handles are durable and may last decades. Don’t use common carpenter hammers because they aren’t designed for pounding against steel chisel or rock and sometimes they spall shards or shatter.

rock hammer and chisel
Rock hammer and chisel set – Rockhounding Geology Tools Musette Bag

I believe the Estwing hammer and the chisels you personally choose are the best bet on rock hammer and chisel set. And in my humble opinion, a crack hammer is a tool you should always have in your inventory. With it you’ll be able to split small rocks and work larger boulders with a chisel.

The crack hammer will last forever, but the pick end wear out or even may break off. All you will need is to re-sharpen the end and eventually buy a new one. The only con is that the hammer hasn’t enough weight really get much work done on their own.

best rock hammer
Estwing Rock Pick – best rock hammer in my opinion

Estwing is the best choice of prospectors, rockhounds and contractors – longest lasting striking tools available. This is a great and tough tool, it feels good in the hand, has a great balance and nice grip. Yes, Estwing cost a little more, but it worth every penny.

Conclusions

Choosing the stone chisel depends on the type and size of rock you are working and what your goals are.

If you are a professional, the only choice is to buy high quality tools from known brand. Low quality chisels become dull quick, their back ends flare easily. Cheap noname hammers comes with a tube handle that bend after several missed hits, the rubber handle come loose, etc.

Nevertheless, a novice or occasional master should think about choosing a cheap set of chisels and more or less reliable hammer. Yes, they won’t last long, but you’ll find out sizes and types you really need and will replace it with a high-quality tool later.

Read also our article best paring chisel

 

Best Tool Belt Suspenders Buying Guide – Top Suspenders Reviews

Even the best tool belt suspenders are pretty cheap and I think you will do yourself a great favor if you buy them. I often see my colleagues with, for example, occidental framers, who constantly either hitching the belt up or tight it too much. So the suspenders are a very convenient thing and in this post I will share my thoughts on this topic.

Why do you need them

Everyone can wear a nearly empty tool belt, but after adding a few bulky tools and a box of screws, it becomes uncomfortable. Sooner or later you’ll get to the point where your hips begin to ache while walking because the rig is slung so low.

Furthermore, some time ago I read in the NEJoM that tight belts and pants can really do some damage to your body over time. In my experience, buying work pants one size larger and using suspenders reduces the fatigue and helps to work with more comfort. My leg pain went away once I started wearing the belt and although It took a while to get used to suspenders, now I don’t even notice them anymore.

Best Leather Tool Belt Suspenders

The leather suspenders weighs more, but they are much more tough and reliable. They also may cost more but if you use your belt more often than any other tool, it is a good investment.

leather tool belt suspenders
Occidental 5009 Leather Tool Belt Suspenders

The leather breathes (and I love the smell) better than nylon, wide nylon belt and suspenders leave a wide sweat stain around my waist and back. They can get a little tight in small closets but when you’ll become used to them, you’ll be able to slide through a 2-0 door without an issue. The pouch with the phone attached to the suspenders is really handy, and gives an extra.

Leather is the way to go for sure. Most known leather suspenders are the Occidentals, and they are just super heavy duty ones. Of course, you can find a different brand, but the Oxy quality is one of the best.

Occidental 5009 suspenders will fit any big dude, but still they are highly adjustable. If you are not so tall, all you need is make additional holes in the straps. The shoulder pads are wide and comfortable. The leather is good quality and made for actual work. The only downside is that in the first months they get the shirts dirty, especially in summer. Nevertheless, just buy the Oxy and you will never regret it!

Dewalt tool belt suspenders

Dewalt tool belt suspenders
Dewalt Tool Belt Suspenders – DG5132 Tool Apron With Padded Shoulders

Dewalt tool belt suspenders are more comfortable than the normal ones from not so known brand. They are also nice because of the built in cell phone pocket

The suspenders are 2.5 times cheaper than Oxys and much lighter and softer. Instead the loops it has wide velcro wrap around the belt. In this way you can also use them to support your loose pants by looping the straps tool and pants belts. The velcros won’t rust, and the padded shoulder straps are comfortable for long wear doing hard work.

Dewalts are not as heavy as Oxys. These are actually medium to light suspenders for users with lightweight rigs. The product won’t last as long as leather models, but it can be ideal for occasional DIY use.

Milwaukee tool belt suspenders

Milwaukee tool belt suspenders
Milwaukee tool belt suspenders – 48-22-8145 Padded Rig

Milwaukee padded rig is a nylon product, a little more expensive than Dewalt. The suspenders come in two sides: 48-22-8145, regular, fits users up to 6’2″ (in fact, up to 5’8″); and 48-22-8146, XL, fits users up to 6’8″.

The phone holder is very small and can’t be used with modern smartphone. Belt clasps are made of metal and decently constructed. They holds a heavy tool belt very well and it doesn’t slide off. The suspenders are durable, very comfortable on the shoulders and the overall quality is good.

The only (but serious) con is the size. The rig is not designed for taller folks. Regular size is too short for 6’2″, the rear straps are a bit short. If you are 5’8″ or taller, choose XL size.

Overall, if you choose the right size, the Milwaukee is a good product. It is durable and convenient, made of 1680 Denier Nylon and all metal hardware. Good choice for those who look for soft and lightweight suspenders.

Occidental tool belt suspenders

Oxy tool belt suspenders are one of the most trustworthy products, they are heavy-duty, reliable and look great, but they are pricey. And not all local stores carry them so you could really try them on.

In my practice, everyone who bought Occidental leather products notes their high quality and reliability. Most guys love them.

Occidental tool belt suspenders
Best Occidental Tool belt suspenders – 5055 Stronghold Suspension System

Occidental Leather 5055 Stronghold  suspenders are one of the best products by the brand. These suspenders look good and will easily last more than 5 years of everyday use.  Of course, they work the best with Oxy belt. The loops on it are made of steel and the hooks on the suspenders are die cast zinc.

Occidental suspenders are comfortable and really help wearing a heavy belt all day. The leather, nylon, hardware and padding are all high quality and durable. The straps and cushions distribute the weight very evenly between the shoulders and hips so when raising your arms, you didn’t feel any any discomfort on the shoulders.

Once again, suspenders come with amazing customer service. If after several years tough use the metal clips will worn enough to broke, the company will send you new clips with rivets for free.

If you look for product that will need your professional everyday needs, buy Occidental and you’ll see why they it is so popular.

Conclusions

My friends say they use suspenders because their butts are too small. I have plenty of butt, but I also have plenty of belly, too 🙂

So for me, having the tool belt suspenders are no-brainer, they keep the belt up where I want it. The only downside I see is that if one bag has a heavy tool in it, the suspender strap just pulls down and the other side lifts up. But again, this is MUCH better than a slipping belt.

Best quiet air compressor: silent airbrush and portable compressors review

Air compressor is an important appliance for saving time, reducing fatigue and providing more professional results with pneumatic tool. It is also an essential instrument for a wide range of tasks from automotive repairs to carpentry and crafts. And when choosing a compressor, everyone takes into account its performance and pressure, however, noise levels are often an underestimated issue. For example, Briggs & Stratton 8 Gallon compressor makes around 90 db at roughly 3′ distance. It will definitely cause a headache if you cannot locate the device remotely. In our post, we will help you to choose the best quiet air compressor to help you stay healthy and productive.

Quiet Airbrush Compressor

Good example of oil free seriously quiet airbrush compressor which works well for daily use is an Iwata-Medea Smart Jet Pro. It is it very quiet and satisfactory for use with a regular airbrush.

Quiet airbrush compressor
Iwata-Medea Smart Jet Pro – Quiet airbrush compressor

The Iwata comes with an airbrush hose in it, approx 6 ft, but it’s pretty thin one. It is almost silent air compressor, one of the most quietest units. The max pressure is around 40-42 psi. The Smart Jet Pro works really good with an airbrush needle of 0.2-0.3. If you need to lower the pressure, this tool has a true regulator without loosing the auto-shutoff functionality. The motor works about 30 seconds then the tank becomes filled up and the compressor shuts off.

Quiet Portable Air Compressor

If you often use an with a larger needle for faster and better coverage and with a gun, a SmartJet will struggle. More powerful California Air Tools compressor that is also advertised as silent airbrush compressor (but in fact, it is “quiet” enough only in comparison to a large industrial compressor). The unit handles an airbrush quite well and a paint gun with higher load (it runs a lot more of the time).

A compressor with a larger air tank is also handy for a lot of airbrushing. A more powerful motor may be louder, but when it reaches pressure, the compressor shuts down.

silent airbrush compressor
Bigger silent airbrush compressor – California Air Tools Quiet 1.0 HP Air Compressor

Therefore, if you are going to move to something larger in the paint gun category, choose a compressor with more horsepower and be ready to stand the noise. If not, the California Air Tools or Iwata may be fine.

Small Quiet Air Compressor

California Air units are pretty quiet, but they are not silent. If you need a really small quiet air compressor, my advice is to purchase a Rolair JC10, it is shockingly quiet machine. This compressor is an excellent addition for drying out parts and blowing dust.  And it is quiet enough that you can talk over it without raising your voice.

Small Quiet Air Compressor
Rolair JC10 Plus 2.5 Gal – small quiet air compressor

The Rolair JC10 Plus is very quiet compressor to begin with, and having it  under the desk makes it even quieter. The frame is equipped with rubber feet and the unit also is rubber mounted to the frame. This design reduces vibration transfer to the floor. It is very important if your floor is in house.

The compressor comes up to about 100 psi (full pressure) in about 80 seconds and recharges the tank in a few seconds when using a nailer.

How to Make Air Compressor Quieter

In high pressure compressors the intake is a source of noise. I assume you can quite down the machine by putting some kind of a silencer or baffle system on the intake and it will help out a lot.

Air Compressor Silencer Boxes

When choosing silencer box, make sure it does not restrict air flow. I recommend do not put the silencer on the intake if that has any orifice smaller that the intake you already have.

In other words if you have a 3/8NPTM threaded end, using 1/4″ will restrict the flow by the inlet hole. Since you only have atmospheric pressure on the inlet, resulted pressure differential will decrease your efficiency. Bottom line make sure both the inlet and outlet sizes of the silencer should be the same or larger than the g’zin on your compressors head.

Industrial Air Compressor Silencer

Industrial air compressor silencers improve the filtering and reduce intake noise simultaneously. The difference in noise with a good silencer is very noticeable. You can expect a 3 or 4 db reduction in noise.

 Industrial Air Compressor Silencer.jpg
Solberg Industrial Air Compressor Silencer

For example, I’ve used the Solberg compressor silencer after the upgrade to to 80 gallon compressor. It works like a charm, and the machine is a little quieter and deeper tone. Solberg filters are good quality and they are a more common size and cheaper than the smaller OEM filters used before, so it should pay for itself in the long run.

DIY compressor Intake Silencer

You can make simple DIY silencer with 1 gal can, PVC connectors, hose and loose polyester pillow fill for about $3.50. Pack the fill relatively light in the can, make holes at the bottom of the can and attach the connector to the cover. If there are no discernable restriction when you breath through the system, the compressor will work fine

 Air Compressor Intake Silencer DIY
Air Compressor Intake Silencer DIY

You could also make a muffler for the air compressor which would make it really quiet. The materials are quite inexpensive:

  • Pipe, the size is as an air compressor port – about 15″ long
  • Exhaust pipe, the same length
  • Washers, made that they will fit around the air compressor port pipe and fit inside the exhaust pipe
  • Steel wool, a drill and a welding machine

You can make a silencer similar to the gun mufflers, there are a lot of drawings of them, if you don’t imagine the design. If you make it right, your air compressor will be quiet and you will almost not even know it is running.

Remember, that after building a muffler you have to equip it with a filter. Otherwise, dust, rust flakes from the inside of the silencer, and the occasional giant mosquito are going to get into compression chamber and the life span of the pump will suffer.

Conclusions

Besides compressor design, the tank size directly affects output. If the tank size is big enough, your compressor will run as little as possible and you won’t listen the run most of the time. With a 80 gallon tank I sometimes forget to turn my compressor on and use impacts or blow stuff off with stored for a few hours before I realize I didn’t turn the device on.

Best Table Saw for Beginners: Tips for Beginner Woodworker [2021]

My grandfather was a carpenter and taught me all I know about woodworking. When I got a room for a workshop, the table saw was one of my first purchases. Choosing tools is a common challenge for beginner woodworker and in this post I will share with you my experience in choosing the best table saw for beginners.

Table Saw Tips for Beginners

There are two main approaches to choosing a saw. The first and most common advice is to buy a fairly expensive tool of well-known brands. For about $800 you can get a saw with a large table, 2 HP motor and extensions with a reasonable fence. For about $1100 you’ll find a unit with a great fence, 3 HP motor, a large cast iron table and this setup will last for decades.

The second approach is good for DIYers who use a saw from time to time. It requires more attention, but saves a lot of money for other tools. You carefully choose cheaper device that meets only your basic needs. Of course, a lower-priced “home-use” level saws are not top notch ones. Nevertheless, some $150-300 table units easily last 10 years, even with frequent use and moderate load. Yes, they are not pretty, but work well enough to make acceptable straight cuts. Cheap saws often do not have enough power to handle tough work, but these tasks are not what you should consider “home use” either.

table saw for beginner woodworker
Table saw for beginner woodworker – SKIL 15 Amp 10 Inch Table Saw

Personally I tend to advice buying expensive table saw. I think, you can make most any “DIY projects” without this tool. A table saw will likely be among your most expensive tools, so why not get into this hobby (if it’s not full time job) using the tools you have? As you gain skills through doing a lot of projects, buy high quality power tools you really need. Buy the best unit you can afford, one tool at a time.

Best Table Saw for Beginners (DIY and hobby use)

My advice here is choose middle-priced tool, not the cheapest one. Don’t buy junk tool. The Delta is a good example of a relatively cheap table saw of decent quality. You can afford it, and it’s compact enough to move around with ease. And take into account that no matter what tool you get, you are still have to learn what good setup is how to do a proper setup to get the most out of the saw. If you want to make precise cuts, the proper setup will be the critical factor.

good table saw for beginners
Delta 36-6013 10 Inch Table Saw – good table saw for beginners

The good news about Delta is that if you get a decent full-size saw, you can sell it for a good price if you outgrow the tool. And by that time you will clearly understand why and what you need in the upgrade.

Portable saws are typically low powered and mobile devices. They are in the $150-600 range and are harder to upgrade and modify.

best beginner woodworking table saw
Best beginner woodworking table saw – DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw w/Stand

Table Saw for Beginner Woodworker (Professional Use)

When it comes to starting a woodworker career, choose a tool bigger than you need now, if you can. Both in power and features. Like almost all of my friends I will say “Pound for pound, Grizzly make the best tools at the best price”.

best table saw for beginners
Best table saw for beginners (professional use) – Delta 36-5100T2 Contractor Table Saw with 30″ Rip Capacity and Cast Extension Wings

Generally, the choice of the table saw depends on your budget, your needs and the space you have in your shop. Cabinet saws are the best, but most expensive, up to $2000-$3000. Contractor and compact saws are next. Contractors have larger beds then compact and they are made of cast iron. You can find contractor saws with  extra accessories and upgraded fences.

All these models have their pros and cons, but the contractor’s saw is in the middle as far as weight, accuracy, size, cut capacity, cost, etc. What’s more, if you work in a small shop, you can buy a fairly cheap mobile base to get the saw out of the way after the job is done.

Conclusions

If you plan to work as a professional woodworker, buying a table saw is a lifetime investment, therefore, make a right choice and you’ll not regret spending the extra money.

If you’re just starting out, look for a decent used table unit. Spend some time and you’ll definitely find a guy who is moving out of town and buy a tool that work well. If you buy a new tool later, this will be a great second saw for light duty work, so you don’t have to change the blades all the time.