Cutting Tools: Cut Metal, Wood and More, Faster
Cool tools and blades make quick work of cutting and sawing.
Lenox recently added a curved recip blade to its already impressive lineup. The curve helps change the angle of attack on every stroke, which speeds up cutting. It’s similar to the orbital action on many reciprocating saws. These blades are not intended for dainty scrollwork—they’re most useful when you have a whole bunch of aggressive cuts to make. Lenox Gold Power Arc Curved Blades are available at Lowe’s, tool suppliers and online.
Better Jigsaw Blade for Curves
If you use your jigsaw a lot, you may have noticed that sometimes it's less than perfect when making a curved cut in hardwood.The cut will have burn marks or be slightly beveled from the blade overheating and distorting. Always on the lookout for better tools, we ran across the Spyder Skeleton Jigsaw Blades, so we thought we'd give them a try.
After a few tests in known problem situations, we have to say the blades performed really well. They cut with less friction because of the cutout design and seem to last longer too. There are a variety of blade tooth options for all types of wood and sheet goods. Our favorite is the No. 300022 blade, which cuts super-clean, splinter-free cuts in plywood.
Cut with a Drill
If you need to shorten a bolt, let your drill do the hard work. Spin two nuts onto the bolt, tightening them against each other. Then chuck the bolt into the drill and hold a hacksaw blade against the spinning bolt. The nuts help to steady the blade and clean off burrs when you unscrew them.
This little guy has been a huge hit here at The Family Handyman. It's a new 7-in. tool from Wiss that cuts just about anything. The handles fit nicely in the hand, and it doesn't take up much room in the pouch. They're called utility scissors, but we've cut banding straps, aluminum fascia and even a steel stud—try that with regular scissors! Available at home centers and hardware stores.
Cuts faster than corded
Pipefitters, steelworkers and electricians have been using portable band saws for a while now, but Milwaukee just introduced a cordless model with the new brushless technology that converts energy into power more efficiently. The result is the M18 FUEL Deep Cut Band Saw (2729-22). Milwaukee has tested this saw against its own corded models (which are among the best in the industry) and claims this battery-powered tool out-sawed its corded competition. The saw has a 5-in. x 5-in. capacity and weighs 15 lbs. You'll find it at pro tool stores and online retailers.
Photo provided by Milwaukee
Big Saw, Small Package
We don't mind lugging a 60-lb. miter saw to a job if we can leave it on-site for a couple of days. But no one wants to heave that beast out of their truck just to make a few cuts. A smaller saw would be great, but it's hard to find one that performs as well as the big ones—that is, until now.
The new Bosch CM8S 8-in. sliding compound saw is only 18 in. wide, but the base expands to 29 in. It can crosscut a board 12-1/4 in. long and 2-3/4 in. thick. It will create a 45-degree miter on an 8-in. board and can handle a 3-1/2-in. crown mold. That’s a lot of performance from a saw that weighs only 37 lbs.—that’s less than half the weight of some 12-in. models on the market!
The “ambidextrous” trigger handle will keep the lefties happy, and the carrying handle makes transporting the CM8S a painless undertaking. Go to boschtools.com to find a retailer near you.
Boost Crosscut Capacity
If your miter saw can’t quite cut the full width of a board, lay the board on a stack of scraps. That will give you an extra inch or so of crosscut capacity. If that’s not enough, try this: Cut the board as far as possible, then flip it over to complete the cut. But don’t expect a perfect cut. Aligning the two cuts precisely is surprisingly difficult.
Gransfors Bruks axes and hatchets are well made and they look good. The 5-1/2-lb. splitting maul cleaves the air and wood with so little effort—the balance and beauty are perfect.
This Swedish company began making axes in 1902. Each ax is made from start to finish by one smith, his initials stamped on each forged head. Since they’re handcrafted, no two are exactly alike. Guess that’s why they cost so much! The large splitting ax, along with several others, is available at Amazon. Check out the whole line there.
Olfa Utility Knives
Snap-blade knives are a good idea if you do work that requires lots of blade changes. But have you ever tried a snap-blade utility knife and ended up throwing it away? No doubt it was a cheap Olfa knockoff.
Olfa knives are super-sturdy and have been the go-to cutting tool for paper hangers and painters for years. And they can sub for a standard utility knife for other trades and tasks too. So give one of these knives a shot. No more changing blades; just snap off the dull one and you’re ready for more cutting. You can buy the knives on Amazon or find a dealer at olfa.com.
Framers, Check Out this Blade
Are you the guy on the crew who gets stuck cutting out bottom plates in door openings? Or do you like to cut out the window openings after the walls are up?
Listen up. Stick a Milwaukee Flush Cut Sawzall blade in the jiggle saw (upside down for plates) and you’re ready for two jobs. Little nubs that are proud of the teeth keep you from cutting into the subfloor or, more important, concrete.
When you’re cutting out the window openings, the “fang tip” is for plunging to start the cut. The stiff blade is long enough to reach sheathing on 2x6 framing, and you’ll get a beautiful flush cut all the way to the corners. Watch a video and find retailers at milwaukeetool.com.
Presaw Before You Resaw
No matter how careful you try to be, sometimes when you resaw (slice thicker boards into thinner ones on the band saw) it's hard to get the blade to stop wandering. Here's a great old trick: First send one edge of the board through the table saw, cutting about 1 in. deep. Turn it end for end and cut another kerf on the opposite edge, and then send it through the band saw. The saw kerfs will act as guides to keep the blade in line. Move to the planer for the final smoothing.