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Top Ten Tools of 2009

The best keep getting better

Text, photos and videos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 11-19-2009

Once again the Top Ten Tools winners reads like a who's who of woodworking tool manufacturers. What is a little different for 2009 is that Leigh Jigs and Woodpeckers each appear twice in this years list. Also, Bessey scored high with a new look at one of their foundation products. All of that is good news for woodworkers!

The 2009 Top Ten Tools list was ranked using pure traffic popularity and direct email response. Despite the NewWoodworker.com LLC Tool Reviews section as a whole experiencing a bit over 3-million page views between 1-1-2009 and 10-31-2009, the first and fifth tools in this years list were separated by a less than 23,000 page views! Considering the overall traffic volume that is a near dead heat for the top 5 spots. The sixth through tenth Top Ten Tools finishers were separated by just under 36,000 page views for the same period!

Top Ten Tools of 2009

1. Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig

The Leigh D4 dovetail jig has long been widely considered to be the best in dovetail jigs. Well, Leigh went and updated the design including the addition of a very trick, CNC-machined aluminum body that eliminates a step in the user setup and brings considerable "automatic" accuracy to the dovetail cutting process.

The new D4R retains all of the flexibility of variable spacing as well as total design freedom with the width of individual pins and tails. The quality has also remained making this version of the venerable Leigh dovetail jig the NewWoodworker.com LLC Top Tool of 2009!

Click Here to view the full review.

2. Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift (PRL) V2

The original Woodpeckers Precision Router Lift has been my go-to lift for years. It also has been the top pick for a huge number of woodworkers over the years. Probably the biggest surprise to me in 2009 was hearing that Woodpeckers was "redesigning" the PRL. Any fears I might have had initially faded quickly when I actually saw the new PRL V2.

Woodpeckers did nothing to reduce the quality or durability of the PRL but did add a very trick (and very useful) thumbwheel for making fine bit height adjustments. They also incorporated their Quick Lift system that lets you raise the router above the table for bit change in an instant. The PRL (V2) is King once again!

Click Here to view the full review.

3. Bosch 1613 Plunge Router

Bosch has long been a favorite router manufacturer with woodworkers because of their quality and solid, no-frills engineering. The Bosch 1613 AEVS plunge router sports a 2.25HP motor, which gives it a nice overall size and weight for handheld use. It has the full compliment of Bosch motor technology including variable speed, soft-start and constant rpm circuitry as well as a single-wrench bit changing.

The Bosch 1613 AEVS is also at home in a table mount with a finger operated bit height adjustment feature that does not require releasing a motor clamp! And this adjustment works at any plunge height setting allowing instant fine bit height adjustments.

Click Here to view the full review.

4. Bessey Vario K Body Revo Clamping System

The Bessey K-Body clamps have been widely considered the best for years. Now Bessey went back to the drawing board and made a new version of these effective clamps featuring removable, repositionable jaws that let you do some remarkable things with bar clamps.

The new components can be used in multiples on the same bar, something that allows you to make better use of limited workspace. The variable component configuration lets you build your own clamping solutions for tough jobs that may have required multiple steps in the past. The new components can be used on the Bessey K Body Revo Clamps as well.

Click Here to view the full review.

5. Kreg Precision Router Table

Despite forum-based admonitions that you "must" build your own router table or by subjected to some sort of curse imposed by cranky hard-line woodworkers, commercially made router tables remain very popular. The folks at Kreg Tool are no strangers to building quality tables so it was a small leap to building a solidly engineered router table.

In addition to a solid, spacious top, Kreg came up with a very stable and versatile fence system. They include a composite universal router plate, a tough steel leg system and you can even get very nice locking casters to make the Kreg Precision Router Table mobile!

Click Here to view the full review.

6. INCRA TS-LS Fence System

It's no secret that some woodworkers are dissatisfied with their standard table saw fence systems. When I posted the review of the INCRA TS-LS Fence System it went right to the top of the traffic lists at the time. It should come as no surprise that the INCRA TS-LS Fence System is well made and uses the highly accurate INCRA lead screw technology that made their router table fence/joinery systems so popular.

The INCRA TS-LS Fence System replaces the standard fence, including the rails. The INCRA system is remarkably easy to install, versatile and puts tiny but perfect fence-to-blade corrections a simple click away.

Click Here to view the full review.

7. Woodpeckers Saw Gauge

Woodpeckers has long been a favorite of mine (and many others) for router lifts and measuring tools. Their extensive use of high quality materials, painstaking engineering and super accurate CNC machining meant their rules and squares are dead-on accurate.

The Woodpeckers Saw Gauge is a natural extension to that line but embodies some very trick engineering that solves a major issue experienced with common measuring gauges. The use of precision ground pins eliminates having to adjust a bar to fit an often irregular miter slot. Woodpeckers hit their second home run of the 2009 with the Saw Gauge.

Click Here to view the full review.

8. Leigh 18" Super Jig

To accommodate woodworkers with somewhat smaller budgets Leigh introduced their line of Super Jigs that bring many of the famous Leigh Jig features at a budget-friendly price. The Leigh Super Jigs are available in sizes to fit every shop.

While we initially worried about a "lower-priced" jig from Leigh that proved to be unfounded. The quality materials, engineering and ease of use remain. Leigh even managed to use the new design to add a feature or two that increases the value of the Leigh Super Jigs even more.

Click Here to view the full review.

9. INCRA Miter 1000HD

INCRA's 1000SE miter gauge has been very popular since it came on the market a few years ago. Like many of you I have been happily using the 1000SE for years and was a little surprised when I heard that INCRA had updated it. Once I saw the 1000HD I just had to get a closer look.

INCRA really has refined the 1000-series miter gauge with individual degree notches and an easy to use fine tuning system that puts 1/10th-degree accuracy within easy reach. The miter gauge I considered to be the best really has gotten better!

Click Here to view the full review.

10. Leigh FMT Jig

The Leigh FMT Jig is one of those tools that always looked very cool but I thought might not fit my small home-based shop very well. It is a very cool tool, lots of ingenious engineering and Leigh quality throughout the materials and machining. And, it has turned out to be very useful in my home-based shop!

Making virtually any mortise and tenon joint is easy with the Leigh FMT Jig but when it comes to multiple mortises and tenons on larger pieces this is the only way to fly.

Click Here to view the full review.

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