Metric? We can get it in METRIC now?!!!!

ROCKIN’!!

What am I talking about? Incra. The Incra LS Positioner is now available in a metric version, and for people in countries that primarily use a metric system, being able to get what I consider the best router fence out there in a metric version just makes the best system even better.

The big reason why it has historically only been available as an imperial version is until now the router bits have also only been imperial, and where it comes to dovetails, that is critical.  What has happened (and I’d be very surprised if the lines of communication between the two hasn’t been strongly encouraged by Grahame of PWS), is Whiteside in the US have produced a complementing set of metric router bits (straight and dovetail), and the rest is history.

So what does this mean with respect to the Positioner?  It can now work with 0.05mm increments of position (and although you can set 1/2 points between these and get 0.025mm accuracy (which is insanely accurate, equivalent to 1/1000″, and well beyond what is needed in normal woodworking….but nice that a machine is so accurate that it can achieve that level of precision)).

If you already own an imperial 17″ or 32″ LS Positioner, you are not left out – upgrade kits are arriving (tomorrow?) for existing owners who want to transition across, costing $199 (ok, $200) for the 17″ version.  These are only currently available in Australia from Professional Woodworkers Supplies (and they are (afaik) the first offering the transition kit worldwide.)  The upgrade kit replaces the Lead Screw, microadjuster, and all the rules with metric ones.  If you have purchased your LS Positioner from Professional Woodworkers Supplies then you’ll be contacted in the next day or so with a special upgrade deal.  The upgrade to metric takes about 30 minutes or so.

It also means there is no need to maintain any of the other Incra tools (such as the stops etc) in an imperial version either – all can now become metric.

Of course this does mean you also need the metric router bits, and if (like me), you already have a full set of dovetail bits, (and I’m not sure if this also impacts my hingecrafter and associated bits) then they need to be replaced as well.  But not having to continuously work in an unfamiliar measuring system (or worse, constantly translating between the two) is VERY attractive!  And if you have been put off buying the best fence system there is because of that annoying measuring system, then procrastinate no longer.  (And no, I’m not having a go at imperial measurements, it is just very hard to work with if you have grown up in a metric world).

So what do you think? Tempted? Can’t wait to upgrade (or finally get an LS Positioner)? Or think you’d might as well stay with the imperial?

I know what I’d like to do.  If my brain was 20 years younger, I’d probably be able to cope with the mental acrobatics required to constantly work in both formats (and dare I say, if I was 20 years older, then I’d have grown up with an imperial system), but as it is, it just doesn’t click for me.

What is 2&3/32 divided into 3 equal parts?  Dunno – where’s a calculator!  But what is 54mm divided into 3? 18mm.  Add 3mm, then shave off 0.5mm? 20.5mm

Can’t do that for the imperial – still working out the original question! In all seriousness, the fact my current LS Positioner is in imperial may be a big contributing factor why I haven’t gotten dovetailing on the Incra worked out.  Just can’t get my head around the imperial.

Insulation

Hearing on the radio this morning that with the current collapse of the roof insulation scheme that we may find companies physically ditching batts that they just cannot store now the demand has suddenly dropped to virtually nil.

Can I just say that if anyone is planning on throwing away bundles of roofing batts that instead of floating it down the Yarra as was suggested, that I’m working in a sauna in my shed in summer – I’d love to get my hands on some!

(Unfortunately, working in a sauna seems to do nothing for weight loss 😦 )

Another leaves the shores for good

One of the great Australian inventions/products that I have been a strong supporter of (and still remain so) has left our shores, at least as far as the company is concerned.  Before even stating the name, let me be clear that the product itself remains (and will continue to remain) available in Australia.

MagSwitch Australia, once the sole, then parent company of what has become an international organisation is no more, and the head office is now located in the USA, with the downsized Australian arm finally being shut down for good as of 1 March 2010.

The product will still be readily available in Australia, with the woodworking line being sold through Carbatec (and those they on-sell to), and the industrial range being sold through JB Tooltech.  So this has apparently (according to the official notification I received today) no impact on pricing or availability.  Manufacturing has been done in China for a while now (if not always), so that doesn’t change either.

All it seems to mean is we, in Australia, are now buying a product from overseas that was once home-grown.

Should I care?  Nothing has changed for availability, price, quality.  But it is no longer Australian (manufacture has been overseas for ages).

I think what is in the back of my mind is when I first came across MagSwitch at a Melbourne Wood Show, it was a tiny company, with a tiny stand, trying to see if their products would interest anyone.  When I contacted them (once Stu’s Shed existed), they were incredibly enthusiastic for what I was doing, and what it could do for them.  I even had the company’s (Australian) manager come to Melbourne to personally meet with me, and we spent a few hours chewing the fat about the product, and the industry in general.   If it was an equivalent product with an overseas company, I can be quite certain that sort of situation would never have occurred.  I guess this means I won’t be asked to help MagSwitch at future Oz Wood Shows either.  Not sure if I helped sales, but for those shows I was there representing, sales were right up, and the sales figures per head of population blew the US Wood Shows right out of the water.

As you’d see from reading this website, I am a very big fan of the local talent – the engineers, inventors, and companies that are local to the Australian and New Zealand market.  I love a great home-grown product, and I enjoy supporting their endeavours as best I can.

Sadly for me, MagSwitch the company is no longer Australian, it is now just another overseas company, with a great product that Australia imports.  I’ll still be a strong supporter of the product, as I am with other overseas companies with top-shelf products such as Incra and Woodpeckers.

But in my heart of hearts, I wish MagSwitch was still Australian.

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