Midnight…It’s MagSwitch Time

So the cat is out of the bag – and being Stu’s Shed readers you are (afaik) the first in the world to know about it (other than the retailers – thus the delay before I could release the info).

Yes – MagSwitch have added a number of new products to their lineup, and what I am ecstatic about is it is all based around…the Universal Base.

* A featherboard that can be reversed

* A thin-stock jig / rip guide

* A snake light!

* A universal track / fence

And the system still includes the single and double roller fences, vertical featherboard etc.

So onto the details:

Ever since the MagFence kit came out, I was hoping for 2 things. 1. For a featherboard that uses the same base, and therefore can be reversed as needed. 2. A featherboard kit similar to the MagFence kit.

Guess someone was listening (and no, I doubt it was anything to do with me, but sometime Mick Jagger isn’t always right (“you can’t always get what you want”))

There will be a featherboard kit – I’m dubbing it the MagSafe, but not sure whether that name will be picked up or not (kind of hope so).  I’ve also suggested that the kit includes some risers – currently sold separately.

However, there is also some possibility of discontinuing the MagFence combo kit – but personally, from someone who has sold dozens and dozens of these kits when helping out at wood shows – if you can’t sell a MagFence Combo kit, you should find a different occupation!  I think it would be a killer to have both the MagFence Combo kit and the MagSafe kit on the shelves at the same time.  I would have sold SO many of one, or the other…..or both!

But enough of me rabbiting on – time for some photos – screen shot from a web-resolution PDF, so sorry about the quality but these are the first photos out there.

Reversible Featherboard w Universal Base

The reversible featherboard can be flipped, and also (I’m lead to believe) able to be used in place of the vertical attachment.

Reversible Featherboard w Vertical Attachment

And being based around the Universal Base, the MagJigs can be removed in other jigs of your design.  Sadly, no MagBroom 😦 But it wouldn’t be hard to take that Universal Base and turn it into one 😉


Note too, the MagJigs are quite close to the front edge of the base, so about the same amount of distance between the MagSwitches and the front of the featherboard as there is with the Pro Featherboard.

Thin Stock Jig

Now here is a jig to take home to Mum, with 3 ways to use it – as a stepped holddown, with the bevelled edge holding down and against the fence simultaneously, and with the bearing as a point fence.  Be interesting to see how it also works on the router table, directly above a router bit of matching diameter so it can be a surrogate to a bearinged router bit.

3 Ways to use the Ultimate Jig

And it looks the goods!

Holding against, and down simultaneously - clever jig 🙂

The bearing is actually there primarily for thin ripping, but there are a number of ways I can think of already that it will be useful in other applications.

I still would like MagSwitch to bring out a simple pushstick, something like the Bench Dog one.  Not for any good reason other than safety on top of the tool is pretty much covered, and a push stick would complete the package.  Not my idea, but the concept of “If it is on top of your tools, it is a MagSwitch” sounds like a great line, and one worth pursuing.  Taken one step further, it could also include an after-market blade guard for saws that come with shoddy offerings, and perhaps a tune-up kit for the saw fence that includes some of the MagSquares.


One use I could see for the Universal track would be as a replacement fence for a router table.  This would conceivably be 2 universal tracks, 2 universal bases (one on the infeed side, one outfeed side, and a joining piece that slides along the top slot to keep both fences in line with each other.  That way the infeed and outfeed could be moved closer together or further apart, depending on the size of the router bit being used.  It will apparently be sold that way, and joiners are coming.

The fence will also fit other brands of holddowns, stops etc, and importantly, it will take the vertical attachment.

Snake Light

The snake light attaches directly to the Universal Base, providing illumination wherever it is required.  Powered by a couple of AA batteries.

Auto-cupboard latch

And finally, I don’t have a full product photo, but this is part of the auto-on latch.  Reading between the lines of the description, unlike other MagSwitches, this one cannot remain in a switched-off state.  When you twist the knob to open the cupboard, the magnet is turned off, and it auto-springs back to on once the knob is released.  That is how I’m guessing it operates anyway.

My suggestion would be that a child-safe design could be incorporated, so that new parents could change the various cupboard locks in their house, and then once they were no longer needed for safety, they could have something changed/added/removed so they are rendered into a superb (standard) MagSwitched cupboard latch!

So there you have it – “You heard it here first folks”

Some Torque Details

Some more views of the Torque, now that it is all assembled and functional. Looking forward to a chance to really start putting the machine through its paces, but even the first 2 jobs (both for the recent toy kitchens), had me approaching traditional problems from a brand new direction (and no, that isn’t a reference to “overhead”, but of course that is the literal truth!)

Rear View of Y-Axis Rail

The machine is built heavy – at no stage do you feel any component has been scaled down to save on materials cost. The castings are heavy, the bearings are large, the members are solid and have no chance to incur sag, twist, or bend. The horizontal (Y-axis) beam has the tool carriage mounted on it, running on 8 substantial bearings on an electroplated arm. The black knob locks the carriage, so only x-axis travel will then occur (or rotation around the z-axis, if that is what the job requires). (Also, not counting the router plunge, which is obviously a movement in the z-axis) The z-axis movement is primarily the rack gearing that can be seen, and it is locked in position with the twist of the plunge arm. There is also a major movement of the z-axis with the threaded raising and lowering of the main arm, but that is not a movement that will be done during a cut, whereas the x, y and on-carriage z-axis movements are all directions that can be utilised during a cut.

Main Tool Control Mechanism

This is the y-axis arm from the other side, and here you can see the z-axis mechanism – the plate and bearings. One thing that strikes you is bearings everywhere on this tool – if something is designed to move, it is running on bearings, and few bearings are mounted flat – most are angled to the direction of load, so controlling and locking movement, and not just providing a smooth ride. The router mount specifically for Triton is still being manufactured which is why the Triton is still sitting on the original mounting plate, held in the circular saw attachment.

Z-Axis Mechanism

The z-axis beam is even heavier than the y-axis – it has to resist a significant bending moment. Still has the solid cast components, and electroplated beam. You can also see in this image the lock that allows the y-axis beam to rotate, setting the tool to angles other than just straight up and down. This is normal for radial arm saws and some drill presses, and now also for routers as well.

Critical Arm Balance Mechanism

Under the table is the main support arm. It serves a couple of purposes, carrying the beam that supports the end of the y-axis beam, but also the bearings are carrying a load to ensure the upright remains upright, despite the significant bending moment caused by having a heavy tool operate at the end of the y-axis beam. The knob and rod are actually the x-axis brake.

Copy Attachment and Pin Routing Point

An optional addition is the copy attachment. In many situations this provides significant control over the tool – with two hand grips, and will be very useful whether the copy rod is deployed or not. It is still quickly and easily removed if not required. It also provides a convenient allen key storage (a Lazy Larry solution)

In the MDF, you can just see the metal sleeve inserted that takes the pin routing guide. Again, very easy to deploy when required.

Router Table Section with Incra Positioner and MagSwitch

At the right-end of the table, I have still retained a traditional router table…….. cast iron, inset router lift with digital height readout, Incra fence with 1/1000th inch positioning. And MagSwitch of course. If it wasn’t for MagSwitch, I wouldn’t have bothered retaining a cast iron top. But the MagSwitch technology is just too good to pass up, and I want it’s ease of placement anywhere I want it, the safety of featherboards for horizontal and vertical material restraint, and of course any other jig I decide to create, with the use of MagJigs to hold them in place. One such example is the commercially available Woodpeckers Freehand Router Guard, which I have added an additional base to with 40mm holes to take a couple of MagJigs. So easy to place when needed, it actually gets used. Safety equipment is only useful when you use it, and having a method of making using it as painless as possible is never a bad thing.

Freehand Router Table Guard w MagJigs

Is this it? Have I finally achieved (through an amalgamation of quality products) The Ultimate Router Table? It certainly can’t compete with some out there for aesthetics, but where it comes to functionality, I think I am pretty safe to say there would be few tables out there that have more than one with the overhead capabilities afforded by the Torque Workcentre, a solid cast-iron router table that has an Incra LS Positioner and Wonderfence, a Woodpeckers Router Lift, and because of the cast iron, can utilise the awesome MagSwitch technology. It is going to be really interesting over the next while, really putting this machine through its paces. About the only thing it seems to be missing is CNC, and with the potential future edition of Wixey positioning readouts, even that will close the gap significantly.

Incra Laminated Breadboard

Ever since seeing Perry McDaniel’s breadboard, I have wanted to try one myself – doesn’t look particularly complex, but it has been one of those projects I’ve just never gotten a round tuit.

tuitSo with the clamp review, and finally obtaining some purpleheart which I always planned to use as one of the timbers, I begun cutting.

First job was to get the dust extraction up to spec again – after finding the thicknesser blocked the DC inlet too quickly.  It looks a bit confusing in a photo – it is slightly less confusing in real life 😉

Dust Collector with Preseparator

Dust Collector with Preseparator

The tablesaw, and router feed directly into the DC.  The thicknesser and planer feed into the precollector.  There are 3 different sanders that happen to be feeding into there, but they don’t need as much air draw so they won’t suffer from any performance hit caused by the preseparator.  The bandsaw also feeds into that line, so will assess how it performs, but as a general rule it is also a pretty fine dust that will be fine with any lower air flowrate.

Once the machines were again online, I was able to take a piece of mahogany, and one of purpleheart and run through the inital stock preparation, with all the generated dust and shavings whisked away to the extrator.  To any really observent amongst you, yes, I have turned the DC around.  This gives me better access to the start/stop switch (and was necessary with the location of the precollector, as it pretty much blocked access to the back corner).  It also means that the demented spider of tubing is more intrusive into the shop, but again, necessity is the biggest force of nature!

Resaw with MagFence

Resaw with MagFence

I resawed both the mahogany and purpleheart, but I did my usual trick of trying to get too much yield out of the timber I have.  Sometimes a bit of wastage is necessary to get the stock you need, but it is a lesson I still need to learn.  I ended up, after dressing the timbers, with stock that was thinner that I wanted.  This does reflect that I am still struggling to find where to get good timbers from at a reasonable price.

Once all planed and thicknessed, it was time to move to the tablesaw.  For this project, I finally used the Incra LS Positioner on the tablesaw for the first time actually using it as a tablesaw fence.  I used the MagJigs to hold it down, which worked ok, but I found it did need some more holding force, so I will add an extra two MagJigs, which will be overkill, but there is no such thing as too much where it comes to locking down a fence securely.

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

On the tablesaw, I ripped increasing widths of timber, from 2mm to about 15mm wide.  This worked well with the Incra, although it would have been better if I had remembered that it is an imperial measuring system, not metric!  Even so, the absolute precision of the Incra worked well – it clicks into precise location without having to microadjust the fence position with a fist-tap (as is normal practice).  A really interesting look at the Incra system.

After taking the mahogany and purpleheart through the ripping process, they were then interleaved, and clamped in the Jet Bar Clamps, which are really nice I must say.  They stay balanced where they are put, whether horizontal or vertical, they don’t slip, clamp tight and really look the part.

 Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

I haven’t glued these up as yet – consider this a dry-fit.

Storing vertical

Storing vertical

I didn’t realise how stable these clamps were when vertical, but the job was in the way at one point, and I went to put it on the floor, and did a double-take when it stayed quite comfortably where I placed it.  A definite bonus of this sort of clamp design IMHO.

Ready for glue-up

Ready for glue-up

This is as far as I have gotten with the project – next I will be gluing it up, topping and tailing it then rotating the ends through 180 degrees, finishing with a router dressing of the edges.  Mahogany wasn’t my first choice of materials – I wanted even more contrast between the lighter timber and the purpleheart, but even so, unfinished as it is, it still looks the goods.

Coving Jig

For the wood show, I finally used the motivation to copy a superb looking jig featured on the MagSwitch site.  And of course, I had to give it a try!

Coving Jig

Coving Jig

The jig consists of two independant sides, that are secured to the table with twin MagJigs.  They can be set to any reasonable width to cope with a wide range of stock sizes.  The significant benefit of the MagJigs allows the jig to be secured wherever you want – doesn’t matter where, or how many mitre slots you have.



So as seen, there is a board on either side.  40mm holes drilled at either end to fit the MagJigs. Two slots cut into the boards to fit the channel.  The slots were cut using a dado blade, and I’m not sure if it is the first time I’ve used a dado blade for a serious job, and it wasn’t a particularly fun experience.  The amount of stuffing around fine-tuning the dado blade size, including shims etc, was quite discouraging compared to how easy it would have been to cut the slot on the router table.  I can see a benefit to dado blades, and sure, if I wanted to cut 20, 50 or more slots then no question, a little setup time is worthwhile.  For one or two, I’d be finished on the router table before really getting the dado blades done up.

The channels are Kreg channels from Carbatec.  In these channels are the MagSwitch Vertical Attachments, mounted above the blade.  I’ve also used the Kreg Pushstick while holds the work down on the table, as well as pushing it through the blade, and it is thin enough to easily pass through the gap between the featherboards.  Additionally, it has quite a high handle, which again has definite advantage when used here.  Almost like it was built for the task……

Resulting Cove

Resulting Cove

If you’ve never tried coving before, it is an interesting exercise. To start, raise the blade to the final required height forthe depth of the cove, (without the saw turned on!), and set the angle the work meets the blade to get the required width of cove.  Lock down the jig, and drop the blade right down.  Given you are using the blade almost side on, you really need to take it slow.  Both in feed rate, and by taking many light passes.  Have a look at the coving in the above-photo.  All that missing material had to be turned into sawdust by the blade.  Compare that to how much sawdust (and therefore how much wood is removed) by the sawblade used in its typical role.  That’s why we have to take it easy.  If you push too hard, the blade will flex, and I really don’t want that happening at the speeds the blade runs at!  I want it cutting, and that is it.

If you get really serious about coving, there are blades such as this one from CMT.  They are not cheap though!

CMT Coving Blade

CMT Coving Blade

A Shallow Cove

A Shallow Cove

Gettin’ Ready to Fly

Just been putting together the bits n pieces I will need in Brisbane over the weekend for the Timber and Working with Wood Show.

Spent about 1/2 the day in the shed making some jigs to take, and got most of what I wanted done.  Got to try out the single roller MagFence on the bandsaw for resawing, and I was very impressed.  Not only with the MagFence itself which worked perfectly, but also how much easier having a single point of contact fence made resawing.  I was slicing veneers that were under 1mm without any problem at all.

Also got to give coving a try for the first time (actually, it is probably the second time, but when I tried it on the Triton many years ago, I got so much flex out of the blade that I widened the aluminium track significantly!)  Always interesting to try out new techniques, and it went without a hitch (with my new jig of course!)

In building that jig, I also used a dado blade to create the um – what is that slot called – oh yeah, a dado! that takes the track.  This time it was the economy Carbatec set, and despite its weight (being solid disks), the 15A power supply for the saw did what was required and it ran without a problem (last time I tried before I got some decent power to the shed, I was left in the dark with the circuit breakers all popping!)

So a successful day, and plenty of new things tried as well.

One slight hiccup – I contacted the airline because their documentation said something about magnets, and despite these not being strong (relative to a magnetron, or what they quote as “a strong magnet”), I can’t take any MagSwitches with me, even if they are switched off.  You can post them (airmail), but not fly with them yourself, even in checked baggage.

Anyway, I best stop mucking around on the computer and get some rest – have to be up at 4am to get to the airport!

MagJig Jigs

With the Brisbane show rapidly approaching (it starts on Friday, and I fly Saturday morning (around 6am!)) I’ve been having a final look at some of the jigs that I will be taking up to demonstrate the versatility of the MagJig



It is quite surprising just how many ways you can think of to legitimately incorporate these devices into your homemade (or purchased for that matter) jigs!

One I am keen on making in particular from the MagSwitch website looks quite functional, and will prove very useful when I want to do some coving on the tablesaw.  I’ve been interested in a coving blade as well, but they are not cheap and you’d have to have quite a bit of work on to justify the purchase.  In the meantime, a normal blade can be used (although I will be looking for blade stabilising disks while in Brisbane, not only for coving, but for normal blade operation).

Coving Jig

Coving Jig

CMT Coving Blade

CMT Coving Blade

Blade Stabiliser

Blade Stabiliser

I’m also looking at a way to improve the functionality of the 4″ floor sweeper, by combining it with my MagBroom to create a new hybrid – The MagBroom, now with more suck! (I’ll post a photo of the result, if it works!)

I’m looking at combining the 4″ floor sweep

4" Floor Sweep

4" Floor Sweep

With my MagBroom jig

Stus Shed MagBroom

Stu's Shed MagBroom

And a swivel handle scavenged from a floor mop

Swivel Head

Swivel Head

And all in time for Brisbane.  It would be a lot easier just to photoshop the result!

MagSwitch featured on Cool Tools on the DIY Channel

The presenter is certainly enthusiastic, but that’s cool – it’s infectious when the product justifies the enthusiasm!

The episode is called “Get it Together” , but to actually watch the portion on MagSwitch, you can find it here.

Goes for about 4 minutes, and is an excellent look at a number of products in their range (with a focus on the lifters, but you also see the new featherboards and MagFences).

magswitchcoolI haven’t worked out how to embed the actual video here, so clicking on the above image will take you to the MagSwitch site where the video is featured, and you can watch it there.

Freehand Router Guard and MagJigs

Router tables are not just all about fences, straight lines, infeed and outfeed areas.  They also have significant potential when used with bearinged router bits (where the bearing on the bit effectively becomes the fence, but a fence that doesn’t have the restriction of following straight lines).

To safely use a bearinged router bit without a fence to guide your workpiece into the router bit, it really pays to have a starting pin, something to rest the workpiece against before rotating it into the router bit and against the bearing.  This really reduces the possibility of a kickback.  It is not critical, but sure makes the process a lot safer.

The other thing that helps safety a lot, is a chip guard (like safety glasses fitted directly to the tool), and dust extraction.  Many router tables have dust extraction for the fence, but when that is removed for some freehand routing, so is the dust extraction.

Triton for example really had freehand routing worked out, with the central portion of the fence removable so it could be fitted directly to the table, continuing the dust extraction, chip guard, and providing a pivot point both for starting and finishing.

So what is there for other router tables?  The answer is simple, and elegant.  (If you can’t guess, I really like this solution).  It is the Woodpeckers Freehand Router Guard, available in Australia from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. There are a number of ways of fitting it to your table, depending on your router table.  So all this talk, what does it look like?

Freehand Router Guard

Freehand Router Guard


Now there is one thing about the name that I change.  Instead of calling it a guard, I call it a guide.  Sure, the dust extraction is important, and the clear plastic guard is nice, the starting and finishing guides are the best features.

Now onto my specific application.  As I mentioned there are a number of different ways of fitting the Freehand Guard to the router table.  I have added one more to the list.  The MagJig.

If MagSwitch only ever produced one version of their product, it would have to be the MagJig – I love em, and I can’t seem to get enough – every time I get another couple, I find even more would be useful.  Sure, they can be moved from jig to jig, and I do that too, but I also like the most commonly used jigs to have their own dedicated MagJigs.

So onto adapting the Freehand Router Guard so it can be affixed to ferrous topped router tables (such as cast iron router wings, Triton router tables etc).

Original Kit

Original Kit

The kit looks more complicated than it is – each set of screws is provided in its own bag, (certainly a completely different philosophy to the Ikea solution, where you get a single bag filled with a couple hundred different pieces of hardware you need!)

A New Subbase

A New Subbase

If you compare this shape to the original (red) one in the previous photo, you can get an idea of where I am heading.  I’m not replacing the red component either (although I could) – the full guard is going to be added to the top of this new base.

It is my Mickey Mouse solution, and I’m not sure if that is the look, or the quality of my solution – time will tell I guess.  I wanted the MagJigs to be located out quite wide, and also away from the actual contact points of the Guard.  As they say – location, location, location.

I have roughly cut out the shape on the bandsaw, and next, will use a template copying bit to duplicate the original component onto the hardwood (with the added mouse-ears of course!)

Template Copying

Template Copying

After assemblying the Freehand Guard, I used one of the mounting solutions provided (2 long bolts), to attach my mouse ears.  These are countersunk from underneath.  The benefit of this, is the Freehand Guard itself is fully self-contained, and I can easily remove it if I ever decide to.  It is held on by the two knobs seen, so removing it is simplicity.  One of the benefits of the MagJig solution is I can position the guard exactly where I want, and am not constrained by the location of holes in the router table.

Here you can see the pattern (or template) copying bit about to get the new base to match the base of the Guard.  I started with the bit seen here, but as mentioned recently abandoned it because of its scary ability to grab pretty much any bit of timber that comes anywhere near it, rather than cut it.  When I changed to my old Triton bearinged straight cutter, I had no problem what-so-ever.

Completed Upgrade

Completed Upgrade

After adding the new base, and using a 40mm forstner bit to cut a couple of holes for the MagJigs, here is the completed solution.

Guard Located Ready for Use

Guard Located Ready for Use

Final shot is the Freehand Router Guard with MagJig upgrade fitted, ready for use.  The fact this jig can be added and removed with a quick 1/2 twist of the two MagJigs makes it so easy to fit and use.

The Freehand Router Guard was sourced from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  They are only about $50 too. Cool stuff.

Episode 46 MagSwitch

Episode 46 MagSwitch

MagSwitch technology is a revelation in my workshop – changing how I work, the jigs I make, even influencing the decisions on major item acquisition.

Episode 45 Zero Clearance Inserts

Episode 45 Zero Clearance Inserts for the Tablesaw

Making Zero Clearance Inserts isn’t a particularly difficult task, but it is always good seeing someone else do it first! I have come up with a bit of a novel approach to how to safely do the cut.  The traditional method is to use the fence to help hold down the new table insert as it is being cut, but I’ve never been really happy with that solution.  With the use of my recent MagJig enabled jig, I have a much more secure and safe way to conduct the evolution.

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