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”

Torquing ’bout Walko Refinements

The Walko Surface Clamps from Ideal Tools have arrived! After having experienced them when assessing the Walko Workbench, I couldn’t wait for them to turn up.

The clamps are used anywhere on the surface of your bench, so a grid of 20mm (dog)holes is required, 100mm apart.  I went with a minimum of 50mm from the first line of holes to the edge, so the holes had plenty of support around them.

This specific concept of dog holes comes from both the Festool workbenches, as well as the Walko, and I have seen it used on some other bench concepts as well.  Festool also have a surface clamp similar to the Walko (possibly where the Walko design has come from?), which have some more clamping force, but less reach than the Walko, and cost a lot more.  I haven’t tried the Festool, but as far as clamping force, I found the Walkos plenty strong enough for the task.

The Hole Matrix

To drill a whole heap of holes, I could have drawn up a grid with a pencil and a straight edge, but with the Torque right there, it was a no-brainer to use it to drill its own holes.  You can see some faint lines in the photo above – where they cross is where the screws are, holding the top down.  It is a concept I’ve taken directly from the workbench at Ideal Tools – these are sacrificial tops, and if it gets cut into, so be it, but you don’t want to have a chance to hit a screw, and thus the lines to make very clear where those screws are located.

Irwin SpeedBore 3 Flute

To drill accurately sized, and round holes, I went with the 3-flute Irwin SpeedBore.  It has a tapered thread to start, which happens to really pull the bit down to engage the workpiece.  I went with this rather than the spade bit, because I wanted holes with an accurate diameter, and spade bits can sometimes go a bit haywire and drill an oval, rather than a circle.  My Bosch drill also has quite a bit of runout, so having a bit with a pilot tip to stabilise it helped a lot.  Testing the holes out after, and they couldn’t be better – just the right amount of tightness around the post of the clamp – a Goldilocks solution (not too loose, not too tight, juuust right).  There is some breakout, but given that the bench was already secured down I wasn’t going to finish the hole from the other side, and the underside doesn’t get seen.

Uniform X-Axis Spacing

To get uniform spacing of the holes was actually really easy.  With the drill mounted in the Torque Workcentre, I could drill holes wherever I wanted into the top, and at any angle (although obviously in this case I only needed 90 degrees).  Once again, having MagSwitches in the workshop paid off in spades.  In this case, the 50mm MagSquare was a definite – given the amount of mass, and therefore momentum of the sled/arm/tool, crashing into something with insufficient grip would cause it to slip, resulting in inaccurate holes.  I used the MagSquare on the rail of the X Axis, and a piece of MDF as a spacer, cut to 100mm.

Drill the hole, unlock the X Axis, move the tool 100mm, lock the axis, bring up the MagSquare, drill the hole, rinse and repeat.

Uniform Y Axis Spacing

Once a line of holes was drilled, I used the same technique to move the drill 100mm along the Y Axis. An absolute perfect application for the MagSquare, and fully justifying the extra grabbing power of the 50mm.

Commissioning the Walko Surface Clamps

The Walko clamps have 2 parts – a stop block which the work is then pressed up against, and then the moving clamps are placed in suitable holes, slid in to take up the slack, then the lever moved so the cam-action places pressure against the workpiece.  The workpiece can be pretty much any shape which is one real benefit of these clamps, and you use as many as necessary to securely hold the work securely.  In this case, a piece of avocado from Lazy Larry.  The clamps are low profile, so you can machine, surface, sand and plane right over the top of them.  In some instances, you don’t need the movable clamp, but they help prevent the piece moving on you.

Poised for Action

I went with 2 sets of these clamps – often one is enough, but 2 sets (of 2 clamps), even 3 sets is ideal.  In fact I may be tempted to get one more set for use with the Torque workcentre, that way I can use 3 clamps to hold the workpiece, and the other 3 clamps to hold the template/component I am copying when using that feature of the TWC.  In total, I drilled about 100 holes.  I’m still considering drilling a whole stack more (small) holes in one area of the bench, and create a down-draft sanding area, boxing in the underside and connecting a 4″ hose to it for sanding operations.  This TWC just presents so many possibilities, I haven’t begun to scratch the surface (literally or figuratively!)

Speaking of which, after drilling 100 holes, turning the drill on and off for each hole, I am absolutely sold on the starter switch I added (documented a couple of posts ago).  Given that it may not be as easy to source the Triton starter switch, the one I’m using for the router table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies would be a good (if not better) choice.

Refining the Incra Mounting

While finishing off the TWC top, I looked again at the Incra LS Positioner and how I had fixed it down, and decided on a near-ideal solution (and one intended by Incra!)  A couple of holes all the way through the MDF top, with a couple of bolts who’s heads engages in the track slots in the Incra base.

Under-table view

Underneath, two knobs make it easy to tighten the bolts, locking the Incra in position, yet allowing for the bolts to be easily loosened if the Incra needs to be moved, or removed.

Recessed when not needed

Here I have detached the Incra, and the bolts have dropped into the recess I drilled, so they are below the surface of the table so as not to interfere with the Torque Workcentre operation.  By having the router table fence easily removed means that it is no problem for me to utilise the entire 2.5m length of the TWC.

If you haven’t gathered, I am really happy how this has all worked out – the ease of clamping pieces anywhere on the TWC, the undertable router with a cast iron tabletop, so I can use my MagSwitch featherboards, the use (and ease of removal) of the Incra LS Positioner, the height winder on the router table, and the remote start switches on both the TWC and router table.  The router is certainly a powerful tool in my workshop, and definitely not one to be shied away from if you don’t like hand-held routing!

A perfect symbiotic union of Torque Workcentre, Incra, MagSwitch, Carbatec TS CI Wings, Triton Routers, Walko Surface Clamps, Wixey, PWS Pro Router Switch and Woodpeckers to really create the ultimate router table.  If anyone can think of a way I can improve this further, I’d love to hear it!  I still want to incorporate the Incra fence along the back edge of the table, with precision stop placement – that’s next (along with the downdraft sanding table addition).

Toy Blocks

Been making some wooden blocks for my girl – absolutely refused to buy any!

Very easy to do, but still is surprising that it actually takes a little thought. I made some prototypes to get dimensions worked out, particularly the triangles. Decided all the edges needed breaking, so used a (very) small radius roundover bit.

Toy Blocks

Start of the pile of approximately 80 pieces. I still have some arches to make.

The squares are pretty easy, especially when using the Miter Express. The rectangles are double the size, and instead of trying to measure them, I used a trick I learned from using the Triton Router table, and the microadjusters.

Repositioning MagSquare Stop

Ok, not too clear what is happening here. The large MagSquare is locked to the table as the stop for producing accurate, repeatable cubes. I then wanted to move the large MagSquare twice as far away from the line of the blade. Instead of measuring it, I used one of the already cut cubes as a spacer, then a second MagSquare on the other side of it. This is locked to the table, then the block removed. The large MagSwitch is then moved up flush against the small MagSquare, and locked down, now double the distance from the blade. The small MagSquare is then superfluous.

Neat Piles of Wooden Blocks

Other than the arch pieces, this is the pile of blocks made.

Wooden Blocks Post Baby

They didn’t last long!

Brief update

Just got back in from a bit of a tinker outside – managed to get motivated to do more than potter around and tried hanging a light. By the time I was finished, all 10 were hung, and a quick test & try and the 4 fittings I lit up (all at one end) gave the shed an awesome quality – plenty of quality feeling light (not sure how you describe it), shadowless, and lots of it without being unnaturally bright.

I haven’t checked the tubes rating (possibly 25W?) but that was 8 tubes illuminating 2/5ths of the shed – me happy 🙂

I’ll post a pic tomorrow – too tired now to go through the whole rigmarole of loading the image, cleaning it up, and uploading it tonight (it is 1:45am!)

Progress is always a rewarding feeling.

Also was having a bit more of a play setting up the Incra Miter Express, and found that you really needed ongoing access to a couple of Allen keys (hex keys).

So I stuck a MagSquare under the rail, and it became a very useful storage. Added benefit of being somewhere to store the arbor nut spanner.

Here’s an enlargement for clarification. The bottom of the MagSquare has a semicircular cavity which is perfect for storing the hex keys. The whole concept is no big deal, but what the hey.

The MagSwitch and the Tablesaw

You know you are onto a good tool, when once you have it, you find that you can’t live without it! The next part of setting up the tablesaw was adding the cast iron wings. A friend of mine was very adamant that this is a two person job, and given the weight of the wings I would definitely agree with him.

However……I needed the wings on, and didn’t have a spare set of hands available, and the cast iron wings are HEAVY. The solution came very easily – what if I used the magnetic strength of the MagSquare (500lb of force) to help hold the top while I did up the bolts?

So that is what I tried, and it worked superbly.

MagSquare by MagSwitch on the tablesaw

I got the MagSquare overhanging the edge of the table, turned it on, then carefully lifted the wing into position. The MagSquare gripped the wing, and it was so strong I was able to completely ignore that end of the table and could concentrate on threading the bolt through at the other end.

***Update*** A suggestion from MagSwitch after reading this post was to turn the magnet 90 degrees to how you see it here – I chose this orientation thinking it would give maximum grip, but apparently the other orientation would have been even better, with the added benefit of the machined flat bottom of the MagSquare also helping to align the two surfaces.***

I still had to hold the outside edge of the table, and the magnet couldn’t resist the ‘bending moment’ (to use a term from my engineering past (hope I used it in the right context!!)) ie – the magnet supported the weight perfectly, but the outside edge of the table could drop away if I let it. If I had 2 MagSquares coupled together to form a bridge it would have been even better! However, the one was more than enough for the task.

There was only one drawback – the magnet is so strong when switched on, that when I was trying to thread the bolt into the hole directly under the magnet, it would keep pulling the bolt out of my hand! (And later, it would keep snatching the spanner away from me – no better than a 2 year old!)

MagSquare by MagSwitch

Here it is completely holding the front edge of the cast iron wing, with only a single bolt in the rear of the table so I could take the photo. Cool huh!

Another use for MagSwitch – My ‘broom’ concept

I have a huge pile of sawdust etc in my shed, and over the years have dropped my fair share of screws, nails etc.

So I decided to try out the MagSquare, to see if my “MagSwitch Broom” concept had any legs.

Sawdust Nail Mix

Here’s the original mixture of nails, screws etc, and sawdust. MagSquare on standby!


The large MagSquare – a half turn of the handle to activate the magnet, and it will have around 230kg of lifting strength (should be enough 😉 )

MagSquare broom

The result. Very handy, and as I am cleaning up, instead of ignoring the nails etc that I am loosing, I am going to make a quick pass with this to collect as much as possible. I know it is possible to do this with a simple magnet, but it’s nice being able to hold it over a container, and switch off the magnet and have all the screws etc simply drop off. I tried this with metal filings, and got a great collection, and when the MagSwitch was turned off, not a single filing remained attached to the magnet – it really drove home to me the fact that the magnetic field is completely cancelled by the switch.

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