Irwin Clamps, Combi T2 Carving Kit, and the Air-Grip Laser Level


Irwin Clamps, Combi T2 Carving Kit, and the Air-Grip Laser Level

Pipe Clamps and Bar Clamps
Irwin Industrial Tools
Priced from $19.95
Source: Home Hardware and other tool retailers
Pipe clamps are a mainstay in cabinet and furniture shops; they’re relatively inexpensive, have sufficient clamping pressure for the most demanding glue-up (over 1,000 pounds of force), and their clamping distance is limited only by the length of pipe you use. Pipe is readily available from building material suppliers or plumbers. The innovative feature of the Irwin pipe clamp is its clutch system, which eliminates the need for threaded pipe; just slip the head and tail on the pipe. These clamps comes in 3/4" and 1/2" sizes, and there is about 2" of thread travel. The pads are large - 1 7/8" for the 3/4" model and 1 1/2" for the smaller. The jaws aren’t square, but using a dowel between the jaw face and the board you are clamping helps alignment and distributes clamping pressure more evenly. There is some tendency for the head to move around as you tighten the clamping screw, but hey, for the money its bearable. The Irwin Quick-Grip bar clamps come in 6 sizes, from 6" to 50", have a 3 1/4" throat depth, and exert around 250 pounds of force, which is sufficient for a lot of shop clamping. They're very light, have padded jaws to prevent marring your work, can be used one-handed, and have a reversible head. The upshot: these are about the most convenient clamps you can own. 



Combi T2
Warren Cutlery Company
Price: $70.51 US
Source: Direct
If you are one of those dedicated carvers who can’t tolerate idle hands when traveling, camping, or vacationing at the cottage, you might want to consider the Warren Traveller’s Compact Tool Chest. The three knife blades and six gouges provide the utility for any level of carver to work on hand-held projects. One should not expect to use this set of tools for massive wood removal. However, the tools would serve effectively for detail work under any conditions.

Once honed to personal taste, the blades hold their edge quite well.

The individual knife blades are stored and protected well in separate plastic tubes. The gouges and chisels are held securely by slots within the case which is lined nicely to protect the cutting edges.

All the tools can be changed easily and are held effectively in the comfortable walnut handle although I found the tightening mechanism loosened sometimes when I was whittling. Perhaps the greatest advantage of this kit is the convenience afforded by the robust traveling case. The selection of tools can be kept readily at hand to satisfy those urges to make something that all carvers experience from time to time.


AIR-GRIP Laser Level (ELL0001)
Ryobi Ltd
Price: $59.97
Source: Home Depot
There are a number of laser levels on the market, but nothing comes close to the new AIR-GRIP from Ryobi. This neat little 8 ounce level has a vacuum in the base of the unit; turn the unit on, press it firmly against any reasonably smooth surface, and let go. No need for pins, nails or screws. And it works really well. I attached it to the wall, and it stayed there for a little over two and a half hours. If you don’t need to use the vacuum feature, just slip it on the supplied base for up to 40 hours of use. You can also mount the base on your camera tripod. Neat! The laser eye can be pointed vertical or horizontal, and reaches up to 40' with an accuracy of 1/2º at 20". The head can be rotated 360º. The AIR-GRIP only emits a single laser line. The quality of the line is very good, although I found it to be a bit wide. It also fades out at the end of the projection. I strung a rigid chalk line and sighted the laser along the line; they lined up perfectly. I don’t like the on/off switch; every time I pick the unit up I end up turning it on. The switch needs to have a "lock" position. Other than this, the AIR-GRIP is a great tool. You can use it when you’re hanging cabinets, shelving, pictures, or wallpaper, laying hardwood flooring or tile, or anywhere you need a straight, accurate line. The unit comes with a case, base, strap, and push pin to attach the unit to porous surfaces, two AA batteries, and an instruction booklet.

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