Las Vegas Convention Center  
Special Report:

Some of the new products we saw at the largest
woodworking show
in the U.S. this year
AWFS 2019

It was 113 degrees when we pulled into town the afternoon before the show. According to the car's dash display, we had hit 118 about an hour and a half north of town. But hey, it was a dry heat...

The Convention Center is absolutely enormous, and the AWFS® show staff took full advantage of the venue. It was comfortably cool throughout, well organized and easy to navigate. The Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) is "the largest national trade association in the U.S. representing the interests of the broad array of companies that supply the home and commercial furnishings industry". The Association's trade show, AWFS® Fair, is held every other year in Las Vegas and is designed to "bring together the entire home and commercial furnishings industry, including manufacturers and distributors of machinery, hardware, plastics, lumber, construction materials and other suppliers to the furniture, cabinet manufacturers and custom woodworkers".

WoodEzine sends a couple of representatives to the show, to see what's new and to make contact with suppliers and manufacturers of tools, machinery and materials. (You can find our 2017 show report here.) Below are just a few of the interesting items that we came across, and we'll be including many others in regular issues of WoodEzine over the next few months.

Yeti Smartbench is a portable, industrial CNC router


A Portable, Industrial Strength CNC!

We just had to lead off this issue with the Yeti Smartbench. Woodshops that are thinking about a small CNC, or those who wish their stationary one was jobsite portable, are going to love this machine. The company describes it as "the worlds first industrial, portable, 3D CNC router. With a 3 minute setup time, the SmartBench revolutionizes the industry by allowing you to take precise machining to the jobsite. Features include a color touchpad handheld control unit that can receive jobs/cutting instructions via wi-fi or USB drive. Full 4'x8' panel machining can be achieved, with a cutting height of almost 6" (Z height). Longer items can be tiled in the software allowing you to machine products that are longer than 8'. Dust collection ready, the SmartBench allows you to work on other tasks while it drills, pockets, mortises, carves, or dados your project."

Affordable, Safe Robots Are Here

We spent quite a while at the Fanuc booth, where a very friendly collaborative robot picked up one of our business cards, popped it into a slot and then handed us a tape measure! Collaborative robots, or 'cobots', can sense where a human is so they can safely share a workstation with a person and avoid pumping into them (or trying to rout or saw them!). What was really surprising was that they are quite affordable, considering that they can replace humans doing mundane repetitive tasks and allow those people to spend their time in better ways. Fanuc offers six cobot models that can handle payloads from 4 to 35 kg (8.8 to 77 lbs), and 550-1813 mm (21.65 to 71.37 inches) in reach. The company says that's more payload and reach options than any other cobot brand.


Fanuc's collaborative robots

Fresh Wood winners at AWFS 2019


The Future is in Good Hands

The Fresh Wood student furniture competition at AWFS celebrates outstanding construction and design achievements by students from leading high school and post-secondary woodworking programs in North America. Nearly four dozen winners were announced in various categories. A Nautical Marquetry Table by Nicholas Maraldo (right) won Best of Show, and the 2019 People’s Choice award went to Hard Ninety (left) by Cole Daniels, which is an originally designed shuffleboard with intricate paneling and accenting. Nicholas is a student at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, and Cole attends Rolla Technical Institute in Missouri.

Major Upgrades to Two Popular CNCs

Two of the more popular CNC routers from California based Laguna Tools have received some major upgrades. The SmartShop M2, which the company says is its best value CNC router, is now more powerful and reliable with a newly reinforced all-steel gantry, direct drive motors with Shimpo gearboxes, and a pod-ready phenolic vacuum table.And the SmartShop 2, which is already a staple in the CNC router market, has been completely redesigned with direct drive motors and Shimpo gearboxes, a pod-ready phenolic vacuum table, 12hp HSD Spindle, reinforced all-steel gantry, and pop-up positioning pins. In addition to traditional woodworking machinery, Laguna's catalog includes SmartShop, Swift and IQ series CNC machines, plus CO2 lasers and plasma cutters.


Major updates onb Laguna Tools CNCs

Northtech Machinery's L5 fence is touch operated


Touch Operated Saw Fence

The L5 No Lock Air Lock fence from Northtech Machine in Borden, Indiana took home a Visionary New Product Award at AWFS. The company says it's the quickest and easiest fence on the market. It eliminates the need for hand wheels and manual locks. A woodworker simply places a hand on the fence to disengage the auto lock, moves it into position, and then removes his/her hand to lock it into the new location. This could be a serious time saver, especially on a rip saw. Northtech says that it can be fitted to almost any brand of straight line rip saw or table saw. We found a very short video about it on YouTube that was uploaded by Martin's Woodworking Machinery in New York, and we took the screen shots at left from that video. Woodworkers can contact Martin's at 243-7167 (area code 607) for more info, or to place an order.

A Clamp that Fits into Tight Spots

You can read about new tools or look at pictures and watch videos, but there's nothing like picking one up and actually playing with it. That's especially true of hand tools like the GearKlamp® from BESSEY Tools North America. It's a very clever idea that came out a few months ago, but we didn't really appreciate how smart it is until we touched one at the Fair. A woodworker can twist the handle grip on the shaft, and a geared drive inside the lower jaw exerts pressure. Think about this - most clamps have a rotating handle/grip right below the round pad on the lower jaw. This one is off-set, so you can slip the jaws into an opening (see the small inset picture), and still have enough room to rotate the handle and apply pressure. This is going to be on every cabinet installer's Christmas wish list!


The GearKlamp from Bessey Tools NA

Apollo Sprayers new Precision-5 Pro turbo paint systems


Two Apollo Turbo Spray Systems

The new Precision-5 Pro Limited Edition from Apollo Sprayers International, Inc. has a Quadra-Clean™ 4-stage washable automotive grade filtration system, and accessories that include both 1.3 mm and 1.5 mm needle/nozzle sets, a premier cleaning kit, an extra Handi-Hold™ spray gun docking station, viscosity cup, blow-off tool and a 32 foot Apollo Flex-Air™ hose. The Precision-5 Pro (green, at left) also has several accessories including a deluxe cleaning kit, viscosity cup, blow-off tool and a hose. Both have PBT™ (Power Boost Technology), and full variable pressure control with an LCD pressure display that is accurate to 1/10th PSI. Apollo’s Patented PowerPause™ automatically places the system in a 2 PSI idle mode to increase motor life after 45 seconds of non-use. Both are backed by an Exclusive 5-Year Limited Parts and Labor Warranty.

Hanging Pictures Just Got Easier

In Booth 6212, Hangman Products has a new and simple way to hang pictures without tools. Using the Push And Hang device, one simply loads a couple of magnetized nails, uses the built-in level to place them, and then pushes the handles to drive the nails. The company offers a number of Push And Hang, hammer-free solutions. Another device, the Hang Strate, allows for a wide range of leveling options and is ideal for galleries and commercial spaces such as restaurants where art is hung for ambiance. It would also be ideal for hotels and other institutional jobs where art is changed out periodically.


Hangman Products tool free picture hanging

The Blum Aventos HK top


Uppers That Open... Up!

A few months ago, Blum decided to change the way that we build kitchens. The company's new Aventos HK hardware allows the doors on wall cabinets to pivot up, rather than being hinged on the sides and swinging left or right. A homeowner lift ups from the bottom, and the door swings up and out of the way. Then it stays wherever one stops lifting. There is other hardware that does something similar, but none does it better. The doors open out of the way, allowing the cook to easily see everything in the upper cabinets. Nobody needs to dodge an open door, and people passing each other in confined quarters can now simply slide below an open door, rather than trying to navigate around it. As people age, their range of motion changes. Aventos accommodates that because it stays where it's put.

Colors for Cabinets

Knowing what colors are trending is essential in an industry where fewer than half the cabinets being built are clear-coated hardwood or veneer. Axalta is a big wheel in the automotive coatings world, but it's also very active in wood finishes. The Philadelphia manufacturer formally introduced its next generation of Amarium pre-catalyzed lacquers at AWFS, and also its new wood color collection called Wood Vibes: Terra. The latter was "inspired by elements of nature, with earth tones emerging in popularity throughout 2019". It's a series of color collections focused on home fashion trends. Shown here is the Cozy Griege page from the downloadable color guide, which woodshops will find useful when offering custom colors to paint-finish casework clients. The company says its Amarium lacquers "are known for their ease of use, fast dry time and durability. These lacquers also offer excellent clarity and provide enhanced UV protection, and this premium, single component finish is ideal for cabinets, furniture, and other interior wood surfaces".


Axalta introduces Wood Vibes Terra color collection

True Position Tools puck light jig


A Jig that Drills for Puck Light Wires

We visited with Tad Lostlen at True Positions Tools in booth 4717. They have a nifty new jig for drilling into the edges of panels and shelves so that the wiring for puck lights can be concealed. The drill fixture eliminates the need for false bottoms or cabinet build-ups, can be used in 3/4" or 5/8" panels, and comes with a drill bit that covers 95% of these kind of LED lights on the market. It can also be used for strip lights. Being able to light from beneath each shelf means there's no longer a need to install glass shelves. And Tad was proud to say the jig is made in the USA. The TP-PLJ 218 Puck Light Jig Kit comes with a case, and is available at a discounted price ($249) until December 31st, at which time it reverts to its regular $349.

Pinless Moisture Metering to 1.57"

New from Merlin Technology Inc. in Mount Prospect, Illinois is a family of non-destructive moisture meters. The HM9 meters are used to measure moisture in raw lumber as well as semi-finished products, veneers, hardwood flooring, furniture and windows. They are available for a variety of applications with measuring depths from 0.02 to 1.57 inches. As soon as the device is pressed against the wood, the measuring field changes and the new data are processed and evaluated by the processor. The LCD display shows the moisture content in percentages. The meters have been programmed for 21 wood groupsand offer fast, optimized accuracy and automatic self-calibration.


The new Merlin moisture meter

ROBA Fusion has been developed for the milling of edges of furniture and interior doors


A Hard-working Edge Milling Machine

Roba Fusion is a double-sided, edge shaping machine that was developed by the German manufacturer MB Maschinenbau GmbH. The company has an American subsidiary, MB Machinery Inc. that is located in Waxhaw, North Carolina. The machine was designed to mill the edges of furniture and interior doors, and it won a Visionary Award at AWFS in the machinery over $50k category. With its tight footprint, it can replace a double-edged tenoner/sander production line. And it is specifically targeted at quick handling of variable dimensions. It has a fixed left stop and a high-speed servo-driven right stop. A couple of lasers measure parts as they enter on the conveyor belt, and the moveable stop makes an adjustment. The machine then grips the part and processes its edge contours with four milling cutters. Two 11KW reversible spindles (HSK63) per machining side are each equipped with a tool changer with 12 free spaces.

Cordless Pinner Wins Award

Grex Power Tools says that "size matters". And that's perhaps especially when it comes to a 23-gauge headless pinner, which is a tool that drives the finest pin nail possible. Having a lightweight, compact tool is critical to achieving precision in finish and trim work. Grex cordless technology finally makes it possible to create a cordless version of this tool that does everything a shop demands. The new Grex GCP650 is the first and only cordless, 2" 23-guage headless pinner, with no compromise on power. It is similar in size, weight, balance and power to a traditional pneumatic tool, without the hose. Plus, it has the same award winning robust build quality that users have trusted for more than twenty years. That's probably why it just won a Visionary New Product Award at AWFS.


Grex GCP650 is a cordless 2" 23-gauge headless pinner

Lignia is a new type of lumber from the U.K.


Lignia Modified Timber Now Available in the U.S.

Over the next couple of years, North American architects and designers are going to be hearing a lot more about Britain's Lignia, which is a high performance modified lumber with long-lasting natural beauty. The photo at left is of a rooftop at One Tower Bridge, a prestigious five-star development on the banks of the Thames in London. The site, completed in 2017, consists of luxury apartments, a theatre, gymnasium, swimming pool, commercial and retail space, plus breathtaking views of some of London’s most famous sites. The Outdoor Deck Company supplied and installed Lignia decking, screens, fencing, seating and steps because of the inherent qualities that are derived from its modification process. It offers all the advantages of wood as a construction material, with none of the age-old drawbacks such as rot and fungal decay. Lignia is supplied with a 50-year warranty against rot and decay in above-ground applications. It also has very little movement, and is available from several U.S. dealers.

Management Software for Cabinet Shops

EagleEyeERP is a brand new program from RSA Solutions in Lamar, Missouri that earned a Visionary New Product Award at AWFS. This is a management suite that was designed specifically for cabinet, fixture and closet manufacturing. It works with Cabinet Vision and most commonly used casework design programs. This is a small shop data solution that was built for woodshops, and not just adapted to our needs. It integrates all facets of the manufacturing process, and is accessible by all employees with a simple shop interface. It can be customized for each employee, regardless of skill level and knowledge, so that training needs are minimized. It addresses sales and quotes, manufacturing, assembly, shipping, installation and accounting. And as it's cloud-based, it's available wherever you are. It's also affordable, with no long-term contracts.


Eagle Eye ERP software

ICA's X-MATT coating is low sheen and very tough


A Low Sheen Finish that's Tough as Nails

ICA North America's parent company has 2 production plants in Italy, and the company recently introduced its X-Matt coatings in the U.S. These are innovative finishes for interior furnishings that can be applied to any kind of surface. X-Matt is designed to create high performance, ultra-matte surfaces in terms of their chemical-physical structure. The formula has self-healing properties, while maintaining a lower VOC content compared to UV conventional coatings. X-Matt received the Interzum Award for Intelligent Material & Design in 2019, and last month was presented with one of the ten coveted Visionary New Product Awards at AWFS. The photo shows a screwdriver traveling across the coating, and a matte-finished kitchen.

Old Name Being Reintroduced

Pony Jorgensen was founded in 1903 in Chicago, and went on to become a great old name in the clamping business. A couple of years ago, the brand looked like it would be lost forever to woodworkers. Then a Chinese company came in and bought the assets - the same corporation that owns Arrow Fastener and several other familiar brands. We spoke with product manager Gregg Malanga at the Pony Jorgensen booth at AWFS, and were delighted to hear that the effort to reintroduce these fabled tools, and manufacture them using the same highly accurate original machinery at the Saddle Brook, New Jersey plant, is still on track. The new catalog includes familiar orange bar clamps, C-clamps, pipe clamp fixtures and spring clamps, to name a few. And they're being carried by retailers such as Grizzly, Rockler, Wurth and Lowes. Welcome back!


Pony Jorgensen clamps being reintroduced in US

Altendorf MAGIS is the new digital, graphical operator guidance system for sliding table saws


Altendorf Group

In 2019 the Altendorf Group set up its own dealer network and a branch office in the USA. Now owners of sliding table saws are paying a lot of attention to the company's new MAGIS and MAGIS Opti software packages. MAGIS is the new digital, graphical, operator system that guides users through predefined cutting sequences to save both time and material. And MAGIS Opti is an optimisation software for PCs and tablets that Altendorf especially developed for sliding table saws. It creates a broad range of options to meet customers’ needs, and make sliding table saw operations more economical. It requires Windows 10 or higher. Altendorf also recently acquired the German manufacturer of high-quality edge banding machines, Hebrock.

A New Source for MDF, Made in the USA

We visited with John McIsaac and Elizabeth Whalen at the Columbia Forest Products booth, where we learned more about a revolutionary new MDF plant that will go online this fall. The factory, called CalPlant1, takes what has been a century-long problem for California rice farmers - the disposal of excess straw - and turns it into the highest quality fiberboard for cabinets. The facility will employ 115 full-time people and hundreds of seasonal workers during harvest time. At full capacity, it will produce more than 140 million square feet (3/4" base) of no-added-formaldehyde MDF each year. That meets about a third of the demand for the entire state of California. Plus, the new process will significantly reduce the use of water to flood rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, thereby also cutting the production of greenhouse gases. Rice straw is an annually renewable raw material.


CalPlant1 Columbia Forest Products

The Hafele Axilo plinth adjusting fitting system


Leveling Cabinets with a Dedicated Tool

Another product that we'd seen onscreen and heard a lot about over the past year or so was the Häfele Axilo™ 78 adjusting tool. When you meet it in person, it's everything the reports say it is. Simple yet ingenious, it allows a cabinetmaker who is installing casework on plinths (legs) to reach in and make height adjustment at the back of the cabinet without drilling holes, laying on his/her back or trying to use traditional tools to do a job they're not well suited to. The tool works with Hafele plinths. Just turn the handle and cogs mesh to raise or lower the cabinet. There's even a hex receiver in the top of the tool, where a drill can be used to make faster gross adjustments, and then the final tweaks can be manual. There's a short video of the system in action here.

Virtual Zero Unlimited

Next Wave Automation introduced Virtual Zero Unlimited at AWFS. The new patented software from the Perrysburg, Ohio CNC manufacturer allows a woodworker to map the entire surface of raw material (a board, sheet stock etc.) by registering an unlimited number of reference points. The program then uses these points to auto-adjust the G-code to conform to the actual surface of that material. This eliminates problems caused by even slightly warped or bowed material and also allows a user to maintain a constant cutting depth on oddly or intricately shaped projects - something that would usually require the creation of a CAD 3D model. Virtual Zero Unlimited was a Visionary Award finalist. Also being shown at the booth was the new Moray Ready2Laser®. This is an affordable desktop laser for engraving that allows users to create files from almost any image.


Next Wave Automation's Virtual Zero Unlimited

Paintline's new RR3KD and PSDR drying racks


Lots Happening at The Paintline

The PSDR Series (at left and center) is designed to paint and dry cabinet doors with the least amount of effort and space. Parts hang for spraying of all sides in one step. Cup-hooks hold doors on a spinner assembly. And the RR3KD is a professional drying rack with up to fifty shelves, each capable of holding up to 25 lbs. It can be rolled around the shop or jobsite when fully loaded. There's no need to load parts in sequence - they can be pulled from wherever. It takes 200 square feet of door drying area and reduces it to a 6.5 square foot area. Plus, it assembles and disassembles with just four bolts, and everything is powder-coated steel.

Pinless Meter has Bluetooth™, Lots More

Another Visionary New Product Award winner, the Orion® 950 Smart Pinless wood moisture meter comes from Wagner Meters in Rogue River, Oregon. This is the pinnacle achievement of the Orion line, incorporating all of the outstanding features of the 910, 920, 930, and 940 while adding breakthrough new functions like Bluetooth connectivity to free smart device apps, an ambient temperature/RH (relative humidity) sensor, and Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) calculation. A flexible rubber boot makes the 950 durable enough to withstand the toughest jobs. And it has true in-the-field calibration capability with the included On-Demand Calibrator. That lets an operator calibrate it anywhere in about 30 seconds. And it can calculate if a wood specimen is at the critical threshold where it has reached its equilibrium with the environment, and will no longer gain or lose moisture.


Orion 950 Smart Pinless Wood Moisture Meter with Temperature RH Kit




We stopped by the Vac-U-Clamp booth and chatted with the company president, Barney Rigney. He said he started the business about 30 years ago in a production furniture shop, and every now and then he'd have to build some tool that just wasn’t available. He eventually realized that it was a lot more fun building machines than case goods. In Barney's opinion a vacuum, properly applied, can be the most effective energy power source in any shop or factory. Today, he and his team produce a broad line of vacuum laminating and forming products that are used in industries other than woodworking, such as aircraft and custom yachts manufacturing, and signage.

Biesse Takes Robotics to the Next Level

Biesse says its Selco WN6 ROS (Robotically Operated System) is a technological solution with integrated robot for handling panels. It allows the job to be carried out in predefined times and always with the same quality standard. It's a robotised solution that can increase efficiency and production continuity, facilitating the daily work. ROS takes the place of the operator, handling the sectioned strips longitudinally, positioning them for cross sectioning, and sorting the finished pieces. The working cycle is executed in automatic mode until the entire machining batch is complete, even without an operator present. Idle times are drastically reduced, and the risk of damage to the material due to panel handling by the operator is practically null.


Biesse's WN6 ROS is a solution for robots handling panels


BHSW © 2003-2019