Mar 192015
 
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Magswitch has come up with new saw guides, feather boards and hold down jigs.  I picked up a set at Highland and gave them a try.

The system is designed in a series of pieces beginning with a Universal Base.  The Base holds two very strong magnets which can be switched on and off by twisting a toggle on top of the magnet.  The magnets are rated at either 95 pounds or 150 pounds breakaway force and they are really strong.  You can attach various pieces to the Base and have either a Featherboard, a Roller Guide, a Resaw Guide, or a Thin Stock Jig and Rip Guide.

The Magswitch Products

The Magswitch Products

The system works by dropping the magnets into the base and attaching one of the elements.  By flipping the magnet switches and setting the Base on a metal surface,  the Base becomes essentially unmovable.

When I first saw the elements, I thought the various pieces were quickly and easily transferred to and from the Base.  That is not the case— they are attached with Phillips head screws and some are not easy to reach.  It turns out one way to make the system much easier to use is to have several Bases with elements attached and then swap the magnets from piece to piece.  As an alternative, one could buy several magnets and leave them permanently attached to different bases.

In use, the Featherboard works like a champ.  Once attached to the Base, and magnets transferred into place, it is a very simple matter to place and adjust the board.  If the Base needs to be moved, a quick twist of the knob on top of the magnet releases or sets the Base and you are on your way.

There are two Roller Guides available — one straight with two sets of bearings for the table saw and another made for resawing on the bandsaw, having one set of bearings in the center and the sides sloped away.  Both can be adjusted so the fence is vertical.

Band Saw Roller Guide

Band Saw Roller Guide

Funny thing, I cussed the Roller Guides pretty good because the magnets would not fit into the holes provided.  Took me longer than it should have to see the removable plastic bushings to adapt to the bigger/stronger magnets.

The Thin Stock Jig and Rip Guide is one of the odder pieces.  It is designed to hold down thin stock on the table saw using the same Base and magnets as in all of the other pieces.  The trick with this one is it has to be set at an angle so the edge is parallel to the fence.  There are several different thicknesses for ripping depending on which edge you face toward the fence.

IMG_1580If there is an issue with the Magswitch system, it is how best to configure the combination of Bases and magnets to fit your needs.  It is probably best to buy a Starter Kit, and then decide which unit is most important for you and how much trouble you are willing to stand to switch the magnets around.  Bases are about $19, but magnets are either $25 or $35 each and you need two for each Base.  Once you get set up, they work very well indeed.

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