Review By Dean Bielanowski  Timbecon Website - http://www.timbecon.com.au


Torquata BJ-50 Power Tool Guide
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

If you need to make straight line cuts or dados in wide or long boards or sheet materials using hand-held power tools, chances are you will need a straight edge tool guide. These come in many types and sizes, from shop-made plywood guides costing next to nothing to commercial aluminum guides packed with features and costing many hundreds of dollars.

We have already reviewed a couple of power tool guides on this site:

Both of these tool guides offer different levels of features, and different price points. Some consider them to be expensive, but others value their features. So what is there on the cheaper end of the scale for those woodworkers who are looking for a basic tool guide that prefer to purchase one rather than build their own? Some of us simply prefer to work on projects rather than build shop jigs in our often limited shop time.

Straight edge guides like the Torquata BJ-50 (and similar guides) offer the woodworker a very inexpensive straight edge guide to use with their power tools.

The BJ-50 Edge Guide
These types of edge guides are basic in features and construction. The main body of the guide comprises of an anodized aluminum "rail" in which your power tool's base rides against to provide your tool with a straight reference edge to make a cut, similar to the fence on a table saw or router table. The length of the BJ-50 guide is 1270mm (50") although the same tool guide can also be purchased in shorter lengths at even cheaper prices - 914mm (36") and 600mm (24"). The rail is somewhat box construction, on three and a half edges at least, but the aluminum is rigid and does not flex easily once clamped into position. Under normal load pushing against the side of the rail with your power tool I didn't notice any noticeable flex along its length, and all my cuts seemed equal in length across the rail.

Underneath the aluminum rail you will find the clamping mechanism to clamp the rail to your workpiece to make cuts. Unlike some basic shop-made guides which require you to use F-clamps or similar to clamp the guide down, the BJ-50 guide has an "in-built" clamp on the underside which secures the clamp to the edges of your workpiece. It features one fixed clamp assembly on one side of the tool and a sliding clamp fixture on the other which can travel along the slide rod within the inner rail space to clamp at any distance within the guide's range (up to 1270mm - 50"). Clamping pressure is provided by a simple cam clamp and clutch 'discs' which hold the clamp very well. I have not had the clamp move during use at least, and no sign that it was ever going to. The clamp design allows it to quickly attach to any workpiece to make a square cut. No extra clamps are required, and there are no clamps on the top side of the rail to contend with or cause obstructions like you may have with basic shop-made guides. The disadvantage of this clamp system however is that it cannot clamp on angles, having the ability to only clamp approximately square to the rail fence. The clamps do not pivot themselves. Well perhaps by only a degree or two. But for the price you pay for this clamp (just A$35) you cannot expect total flexibility. However, you could always use F-clamps or similar and set the guide at an angle to make a cut and use it that way if you needed to, so I wouldn't call it a major issue as such. The clamps on the underside can also be used as a general clamp for holding items together for glue-up or to use as a third hand to hold something. It's not the ideal clamp to use for such a situation, but in the absence of any other clamps it will work reasonably well. It can only handle light pressure, so heavy duty clamping requirements are not ideal.

The rail, being a straight edge, is also useful as a long marking edge. You can draw straight lines across sheet materials or boards with it as well as any ruler - another handy use for the guide.

Using the 1270mm BJ-50 guide you can easily "cross-cut" full panel sheets across its four foot length, hence why I recommend grabbing the longer tool guides as opposed to the shorter ones. Unlike the other guides mentioned above (Veritas and EZ Smart) the BJ-50 and similar style guides are not modular and you cannot readily connect several together easily (at least they are not designed to be joined together) to make a longer rail. The BJ-50 can be used for any length up to the maximum 1270mm, so it is the most flexible, but also the 'bulkiest' to use. You might opt for a shorter version if you know you will never (or rarely) need to cut larger than the capacity of the guide itself.

Using the guide is simple. First, mark out your cut line, next you need to offset the rail by the distance between the fence and the actual edge cut line of your saw blade or router bit etc. Then slide the moving clamp underneath up to the edge of the board and use the cam clamp to lock the guide in place. Double check your fence placement and visually sight the line of the blade or cutter to double check it looks correct before you cut. Measure twice, cut once! Then, using the rail as your guide, start your power tool, whether it be a circular saw, router, jigsaw etc and start cutting, keeping the straight edge on the base of your power tool pushed firmly against the guide rail, hence making a straight cut. Once finished, just release the cam clamp and the guide rail and proceed to set up for the next cut. Pretty easy stuff. Perhaps the most time consuming step is to measure the offset of the rail in relation to the offset of the cutter on your power tool. Some other clamp systems like the EZ Smart are designed to eliminate this step, the guide being able to be secured right on the cut line, but as mentioned, you pay a lot more for these and other fancy features. If you only occasionally need to use a straight edge guide like this, its pretty easy to look past the limitations of these budget accessories. For around $35 they are a really handy addition to your shop, particularly if you need to cut down larger sheet materials before putting them on the table saw, or if you need to make straight cuts that are beyond the capacity to safely cut them on other machines in the shop.

The Torquata BJ-50 tool guide is an indispensable accessory if you do not own a table saw, if you regularly need to cut down larger materials, or if you just need to make straight cuts that are beyond the capacity or are not safe to cut on other machines. Well worth the money these items sell for. You could easily spend $35 or much more on some woodworking accessories that are no where near as useful as the BJ-50 tool guide. Good value for money.

 

Available to Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

In Australia




BJ-50 Power Tool Guide

Timbecon will also mail out to most parts of the world
if you cannot find these items locally.

 

In the USA
Note that models and specifications may differ.
These are similar items as those reviewed above, but may not exactly be the same.

 

Torquata BJ-50 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The fixed end of the clamp
 


The moveable end of the clamp features the cam lock clamp mechanism.
 


Open box-style rail construction and slide rod for the moveable end section.
 


The BJ-50 clamped to a plywood sheet.
 


Making a straight cut using the BJ-50 to guide the saw's base in a straight line.
 


These clamp guides are equally handy for use with a router or jigsaw.

 


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