Review By Dean Bielanowski  Veritas Website - http://www.leevalley.com

Veritas® Power Tool Guide

Veritas Power Tool Guide
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

 

Who would have ever thought a straight bit of material could be so useful? Of course, straight, square material is the cornerstone of accurate and precise wood joinery, but straight lengths of wood and metal are also commonly used as jigs for a variety of woodworking tasks. When used as a jig, these straight lengths are commonly called "straight edges" or "straight edge guides" and their most common use is a guide rail for power tools like circular saws and routers.

Many manufacturers produce their own version of straight edge guides for power tools but today we will take a look at the Veritas Power Tool Guide to see how well it works in the shop environment.

Construction
The Veritas power tool guide is made of the same material that many of their other jigs are constructed of, and this is hardened anodized aluminum. It is certainly a solid material that doesn't flex terribly easily and is a very suitable material for such a guide. The usual brass knob fittings are also found in this set. I just love the brass color adorning the anodized black aluminum :)

Knock Down Tool Guide?
Unlike other tool guides on the market which you have to buy in a set size and cannot modify that size, the Veritas model can be purchased in either a 52" length (US$64.00) or a 100" length (US$108.00). The 100" length is derived from one 52" and one 48" length. This means that if you first buy the 52" guide and then discover you need something longer later on, you can purchase the 48" length and fittings and join it to the 52" length to get your new 100" long power tool guide. If you buy the 100" guide first time, then you an split it down into the smaller sizes mentioned above to suit the task at hand. This provides more options and easier portability.

Accessories

Capacity Clamps
While you can clamp your tool guide down in the traditional sense with g-clamps, f-clamps or even spring clamps, accessories are available to clamp the tool guide down to your workpiece. These clamps are available as 1" capacity clamps or 2" capacity clamps (you get a set of 1" clamps free if you buy the 100" tool guide set). These clamps ride in a dovetailed channel underneath the tool guide and can be moved up and down the clamp as needed to position them on the ends of your workpiece. It is then a matter of simply using the handscrew knobs to clamp the guide to your workpiece. If you are working with material greater than 1" in thickness then 2" capacity clamps are available for US$26.50 per pair.

48" Extension
If you buy the 48" extension separately (US$52.00), then this components ships with fitted steel dovetailed bars that slot perfectly into the underside channels of the large 52" length. This aligns the two straight edge guide lengths so they are flush with each other and the straight edge is maintained across the length. Once the 'dovetailed' joint is made, small brass knobs are screwed in to hold it in place. These small knobs do sit proud of the surface of the guide but are not generally in the way of your tools as you pass over them, particularly if your saw blade is raised by even just a small margin. This may depend on particular saw models and depth of cut you require of course. We had no problems at all, but it is worth mentioning.

12" Traveller
This is an optional extra that not every straight edge guide product features. On each side of the power tool guide are small U-shaped channels. These run the entire length of the guide. They are designed so the 12" traveller (which is simply a formed 12" anodized bar in a reversed U-shape configuration looking end on) can ride in this channel to act as somewhat of a guiding system if you are not confident in keeping your tool hard up against the guide rail, or your tool is designed to make this task a little difficult. The 12" traveller bar is predrilled for setting screws. This is so you can attach it to a piece of 1/4" ply or other suitable material which is then attached to your saw, router or other suitable machine. It provides a good way to improve accuracy, however there is a tiny amount of "play" with the traveller sitting in the slot. It could possibly reduce accuracy if you are trying to make precision cuts with a router, but for general rough cutting down of large panels etc, it is perfectly suitable. This play may also allow a smooth travel of the traveller. If it was too tight, then it may be more difficult to slide along the guide? For US$9.95 it is a worthy accessory for the power tool guide.

Saw Guide Position Stops
This is another useful accessory which can be positioned anywhere along the length of the guide. They simply provide a stop for your power tool to touch against to prevent you cutting past your intended markings. Very useful for cutting stopped dados or rabbets and no need to stick your face up close to the saw/router etc and increase risk of injury for the sake of sighting your stop-cut marks.

Using the Veritas Power Tool Guide
We picked up the 100" model for maximum versatility around the shop with all the accessories. Admittedly this set up does cost a fair bit more than other straight edge guides on the market, but it does offer more adaptability, durability and features than many others, and you just can't pay enough for outstanding customer service and quality that the Veritas name and the company behind them (Lee Valley) offer. In fact, the company was kind enough to send me a letter weeks after I received the product alerting me to a possible small problem with some of the capacity clamps and offered straightforward advice on how to correct it. My clamps did in fact have the problem mentioned, and it was easily fixed with a screwdriver. It simply involved moving the rubber washer from one end of the capacity clamp to the other. It took about 10 seconds each and no new parts or modifications to existing parts needed. Great service!

Your average power tool guide has no moving parts, no complex manuals and not much can go wrong! So pulling out a large sheet of MDF I needed to cut down to manageable sizes before attacking it with the tablesaw, I went about marking out my distances and setting the power tool guide onto the ply sheet. Line up the marks with the clamp (making sure I had measured the offset distance from blade to edge of saw plate of course) and slide the tool guide clamps under to each edge of the board and clamp them down. Simple enough. Then making sure the MDF is adequately supported right across the length, start up the saw, make sure the saw's base plate rides against the power tool guide edge all the way through the cut and you will have a nice straight and accurate cut front to back. We had no trouble sliding the saw along the guide. There is very little noticeable friction on the guide during the cut.

I don't feel the need to make a plywood/MDF plate for my saw, but for the router I thought it would be a good idea. So I cut out a basic plate to screw onto the router which has one straight edge so I can attach in to the 12" traveller squarely. You simply screw the traveller to the base plate with 4 screws and the job is done. I used 1/4" MDF for the task as you might see in the photo to the right. I now have a 'sliding' router assembly to use in the power tool guide's slot. This will ensure accurate routing as long as I keep the traveller riding on one edge of the slot (because of the small difference between the traveller bar and slot width) and definitely makes moving the router much easier using this method than freely guiding it.

Overall Impression?
If you have the extra money to invest in a good power tool staight edge guide, then the Veritas offering is certainly worthy of consideration. The manufacturing is spot on and the learning curve for use is virtually non-existant. In fact, there was no need to consult the manual for instructions on how to assemble or use the guide (these instructions are included of course, but do read any safety instructions before you go ahead and use the product. The clamping knobs can be adjusted with great speed and ease and the additional accessories like the traveller and position stops add extra value and versatility to the base product.

You can often tell if a product is of high quality because it works first time, every time and produces results no less than you would hope for. I am happy to report that the Veritas Power Tool Guide is such a product and I highly recommend it to you, my fellow woodworkers.

Available to Order Online through these companies...
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Veritas Power Tool Guide Photos
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Basic components of the Veritas Power Tool Guide + the 12" traveller shown on the left.


The 48" extension joins to the 52" guide by way of dovetail slots for an accurate and flush fit. Note picture does not show final fit of the two guides so you get a few of the dovetailed metal alignment bars underneath.


Available in either 1" or 2" capacities, the clamps also feature a slotted dovetail fit and can slide along the bottom of the rail to quickly clamp the power tool guide to any workpiece. I have turned the workpiece upside down in this picture so you can see the clamp in use. Once tightened down, the power tool guide certainly isn't going anywhere in a hurry!


Using the guide to cut an accurate, straight line with the circular saw. Works great and no obstructions to get in the way of the motor on the way through.


Here I have made a sub-plate for the traveller out of 1/4" MDF for my router. This is attached to the traveller which rides in the power tool guide slot for accurate and precise routing operations. A nice addition not found on many other straight edge guides.


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