Product review: the Magswitch

So, a few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Ralph Bagnall, the Consulting Woodworker, asking if I could review a set of tools. Hey, I’m always up for a challenge, so I said sure.

After a few days, I had forgotten all about the exchange. That’s when my wife called me at work to tell me that I had received a big box, and that I had to move it myself. It was heavy.

When I opened the box, I was stunned.  I had gotten a master set of the the Magswitch magnetic hold down jigs, and I was amazed at just how much came with it. My first impression was that this was the Swiss Army Knife of woodworking jigs.

The Magswitch system is based around a powerful magnet that you can switch on and off with the turn of a knob. Turn the knob to off, and you can pick the magnet up with little effort.  Turn it to on, and I can drag my table saw (while up on its casters) around the shop.Originally designed for the welding and metal working community, it was only a quick leap to apply the technology for woodworkers who routinely work with cast iron and steel tools.  While the magnets themselves are very useful, it’s the family of jigs that have been built around them that makes this system so flexible.

For those getting into the system to begin, you might want to go with the dual feather board. It has the two magnets built in to the fixture, and it can be easily deployed wherever it’s appropriate for your cut. Yes, you are free from being stuck with using the miter slot, so imagine using a feather board to help control a wide piece on your table saw top.

For the rest of the fixtures, you will be using the standard universal base. This plastic yellow device holds the two Magswitch units, and each of the specialized fixtures is then screwed to the base.  And, what a selection of specialized fixtures.  There are feather boards.  And risers that allow you to stack two feather boards on top of each other for controlling tall pieces or for holding work down and in to the fence.  There is a thin strip ripping jig so you can rip consistent thin strips at your table saw on the outside of the blade, not against the rip fence, which could burn the cut pieces or throw them back at you.  There are high roller hold ins. There are resaw fences you can use on your band saw.  It’s very impressive stuff.

Of course, you may have realized the one weakness of the kit… if you have an aluminum topped table saw or a non-ferrous router table, you are out of luck. As I was thinking this was the case, I got another package… the Universal Track tool.  This heavy duty aluminum fence is lined on both sides with with hardware holding tracks so you can use the attachments in different locations.  Pretty slick. Just use the included hardware, slide the bolt heads into the beefy tracks and blammo – extra use.

The one thing I would strongly recommend is picking up a box to store the system parts in, and maybe invest in a box of gallon-sized freezer bags to store each accessory and its related hardware in when you aren’t using them.  There are a lot of screws, allen wrenches and other goodies you will have to keep track of – this will help keep the parts together. Also, I know no one likes to keep users manuals, but I would definitely hold on to the individual instruction sheets that come with the attachments.  There truly is a bewildering array of uses for these tools, and you’ll want to refresh your memory as to how they work before you put them to use.

It’s a very interesting system for sure, and if it helps me work safer and more accurately, well, that’s a double bonus!

Magswitch jigs can also be found at many woodworking stores.

6 thoughts on “Product review: the Magswitch”

  1. Hi

    I have the standard mag switch feather board, I got it when I got my table saw. I use it for just about every rip and i absolutely love it.

  2. I have the double feather board only mine is black instead of yellow.
    I use it quite often on my table saw. I didn’t know about all the other items, thanks for keeping me updated on what’s new.


  3. I LOVE these products. I don’t have the magswitches yet, but I have the Grrripper, which I believe is the same company. Great woodworking products that make what we do much safer!!

  4. Thanks Tom! I use the Magswitch feather boards for my table saw and the double one for my jointer. I use them for most cuts where it’s possible to use a featherboard, because they’re so quick to use (no T-bolts and ratcheting knobs to mess with). They don’t move at all even with quite a bit of force.

    I really like safety devices that are convenient because I tend to use them, and these increase my cut accuracy because they hold the stock tight to my fence and tight to the table.

    I didn’t know they made all these accessories. Also, I have plans to use the individual Magswitch devices to make my own jigs.

  5. When the aluminum fence is attached to the universal base (2 different ways) the aluminum fence is not perpendicular to the metal surface–it leans slightly back towards the base. Reversing the base and using the L-shaped plastic brackets with metal washers under them gets closer to making the fence perpendicular to the table top though still not perfect. As long as its not critical that the fence be perpendicular to the table surface it has a lot of possible uses–drill press, spindle sander, band saw, etc.

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