October 25, 2010

Rockwell JawStand - Review

Rockwell_jawstand.jpgWe're total junkies for the Rockwell JawHorse. In the past couple years it's become the single tool that we use all the time for everything. Since we first got hooked, it's been on every gift guide that we've put together and we don't see any reason why it won't be on every one we do from here on out. Essentially, we're not going to let up until every house in the country has one.

So it's no surprise that we got all numb in the head when we heard that Rockwell was releasing another clamping stand, this one smaller and more compact than the JawHorse. From the looks of it, we took the JawStand as a calmer, gentler brother to the larger tool; a version of the JawHorse that you'd introduce to your parents, as opposed to having it sit out in the car with the engine running. Rockwell agreed to send us one to check out and for almost two months, we've been using it (a lot). It's pretty cool, but....

Rockwell_jawstand_outfeed.jpg Rockwell_jawstand_outfeed2.jpg

To begin describing the tool, let's start with the fact that it has the functionality of an outfeed stand (a support for long boards hanging off a miter saw or coming out of a table saw). The head can be raised and lowered and it's topped with a smooth plastic, which allows wood to glide over it with little resistance. Where the JawStand goes beyond the outfeed stand is that the head has a clamp in it and can also pivot over so the clamp is aligned with the vertical (so you can theoretically clamp and hold a door in the upright position, more on that later).

Rockwell_jawstand_legs.jpgRounding out the basics, the JawStand has tripod legs and the whole thing can be folded up into a fairly compact unit. It weighs a little over 13 lbs.

As an outfeed table, it's a real champ. The vertical adjustment is smooth and done with the same style of chunky knob found on the JawHorse and we found the tri-pod legs to be very sturdy. Because the ground that the saw is on and the ground that the outfeed are on isn't always in the same plane, it was nice to have some adjustment with the head of the JawStand. We liked the plastic-topped glides are happy to never again use the outfeed stands with the roller ball heads which we never had much luck with.

But unlike the JawHorse, this tool has a couple issues, both having to do with the clamp...

First, the clamp itself is a little skimpy (and what we really mean to say here is, 'very skimpy'). From the initial pictures, we thought that the clamp would extend the entire 15" length of the head, but it doesn't. The clamp is actually only 1-1/2" long.

Rockwell_jawstand_clamp_knob.jpg Rockwell_jawstand_clamp_knob2.jpg

So the size of it is kind of a bummer, but it's the adjustment of it that is beyond frustrating. Maybe we've been spoiled by the foot clamping JawHorse, but we like our clamping done fast, usually because we're holding something heavy in the other hand. The JawStand clamp is controlled by a twist knob located under the lip of the smooth outfeed head piece. The actual clamp is connected to the knob by a threaded rod, which results in one full twist of the knob moving the clamp a mere cat's whisker forward. In order to close the jaw from 1-1/2" down to 3/4" (a common task) you need to turn the knob 19 and a half times. In addition, the knob is tucked under the lip of the outfeed surface, so it's difficult to get to. We wish that they had added some kind of quick adjust similar to a pipe clamp or something, so we didn't have to spend so much time turning the wheel in order to tighten the thing or maybe even some kind of flip-out handle to make it easier to turn.

Rockwell_jawstand_w_door.jpgIt's these facts which makes the whole 'let's go hang a door' thing difficult. The tiny little clamp doesn't really grasp the door too well (particularly a solid door) and in order to work on the hinges, you have to get the door at the exact right height and angle first, which is tough, particularly when you're very slowly closing the clamp with one hand.

Still, even with these problems, the JawStand should have no difficulty paying for itself. Like the JawHorse it's an item that fills in the cracks and if you have it, you'll make use of it and it will save you a lot of time. For example, we had to rip a sheet of 3/4" plywood in half and didn't have a table saw or sawhorses handy. So we put a scrap 2x4 on the waist high lumber pile, put a scrap 2x6 in the JawStand (so it stuck out higher than the stand) and made the cut with no problem. The process took us a couple minutes.

So our general consensus is that while the JawStand is not perfect, it's useful. It's also not sold at a 'needs to be perfect' price. So for around $60 you can get yourself a very functional outfeed stand that has a lot of flexibility as an all around stand and a teeny-weeny clamp.

At Amazon.com

Read More in: All Reviews | Benches, Stands, and Storage

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at October 25, 2010 5:45 AM
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