The Power8: A Workshop in a Suitcase
The store loaned me a Power8 Workshop to take home and see if I could make it dance. I was skeptical since these all-in-one cutesy things have come and mostly gone for years. Having only seen the brochure, I placed it on that great continuum of woodworking tools somewhere just north of the deluxe Xacto knife set (the one with the saw blade included) and just south of the Shop Smith Mark 5. I took it home, watched the video and plugged it up so it could charge itself and waited, all the time thinking Easy-Bake Oven.
Well, here's the verdict. If you ask the right question, this thing is the answer. First of all, I started out by asking the wrong question. Am I going to use this instead of my Delta Unisaw? Not if I am in my shop. Would I use it instead of my band saw to cut a curve in 8/4 cherry? Not if I can help it. But if I have to repair the upstairs bath cabinet in my rental house, then I will put this thing over my shoulder and save three trips back to the shop.
When I was in the store to pick this up last week, we had a good discussion about who would buy this thing. I never felt I had a clear answer until I got it home and started thinking outside the box (so to speak). (It's all in one box, don't you see?)
If you approach it from the standpoint of one of those kits of portable tools you might see on sale at the big box store around Father's Day and Christmas, then it makes a huge amount of sense. The total price is right in line with the name brands for a kit that includes a cordless jig saw, circular saw, drill driver, and flashlight, all running on an 18 volt battery.
And then on top of that (and beyond any of the other kits), you can turn the drill driver into a drill press, the circular saw into a table saw, the jigsaw into a scroll saw and the flashlight into a table light, and you can see where this is going. If I want to get a set of portable tools, then why not add the table saw/scroll saw/drill press/table light functions on top of it for no additional charge?
If you are a handy-person with limited funds, live in an apartment or small house with little space and big dreams, or a student starting out in woodworking, or a modelmaker, then this would make an excellent tool system for you. And say if you have a cabin at the lake or in the mountains, or work on boats, or go traveling in a motor home, or handle other folks' home repairs out of the back of your truck, well, you get the idea.
It's versatile, it's very compact, and it's highly portable, and there are really cool functions built into this box. A large canvas tool bag containing all the basic tools stores in a sturdy steel-reinforced padded case with a total weight of about 30 pounds.
Take the soft bag out of the box and plug the battery/handle into the corner of the table where it powers any of the tools mounted on the table. If you purchase an extra battery/handle (for $49.99), you can plug the second battery into an alternate extension on the back corner of the table so it will charge while you use the table.
Changing tools is a snap – lift the table top, pull back one slide, pop in the tool, plug it up inside and you're ready to go. I timed myself changing from the table saw to the jig saw and it took me 29.2 seconds.
The saw fence is the post for the drill press, a saw fence, a carpenter's level, a post for the light, an iPod speaker system, (well, maybe not) and it stores out of sight on the bottom of the box when not in use. The miter gauge doubles as a protractor, there is a plastic shield for the scroll saw that fits onto the post, there is a plastic blade guard for the table saw in addition to the retractable blade guard for the circular saw, the push stick for the saw is also the handle for the drill press – it just goes on and on.
Oh yes, there are two plastic storage boxes full of drill bits, nut drivers and jig saw blades and they snap neatly into the back of the hard case. I love the way this thing fits together.
So, do you need versatility? Compactness? Portability? Affordability?
And hey, Father's Day is just around the corner.