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The Smart Protractor- 109 Tools

Not too long ago I was given the Smart Protractor/Carpenter Tools by 109 Tools. It came in two different sizes, small and large. Right away I could tell that the aluminum and laser-etched number scales were of great quality. At that time I decided to give the larger one, to my good friend Dennis Laney, and see what his thoughts and impressions were. Dennis has been a high-caliber woodworker for almost 70 years. At a young age, he was taught the craft of woodworking by his grandfather. Dennis has been a furniture maker and trim carpenter professionally and continues to design and build furniture in his retirement years. The following are his thoughts on the 109 Smart Protractor.

Thoughts on the Smart Protractor/Carpenter Tool  offered by 109 Tools- by Dennis Laney

First, before anything else, let me say that this layout tool is extremely well-made.  Scales show standard cutting angles, compound angles, flat cut angles as well as scales that allow the tool to be used as a layout protractor.  The tool offers 10” scales and 25 cm scales as well.  The clutch knob holds the “leaves” securely.  The etching is deep, readable, and very accurate.  There is even a sample of miter cutting to create polygons (a very nice, useful touch).  To top it all off, the tool comes in a leather protective sleeve.

As with most things in life, there are little “tweaks” that the individual user might like to see incorporated.  The only “caution” that I would raise about the tool itself is that both leaves have a bevel on one side.  When using the tool for drawing angles, one should be aware of the “offset” being created by the bevel between the drawing surface and the lower leaf.  The only other “improvement” I might suggest would be some type of clear plastic pocket on the leather sleeve to hold instructions.  Any paperwork that might be stored in the sleeve itself could become very difficult to remove if it was inadvertently pushed too deeply into the sleeve.  

I would love to see what this manufacturer would do with the production of a sector.  Many small operations have tried to produce high-quality sectors.  But to the best of my knowledge, no one has been able to produce a good quality sector at a reasonable price point.  109 Tools / Innovation would need only to work up the necessary scales and etching programs in order to bring a first-class sector to the market.  Sign me up for one! 4/22/24 Dennis Laney

If you aren’t familiar with what a “Sector” is I will cover that in a future blog. But I have to agree with everything Dennis said. There is so much information on this protractor that is incredibly useful. For years I have used just a bevel and standard protractor to find my angles. But then when I go to the miter saw I have to do some math conversions because the miter saw number scale is set up differently than the standard protractor number scale. But the 109 Smart Protractor has this math conversion already set up on it. Now I can take the number directly off of the Smart Protractor, set my saw, and make the cut. Quick, fast, and easy. 

Dennis had mentioned the etchings are “very deep’. This is so important for a high-quality tool. I have a Starrett ProSite angle finder that I have had for probably over 15 years. And it has done a decent job, however, the number scale is just a sticker. If that sticker gets scratched or torn it just becomes a useless piece of aluminum. I have to keep it wrapped with a towel to help prevent damage. With the 109 tool that will never be a problem.

I also appreciate that the Smart Protractor isn’t digital. Yes, it’s true that a digital window is big and easier to read, but it never seems to fail that when I need to use something digital the battery dies and I don’t have a spare. This again, is never the problem with the 109 Tool.

As much of a fan I am of this tool I would like to mention one note of concern. This point is not directed to the Smart Protractor but to any angle-measuring device with a number scale. Regardless of the angle given to you on your measuring device, it is extremely important that your saw is set up and dialed into to correct settings. If your saw is off a half of a degree your cuts will never be perfect regardless of any brand angle finder.

Having good quality tools that help you hone your skills will not only produce better pieces of furniture but will increase the odds of getting more clients. I think Benjamin Franklin said it best, “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”

If you are interested in purchasing your own 109 Smart Protractor, you can click here.

Chad Stanton- Owner of Stanton Fine Furniture 5-25-24

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