JET Tools Targeting a Younger Audience

I had an opportunity recently to visit with JET/Powermatic in Nashville, Tennessee. They introduced a few new tools: Powermatic PM1000 Table SawJET 14″ Steel Frame Band Saw, and soon to come, a 10″ low-speed bench grinder and a couple of new midi lathes.

But what was most interesting was a chat I had with their engineer, Barry. He said that from a design perspective, they’re really paying attention to details and a potential buyer’s first impressions. He reiterated what others in the product design industry have noted: Your decision to buy or not to buy a product is really made within the first few seconds of seeing it.

JET tools are made overseas in Taiwan. Most manufacturers are content to paint the castings their company color right out of the foundry and call it “done.” JET is raising the bar by really paying attention to detail and aesthetics of their products. For example, he said that by simply spending $5 more for a quality metal knob instead of a cheap plastic knob can increase the perceived value of a tool by $100. That’s pretty impressive.

They’re also looking at the overall design and visual appeal of the tools in addition to their function and features. The 14″ band saw pictured here is one example. There are no exposed fasteners as you look at the front of the saw. The doors have pleasing curves rather than the bland square features of other saws. They’re little things but I have to agree that they leave a positive impression of the quality of the tool.

And JET isn’t forgetting about how well the tool works and functions. They’re paying attention to details that make a difference in how the tool performs. One striking example is as simple as the location of the dust ports on the new band saw. They’re located to catch the majority of sawdust before gumming up the tires on the wheels.

Finally, I learned that JET will be targeting a younger audience with its upbeat advertisements. They’re also tweaking the design of the JET logo and will be experimenting with the trademark white paint color. All in all, JET/Powermatic is investing heavily in the woodworking market and I’m very interested to see how they revamp their product lines in the coming months and years.


SketchUp on Windows 8 Tablet

SketchUp on Windows 8 Tablet
Sketchup on an Acer 8″ Windows 8 Tablet

I recently had the opportunity to try using SketchUp on an Acer Iconia 8″ Tablet. You can install standard Windows applications on this tablet. What you see on the left is screen capture on the tablet of a SketchUp model I downloaded from ShopNotes magazine. The user interface in SketchUp was designed for use with a mouse so I was curious to see how it behaved on the Windows 8 tablet interface.

I was disappointed to find out that SketchUp ignores the Windows 8 tablet right-click function (press and hold). Since the use of context menus via right-clicking is critical for efficient SketchUp use, you’re pretty much limited to the native, default tool functions. I also discovered that using my large fingers for drawing functions was pretty frustrating. So I switched to using a capacitive stylus which gave me much more control of precise cursor movement. But I still wasn’t able to access the context menus normally available by right-clicking.

I quickly learned that to be as productive on the tablet as I am on my laptop or desktop PC, I need to use a mouse. Since I didn’t have a bluetooth mouse, a USB mouse worked great. (You’ll need an adapter to convert from the micro USB port on the tablet to a standard USB port.) I felt more at home using the mouse.

But there was still the issue of using the keyboard for input into the Value Control Box. Using the popup Windows 8 keyboard didn’t seem to work for me. Fortunately, Acer makes a bluetooth keyboard that also serves as a stand for the tablet. It’s a $60 option, but if you want to do any serious typing while sitting at a coffee shop or at home, it’s the way to go. With the keyboard connected, entering values was a cinch. The setup I use for serious SketchUp modeling while on the go is shown in the right photo.

Hardware setup for using SketchUp on a tablet
Hardware setup for using SketchUp on a tablet

There was one other annoying thing I noticed when using SketchUp on the tablet. When drawing objects, it leaves ghost images trailing the mouse movement. As soon as you change views by zooming or orbiting, the artifacts disappear, but they can still be a little bothersome.

Overall, I was thrilled to have an option for using SketchUp on the road. It’s great for showing clients your and their design ideas in real time. Or if you’re just killing time at the local coffee shop, it’s a great way to “sketch up” some new designs of your own.