Planet of the apps

I’ve been taking my iPad into the shop to stream Internet music. Since I now regularly have a computer in the shop, I’ve been looking around for some woodworking apps that might be useful.

A quick search of “wood” in the App Store turns up 533 results. Many have nothing to do with woodworking (several are about a loud avian cartoon, a character on “Cheers,” and some golfer), but the rest are interesting. Several are children-oriented and involve games like puzzles and blocks with wooden pieces and, while cute for those with kids, don’t involve the shop. But among the ones that do are some real gems.

Most all of the woodworking magazines have apps now. However, unless you also have a subscription to the publication they can be limited. Still, several of them offer some free back issues. Found one with one of my articles. Sweet.

For shop utilities, try “Wood Explorer,” which has more information on wood species than you could imagine. The free version comes with 10 species, but you can add 25 more of your choice for 99 cents; the premium version goes for 10 bucks and includes a veritable forest of 1,648 wood species. There are several other species apps, but this is the one I recommend.

“The Woodshop Widget” is a $3.99 app loaded with shop utilities like wood movement calculator, species comparison (288 species included), decimal/fraction conversion, board foot calculator with pricing, and more. Speaking of calculating, if you look around you’ll find hundreds of other apps to calculate just about any project, from decks to staircases, cut lists to moisture content.

Many of your favorite manufacturers, suppliers and organizations also have apps, almost all of which are free. DeWalt, Milwaukee, Osborne Wood Products, APA – The Engineered Wood Association, Trex, Stanley, and many more are there. This past summer, you could even download a comprehensive interactive guide app for IWF Atlanta that included floor maps, vender booths and the full show schedule of panels and discussions.

And for a ridiculous bit of macabre fun, try “Finger Cut,” a free app that does only one thing – it displays a spinning saw blade with full sound effects. You can probably guess from the title what you’re supposed to do with the spinning blade. The novelty wears off very quickly, but it might be just the thing to entertain [SawStop inventor] Steve Gass if he ever drops by the shop.

A.J.

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