Play video
ToolQuest founder Dennis Pugh

I invented the WoodAnchor™ system because no other fixturing method met my needs.

 

Existing solutions for adjustable woodworking fixtures all leave something to be desired.  Metal T-track is expensive, it’s tedious to install, and the mounting screws can pull out under heavy loads.  Through-slots are a hassle to make, and they can weaken fixtures.  Wooden T-slots are too easily damaged by the small heads of conventional fasteners.  And dovetail nuts, with their steep wedge shape, can jam and distort fixtures under even modest clamping forces.

Backstory

The seeds of ToolQuest were sown a few years ago, when I needed several T-slots in a sacrificial worktop for my track saw.  Metal T-track wasn’t suitable, as the saw would cut it up in short order.  So I decided to create sliding nuts that were optimized for wood-based materials.  My first design ran in extra-wide T-slots, milled with a standard slot-cutting router bit.  Plenty of clamping-surface area on the sliding nuts reduced the pressure on the T-slot material to safe levels.  My 3D-printed prototype sliding nuts weren’t especially strong, but they were good enough for that first application.

Once I had the sliding nuts in my fixturing arsenal, new applications for them started popping up on almost every woodworking project.  I soon realized that this type of fastener could solve problems for many of my fellow woodworkers, and I resolved to take them to market.

As it happens, I’m an engineer and product-development manager by profession, and also a life-long entrepreneur with start-up company experience.  Founding ToolQuest was the perfect opportunity to combine my product-development expertise with my passion for woodworking.  So early in 2018, I began working full time on launching the company.

Product development

Redesigning the sliding nuts to be both rugged and affordable was the single biggest engineering challenge.  With the contoured ends necessary for smooth sliding, machining them from solid metal would be too expensive.  Injection molding looked like a better option.  With technical advice from a good injection-molding partner, some geometry changes, the selection of a high-end glass-reinforced thermoplastic, and the addition of brass threaded inserts, we ultimately were able to hit both our strength and our cost targets.

As luck would have it, the proprietary geometry of the redesigned WoodAnchor sliding nut also led to a higher-strength profile for the mating fixturing slot.  ToolQuest partnered with the Whiteside Machine Company to manufacture premium router bits for milling the fixturing slots, and they work beautifully.  Even minimum-depth slots are amazing strong, with ultimate strengths of well over 1000 pounds when milled in suitable fixture materials.

A WoodAnchor sliding nut in a fixturing slot

Early in 2020, ToolQuest invested in pilot-production runs of both the sliding nut and the fixturing-slot router bit.  The hardware met or exceeded all performance targets during fully instrumented destruction testing.  Several volunteer Beta testers then put it to the test in the real world, and it worked flawlessly.  Those Beta tests soon morphed into creative fixture-design projects, which have been fun for us all.  You can see a few of the Beta designs in the intro video and in the Applications section of this website, and we’ll be sharing more of them in the future.

Business model

As ToolQuest grows, we’ll continue to develop new tools for you, our fellow woodworkers, to make our craft easier, safer, and more enjoyable.  Innovative design is our core competency, and we strive to provide user documentation that is second to none.

ToolQuest uses highly qualified American companies for component manufacturing.  We perform light assembly and packaging in-house, right here in Ohio.

For the extra exposure and excitement that it can bring to a new product, we’re launching the WoodAnchor product line on Kickstarter.com.  After the Kickstarter campaign, we’ll go live right here as a full ecommerce site, and you’ll be able to order directly from ToolQuest.  We also plan to offer much of our product line on Amazon.

Acknowledgements

In closing, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to my collaborators in this venture, each of whom helped make it possible:

  • To ToolQuest’s manufacturing partners, for sharing their technical expertise, as well as their production capabilities.
  • To our Beta testers, for their reviews and insightful feedback on WoodAnchor documentation, as well as their extensive product testing.
  • To my brother, for his business insight and investment.
  • And most importantly, to my wife, for her unwavering love and support during this journey.
I greatly look forward to working with you, my fellow woodworkers.

 

ToolQuest founder Dennis Pugh