Lee Valley Tools comes up with a lot of thoughtful designs, and its Veritas brand Skew Block Plane ($189) is no exception. Cutting with any blade at a diagonal effectively lowers the angle of attack and results in more of a slicing cut than a straight-on chisel cut. So the 15-degree skew of this block plane's iron helps it sever wood fibers more cleanly – especially end grain. The plane is made in both left and right skew versions so you can always plane with the grain. Since its iron goes all the way to the edge, the tool can be used for rabbetting, and it comes with a removable fence and a scoring "nicker" for cutting rabbets. The Log Builder's Slick is a brand-new "modern classic" tool from the company's Chestnut Tools brand. This 3-3/8-inch-wide chisel is for paring log or timber-frame joints down to their final dimensions. Its long, flat blade and chest-pushing knob are designed for maximum control. Another gotta-have tool for careful layout work in the shop is the Japanese Square, which has a flexible body that can be bowed down to make contact along the edge of your workpiece. As the tool is bowed, the knife-edge ruler surface sits tight across your board for accurate markings with no parallax error. 800-871-8158,

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