Lie-Nielsen 2014 Open House dispatch

When I was first invited to make the trip to the 2014 Lie-Nielsen Open House, I could not believe my good fortune. I had no idea what to expect, but after talking with several friends about it, knew that I was in for a treat. I was not prepared, however, for just how lucky I was, and how special it would be.

For two days last week, Warren, ME felt like the center of the woodworking universe. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but the attendees, demonstrators, weather, food, and a common and binding interest did all coalesce to create an unforgettable event.

The mood was set when I pulled into the LN headquarters, several red and white buildings amongst the green Maine woods. I set up in their classroom, a delightfully timeless room with vaulted ceilings and large expanses of windows that admitted copious natural (and very dramatic) light, and spent the next two days taking in the highlights. There were so many of these that I could not possibly relate them all. These are but a few.

  • Meeting a few of my customers and readers. It’s easy to wonder if anyone reads what I write, and so it never fails to surprise me when someone introduces themself and says “I read your …” Putting faces to names is always good, though I am not sure my readers share that sentiment.
  • Meeting Frank Strazza. His work is amazingly precise, and he makes it look easy. If I ever make it to Texas, Heritage School of Woodworking is on my short list of places to visit.
  • Watching Deneb Puchalski and Roger Benton (of ReCo Lumber) put on an impromptu dovetail demonstration. There is a video out there of this, and as soon as it is shared I will post it here.
  • Using one of my Roubo frame saws to resaw a small piece of wood with Christian Becksvoort.
  • Talking to Megan Fitzpatick again (my daughter is insanely jealous, as Megan is one of her heroes), and meeting Matt Kenney for the first time. It is obvious that both of them care deeply about the craft and their respective magazines.
  • Meeting and talking with the Lie-Nielsen staff. Simply a great group of people.
  • Peter Follansbee’s short presentation at the lobster bake. To call it captivating is an understatement.

In my rush to get on the road, I left my camera at home. I will not try your patience with my cell phone pictures, as there are many good pictures up on LN’s Facebook page, as well as the short video below (from the LN YouTube channel).

Thanks again to everyone who showed up to make this a memorable event, and especially to the Lie-Nielsen staff for all of their hard work in making it happen.

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Headed to Maine in a few days

Years ago, I took a pleasurable jaunt up the coast of Maine. Circumstances, regrettably, did not permit visiting the Lie-Nielsen headquarters, a site I have long wanted to tour. Although I had hope of making it back someday, little did I know that my first visit would be as an exhibitor at their Open House.

In a few short days, my car will be packed and pointed to the Northeast for two days of tools, salt air, lobster bakes, woodworking, and more. In the meantime, there is a lot of prep work to do.

Lie-Nielsen Summer Open House

Friday & Saturday, July 11-12

9:00 – 5:00 (both days)

264 Stirling Road, Warren, ME 04864

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Dovetail and carcase saw in Gabon ebony

These are the last two saws to leave my bench. They are a matched set, with handles made from Gabon ebony supplied by the customer. The first is a ten inch dovetail saw, the second a twelve inch carcase saw. As I worked on them, I fell in love with the wood. Its density, coolness, color, and crispness made it a joy to work. I held onto them as long as I could, but eventually had to send them to their new home.

On both saws, the only finish is carnauba wax, applied with a cloth wheel on a drill press. This was perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of the job – a moment of inattention could well have led to the handle being torn out of my hands, ruining hours of work.

 

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Twelve inch carcase saw, Gabon ebony, bronze back and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail and twelve inch carcase saw, matched set in Gabon ebony and bronze backs and bolts.

Ten inch dovetail and twelve inch carcase saw, matched set in Gabon ebony and bronze backs and bolts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events®

I had the good luck of being invited to set up at Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events®. I will be at two of them in the next several weeks. As much work as these shows are to do, I always enjoy getting out to talk tools and woodworking.

My first Hand Tool Event® will be at Peters Valley Craft Lumber in Layton, NJ on Saturday, April 26. While the fulle show is scheduled for both Friday and Saturday, previous committments allow me to be there on Saturday only. Full details for this event are posted on the Lie-Nielsen website.

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Layton, NJ

Friday & Saturday, April 25-26

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

Peters Valley Craft Center

19 Kuhn Road, Layton, NJ 07851

 

The second Hand Tool Event® will be held at Exotic Lumber in Frederick, MD on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3. I will be set up there on both days. Full details for this event are posted on the Lie-Nielsen website.

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Frederick, MD

Friday & Saturday, May 2-3

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

Exotic Lumber, Inc.

329 E. 2nd St., Frederick, MD 21701

 

Remember, the admission to these events is free, and you will have a chance to play with a lot of beautiful tools, as well as talk to other people who share your passion for them. Hope to see a few of you there!

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Rose Tools scanned catalog archive added to Articles

Rose Tools put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into scanning a number of catalogs over the years. While the original website hosting this resource has been taken down, Rose Tools has given permission to host them on the Articles page of my website (and elsewhere). Donna Rose Allen still maintains an active website devoted to quality new and old tools.

The scanned catalogs represent a large sampling of tools from approximately 50 different companies, and spans nearly a century of manufacturing. They are an invaluable primary source of information for both common and uncommon tools.

 

A big thanks goes out to Mark Stansbury of FoleyFiler.blogspot.com for doing the heavy work in saving these catalogs, and to Donna Rose for making the scans available.

Rose Tools scanned catalog archive

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Time well spent

I spent a few hours this weekend cutting up a small cherry tree that came down in one of this winter’s ice storms. The sumptuous spring weather, the screams of the chainsaw (I do like most any kind of saw, so long as it is sharp), and the exhilirating scents of fresh sawdust and two-stroke exhaust conspired to stimulate all of the senses and push all cares to the side.

While the joy of being outside was reward enough for the labor, the wood haul made it even better. While the main pursuit was to salvage a blank large enough to make a dough bowl, I ended up with enough quartersawn lumber for at least a dozen saw handles, as well as some turning stock. But the most intriguing piece turned out to be a slab I cut from the crotch of the tree.

I haven’t had much luck cutting crotch wood in the past, but decided to give this one a try; after all, the only cost was my time and some small amount of gas. Having seen a few walnut crotches cut, I have learned that if there is any figure to be had, it is strongest and most interesting when cut along the plane that all three of the piths run in. If you center a cut on the piths, you will end up with bookmatched slabs. The figure also fades away very quickly as you move away from this plane. Usually these two slabs will be the only ones with desirable figure, although an exceptional crotch may give another slab on either side (the slabs I have cut are typically sawn at 5/4).

Milling freehand with a chainsaw is not the most accurate method of sawing (not to mention the kerf it takes), so I roughed out a slab about three inches thick, centered on the piths. The figure on the cut surfaces was obscured by the roughness, but didn’t seem particularly inspiring. Since it was free, I threw it in the trunk with the rest of the lumber anyway, and went home.

Slab straight off of the chainsaw.

The slab straight off of the chainsaw. In this picture, the base of the tree was to right, and the rounded notch on the left was where the tree forked.

 

Although I intended to do nothing more with it that day, it sat there in my shop calling out plaintively to me. By now I was shirking shop-cleaning duty, so decided to soothe my conscience by actually doing some work. I set into the slab with my trusty Disston 196 docking saw, a 30 inch beast that was refiled to a rip profile years ago, and has served admirably for resawing since then.

Opening a piece of wood like this is always a bit breathtaking. Rather, I should say that resawing by hand is breathtaking; waiting for the first glimpse of the newly cleaved surface is more accurately described as nerve-wracking. Pockets of bark, rot, or cracks can turn a half hour of handsawing into pointless exercise. But sometimes you get lucky and the wood turns out to be special. Today I was lucky.

The first glimpse of some very nice figured crotch.

The first glimpse of some very nice figured crotch.

A close-up shot of the figure.

A close-up shot of the figure.

The docking saw I use for a lot of my resawing.

The docking saw I use for a lot of my resawing.

What remains of the slabs after trimming off any visible cracks and defects.

What remains of the slabs after trimming off any visible cracks and defects.

 

After trimming off all of the visible cracks, I coated the end grain and both sides of the slabs with AnchorSeal, a wax-based emulsion that slows down moisture loss. In my limited experience, cutting the wood into a narrow strip and slowing down moisture loss is the most reliable way of avoiding degradation of crotch wood. If all goes well, these slabs will yield a half dozen beautiful handles in a year or two.

Posted in Wood | 4 Comments

Crafts of New Jersey Spring Tool Auction 2014 (April 12)

For several years I have been a member of CRAFTS, a tool collecting club in New Jersey, and it remains one of the best clubs I have participated in. From the get-go, they welcomed me and the saw elves, making us feel at home.

While the four regular meetings are always worth attending, the Spring Tool Auction (and Fall Picnic) is not to be missed. With over 500 lots, the auction features tools that range from user grade to highly collectible.

Tailgating (a great attraction in its own right) begins around 6 am, and is free for buyers (sellers need to be members, or pay a $15 table fee).

The auction preview begins at 7:30 am; selling begins at 9:30 am. A full pdf list of the lots is available online.

I will also have a few of my saws and kits there for people to look at and try.

And once again, the saw elves will be selling their home-baked cookies.

 

CRAFTS of New Jersey Spring Tool Auction 2014

Saturday, April 12 2014

Tailgating begins at 6:00 am

Auction begins at 9:30 am (preview begins at 7:30 am)

Oldwick Fire House

Rt 523 Oldwick, NJ 08889

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Who ya callin’ yeller?

This is one of my latest saws, a ten inch dovetail saw. I made it for myself, so it is a left-handed model (bolt heads and stamp on what is usually considered the back side of the saw).

The handle is made of yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea), a tree native to the southeastern United States. I came across it at a local sawmill, and couldn’t resist its distinctive (and downright unusual, if not jarring) color and attractive grain. Pennsylvania is a bit outside of its normal range, but I am happy to have found it. The color is not for everyone, but its oddity appeals to me. I am told the wood is colorfast, so time will tell if I tire of it.

The wood is fairly dense, but worked well with hand tools and took a great finish (there are several coats of Tru-Oil on this handle). From a materials property standpoint, it is a wonderful wood for a handle. The color? I leave the passing of judgment on that matter to you.

Ten inch dovetail saw with yellowwood handle. Left-handed model.

Ten inch dovetail saw with yellowwood handle. Left-handed model.

Yellowwood handle with inlaid bolts.

Yellowwood handle with inlaid bolts.

Yellowwood handle, show side.

Yellowwood handle, show side.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle showing bark inclusions and colored epoxy fill.

Detail of yellowwood handle showing bark inclusions and colored epoxy fill.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle.

Detail of yellowwood handle showing bark inclusions and colored epoxy fill.

Detail of yellowwood handle showing bark inclusions and colored epoxy fill.

Closeup of Blackburn stamp on back.

Closeup of Blackburn stamp on back.

Posted in Completed saws - gratuitous pictures | 6 Comments

Woodworker’s Showcase 2014 report

The Woodworker’s Showcase was larger than I had anticipated. Although I had precious little time to wander around, there was an impressive array of woodworking talent on display, ranging from small carvings and turnings to a teardrop camper and Adirondack guide boat, with a little bit of everything in between.

I was able to meet several online friends, and was encouraged (and a little surprised, I must admit) to hear that a few people have actually read this blog or portions of my website.

By far, however, the most exciting highlight of my weekend was watching a handful of kids pick up and try some of my saws. Watching their shock at being allowed to play with real tools give way to the excitement of cutting all on their own was immensely gratifying, and was enough to make the trip worthwhile.

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Woodworker’s Showcase 2014 (March 29 & 30)

Now that tailgating under a full moon (sure wish I had a picture of that) is done (I told you that PATINA started early), I am preparing for my next show. I am particularly excited to travel to Saratoga Springs, NY to participate in this weekend’s Woodworker’s Showcase, the annual woodworking exposition hosted by the Northeastern Woodworkers Association. Not only do I have a two day furlough from the shop, but I have the privelege of spending it amongst some of the finest furniture and toolmakers in the nation.

Besides woodworking vendors, there are lectures and classes throughout the weekend, exhibits, and hundreds of woodworking pieces on display.

Woodworker’s Showcase 2014

Saturday & Sunday, March 29 & 30

10:00 – 5:00 (both days)

Saratoga Springs City Center

522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY

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