Hand Tool Event
Follow the Signs
I've always enjoyed these events. I think I've attended at least four of them. They are more like mini workshops that are tailored to your interests.
Learning while playing with tools...nice tools.
If you have not had the pleasure of attending a Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event then you really should. More than anything, they are just fun. You get to play with other peoples tools; really nice ones.
Click on the person to learn more: Line Nielsen, Glen-Drake, and Juan Vergara were all there to share their wares, skills, and enthusiasm. John Parkinson, Robert McSwegin, and Marta Madden represented Lie Nielsen.
A Beast For Multiple Tasks
For whatever reason, I was drawn to a lonely beast sitting quietly amongst the visitor’s movements and the workings going on. I tend to think it looks more like a goat. My oldest thinks it looks like a unicorn, my son thinks it looks like a tank (everything is a tank at the age of 4), and I’m pretty sure my one year old thinks it’s a bird. Lie Nielsen calls it a horse.
I must admit, I’m very intimidated by the shave horse. I have seen theirs in action before and every time I think, "Why would I want one?" I have never had any plans to make a Windsor chair. The whole idea of shaping complicated curves and angles scared me. I asked them to demonstrate how the shave horse works. McSwegin did a great job, but I still had a deep fear of the beast.
Then, as time went on, I looked over and saw Juan Vergara jump on with an Auriou Rasp and start shaping and smoothing out the same cuts that were made earlier with the draw knife.
I was instantly fascinated and a light went on. Why had I never seen other tools used on a shave horse? My perceptions were shattered. To me it opened a whole host of new possibilities and for some reason I really wanted to make a Windsor chair and more. Shaping curved pieces had always seemed so daunting. But having seen how it can be clamped in a shave horse and used with other tools like a rasp I felt emboldened.
I also noticed that they have this handy dandy sharpening tool for the draw knife as well. I’m definitely saving my diaper money for a draw knife, shave horse, the Draw Sharp, and a whole set of Auriou Rasps. Check out the video.
Unfortunately, Lie Nielsen does not make the shavehorse any more. Please find downloadable plans to the left.
In March, I journeyed down to the Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Pasadena, CA. Sierra Madre Sawing and Milling hosted the event. I journeyed down with some preconceived ideas of what I wanted to capture on my camera. All that went out the window as my lens continually drifted to a plane on a bench or a pile of shavings. I forgot rule number one in cinematography; don’t spend all of your time on the details; capture the larger picture. The truth is, as I drove home, I kept thinking I should have gotten more photos of people interacting with the tools. I should have asked more meaningful questions, and why didn’t I try more things out.
However, as I started reviewing my video and writing this blog I asked myself what are these events truly about. Was this one and the many others around the country designed to sell tools? Sure. Was this a way to market and sell the company name? Sure. But was there something more? Why does Lie Nielsen invite other toolmakers like Glen-Drake and Juan Vergara? Why are they demonstrating others tools on occasion? Why is everyone so happy, enthusiastic, and patient with me and everyone else? Why is there a mallet there that is made by Blue Spruce Toolworks?
To be honest, I don’t know that I can articulate those answers. What I can say is that Lie Nielsen has captured the culture of what woodworking is truly about. It is engrained in their culture to share ideas, help others perfect their craft, and to let others dull the blades on their irons. Fortunately they have a sharpening station to hone the edge back. I think the best way to write what I observed is to start from the beginning.
About a month prior, I contacted Lie Nielsen and Sierra Madre Sawing and Milling for permission to film and document the day’s events. They responded with a welcoming “Yes.” Upon entering the event, I immediately saw the crew from Lie Nielsen interacting with Glen-Drake, Juan Vergara, and the few die hard patrons who had already arrived. Lie Nielsen was represented by John Parkinson, Robert McSwegin, and Marta Madden. Throughout the morning, as more visitors came in, these craftsmen flowed seamlessly between answering questions, demonstrating tools, sharpening, re-sharpening, and clamping boards to make new cuts and shavings. I never felt like there was a sales pitch from anyone. I never saw the visitors pressured to buy. What I did see was person after person grabbing a plane, a chisel, or a saw and playing around with them on the bench.
There was one tool that I wanted to buy. And that one tool was sold out. That tool is the large router plane. Fortunately, they had some for me to try out and mine shipped immediately. My path to the router plane started with my question about an odd looking plane; the number 40B-Butt Mortise Plane. This plane is designed to make hinge mortises. It is a one off tool and was neat to watch. However, I was shown that the router plane can do that and so much more. To me the router plane looks like a tool that I will permanently leave on my bench top. One can use it for dadoes, rabbets, hinges, cleaning out shallow mortises, and so much more.