Wow. I am tardy. A month ago I went to the Minneapolis version of the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event. After reading other blog reports I was incredibly excited. My wife didn’t even tell me I couldn’t buy anything – but she did remind me that we have another financial obligation on the way.
When I got there I was a little disappointed. It was really small, it looked like it was set up in a storage closet. Like a lot of the wood working shows that come through the Twin Cities, we got the bare bones version. Glen-Drake was there, Lie-Nielsen was there (of course), and a local woodworking school was there (whose name I forget). Once I got into though, I really enjoyed myself. The staff were really focused on making sure we got something out of it.
The first thing I checked out was the sharpening demo put on by a LN staff member. The moral here was the simpler the better. He had some p180 glued to a granite block, I don’t think it was a reference plate, and an 8000 Norton stone. He used a honing jig and established a bevel at 25° with the p180, skootched it up a bit and polished it at 30º on the 8000 stone. Easy-peesy, extra-cheesy as my students say. He did flatten his stone on wet-dry paper every time he used it; I wish I had asked him if he thought that was necessary or was doing it for the purpose of the demonstration.
Glen Drake Toolworks
Glen Drake was there and he was totally interesting; I could could have spent the entire afternoon at his bench. He’s a bit curmudgeonly; the first thing I did was pick up a Tite Hammer only to have him stop his demonstration on the other side of the bench, take it out of my hands, and show me how to hold it properly. When I tried the dovetail saw he tore it out my hands and showed me how to use it properly. I learned two things, I don’t know how to use tools and Glen Drake is quite serious about proper tool use.
Glen Drake has put a lot of thought into making a useful saw system. I didn’t try it long enough to explain it well, but I think that if I had had a longer time to experiment with it I would have ordered the whole shooting match. His saws don’t have teeth at the ends, this makes them easier to start and allow you to keep your momentum. The Wild West saw has two handles making it easier to keep plumb. This is because it is lined up with your body and using both hands keeps it counter balanced and uses each hand to it’s strength. I couldn’t saw any straighter than I can with my dull Disston backsaw, but I am intrigued. The kerf starter was pretty impressive too, instead of marking and sawing to the line you use the kerf starter to start a kerf, just like the name implies. This is on my need to buy list.
I didn’t watch the woodworking school, whose name I can’t remember. I’ve seen them before, they do nice work, and I wish I could find time to take classes there, but they are boring to watch. Their M.O. is to quietly go about their business, building whatever it is they’re building, without interacting with the viewer. They have a few pamphlets laying about if you’re interested. Definitely a soft sell approach.
The Lie-Nielsen tool board was there. Their stuff is awesome. If I hit the lottery, the first thing I’m going to do is go to their products page and hit the one of everything button. I didn’t spend much time trying out their stuff. I just spent enough time with it to confirm my suspicions that the largest versions of their tools are too big for me to be comfortable with. This will be good to know when I can afford to stop scavenging flea markets and junk shops and can buy new tools.