Monday, October 19, 2009

Lie-Nielsen Tool Event comes to Indy

    Last Saturday I made time to visit the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event downtown at the Herron School of Art. If you've never been to a LN Tool Event then you're simply missing out. Not only do you get to gawk at some of the best made tools available (ever), you are encouraged to take them from the rack and try them out on one of their available workbenches. The event was hosted by Herron School of Art which is in its new diggs within the main IUPUI campus. Along with Lie-Nielsen tools were other tool makers, reps from the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, George Wilson discussing design and the Schwarz himself. For the most part it was a light crowd during the few hours I was there. My goal that day was to make a mess but using as many tools as I could. But first, I made my way around the room.
   As was expected, Christopher Schwarz was surrounded by a crowd of transient students taking-in his overflow of woodworking information. I went toward the Glen-Drake toolworks booth; my attention caught by his unique two handled dovetail saw. This, if I understand correctly, is intended to even the users body mechanics for a more accurate cut. Hmmm. I did really like the kerf starter and of course the Tite-Mark gauge.

Angie Kopacek of LN sharpening blades

    I looked over the bench hardware and Mag-Bloks from the Benchcrafted booth. The Gliding bench vise is absolutely saweet. I met Jameel and took the Ron Brese planes for a spin on some cherry. Nice.
    I  talked for a while with Stuart Denniss, one of the guys representing the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. Did you know that Marc Adams is the largest and one of the more prestigious woodworking schools in America? Did you know that Marc Adams is next to Whiteland, Indiana? I didn't know that until a couple years ago. Well Stuart is serving an internship there all the way from the UK. He was very pleasant to speak to about the school as well as his current project; an organic-looking stool made from a stone slab and pecan wood. Our conversation left me very interested in a future with Marc Adams.

 Stuart Denniss of MASWW

    I think I was most interested in Andrew Lunn's hand saws at the Eccentric Tools bench. Andrew is a former paramedic from Columbus, Ohio. I introduced myself and we talked some "shop" about the fire department and EMS. Its nice to see that one of the premier saw makers today is a former paramedic. Judging by the 14-month waiting period for one of his saws it seems his decision to take up saw making full-time is working out all right.
    Andrew invited me to try out his crosscut carcass saw by seeing how thin of an off-cut I could make. I took this as a challenge, and I like challenges. The best of the day so far was 0.024". My first try was for practice and to clean up the edge from the previous sawyer's attempt. Then, on the second try I was able to cut off a sliver 0.019" thick. It was a total fluke on may part. I credit the sweet saw. I had a great time trying all of his other saws as well. Another saw of note was his rip panel saw. I'm convinced I could cut decent drawer dovetails with this one it was so nice.

Andrew Lunn holding my 0.019" off-cut

    I had a talk with George Wilson who gave a brief presentation on furniture design. He has a dvd available from LN that has my interest particularly because of my next dresser project.
    I think the highlight of the day for me was at Chris Schwarz's bench. As I was about to leave I noticed  he had brought two of Mark Harrel's Bad-Axe Tool Works saws with him to Indy. A little test drive with the saws ended up being a sort of duel between Bad-Axe and Eccentric. It was a lot of fun comparing the two tenon saws but I don't think there were any clear winners; both were amazing. And, as Chris had revealed in the past, the Bad-Axe crosscut saw was actually really decent in the rip. Ok, now I want one.
Andrew told Chris I had the thinnest off-cut of the day and so the Schwarz vowed to beat it. I got an email from Andrew today. It seems Chris had tied me at 0.019". However, we were both blown out of the water by someone from Marc Adams who had a 0.017". Maybe they offer a "Hand-cut Slivers" class down there?

Andrew Lunn and Christopher Schwarz comparing
Bad-axe and Eccentric saws

    Throughout the day I tried to fulfill my goal of making a mess. I tried all of the LN saws there and some of the planes. I pondered my purchase, aided by Alexandra Geske from Lie-Nielsen. "Alex" has also worked with Marc Adams and is an up-and-coming furniture designer in her own right. She was helpful and very pleasant to talk to.

Alexandra Geske with Lie-Nielsen

    In the end I came home with a calendar, the George Wilson DVD and the LN crosscut carcass (Sorry Andrew, I just couldn't wait 14 months. Someday though). I'm not sure how well received the event was as a whole but I do hope it returns next year. I certainly enjoyed it!



The Village Carpenter said...

Looks and sounds like a great time, Richard. I love hand tool events--it's like the marketplace at the WIA conferences--and wish there were more of them. There is nothing quite like the opportunity to actually try out a handtool or saw rather than just view it online and make a decision regarding which one to buy. Thanks for the link to Alexandra's site. She is awesome!

BadAxe6 said...

Great read, Richard! Thanks for sharing the story about the Bad Axe and Eccentric competition--I got a big kick out of reading it! Cheers ~ Mark Harrell

Richard Magbanua said...

Thanks for reading!
Kari, it was a good time. I would definitely like to see more hand tool events because while I could see a lot of interest in hand tools there was still a lot of hesitation when it came to people using tools at the benches. Yes, these are beautiful objects and aren't cheap, but their absolute main purpose is to be used to make things. And, yes, Alex's work is pretty nice. I'll have to pass this on to her.
Mark, what a pleasant surprise. Thanks for enjoying my blog. I'm glad Chris brought your saws with him for us to try out. I'm beginning to think that woodworking could be a lot more about hand saws than I had realized. Sawing with any of these premier saws is just as enjoyable and rewarding as using a well tuned hand plane. One just needs to allow more time and practice to get the feel of it.

Take care,