Archive for the ‘On the Road’ Category
WMT will be guest demonstrators at the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event this weekend just outside Cincinnati. We will have our prototype 2500 router to try out and will be taking pre-orders. If you can’t make it to the show, orders can also be placed on our website beginning at noon on Wednesday, March 9th. Hope to see you there.
2 years ago I had the good fortune to attend Handworks 2013. Last weekend I attended round 2 of this awesome handtool extravaganza. If it comes up again do everything in your power to attend. I only captured a handful of the tools on camera and the pictures aren’t all great… apologies for that, it wasn’t easy getting pictures with so many people moving around. In any event, here’s a taste of Handworks 2015 and here’s hoping many more will follow.
One of the major side attractions this year was the chance to view the privately owned H.O. Studley Tool Chest. Tickets had to be purchased in advance and the viewing was about 20 minutes from Amana, near Cedar Rapids. Guests were given a 50 minute slot to hear a brief talk from Don Williams (who wrote the book and arranged the viewing event) and photograph the chest. The owner of the chest also owns Studley’s bench which was there for the viewing pleasure as well. Finally, Don made a reproduction version of this bench and mounted his collection of piano-makers vises to it for people to play with. Don also molded some replica parts used by Studley so people could get a better look at the details incorporated into the Studley chest. Overall, it was well worth the price of admission (a mere $25) and it was a woodworking experience I won’t soon forget.
This is the actual chest and bench, photographed during the prep for the book. None of my well-lit shots of the chest look nearly this good so I’d rather show this photo than one of my own.
We’re back from our first Lie-Nielsen event. Being a guest demonstrator was a lot of fun and we were able to meet several enthusiastic woodworkers, many of whom follow us on instagram (@walkemooretools). It’s always nice to put real faces to the virtual identities shared through instagram, so thanks for making the effort to come see us.
In addition to the Lie-Nielsen staff, we were also able to meet several other woodworking professionals for the first time including Matt Kenney (from Fine Woodworking Mag), Christopher Schwarz, and the folks from Tools for Working Wood. Overall it was a great time and if you ever have a chance to attend a Lie-Nielsen event, I encourage you get there.
WMT will be a guest demonstrator at the Lie-Nielsen event in Brooklyn from Jan 2nd-3rd, 2015. This promises to be an exciting show with a slew of talented demonstrators, plus all the Lie-Nielsen swag you can handle. So head out to the big apple for New Year’s Eve, take Jan 1st to recover, then enjoy some sweet hand tools on the 2nd and 3rd. More info available here.
WMT just returned from an action packed weekend in Winston-Salem, NC, which hosted Woodworking in America for 2014. This was our first show, but thanks to a strong presence from the Instagram woodworking community, it felt like we were old pros. We were located within a booth or two from several popular and/or up and coming tool makers who we’ve known through Instagram for some time, but were able to meet in person for the first time this weekend. (Check out their sites and their instagram profiles: Texas Heritage, Sterling Tool Works, Caleb James Planemaker, Peter Galbert, Scott Meeks Woodworks, & Plate 11 Bench Co)
We had a great time, met countless enthusiastic woodworkers (who were very gracious with their feedback on our tools), and drank some of the local brew (which was delicious). If you didn’t make it this year, try for next year. It’s worth the effort.
See you next year. -WMT
In just a few days WMT will be on the tool floor of Woodworking in America. This is our first public event with a fair amount of preparation leading up to this point, but we’re excited and will be sharing a booth with some other premium tool makers who are also relatively new to the woodworking world. We will be side-by-side with Sterling Tool Works and Texas Heritage Woodworks with several other makers very near by such as Blue Spruce Toolworks, Vesper Tools, Scott Meeks Woodworks, Plate 11 Bench Co. and the list goes on. So if you’re at the show be sure to stop over and say hi. We’ll have some tools available for sale at the show, other new tools and prototypes to try out and pre-order, and all unfilled orders placed at the show will ship for free. Hope to see you there.
One of the best parts about attending Handworks last week was the opportunity to try various brands of similar tools or variation of the same tool by the same maker. Here are my thoughts:
Dovetail Saws: While there weren’t many individual premium saw makers at the show (Bad Axe, Wenzloff, etc) the bigger companies like Lie-Nielsen and Veritas were there, as was Gramercy. Veritas saws don’t do it for me, period. I’m not a fan of the black backs or brushed saw plates (but you can’t argue with their price-point if you’re on a budget). As for Gramercy, their teeth are too fine for my liking when it comes to a dovetail saw and the handles feel a bit thin for me, but that’s obviously going to vary person to person, hand to hand.
What I really want to talk about is the wide variety Lie-Nielsen now offers. When I bought my dovetail saw from LN I only had one choice to make, 15ppi or progressive pitch teeth (I chose progressive). A few years later, the 9″ saw I have is discontinued as they are all 10, both dovetail and carcass. This is a definite improvement. When you consider most people only use 7″-8″ of their 9″ plate (if you’re good at sawing, some only use 3″-4″) adding the extra 1″ is around a 13% increase in your efficiency. The saw does not feel unbalanced in the least, in fact I felt it balanced the saw slightly better than the 9″ version. About the only thing going for my 9″ at this point is that it’s now a collectors item (if someone wants to offer me $500 it’s theirs).
Anyway, beyond the increased length, LN also offers a thin plate version (0.015″ thick vs 0.020″) as well as tapered blades. I’d not had the opportunity to try any of these until last week and the differences are noticeable. After playing with all the variations, two stand out to me as my favorites: The progressive pitch and the thin plate, no taper for either. The taper, in general, I do not care for on backsaws. I understand why it’s there, but it’s a preference thing and I prefer a non-tapered blade. The thin plate cuts faster than the standard saw because it’s removing less material, and it cuts very smoothly at 15ppi. The progressive pitch also cuts smoothly (with fine teeth getting the cut started) but also quickly (with the aggressive teeth at the heel of the saw). And again, thanks to the 10″ plate, they both cut faster than the saw I use today. I still do not care for the standard plate at 15ppi. It’s fine teeth cut smoothly, but without the thinner plate it’s a bit slow. How should you choose? If you’re new to sawing go for the progressive pitch, the blade is less kink-prone. If you like super-fine pins, get the thin plate.
Hand Stitched Rasps: Most woodworkers are aware of the French rasp manufacturer, Auriou (pronounced are-you). These are most readily available through Lie-Nielsen and come fitted with a LN maple handle. More recently, Tools for Working Wood started carrying their own hand stitched rasps under their Gramercy label. These are made in Pakistan, handles made in USA. I tried the Gramercy rasps at Handworks and noticed a couple of things I thought were worth mentioning. First, they are nice tools and could be a welcome addition to any shop. However, when compared to Auriou, I felt that the Gramercy handles were too small (and I don’t have particularly large hands either). A woman or younger woodworker might prefer these handles, but I immediately felt like the handle needed replacing. As far as the cutting is concerned, these bite the wood more than I’m used to after using my Auriou rasps for a few years. The teeth seem taller, more pointed than the Auriou rasps and made starting the cut a little more difficult. Once moving, however, they removed material in a hurry. This can be a good thing, but I’m more of a mind set that if you want to remove material faster get a courser rasp, not taller teeth (if that makes sense). I would imagine you could get used to the feel of how these rasps cut and they do leave an excellent finish, but I’d have to give Auriou the edge in user-friendliness. Auriou also has a wider range of rasp sizes, grain, etc. if you have extensive rasp needs.
Infill Hand Planes: The most unpredictable part of traveling to the Handworks event was winning one of the door prizes… in fact, I took home the most valuable door prize being awarded, a $1,200 Ron Brese block plane. I spent a few minutes trying out some of Ron’s larger planes at his bench (which cost between $2,000-$3,000) and they are sweet. But now that I’ve had some time to play with his block plane at home and compare it to my Lie-Nielsen low angle block plane, a lot of people have asked the obvious question, “does it work better than the Lie-Nielsen?”
In short, my answer is no, an infill block plane cannot do anything for you that any other well tuned plane can do. My Lie-Nielsen is just as sharp as the Brese plane, the bed angles are comparable, the soles on both tools are flat, and the mouth opening is very tight on the Brese plane, the Lie-Nielsen is adjustable. I planed some cherry and both tools gave fantastic results, as they should. So if the wood doesn’t care what is being used to cut it, why is a premium Lie-Nielsen $165 (already too much for some people) and a Brese plane $1,200? And why even buy one if it doesn’t leave a better finish? Here are my thoughts. First understand Ron’s price is not over-inflated. It’s a high price tag because each plane is hand made, the machining and woodworking are impeccable, and the tool performs beautifully. And that’s what you’re really paying for, the privilege of owning a functional work of art. Most woodworkers will never even see an infill plane in person, far fewer will own one, if you want to be in that group it comes at a cost. If all you’re after, however, is high-end performance, buy a Lie-Nielsen and don’t look back. It works great and to be honest, it’s more comfortable to use than an infill plane, it’s easier to adjust the depth of cut, and the mouth can be opened up for heavy material removal. So while my Brese plane will be put to use in my shop and cherished for generations, it will not be the workhorse. That remains the role of my LN 60.5 block plane.
That’s all for now, have a great day.
I recently returned from the Handworks event in Amana, Iowa, held on 5/24 & 5/25. It was an awesome trip featuring only hand tool vendors and only the best of the best. The chance to meet so many talented tool makers and try out so many premium tools in one sitting was unparalleled. Hopefully this becomes an annual event and maybe even moves around the country year to year to give more people a chance to attend.