Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event Recap

Two weeks ago I attended the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Manchester, CT. I mentioned this on my blog and invited you to stop by and say hi. A number of you asked for a report so here it goes, complete with pictures.

The two day event was a huge success for me. I went there with high hopes but almost no expectations.  My idea was to setup a few tables of tools for sale and set out some tools from my own shop to demonstrate. Having never setup at an event like this my goals were simply to meet a few of my customers I had previously only communicated with by email, and perform a few demonstrations without making a fool of myself. Along the way I hoped to sell some tools as well.

I arrived on Friday morning and met up with Matt Cianci. We met  to Bob VanDyke, the owner of the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, who showed us the area of the shop we would use. Matt quickly setup his very simple but incredibly effective saw sharpening station. A couple of hours later and I had my tables and bench setup, just in time for the first people to arrive.

Table Setup
Table Setup
Tools For Sale
Tools For Sale
More Tools For Sale
More Tools For Sale
Customers! Here I am (I'm wearing the blue shirt and shop apron) discussing the features of a panel gauge with two customers.

I brought along some  interesting tools to demonstrate- things that woodworkers who weren’t very experienced with vintage tools might know of but may never have used before. On the workbench I had some molding planes, my plow plane, some boring tools- various braces, types of bits, etc. and other stuff for folks to pick up and try. I think the most popular tool was my plow, a rather ornate tool made by Varvill and Sons, one of my absolute favorite tools and something I’d never consider selling (it’s one of those few tools that has my owner’s mark on it). You can see it on the bench to the left in the photo above and again in the photo below. A lot of people seemed surprised that something that looks so fancy is a very easy and practical tool to use.

Josh Boring
Demonstrating a British plated brace with a center bit- a simple and very effective boring tool
Millers Falls 97
Demonstrating the many capabilities and features of the Millers Falls No. 97 breast drill, perhaps the most highly engineered boring tool ever made.

I also brought along my newly made pair of saw benches. The design is the same that Chris Schwarz published in Popular Woodworking. I brought along a couple of my favorite saws for folks to try out. It seemed like everyone wanted a shot at ripping on my new sawbenches. I brought my big 28in Disston D-8 thumbhole rip saw for folks to try.  Even at 5PPI it can take an inch or more per stroke.

Me Ripping
That's me ripping with my Disston D-8 thumbhole rip saw
Deneb Ripping
Lie-Nielsen's Deneb Puchalski gives it a try.
Matt Cianci Ripping
Matt Cianci giving one of his freshly sharpened rip saws a workout.

Matt Cianci was setup with my both days and was busy the entire time sharpening saws for customers, and constantly stopping to talk to folks and answer questions. Even with the interruptions Matt was still able to sharpen close to a dozen saws during the event.

Matt Sharpening
Matt teaching as he sharpens.
Matt Inspecting
Matt inspecting a saw for me to determine how much work it would take to get it into top top shape.

There were several other vendors setup as well. The headliner, of course, was Lie-Nielsen who had just about every one of their tools setup and on display, many ready for use.

LN Lineup
A small portion of Lie-Nielsen's arsenal of tools. A truly drool-inducing sight.
Deneb Demonstrating
Deneb and the L-N crew were busy both days demonstrating tools and techniques.

Other vendors included Tico Vogt showing his top-notch shooting boards, and Matt Bickford with is amazing molding planes and hand-cut moldings.

Bickford Planes
A sample of Matt Bickford's molding planes and moldings cut with hollows and rounds.
Matt and Matt
Matt Bickford (left) and Matt Cianci (right) talking molding planes.

The crowd was steady and time flew by. Before I knew it the first day ended and was time to head out. The next day started well but attendance waned and finally stopped when the snow started on Saturday. It was soon obvious that the weather was fast declining and we needed to get going soon if we were going to get home at all. A few hours later I was packed and on the road. The trip was slow, but steady. I watched trees, laden with heavy wet snow stuck to their still leaved branches, topple left and right along the highway as I made my way home. My way home was blocked by several trees that had fallen across the road but I finally made it home safe.

All in all it was a successful weekend. I had a fantastic time. It was an absolute blast. Spending the weekend talking and using tools was really nice. I got to meet some long-time customers for the first time and many new folks as well. Sales were brisk both days and I went home with several empty bins.

One note- In all of my excitement I forgot to snap any photos. All of the photos above were taken by Jeff Burks and used with his permission. Thanks Jeff!

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy the photos. I’m off to work on my next for sale list. I intend to spend tomorrow on it as well, intending to release it late this week. Keep an eye out!

Thanks for reading,


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