Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Woodworking in Canada

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to assist with the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event in Sidney, BC. While being only 35 miles away from my home in Port Townsend as the crow flies, this crow cannot fly and so instead it takes a few hours by car and ferry, and then some time as determined by the friendly (we hope) immigration and customs officials.

Arriving Thursday afternoon, I met with Jeremy Tomlinson, the Canadian rep for the company. I had met him before at the Wooden Boat Festival, but it was quite enjoyable to have some more time learning about his fascinating background and career. With Jeremy, a very simple question can turn into a 30-minute long answer, and this is a good thing. I was introduced to the order-placing process and some of the business practices of the company, and then we set up the event space. Sadly I was too busy to take a lot of photos, but you have probably seen this stuff before... a few workbenches to test tools upon, a sharpening station, an order desk, and of course the glorious racks of demo tools, each tuned up and ready for the public to test-pilot.

The Event took place at West Wind Hardwood, a small family-run business. There is a cliche in the US about how nice Canadians are, and it is well-founded! These folks were utterly gracious in hosting us, even as we had to take over their flooring showroom for a day. Lots of fun getting to know the staff there, as well as perusing their stash of hardwoods and antique tools. If I had not taken a passenger ferry with just a backpack to haul my stuff, I would have been sorely tempted by some of their figured maple!

We also took a moment to check out the Lee Valley store. While I have seen their catalogs for years, I had never been to one of their shops. Very interesting! They keep most of the good tools behind glass, so it is not all that easy to get a feel for them, but the employees are helpful enough with questions. Of course while walking between islands of tools, one is confronted with all the weird and wonderful impulse-purchase items that Lee Valley is so skilled at sourcing. Their gardening section would probably lure me in if I lived nearby.

The Tool Event went smoothly, lots of happy customers. One of them went ahead and put together a complete dovetail joint while "trying out the chisels". I made a quick tenon to demonstrate how the shoulder planes are used. A young woman came in and learned to flatten a board with a handplane, and was giggling nonstop about how fun it was. Another fellow came in to outfit his shop with all the basics... I envied him!

Of course everyone enjoyed trying the #51 shooting plane, although nobody purchased one. We can all dream...

I was happy to learn that the Lie-Nielsen plow plane will be out soon. Photos of it are stunning! It has a much improved depth stop. I was told it will be $225, and include a 1/4" iron with others available later.

Personally, I came to the conclusion (after much repeated trial) that I might really prefer a #8 jointer to my familiar #7. Time to start saving up!

I had such a good time that I might also go to Vancouver Event. This will be held at the Roundhouse, where Mr. Tomlinson teaches his woodworking classes. I am eager to see the space after hearing about it. What a great asset to the Vancouver area!

I've been to a handful of these Tool Events and I have to continue to highly recommend them. Even (or especially) if there is no intent to purchase a tool, the wisdom and inspiration available is priceless, and free!

I must also tack on a photo of the West Wind shop dog, Ruby. A troublemaker, for sure, but such velvety ears make up for many a sin. Any guesses on her heritage? Her master was not sure. I have my guesses, but who knows. She is larger than she might look in this image; at six years old, she was about as large as a dog could be and still have you wanting to pick her up. The perfect "big dog in a small package" as far as I am concerned. I look forward to seeing her, and British Columbia, again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Upcoming things, and thanks to the Christophers!

This weekend, Jan 10 and 11, I will be in Victoria, BC to assist at the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event. If you have never been to one, it is a fantastic opportunity to not only try most of the product range out in person, but also receive guidance on selecting the proper tool for the type of work you are interested in. For someone just getting started, the opportunity to use a truly sharp tool (as well as witness sharpening demos) is priceless, and well worth the cost of admission, which is free, so, really, you can't lose. This one will be at West Wind Hardwood (which is actually in Sidney). If you are in the region, please stop by and say hello. I'll be working alongside Jeremy Tomlinson, whom I had the pleasure of getting to know at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival this summer.

Another exciting event coming up in this area is George Walker's visit and design course. If you have read By Hand and Eye (or even if you haven't), this is an amazing chance to delve deep into the design system that nature uses, and which has informed craft since the beginning of history. Only recently has it been derailed by machine-thinking. Once you understand these principles, designs almost generate themselves, and the artisan is freed up to consider personal embellishments and style. Truly liberating stuff. There are still spaces in George's course at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. George and Jim Tolpin will also host a smaller exploration into the By Hand and Eye concepts via a course of the same name. This two-day seminar is full of mind-expanding ideas and examples to get you out of the ruler mindset and into the harmonic relationships which turn furniture design into something like musical arrangement. I highly recommend this class.

Finally, I wanted to thank Christopher Kuehn of Sterling Toolworks for conspiring with my wife this holiday season. She had been poring over Christopher Schwarz's gift list, knowing that I don't actually need any tools. I received a beautiful saddle gauge, and I love it. Many will balk at how it is over-engineered and that one really does not need a dovetail marker anyway. I don't tend to use them, myself. However, once this thing is felt in the hand, the naysayer's tune may in fact change. It is substantially heavy, crisp, and is larger than it looks. The back half of the tool is a fantastic small try and layout square. I might just start to prefer this for small squaring tasks. Above all, supporting a small toolmaker is a gift that keeps giving to everybody involved in the craft, as well as their families. For those who ogle the handmade planes, chisels, and other marking tools out there but cannot afford them, this tool is a great way to sip from the chalice of fine tools without breaking the bank. Thanks to all who made this happen.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, New Sale!

Don't worry, this blog is not slowly becoming a tool marketplace. In fact, this is the end of the sale, and by sale I do mean sale. Last chance to get the leftover items at 20% off.

There will indeed be more woodworking content when this is all wrapped up... lately the weather has been so cold that my uninsulated shop is just not a reasonable place to work.

And so here are the sale tools, how it works at the bottom:

Disston D42 "Victory" crosscut handsaw:

A wartime saw made of steel which sings nicely. 8 tpi, 26" length. This has a large "Victory" etching, perhaps hinting at the war effort, but it is faint and does not photograph well. There is a very minor bend (not kink) in the blade which could be addressed but the saw cuts well as is. A fine user saw, it will become a staple in your nest.
$100   $80

Japanese Marking Knives:

A set of steel Japanese marking knives. Single bevel, so one is for cutting on the left and the other on the right. Sharp and ready for work.
$45/pair $36/pair   SOLD THANK YOU!!

Record Compass Plane

A rare tool that not everyone needs, but when you do need it, there are not many other options. This is in great shape. Was purchased by Jim 20 years ago, and has his name etched on it, so you will always know who's it was. Add your name, too, just as was done on the old wooden planes.
$175  $140 SOLD THANK YOU!!

Emir #245 Wooden Smoothing Plane:

A great tool and a great price, especially with the original box and label intact.  Would be a good choice for someone wanting to get into green woodworking without worrying about rust on their steel planes.
$100 $80


Send me (rob dot campbell at gmail dot com) any questions you have about the items. Jim and I will work with you to answer to your satisfaction. Once you want an item, send me an email claiming your intent to purchase, and I will send you payment instructions. Cash, personal check, money order, and paypal are all acceptable. Shipping in the continental US is $12 for all items; some items will be more and some will be less but this is simplest for us. Pickup in Port Townsend, WA, will waive shipping charges. Items will be shipped upon receipt of payment. If an item is delisted but payment is not received, it will be relisted. All items are sold as-is so please ask any questions before purchase. That said, if you truly feel an item was misrepresented and you return it undamaged, we will be reasonable.

Prices are firm although you will likely receive a break on shipping for multiple items.