Friday, October 30, 2009

Win Win

This week marks two exciting events here at Benchcrafted.

In the December issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine we've been chosen by the magazine editors as recipients of the 2009 Best New Tool for our Benchcrafted Tail Vise, along with 11 other winners. Thanks to the folks at PopWW for selecting us, we consider it a great honor to be among the other winners. We recommend picking up a copy of the magazine at your local outlet to read about the other winners, plus two special articles about two woodworking giants who passed away this year, Sam Maloof and James Krenov. It's a great issue.

The other bit of exciting news? Our bench plans are finally nearing completion. These plans have been in the works for several months and we couldn't be more pleased with how the plans are shaping up.

These plans are very comprehensive and will include every detail required for a smooth "effortless" build. So far the plans are over 9 pages! This is not a complex bench, but we thought it prudent to include all the nitty-gritty to make the project as fun and rewarding as possible.

If you'd like to receive an email when the plans are ready, please drop us a line at

We may also have our new knockdown bench hardware ready by Christmastime. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event: Indianapolis

Angie and Alex
(back turned) of Lie-Nielsen setting up.

Well, as usual we had a great time last weekend at the Indianapolis Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event. We're always happy to meet new people. But were mostly grateful to the L-N team for hosting these events. These are real grass roots type shows with no pressure but lots of potential for learning and talking woodworking and tools.

Every show we've been to has been a positive experience and we look forward to many years of doing these if possible.
The turn out at this show wasn't as large as some we've been to but then again Indianapolis was the smallest metro area by a long shot we've attended. That doesn't mean it wasn't as much fun or as beneficial as the others though.

Crowded house.

Andrew Lunn of Eccentric Toolworks. He's telling this potential customer how he likes to be called Andy but no one will listen.

Thin crosscut competition. Chris Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, Andy Lunn, Joshua VanderPlaats, John Hoffman & John Abraham.

Kevin Glen-Drake of Glen-Drake Toolworks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Benchcrafted in Indiana

Next weekend we're joining Lie-Nielsen for one of their Hand Tool Events in Indianapolis. Details can be found at the Lie-Nielsen website. Click this link for times and address.

There are some great presenters at this particular event. We've had the pleasure of spending time with the following folks.

Chris Schwarz, in addition to being editor of two of the best woodworking magazines in print, is also extremely well-versed in the foundations of hand-tool woodworking. Crowds always gather around Chris at these events, not only because of his knowledge, but also because he's a great teacher and just plain fun to watch. His enthusiasm will get in your veins.

George Walker specializes in furniture design. The interesting thing about Walker is that he won't show you how to design in a particular style, although he can do that. George shows you how every piece of good furniture is based on the classical Greek orders. His video produced by Lie-Nielsen is fascinating. I highly recommend it.

Kevin Glen-Drake. Kevin has a great article in the November issue of Popular Woodworking magazine. He's an authority on woodturning and he also makes the best wheel marking gauge on the market, right here in the U.S. of A. We first met Kevin at Woodworking in America last year.

Eccentric Toolworks. Check out Andrew Lunn's incredible handsaws. Ever wished you could get the thin-kerf performance of a Japanese saw in a western saw format? I have a Lunn saw on order.

Folks from the Marc Adams school will also be present. Marc Adams is the largest woodworking school in the country, and located just south of Indianapolis.

For more info see Chris Schwarz's blog post here and here.

Unfortunately, we sold out of Skrapers at Woodworking in America. But we will have one to try in Indianapolis, and we will be taking orders.

We'll also have a sign-up sheet for our new bench plans, featuring both of our vises. The plans are done, and should be available very soon.

We'll be bringing our travel bench outfitted with three Benchcrafted vises for folks to try. We'll also be bringing our backup travel bench, pictured above.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WIA Philadelphia Wrap-up

The Benchcrafted crew has returned after a whirlwind tour of Pennsylvania! 6 days and 2350 miles later we're beat, but happy. We have to say that the show was rewarding in multiple ways. As usual, we were fortunate to see many old friends and also make some new ones. Just a short journal here to document some of the happenings.

We started out from Eastern Iowa mid-morning Tuesday September 29th. Our first hurdle was loading our 15 passenger van. It was a daunting task to load everything, most notably our 8 ft. 500 lb. Ash Roubo with dual Glides. What a bear! We also brought our 6 ft. Travel Roubo, various display tables and other accouterments. It was a load. Finally we put about 12 lbs. of chips and nuts in to accompany the beer (this we put in a VERY accessible location, after all we'd be picking up Bob Zajicek the next day). We drove 7.5 hours to Toledo, OH the first day without a hitch.

The next day, Wednesday, we drove approximately 10 hours to arrive at the Philadelphia airport in time to pick up Ron Brese of Brese Planes and Bob Zajicek of Czeck Edge, our partners in crime. We packed em' in and headed for the Valley Forge Convention Center. The hotel was nice, but doubly so because we scored the rooms at the venue for half the going rate thanks to Hotwire. It also afforded us the convenience of being able to attend the show each day without driving anywhere. It's hard to beat staying at the venue.

Thursday morning we were the first ones on the show floor to set up. We knew ahead of time that Andrew Lunn of Eccentric Toolworks was right next to our double wide booth. Luckily Andrew wasn't there yet which opened an opportunity for a practical joke. Andrew's a great guy but a bit slow on the uptake. We quickly removed the provided venue sign from his booth and replaced it with this one.

We got quite a chuckle out of it but no so much as we did after we found out from Andrew that he thought it was a legitimate mistake on the hotel's part and proceeded to take it to the front desk to sort it all out! There weren't many people at the show that weren't talking about the Harbor Freight booth.

After setting up we jumped in the van for a day trip to the Winterthur DuPont estate. The estate was impressive to say the least, covering over 1000 acres, down from it's original 2500. It was at one time a full working, self-sustaining farm estate providing for all it's own needs with the exception of sugar and tobacco. The main building houses room after room of authentic period furniture, each room encompassing a specific period or style.

Bob Z. meditating on the natural beauty at Winterthur estate.

90 year old Redwood, already over 100 ft. tall!

Much of the estate contained vast amounts of hand laid rock walls. Very impressive and beautiful.

Vintage Shaker sideboard.

One of the many themed rooms. This was an 18th Century room containing several period pieces from the Federal style. Much of the china was owned and used by George Washington. Ron Brese & Jameel Abraham admiring on the right.

Steins designed and made by none other than Paul Revere!

Oriental room. Chock full of Chippendale.

Three-story spiral staircase.

Atrium. Bob Z., John (jr.), Ron B., Jameel A., guide.

Family room. Despite the sheer vastitude (yes, that is a word...) of this place, most of the rooms were meant as mere "walk throughs" simply for looking. This is one of the rooms that was actually used by the family. We were told they had some ripping good times in here. Certainly looks warm, cozy and inviting...not stiff or formal at all. This room just screams "Pinata"!

The show. We were happy as usual to be across from the Lie-Nielsen booth. We're huge LN fans, not just because of the tools but because of the people. They run a tight ship, treat people right and everyone walks away from that booth with a positive experience.

Thomas Lie-Nielsen giving a look at our new bench Skraper.

Being next to Andrew Lunn from Eccentric Toolworks was also a great boon. Andrew is an extremely affable fellow, someone we had corresponded with, but never met. He's also a VERY funny guy. We can say that we'd be dissapointed to not have the opportunity to share space with Andrew again.

Jameel, Roy Underhill & Andrew Lunn. Photo thanks to JoeMac.

Roy giving Andrew's dovetail saw a try on our 500 lb. Roubo. He liked them both!
Photo thanks to JoeMac.

A quick shot of the new Brese Panel Plane.

Another great bunch of guys were Dan and Kyle of DL Barrett & sons & Ed Paik of Medallion Toolworks. Fantastic products, the Barretts make world class plow planes and Ed makes beautiful saws. The best part is they are a bunch of good-natured cut-ups, even for a group from the great white North, eh'.

Ed Paik, Jameel, Dan Barrett, Kyle Barrett, Raney Nelson.

A stunning Barrett plow plane.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention some others at the show. We didn't take as many pics as we would have liked but we were really happy to see our friends Ron Hock & his wife Linda Rosengarten of Hock Tools. They are simply great people and we always look forward to seeing them. Unfortunately we missed getting some good shots of Konrad Sauer's infills.

L-R: Andrew Lunn, Ed Paik, Bob Zajicek, Jameel Abraham, Kyle Barrett, Gary Blum, Ron Hock, Dave Jeske, Dan Barrett, John Economaki, John Abraham (jr.), Ron Brese, Fr. John Abraham. Photo courtesy of Tony Augruso.

In fact it's too bad we have to rely on these shows for everyone to get together, being separated as we are by typically great distances. People like George Walker, Christopher Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, Angie Kopacek, Alex and the whole L-N crew and many others we are pleased to see.

Special thanks to the entire staff of Popular Woodworking Magazine for putting so much effort into making WIA the special event that it has turned out to be. We look forward to the next WIA and hope to participate in it.