Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool EventA friend of mine recently let me know about a Lie-Nielsen hand tool event that was sponsored nearby in St. Petersburg, Florida at a local sculpture studio called MGA Sculpture Studio. I had heard about Lie-Nielsen tools before, as they are one of the premier hand tool manufacturers along with Lee Valley’s Veritas line, and a few other fine tool makers. I have never had the opportunity to see find hand tools of this quality being used prior to this, being mostly a power tool woodworker up until this point.

I arrived a bit before 10AM at the studio, and everything was already mostly set up by the on-site Lie-Nielsen staff. I had a chance to ask about Lie-Nielsen’s A2 tool steel vs the other types (O1, PM-V11). Deneb Puchalski, a staff member and expert on Lie-Nielsen took the time to explain the differences in tool steel and why Lie-Nielsen’s philosophy is geared around A2. As other people started to trickle in, I got to browse around the displays and touch and feel the tools that Lie-Nielsen manufacturers.

As another gentleman in the group also had the same questions I did, Deneb took us as a group through the basics of getting started with Lie-Nielsen tools (and hand tools in general) and what types of hand tools we should start out with. This was valuable information for me, as I have very little experience with hand planes, and Deneb’s explanation helped to guide us in the use of a Jointer plane, a Smoothing plane, and a Jack plane. He also explained a bit about angles of the various types of irons in planes, and how to sharpen them using his recommend method – involving waterstones and a bevel honing guide.

Coming out of the presentation, I must say I learned a great deal about hand tool use and selection – and a little more about sharpening. Lie-Nielsen’s tools are well known to be among the very best in the industry, and after experiencing them first hand, I can see why. They are solid, well-built, and very precise. The staff there was very knowledgeable about the craft and their tools and it seemed like they enjoyed what they do for a living, which is important. I highly recommend going to one of these if you’re a novice, and I have to say that Lie-Nielsen is high on my list of tools to buy as I progress to more accomplished woodworking in the future.

You Don’t Get To Tell Me What To Do

I’m a hobbyist woodworker. I’m by no means an expert. I learn a lot from a variety of sources, including videos, the interwebs, books, magazines, and by practical experimentation. I am part of a growing group of Google+ woodworkers of various experience, and it’s cool to see the things they make and how they make them.

Recently, a member of this group on G+ posted a video from Fine Woodworking Magazine, which was basically a couple of guys from the magazine talking about how individuals online are posting “how to” or project videos online, and how they should be “vetted” by a professional group (such as a publishing group like Fine Woodworking) before they are posted. Entitled “A Perfect Storm of Stupidity”, they basically bash hobbyists like myself and the people I follow online that post videos or project information (although honestly I haven’t posted anything yet). Now a couple of the people I follow, they are professionals. As one of them put it, if you make your living doing woodworking – meaning feeding your family – you are a PROFESSIONAL. You don’t have any higher “vetting” process than that.

This caused a bit of backlash from a number of people, and rightly so.

Woodworking to me is a hobby. It’s fun, and if someone can use what I’ve done and enjoy it, huzzah! I always learn something (or at least get ideas) from watching online content from people. And if there’s some reason that people aren’t performing safe work with no safety equipment, googles, no table saw guard, or poor working conditions, the community is right there to tell them so.

But no one can tell me I can’t do something unless it is harmful to someone else, someone else’s legal property, or against the law. So far, none of these videos have harmed anyone. Rather, they’ve helped me learn something new. Sure, not everyone looks fantastic on camera (neither do the FWW guys) but it doesn’t have to be an expensively produced video for me to learn something from it, nor do I need a panel of snobby experts reviewing said videos beforehand for content issues. Bah.

Fine Woodworking, this has completely turned me off from your magazine. I will not purchase any of your magazines or supplements (the Workshops supplement you do every year was cool too) any longer due to this. It’s a shame, really, because in the long run you’re only hurting yourselves alienating the woodworking community like this. We are the people that keep your dwindling magazine market alive. If you continue to have an elistist, snobby attitude, we just will go somewhere else.

Field Notes American Tradesman Edition

While this is not really a review per se, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my thanks for a great product that I enjoy everyday. I use them for many things. Notes, lists, drawings, and technical information I need to remember.

I just recently was able to get back into my shop and was very pleased to find out that this summer brought an offering from Field Notes, purveyors of fine notebooks (and other goodies). They release a “colors” edition periodically that has some nifty design apart from their usual brown notebooks (which are great in their own right). I’ve bought a number of them over the past year or two, and I even tried to make it to their Chicago office while I was up there for training (alas, it was not to be as they were closed).

This time around, Field Notes featured an American Tradesman Edition. It is a “corrugated-ish” blue heavy stock cover, with metallic lettering. The inside is full of graph paper. It included a special carpenters pencil and instructions on how to sharpen the pencil.

I saw this pack, and had to get it. It was right up my alley, since I’m a hobbyist woodworker, and of course from time to time need to draw sketches of what I’m building. And I ALWAYS need a good pencil for measuring.

I have used my Field Notes for various things in my hobby. One particular instance was building a simple water play device I found online called the Kidwash. I built in some modifications to it, and donated it to my son’s school for their summer camp and “Splash Days”. Here’s a shot of how I used the Field Notes. Field Notes helped me keep the material list straight.

So I received my Field Notes American Tradesman Edition just in time for this weekend and “Shop Time” (as I call it). I had some time today to prepare the pencil as per the instructions, and get my book ready for the next project.

I started by laying out everything I needed. I just used a simple razor knife to do the cutting. After starting to cut the tip on the skinny side first, I then proceeded to the wide side, and then finished the tip. Here’s a close-up. The book looks good with Teak. And it is Bob the Builder approved (yes, my wife insisted I should have Bob the Builder curtains when I first built my shop in the garage).

I haven’t used the book yet, but my next project is in the planning stages, and I’ll be using my new notebook for specifically that. My son needs Lego cabinets to store our Legos, and when I say “ours” I mean 30+ years of Legos that were mine, and now his.

UPDATE (7/10/11): I started the Lego cabinets this weekend, and of course, started using my Field Notes American Tradesman Edition. Here’s an overview of the project, including my Field Notes in action.

If you want to see more of my work, the various project details are on this website and of course on my Picasa albums.

Thanks again for a wonderful product. I really enjoy using my notebooks. I look forward to the new designs you’ll come up with.