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The Central Concern

  “The central concern [of my own work] is encouragement – encouraging people to seek, to experiment, to design, to create and to dream.” – Wm. S. Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life   There are few events that I look forward to more than Lie-Nielsen’s Open House. Every year, Tom Lie-Nielsen opens his doors and invites his fellow toolmakers to showcase their work. The list of guest demonstrators is always long and impressive. Hoards of people come out to this small town of Warren, Maine for a most unique fellowship with these hand tool fanatics. Visitors are able to handle and use the most amazing tools in the world all in one place. It would be easy to write a blog...

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Issue Three Table of Contents at Lie-Nielsen

  Today, Mike and I are packing up for Lie-Nielsen’s Open House. This is always a highlight in our year because Tom throws such an awesome party. He is incredibly generous to us and we get to catch up with so many great friends we only get to see a few times a year. If you haven’t had a chance to try one of the tools you’ve been eyeing up from one of your favorite toolmakers, this is a great opportunity to do so. The list of vendors is huge - it seems like it gets bigger every year.  If you are going to be there, make sure to drop by our booth. We’ll have magazines, DVDS, t-shirts, posters, stickers,...

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The Gift of Doing Stuff You Love with Friends

I like to run. Specifically trails - the steeper, the better. Few things make me giddy like bombing down a rugged, mossy, meandering mountain path, or cresting the last rise before the summit and seeing the horizon burst into view. But as family and work obligations take precedent, almost all of my running takes place in the early morning hours. 5 a.m. is a lonely time, even in a place as predictably bustling as Acadia National Park in the summertime. I rarely see another soul. What this means practically, though, is that when I happen across someone else out on the trails, I feel an instant connection with that person and the experience that we're both engaging. I want to...

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Farewell to Amana

Today started out much like yesterday (rainy, cold, and windy), but that didn't stop the crowds from gathering outside the Festhalle Barn quite early to await Roy Underhill's presentation. Once the doors opened, the atmosphere was electric and excited. And damp. As I started in to find a place to listen, I received a text from Joshua announcing the birth of their third son, Wyeth Day! What awesome news to receive. Everyone agreed: even though we missed Joshua at Handworks, we were extremely glad he wasn't here! Congrats, Klein family! The talk was wonderful and hilarious, as usual. I can't think of a more amicable presence than Roy. He really does light up a room. The day flowed by, filled...

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Handworks 2017: Ready, Set, GO!

We set out early yesterday morning for the last leg of our 1700-mile journey to Iowa for Handworks 2017. After passing through endless fields of newly-sprouted corn, crossing the mighty Mississippi, entering another time zone, and being awed by The World's Largest Truck Stop, we made it to the Amana Colonies. It's a good thing, too - the game of "Spot a Windmill, Win a Quarter" was losing hold on our three kids.  After driving slowly and rubbernecking past many beautiful stone and brick buildings, we found our spot in the Millwright Shop. My wife, Megan, and our kids helped me lug the benches, display, magazines, tools, DVDs, 19th-century​ chest-over-drawers, etc. into the shop as our poor van gave an audible sigh...

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Mortise & Tenon Magazine at Handworks 2017

   At the end of this week, the biggest hand tool woodworking event in the world is happening in Amana, Iowa. If you don’t know already, Handworks is legendary. Woodworkers and tool makers are traveling from all over the world to convene in a barn (and various outbuildings) at the Amana Colonies in Iowa. These folks are serious, passionate tool nerds. Every boutique tool maker and their mother is going to be there. When the organizer, Jameel Abraham, emailed us to ask if we wanted to participate, Mike and I were stoked. Yes. Yes. Yes. No matter what hurdles we had to jump over, we would be there. We started making arrangements for the big journey a long time ago....

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One-day Workshop at Haystack Tomorrow

I will be spending all of tomorrow at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine teaching a one-day workshop. The class is an intro to hand tools class in which we will be building a small pine box. Depending on experience and comfort level, the students will be joining it with either rabbets and nails or dovetails.  I truly believe that taking on small projects in inexpensive wood is the best way to learn. I’ve probably only ever made a dozen “practice” joints in my life. It always seemed like a better use of my time to make a “practice” project. Small boxes and tables are great for developing your marking, sawing, and planing skills in the context...

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2017 Schedule of Events

  Below are the events we have scheduled for 2017. If you’d like to take a workshop we’re teaching or chat with us in person, look below to see if you can make it out to any of these events. We hope to see you this year!   Center for Furniture Craftsmanship – March 10th Presentation: “Why I Cut the Cord”  I’ve been invited to present this coming Friday to the Furniture Intensive students at CFC about how pre-industrial methods has informed my furniture making. Read about the school here.   Fine Woodworking Live 2017 – April 21st - 23rd – Southbridge, Mass. Fine Woodworking’s live event. We’ll be there as a vendor. Looks like a great show with top-notch...

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Free Audio: “Cutting the Cord” at WIA 2016

At Woodworking in America this year, I presented a talk called, 'Cutting the Cord: Why I Converted to Hand-Tool-Only Furniture Making'. During the talk, I had my voice recorder on to be able to share it with you readers that couldn’t make it to WIA. That audio can be heard here. Please note that the recording reflects the fact that I had been talking non-stop with visitors for two days straight. Excuse the strained voice. If you are curious to hear what inspired me to put the power tools away, listen to this 27 minute podcast. And pass it around. I’d like to give more folks a chance to hear a case for hand tools in the 21st century shop....

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Why I Cut the Cord

As WIA is approaching fast, I’ve been working to get all my ducks in a row for the event. There is the usual booth prep kind of stuff: inventory merchandise, gather tools, get cash for the cash box, etc. but this time around I’ve also decided to give a presentation at “Shop Talk” in the Marketplace about my hand tool working journey. So I’m working on those notes too. Its title ‘Cutting the Cord: Why I Converted to Hand-Tool-Only Furniture Making’ highlights the empowering liberation I’ve felt by severing my dependence on woodworking machinery. Rather than working by an “A.S.A.P.” mentality, I now roll up my sleeves and embrace the humble handplane. I’ve decided to invest myself in this hand...

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