A visit with a LumberJock - Workshop of Charles Neil

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Blog entry by Karson posted 03-21-2008 06:14 PM 1599 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

You might be a LumberJock if you visit the shop of a LumberJock and you fail to take any pictures. So Sorry. As I was leaving I said to my son-in-law. I didn’t take any picture and I think Charles was ready to kick us out.

End of Story.

Now the beginning.

I sent Charles an e-mail a few months ago and told them that my son-in-law and daughter lived about 15 miles from him and sometime when I’m visiting them that I’d like to visit him.

He replied make sure that you do.

Last Sunday / Monday I make a quick trip to Virginia and I was leaving about noon on Monday, but I gave the shop a call. Sherri answered and said come-on-down. Just what a LumberJock likes to hear from a woodworking business and a fellow LumberJock.

We took the back way to visit the countryside and stay off the interstate. It was about 20 minutes to get to The Workshop of Charles Neil

It’s an old mechanic shop that he has converted to a workshop.

His hours say that he’s in.

My son-in-law Albert, and his son Albie came along with my son David. I’m behind the camera. So we had 4 lumberjocks visiting another.

We walk in the door and This gentleman in work attire was leaning over a new Sawstop and probably cursing under his breath (even thought he doesn’t always do it under his breath). He was using a block of wood trying to pry a saw blade off the arbor of his new saw.

I didn’t think this would be the normal procedures.

It seem, that Charles was cutting a piece of red oak on his saw and the blade stopped. It didn’t require a hot-dog or a finger to do it, it did it all on it’s own. But it didn’t work the way that the Manufactures sales brochures says that it works either. The blade just stopped and didn’t fall beneath the table saw surface. Two blade teeth were stuck in the aluminum block and the whole shebang was not wanting to come off the saw.

After much prying, the blade and the SawStop stopping mechanism were off. It looked like dry wood to me, but in any case the SawStop stopping mechanism didn’t work as advertised. The blade had a red Teflon coating and Charles said that he might have heard that there are problems with that blade on the SawStop.

Since he was stopped working he took me on a tour of his shop and showed me his impressive tool collection.
(Pictures not available)

One item that I did take a picture of was the Birds Eye box.

Charles has an opinion on many things but he likes finishing. I had previously bought his 10 DVD set on finishing. They had just arrived before I left for Virginia so I’ve not seen them yet. We discussed some finishing problems that I had just run into. We sat down at one of his workbenches, which in reality is his coffee table. And we discussed woodworkers and their problems. One woodworker from Europe had e-mailed him about wood bleaching and Charles had told him that he needed to neutralize the bleach after using it. He was 50 some years old and didn’t know what neutralize meant. He tried to explain it and he said if he calls back again he will tell him to put some baking soda in his car battery. He will then know what neutralize means.

Charles said that he had 3 cars in Hot Rod magazine that he had painted by the time that he was in his early 20’s. So he knows his finishing.

Billie, Charles helper took my son-in-law to show him where the bathroom was. I’m sorry I didn’t have to go, because he said that you walk through one of Charles wood stashes to get there.

We spend a couple of hours keeping him from making a decent living, and so we bid him ado. He did say that in May he is having a BBQ on the property and is inviting all woodworkers to come and visit. He said it was shown on his Forum page. It’s May 24 from 9:00 till ? Nothing planned. Some other woodworkers from around the country say that they plan to come.

Sounds like a LumberJock Picnic to me. I’ll keep you informed.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

16 comments so far

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4439 days

#1 posted 03-21-2008 06:46 PM

Sounds like you guys had a good visit. Picnic? Sounds even better!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View FrankA's profile


139 posts in 4228 days

#2 posted 03-21-2008 06:51 PM

Sounds like you had quite the visit.
I wish I was able to get down there for that BBQ.
It sounds like Mr.Neil and his people are quite hospitable
like the rest of the LumberJocks crew here.
Wish you had taken some pictures.

-- Frank Auge---Nichols NY----"My opinion is neither copyrighted nor trademarked, but it is price competitive."

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4587 days

#3 posted 03-21-2008 07:01 PM

Karson -

What a great blog posting. I have to say I am jealous. We make trips periodically to Virginia. A visit to Charles’ workshop is on my list for our next visit (BTW I have my wife’s permission for such a side trip!).

Thanks Karson!



View CharlesNeil's profile


2495 posts in 4319 days

#4 posted 03-21-2008 07:09 PM

Hey Karson, it was good to see you and come back any time. Since your visit and working closely with Saw Stop tech, who are awesome, we found out that Billy, who was actually cross cutting on the saw failed to mention that he hit the blade with the aluminum cross-cut sled which conducts electricity thus in reality the saw did exactly what it was suppose to do. It doesn’t know the difference between the aluminum and Billy. My prying was my fault, I should have read the manual (oops), anyway, the saw performs excellant and while the incident was aggravating, had that been Billy’s hand or a student’s hand, I’m glad it happened as it confirmed my faith in the saw.

Now, about the picnic, get together, cruise-in, whatever you want to call it, I call it a nice bull session, we have opened our shop (which is always open to everyone) and invited anyone who wants to or can get here on Saturday, May 24th to come on down – or up – or east or west, to visit. Lots have emailed that they hope to come. We ain’t gonna sell you anything and it don’t cost anything to be here, not sure all the details, Sherri is working that out and we’ll give what we know in the April newsletter, just get the date on your calendar and figure out how you can get here!

Things are calming a bit in the shop now and I’m making sawdust again so maybe I can get out here a little more often than I have been able to the past couple of months.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4609 days

#5 posted 03-21-2008 07:12 PM

Karson – you’re everywhere!!
How wonderful

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4323 days

#6 posted 03-21-2008 07:18 PM

Thanks for the virtual tour Karson and Charles.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4270 days

#7 posted 03-21-2008 07:45 PM


Thanks for the post. I am glad to see that you had a whole crew with you. Meeting with Charles like this was a wonderful opportunity. I only know him from what I have seen in his videos but I find him to be a straight-forward no-nonsense type of guy who enjoys sharing his gift for woodworking with others. Thanks for letting the rest of us participate in this wonderful opportunity.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4411 days

#8 posted 03-21-2008 07:55 PM

color me green!!!!! I am envious. Good you got to go.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Kevin Violette's profile

Kevin Violette

235 posts in 4312 days

#9 posted 03-21-2008 07:59 PM

Thanks Karson! It is nice to hear that the hospitality extends beyond the keyboard when it comes to Lumberjocks!

-- Kevin

View Grumpy's profile


25526 posts in 4300 days

#10 posted 03-21-2008 10:12 PM

you do get around Karson. Great story. Nothing like a BBQ but I am just a tad distant.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View GMoney's profile


158 posts in 4252 days

#11 posted 03-22-2008 02:02 AM

I know it, you are everywhere Karson! Nice job, your postings are fun to read. A few more pics to go with the fine prose and we’ll be all set!

Thanks again.

-- Greg, CT

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4849 days

#12 posted 03-22-2008 04:11 AM

I’m as disappointed as you that I didn’t take many pictures. I was carrying the camera around in my hand. It was not hidden.

I’m glad to hear that the SawStop worked as designed.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4849 days

#13 posted 03-22-2008 04:59 AM

David when you get the trip on your schedule let me know and I’ll come to visit also.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 4693 days

#14 posted 03-22-2008 04:28 PM

Karson – you keep this up and we may start seeing you on public television. “Karson’s Traveling Woodworking Shop Tours”

Keep it up only about 3640 more lumberjocks to visit. As of today anyway. Tommorrow may be 3800.

-- Joel Tille

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4849 days

#15 posted 03-22-2008 04:43 PM

I better get busy traveling.

Mikega a member on Charles Forum site posted me a picture and said he took one I could use So here it is.

Charles workbench coffee table is in front.

A larger picture is here

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

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