Lie-Nielsen - Hand Tool Event - Indy (Rating: 4)

This Saturday (10/17/09) I attended the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Indianapolis at the Herron School of Art. I think it is worth mentioning right off the bat is that I am extremely new to woodworking and that alone may bias my opinions stated below. I had two main reason for attending this event: 1) Learn as much as possible about everything available, and 2) Get my hands on some Lie-Nielsen equipment to see what it is like to use high quality tools. Admission to the event was free! I did have to pay for parking (only $4.50 for 4 hours), but that was something out of the control of Lie-Nielsen as it was on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis and nearly all parking the area is designated to the IUPUI students. Not to mention a national FFA event was also taking place in the city on that day. The area designated for the event was a bit small and there were not a lot of demonstrators - but considering it was free one cannot complain in my opinion. I learned a wealth of information about planing, sharpening, and joint construction.

Demonstrators at the event included: A rep from Lie-Nielsen, Chris Schwarz (editor of popular woodworking), George Walker (author and contributing writer for popular woodworking), Kevin Drake (Glen-Drake Toolworks), Jameel Abraham (Benchcrafted), Andrew Lunn (Eccentric Toolworks), and a rep from Marc Adams School of Woodworking.

A few of the demonstrators really stood out in my opinion and I would like to comment.

Angie from Lie-Nielsen (I hope I remember her name correctly!)
As soon as I entered the event, Lie-Nielsen had a bench set up with a piece of walnut that contained a couple of knots about the size of a half-dollar. During my time at the booth I was able to work the walnut with a bevel-up jack plane with both a standard and toothed blade (one of my main reasons for attending). I am sure this will not surprise anyone, but the quality of the tool was amazing and extremely easy to use - even for someone with almost no experience with planing. No tear-out around knots! Angie went out of her way answering questions from everyone at the show and her knowledge of planing and sharping was exceptional - as was her personality. You can tell she has been doing this for awhile. Nearly all of Lie-Nielsen's tools were on display and ready for use. I was also able to see several of their tools demonstrated. In addition Angie walked through the Lie-Nielsen method for sharpening, tuning, and using the tools. All and all it was exactly what one would expect from the manufacture of such high quality tools.

Chris Schwarz
As one would expect from a hands-on author and editor of a wood working magazine, Chris knows his stuff!! However, one may not expect an editor to be an exception speaker and story teller - but Chris is. During the time I spent at Chris' booth he fielded questions from a swarm of people and demonstrated his method of sharpening plane blades. In addition, he demonstrated the difference in surface finish between a well tuned plane and a card scraper. I was alway under the impression the a scraper left a cleaner surface, but boy I was wrong! It is very subtle and likely not worth fussing about, but you can see a difference when looking at the surface when light is reflecting across it.

George Walker
George was there to discuss furniture design - something that is over my head at this point while I am still learning to cut joints, etc. However, George is such a down-to-earth guy and easy to talk to that I was still able to learn a lot of good stuff from him. He made several points regarding using proportions in design rather than measurements that really opened my eyes.

Overall I was very pleased with the event and I would recommend that you attend if you get the opportunity (did I mention it was free??) - though I am sure that the experienced woodworker would not spend 3 1/2 hours there as I did! If you are interested, to see if they will be in your area, check out their site. They will be in CT, MD, MA, and AZ over the next few months.

I would like to give a big thanks to Lie-Nielsen for putting on the event!!