Friday, October 24, 2014

The Lie-Nielsen Tool Event Recap

So it's been a week since the Tool Event, and I'm still recovering! 

My respect goes out to event planners - there is a hell of a lot of work you have to do when putting on an event like the one we hosted here last weekend! And after months of planning, dozens of lists, and hundreds of hours - the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event went off with nary a hitch. 

The classroom was in great shape, and the woodshop was cleaned, but there was a slight problem - with crates with all of the tools in them didn't arrive as scheduled. 

That meant that the day of the show started very early for us - as the Lie-Nielsen crew had to set up the morning of the show. The day started very early for us! 

Luckily - one of my neighbors helped us unload the crates with his forklift.

 The crates were huge, filled with tools and workbenches - they gave me a back ache just looking at them!

Everyone pitched in, and somehow - everything was set up in less than two hours. 

Amazing! At the last minute we hung the signs on the street - and we were good to go.

This was the calm before the storm - testing the Internet connections and awaiting the attendees. 

There was a lot of tool porn here - you couldn't help but feel excited by seeing their beautiful wares.

 I even got in the spirit of things - and got a Lie-Nielsen tattoo for the weekend.

 Kevin, of Glen–Drake Tools gave demos using his lathe tools, as well as dovetail saw demos, and generally entertained us for the weekend.

 His hammers were huge hit, featuring both left and right-handed versions. How cool is that? He even left me a few goodies and some signed spindles from the demos. 


Juan Vergara, an infill plane maker from California, captivated the crowd with his handmade planes. 

We're talking high-end pieces of woodworking magnificence here, and by the end of the show - he seemed quite pleased with the sales he had made.

Here's Juan, modeling one of my saws!

The second day of the show started with an amazing sunrise, and the day went much more smoothly than the first! 

The Lie-Nielsen staff - Robert, Danielle, and John couldn't have been more professional or friendly!  Their hard work and kindness made a lot of new fans here in Las Vegas.

And by the end of the day, we were all pretty punchy and ready for a cold beverage. 

I'd like to thank everyone that helped me pull this event off - and there were so many who helped that I hope I don't forget anyone here.

To the cleaning and set up crew - Lupe, Denny, Joe, Beth, Richard, Ann, Eric, John, Adam, Kris  - I couldn't done this without you. My sincere thanks!

 Lupe printed the vinyl signs that we hung on the street, and for that - I am very thankful.  Denny and John hung the signs  - I have much appreciation for the work you both did.

To Kelley of Sparkly Tees and Kyle (The T-Shirt Guy) - thanks for printing great T-shirts for the event. And thanks to Adam for coming up with some of the artwork! 

Mario, of Ario Signs, my neighbor and friend printed the new vinyl banner for the expanded classroom, and I'm so appreciative of his work! Oh -  and my old high school friend, Terry, designed it.... I've known Terry for 40 years, and it was SO COOL to have her involved in this project!

Thanks to Doug, of Southwest Garage Cabinets, another neighbor - who helped unload the truck with his forklift. That job would've been much harder without you!

Beth wrote a great letter to all of my fellow tenants in the complex, explaining what the event was about, inviting them to attend it, and warning them that the traffic could be dicey in the parking lot. Her letter helped smooth out what could've been problematic - and I appreciate her savviness in mitigating these problems. She's a terrific business woman and I'm constantly learning new things from her. 

Many thanks to Ann, who babysat Stella for the weekend! That was a huge load off my mind!

We had a few press releases printed in local newspapers, and I want to thank Jill for writing them - your journalism degree served me well!

And finally - to Denny, my right-hand man and an incredible guy. (He'll kill me for adding this photo of him glam-modeling the T-shirt! It was a long day and we were punchy!)

All of the exhibitors commented on how helpful he was, helping them setup, assisting them in every way possible. Every single time I spoke to them, they thanked me over and over for his energetic assistance.  And I couldn't agree more  - he took a huge load off my shoulders, and for that, I'm so thankful.

 I really hope I'm not forgetting anyone! - but if I am, know that your help played a big part in making this weekend successful.

The good news is... 

Lie-Nielsen asked if I'd like to do it again next year!

You betcha!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Cleaning Crew

Damn, things are really in full swing for the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event that starts tomorrow. 

We've spruced up the joint, and added some color.

Hell, we even cleaned the fridge - a rare event! 

My neighbor, Mario - of Ario Signs - kindly printed a banner for the new classroom. This banner was a inter-continental project - my old high school buddy Terry (who's is in Ohio) designed the banner, using a local graphic artist's logo. 

So the process went from concept (Adam) to Terry (layout) to Mario (printing) to Denny, (my own personal boy Friday) who hung it. I am deeply thankful to have each of them helping me out. 

Tuesday night - we had a cleaning party. Everyone who so graciously offered to help out showed up to help blow, dust, vacuum, sweep, and generally get the place in shape. This was truly a team effort, although several times I caught people blowing right next to someone else trying to contain their mess. 

 So it was a bit of a cluster fuck at times. And somewhat comical, when you stepped back and watched everything unfold.

I want to send a big thanks to everyone who helped prepare for this - it's a huge event here at the school, and I couldn't have done it without everyone's help and support. 

Now...on to the big event....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Table Retrofit - is it time to tweak that table in your basement?

It's probably not 100% accurate, but I think there's a relationship between the economy and the type of commissions I receive at my woodshop. In boom times - the type of orders being placed are for brand new pieces - kitchen tables, desks, beds, whatever. 

In less predictable economic times, the cycle of work that arrives on my doorstep includes repairs, retrofits, and upcycling. Lately, I've been seeing all sorts of repairs coming in, and to tell you the truth, they're a nice break from what I normally do. 

This sofa table came in the shop the other day; it wasn't particularly outstanding, but the owners liked it and it fit well in their home. They wanted it retrofitted into a small desk, by removing the shelf below, and a adding a drawer into the front apron. They even brought in visual aid for me!

I love it when people come in with a plan. Removing the shelf was first, and my first thought was to remove these plugs, with the hope of exposing the mortise and tenon joinery. Instead, I realized these were dummies (and so was I!) just covering up giant screws. 

Had I known that, I wouldn't have had to dig out this plug! Sometimes, the best plan of attack is BFI. That's Brute Force and Ignorance. 

It's easy to overthink things, when all the situation really needs is a hammer and someone swinging it. A couple of swift whacks with a hammer released the shelf. 

I ground down the screws,

 and cut some of the beaded trim from the shelf front to cover up the lower stretchers.

I swear, when it was done, it looked like that shelf had never been there! 

Part One - Mission Accomplished!

On to Part Two - cutting the top apron and adding a drawer. I wanted to use the piece of wood that I cut out for the drawer front, so I decided to hand cut the apron with a thin kerf Japanese saw. I added a few guides to help me saw straight.

It's so easy for that saw to wander!

When I got close to the bottom of the apron, a little duct tape protected the underside of the table top. Is there anything that duct tape doesn't do?

 The top was screwed into the aprons - which is completely the wrong way to attach a tabletop, but hell... if it's worked for this long, why not join that party? I used a doweling jig to drill some centered holes, 

and reattached the top to the base.

 It's sort of hard to see, but Stella was with me in the shop when I was working on this table, and she just sat at the front door, watching the neighborhood. She tends to get pretty bored when she's at the shop, but I like the company!

 With the apron cut away, I added some side bracing on which to mount the drawer slide.  

The drawer front needed a little cleaning up, with its hand sawn edges looking a little ratty. Once I straightened up the cut, and put it back into place - it looked perfect! 

Building a drawer was probably the easiest part of all of this - I swear, I've built so many drawers in my lifetime, I could do one with one hand tied behind my back, and both eyes closed. I prefer to leave drawer boxes unstained; they just look cleaner, and there is no risk of smell or contamination to the contents of the drawer,

 but when I attached the drawer face to the box and slid it into place, it looked out of place. 

Thats' one thing you don't want with furniture repair - for the repair to stick out like a sore thumb. So I broke my own rule and stained it. And you know what - it looked perfect! 

When finished, it was hard to tell that this drawer hadn't always been there! I suppose that's a good test of whether the retrofit was a success or not. 

As far as my theory about economic indicators goes - the next four or five projects I'm working on all deal with building new pieces, so it sort of blows my theory out of the water. 

So much for me being an economist; I'll stick to woodworking!