Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Woodworking In America Part 1

Mike Siemsen teaches dovetail cutting at the Hand Tool Olympics
 Now that I've had a few days to process I'm finally ready to write a post about Woodworking In America. I had attended the Marketplace in 2011, which I found interesting and useful then and had the opportunity to be a full conference attendee this year. Thanks to my wife Colleen for making that possible.

I kicked things off on Thursday night at the book release party for "To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo on Marquetry" which was a great experience and an opportunity to meet some interesting people from all over with an interest pre-industrial woodworking and woodwork history and to pick up a copy of the book, more on that in another post.  Plus there was awesome pizza and beer at A Tavola.

Friday morning was registration and I started off with a session from Mary May on relief carving of leaves. Mary has a great way of making things feel very accessible even if you haven't carved before and a very relaxed attitude that I enjoyed. She made it pretty clear that you can do the vast majority of carving with 4 - 6 tools, not only through her words but with her tool use during the demo. She used a few standard gouges and a V-tool to do most everything.

After that Peter Follansbee was presenting on carved spoons. I always enjoy watching Peter work, and this was a whole different kind of carving. Axe work and then knives. After splitting out a blank of green (wet) apple wood, he used the carving axe to rough out the spoon shape as much as possible. Then he demonstrated several knife techniques to shape the spoon and hollow the bowl and discussed design along the way. While I may never make a spoon I always am interested in the rough work portions of hand tool demos as this is where a lot of time can be saved and maybe there will be something to apply to my work.

Got some lunch and kicked around the Marketplace for a bit. Perhaps the most interesting things to many hand tool woodworkers will be the release of a pair of 16" tenon saws from Lee Valley in their line of very good resin backed saws. Also Lie-Nielsen will be releasing a plow plane modeled after the Millers Patent plow but not as ornate. I saw the first models of each of these and tried them out. Each of the tools were quite nice.

Spent a few minutes chatting and doing the events a the hand tool olympics. I think that is one of the best things at the marketplace. Friday events were boring, cross cutting, and tenon cutting. Saturday events were rip cutting, edge planing, and dovetail cutting. I enjoyed doing the last 3 in 2011 and was glad to be able to compete in them all this year.

For the final session of the day Mike Siemsen presented a session on thrifty woodworking. I thought this was one of the highlight sessions overall. Mike really showed that you don't need to spend a ton to have decent tools and make some good stuff and build your skills. I'll be talking more about this session in some future posts I'm sure.

Well this is getting a bit long, so I'm gonna cut it into two parts. I'll see you tomorrow with some talk about the keynote dinner, sessions from Ejler Hjorth-Westh, Roy Underhill and other surprises. Until then.

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