Sunday, May 17, 2015

Handworks 2015 and Mr. Studley

I had a great weekend attending the Handworks event at the Amana Colonies. Being a furniture maker in Iowa, a show like this is simply too good to pass up. 

This picture prior to opening speaks to the success of the event before it even started. Obviously there are a lot of woodworkers in the midwest, and we were all excited about this event.

To begin each day it was pretty crowded in the big barn. My wife said it was filled with "man stink." (snicker) I found it wise to come back later in the day if you really wanted to visit with some of the toolmakers. 

The awesome tool chest collaboration between Chris Schwarz and Jameel Abraham. 

Roy Underhill giving us all a good laugh. 

Patrick Leach brought a plethora of vintage tools to the event. I've never seen so many infill planes in my life. 

When able, I jumped at the chance to visit with my favorite dovetailer, David Barron. He traveled all the way from the UK for this event. I think it was worth his while because many of his offerings were selling out. David is just as genuine and friendly as he seems in his youtube videos

Yours truly and the English Gentleman of woodworking. 

Some of us woodworkers chuckled as a few toolmakers weren't as friendly and as good of a salesman as David. It's gotta be tough. I can't help but put myself in their shoes, answering the same questions over and over. Perhaps hearing "that's expensive" one too many times, or watching someone hack away with a tool you carefully crafted. The exhibitors do the best they can.

Another oddity is when a dense bubble of woodworkers is formed, as was in Amana Iowa this weekend, folks like Chris Schwarz are treated like celebrities. That must be strange for them. 

Along those lines, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed when the Lie Nielsen group and various other toolmakers showed up in the same pub I was having dinner in on Friday evening. I didn't go all "fan girl" and ask them for autographs, but I did throw back a couple beers and chat them up a bit. We talked about the things we were passionate about: beautiful woods and high quality tools. 

Many woodworkers would consider working for Lie Nielsen to be their dream job. Maybe so, but they're just blue collar folks too. They still work long hours, miss their families when they travel, and have to deal with difficult people just like the rest us.

Saturday afternoon I had tickets for the Studley exhibit in Cedar Rapids. If your not familiar with the work of Henry Studley, he was a piano and organ maker early in the last century. His tool cabinet is like the Taj Mahal of all tool cabinets. It's just insane. 

Anyway, here's a pic of me with the cabinet. There are tons of great detail shots found on the interwebz, so I won't bore you with my low quality pictures. 

And a shot of his bench:

Never again will I apologize for going above and beyond to make my tools and shop beautiful to me. This was Mr. Studley oil stone case. It's made of Ebony and mother of pearl for cripes sakes. An oil stone case!

Probably my favorite picture I took in the Masonic Temple that hosted (snicker):

Then it was back to our lovely Bed and Breakfast. This is the best way to get a real feel for the history of the Amana Colonies. The B&B we stayed at had been built as a communal kitchen in the 1860s. 

These stairs were great. 150 years of foot traffic was evident.

The lodging really solidifies the Amana Colonies as a great place to host this event. Those of us in the bed & breakfasts lived communally with other woodworkers. We were all there for the same reason, and there was rarely a lull in the conversation at breakfast. 

By all accounts Handworks 2015 was a success. For some toolmakers, maybe a little too successful. That is, many of them had sold out of their tools and books on the first day. Spoiled American consumers like myself brought majority of our cash back home:-) Literally every item I planned on getting was sold out. Oh well. I'll hold my cash for the release of Lie Nielsen's plow plane. Here's the prototype. 

Now if Tom would just get on with the release. I'm dying in suspense here!

Take care ya'll, 

Dan Westfall