What You'll Find at the WIA Hand Tool Olympics

A tip of the Popular Woodworking hat goes to Mike Siemsen and the guys who worked the Woodworking in America: Furniture Construction & Design Conference Olympics.  The crew that manned the Olympics booth , Mike Siemsen and Jim Van Hoven, (of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers) and John Griffen-Wiesner and Jeff Hand (from the Minnesota Woodworkers Guild) , made the event fun, exciting and an all-around great time. Siemsen took on the persona of a circus barker to bring folks into the competition as he and his cohorts walked the participants through each event.

If you attended the conference and didn’t participate in the Olympics, shame on you. You missed a tremendously exciting event. But fear not, the Woodworking in America Olympics is just getting started. The event at St. Charles was just a warm-up for the Woodworking in America: Hand Tools & Techniques Conference in Valley Forge, Pa., during the first weekend in October. We expect bigger crowds and a larger turn-out for the next session. (To see what you missed at the show and what to expect at Valley Forge, check out the video below.)

The six individual events (accuracy and speed counts in each):

- One Meter Dash , rip a 36″ piece of 1 x 12 stock using a handsaw

- Shooting Sports , use a jointer plane to straighten and square the edge created during the One Meter Dash

- Crosscut Extravaganza , crosscut a piece of 1 x 12 lumber

- Brace Yourself For a Hole in One , bore a 3/4″ hole in a plank using a brace and bit setup

- Pins First or Tails First , complete a three-pin dovetail joint on a 1×4 using hand tools

- Greco-Roman Tenons , produce a 3″-long, 3/4″-thick tenon on the end of a piece of 2×4 stock

In St. Charles, the events attracted many competitors and provided huge laughs , and a few serious competitions , throughout both days.

In fact, the most noteworthy face-off was the Puchalski/Siemsen bout. These two guys went at the One Meter Dash individually, but when they compared the results (both guys were under the 15-second mark), a heated discussion evolved. Each vowed to prepare for the upcoming Olympics and promised to leave the competition curled up in the corner. Not only do we expect this competition to flare up in Valley Forge, we plan to promote this event to the fullest. Register for the conference now! The Early-bird registration deadline is September 9, 2009. And get in as much practice as you can. It can’t hurt.

- Glen D. Huey


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About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is editor of American Woodworker Magazine, and former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He's an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).

One thought on “What You'll Find at the WIA Hand Tool Olympics

  1. Shannon

    I don’t know if I should be flattered to be featured so prominently in this video or not. The ripping looked good, but did you have to show my dovetails so closely??? What a great series of events and amazing competition. This was the highlight of the conference for me and I can’t wait to try again in Valley Forge.

    Shannon

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