Chris Schwarz's Blog

Lie-Nielsen Open House (and a Crazy Dutch Chest)

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Last weekend I attended the Lie-Nielsen Open House at the company’s factory in Warren, Maine, and got to hang out with a lot of contributors to Popular Woodworking Magazine and work together on an unusual Dutch Tool Chest.

What’s a Dutch Tool Chest? Check out the October 2013 issue to find out.

Every year, Lie-Nielsen opens its doors to the public a la Willy Wonka to show off the factory, feed everyone lobster and promote the craft. It is one of my favorite woodworking events.

This year there were so many fantastic demonstrators that I didn’t even have time to talk to all of them. Here are a few of my personal highlights.

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• Watching Peter Galbert and his crew at work on chairs. Peter’s work is so good I’m almost ashamed to call my chairs “chairs.”
• Talking to Mary May, who was demonstrating carving (of course). (Commercial – but very cool – side note. Mary is teaching a 10-day online course offered through ShopWoodworking.com on how to carve a traditional fan. It’s only $39.99 and begins July 22. Details here. Mary is a fantastic teacher; I’ve sat in on several of her courses and seminars.)
• Getting to talk to Frank Strazza, whose work is simply stunning in its precision and detail.
• Working with some of Isaac Smith’s backsaws. They are excellent. Photos do not do them justice, and Isaac is an excellent filer.
• Watching Matt Bickford work with his moulding planes.
• Hanging out with Peter Follansbee and getting to watch him carve spoons and bowls.
• Using Tico Vogt’s amazing new shooting board and shooting plane from Ron Brese.

And, of course, hanging out with the entire Lie-Nielsen crew and show staff. I barely got to talk to Bob Van Dyke from the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking and some of the other demonstrators.

I was a little short on leisure time to chat because I had to finish up a Dutch tool chest for a customer while working the show. The customer requested that the chest be painted, so I pressed Editor Megan Fitzpatrick to lend a hand with that while I moulded the lid.

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In a flash of nuttiness, I sent the customer down to Peter Follansbee’s bench with the chest’s fall-front to ask if Peter would add some gouge cuts to it. Peter was happy to give it a whack.

We then painted the entire fall-front black. Then Megan taped off the center field and painted the outside edges a dark blue. Finally, I planed off the black paint in the field.

When Peter saw it, all he could say was, “Wild!” I think that’s good.

In any case, I was glad to return to Kentucky without any Dutch chests to throw in the shed.

— Christopher Schwarz

2 thoughts on “Lie-Nielsen Open House (and a Crazy Dutch Chest)

  1. rushby.craig

    I could have sworn at first that your second picture was Norm Abrams. Then I figured out that it is really Peter Galbert. He must get that a lot.

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