Chris Schwarz's Blog

Woodworking in America: Touchdown in St. Charles

Today I was standing in line at our hotel waiting to check in, when I did a foolish thing.

“Oh my gosh,” I said (OK, I actually kinda squealed.) “It’s Thomas Moser!”

And sure enough, there was Thomas Moser, checking in at the hotel in style. I felt like a total furniture dork and turned a shade of crimson. Then I felt a lot better when the guy in front of me turned around and said:

“I know! It is him!”

Welcome to the Woodworking in America: Furniture Construction & Design Conference in St. Charles, Ill. Today the entire staff of the magazine drove from Cincinnati to Chicago to help set things up for the three-day conference that begins tomorrow.

As always, there is lots to see as the vendors unpack their boxes. Here are a few tidbits.

At the Lie-Nielsen booth, they had a couple interesting things to see on one of the sample workbenches they’d brought along. First, off, they added a sliding board jack to a European trestle-style workbench. The track for the board jack (sometimes called a “deadman”) was attached to the legs with finger joints and hex-head bolts. It is a welcome upgrade to the fine Lie-Nielsen benches.

But the bigger news was getting to mess with the new Lie-Nielsen twin-screw vise. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks has started making its own vise hardware, and this new twin-screw vise looks like a real winner.

For starters, it has only one handle to turn. It wracks very little. And it is adjustable when you set it up so you can have up to 24-1/8″ between the screws. The whole setup is very tidy. Very tight. Very impressive.

Also cool: I saw one of Andrew Lunn’s new saws that are minus the etching but with the addition of a new medallion. Sweet. (Sorry, no photos.)

The Benchcrafted folks had their new carbide scraper, which is branded the “Skraper.” It’s a cool little tool , a glue scraper with a carbide tip. It might be the last glue scraper you ever buy or sharpen.

The Lee Valley booth was already set up when I arrived and covered in blankets. And I didn’t have the courage to peek underneath.

And then there’s Slav, the file-monger. Slav showed up with a van full of new-old-stock files and rasps and a bunch of other tools.

Even though I’m on the clock here, this is going to be an expensive weekend for me personally.

– Christopher Schwarz

6 thoughts on “Woodworking in America: Touchdown in St. Charles

  1. Roger Wilson

    The conference was great. There was so much information on styles techniques and optional ways to build things. I was totally satisfied with the value vs cost. All the presenters and attendees were very open in sharing tips and techniques. Learned a bunch about 18th, 19th and 20th century furniture. Was hoping there would be more hands on tips, but at the Q & A they covered that. Can’t wait till the next one. I just started wood working several years ago.

    After Thom. Moser’s presentation, my wife said, gee, I didn’t know woodworkers could be such fun.

    Great job

    Sincerely,

    Roger

  2. David

    One quibble with the L-N vise that others have mentioned on net forums is the somewhat crude hex-head nut cap on the outside of the vise. I can imagine that might be more than aesthetics – catching one’s anatomy on it when using the bench might be quite painful.

    Hopefully, Tom will see fit to replace that with something more aesthetically pleasing.

  3. Christopher Schwarz

    Yup. It’s an inverted V at the bottom of the track and a tenon at the top. The board jack lifts up and out to take it off its track if need be.

    Chris

  4. Jason Young

    It’s difficult to see in the photo, but how does the sliding deadman slide on the stretcher of the Lie-Nielsen workbench. Is it the typical inverted "V" shape or something else?

  5. Ron Boe

    Expensive; yes. Glad I’m not there – but for that reason alone. Hope you have time to post more pics later.

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