Hand Tool Olympics at WIA Midwest

OK, here’s your German lesson for the week, and yes, it does have to do with the Hand Tool Olympics at the upcoming Woodworking in America event being held in the greater Cincinnati area this weekend. The new event added to the standard six events this year is “nagel treffen,” also known as pounding nails. Mike Siemsen, who has run the event for the past few years, explained that a “nagler” is also a German slang term for “someone who is good at something.” So, if you’re a hand tool “nagler,” show up at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center (across the Ohio river from Cincinnati) and show the crowds what you can do. And if you aren’t a “nagler,” you still have a few days to practice.

In addition to pounding nails in a stump using a cross-peen hammer, the six “competitive” events – read that events that are timed and tested for accuracy – are cutting dovetail joints, cutting tenons, boring holes using a brace and bit, ripping a board, crosscutting a board and jointing the board you ripped with  a jointer plane. And these competitive events also offer some awesome prizes for the person with the best score in the individual event, and also random drawings for participants in each event.

Siemsen, who heads up the School of Woodworking, is joined by the  Society of Period Furniture Makers as co-hosts of Olympics in Northern Kentucky. The Olympics are held at the event Marketplace, a showcase of hand and power tool woodworking products from some of the best makers in world. Some 60 exhibitors will be there and most will offer demonstrations of their tools and let you “try before you buy.”

Prizes for the Olympics winners are spectacular. For the dovetail competition, each winner will receive a dovetail saw, one provided by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and the other by Rob Cosman. For the edge-jointing winners, Lee Valley/Veritas is providing bevel-up jointer planes. For winners in the sawing competitions, restored vintage handsaws and braces from Ron Herman will be presented. Winners in the tenon cutting competition will be award quality tenon saws from Bad Axe Tool Works.

While some participants take the event seriously, most are there for the fun and the experience. Event hosts stress that the emphasis is on learning and having fun.

The other part of Woodworking in America is a major woodworking conference featuring some of the top woodworking experts presenting classes in many aspects of the craft. In addition to weekend long registrations for the conference, one day passes are also available.

– Steve Shanesy

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