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In all honesty, woodworking shows are nice but very predictable. If you subscribe to a woodworking magazine, receive periodical catalogs from Lee Valley, Rockler, Woodcraft, and follow a blog or two, then you are most likely up to date with what’s new in our field. However, for me at least, a woodworking show’s most alluring commodity is the opportunity to test some hand tools and to look at the occasional innovations that have not yet made it to the magazine or blogosphere.

My favorite booths to stop by are the Lie Nielsen and Lee Valley “Campaign”-style mobile showrooms with their portable benches, fold up tool boxes and overall lavish display of tools of all denominations. There I zoom in on the new arrivals and give them a try. I also like to ask questions about future tools, sharpening preferences and other wood-geek related questions. The last two years of visiting the Woodworking Show in NJ, I also enjoyed the impressive booth of Shelter Tools. Shelter is a Maine based company that began as a Carpentry and Woodworking school and recently has branched out to include tools and other building supplies which they sell online and at shows. At Shelter Tools’ booth, I found one of the most impressive displays of Japanese saws, axes and carving tools that I’ve ever seen.

As for debut innovations, new to me at least…

While combing the floor of this year’s show I stumbled upon two products that I feel are worth sharing with you. One is a bag and the other one is a high-end lapping plate.

The bag is the brainchild of Charlie Cirigliano, a Nantucket based woodworker who came up with the idea of making a collapsible tote bag that can be formed into three configurations: Spread out flat for easy identifications and access of your tools; Zipped up with Tools’ pockets facing outside; and inverted with pockets facing inside.

Mr. Cirigliano’s collection of bags are designed for various purposes and sizes. While most of his canvas bags are made in India, he still sews the much more expensive leather bags at his home shop in Nantucket.

When I saw the bags for the first time, I immediately thought that having a versatile bag like this would have huge advantages while traveling. But, owning too many tool bags already, I couldn’t justify buying another one for myself. Yet, that did not stop me from buying one for my partner, who in recent years has become afflicted by an addiction to knitting. Evidently, the Nantucket Bag is an excellent caddy for all kind of tools — not necessarily just woodworking tools.

Next week I will show the highly expensive, yet claimed to be (by the innovator at least) best lapping plate out there.

– Yoav Liberman

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