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Hand Tool OlympicsIf you’re coming to Popular Woodworking in America this weekend…oh, what’s this “if” business? You’re definitely coming! With all the speakers, sessions and cool stuff to see, I feel safe assuming you won’t miss out on all the educational fun and inherent rowdiness that comes with this annual gathering of woodworkers and sawdust aficionados.

Speaking of educational fun and inherent rowdiness, we’ve just put the finishing touches on this year’s Hand Tool Olympics, and you’re absolutely going to want to swing by and give these games a go. Mike Siemsen, of the Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking, will oversee proceedings again this year (held inside the Marketplace), with the help of volunteers from the Society of American Period Furniture Makers and the Minnesota Woodworkers Guild.

And to complement the already-stellar experience of using hand tools in a competitive environment, we have prizes to give away too – the winner of each event, as well as one randomly-chosen participant, will each receive a high-quality hand tool from one of our gracious sponsors (without whom we’d have no cool prizes – thanks, sponsors!).

  • Biathalon – Rip a 36″ piece of 1x white pine stock. You’ll race the clock – but don’t stray from the line, or you’ll lose points – then straighten and square your edge with a jointer plane. We’ll test edges with an aluminum test bar, feeler gauge and engineer’s square. Winner and raffle winner each get a high-quality Veritas Bevel-up Jointer Plane from Lee Valley.
  • Cross-country – Crosscut a 1×12 of white pine quickly and accurately. Competition and raffle winners each receive a coping saw from Knew Concepts.
  • Pintathalon – Pins or Tails First? It’s up to you how you complete a two-pin dovetail joint on 1×4 stock. Judging this joint is subjective, but Mike and his people know a good one when they see it (though a panel of experts is at the ready to settle disputes). Bad Axe Tool Works ponies up for great prizes, with two of its 14″ Sash saws going to the competition and raffle winners. Each winner also receives a holdfast from Tools for Working Wood.

So limber up and get yourself down to Popular Woodworking in America this weekend to strut your hand tool stuff and win some great prizes. See you there!

— Rodney Wilson


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