A Brush With Greatness (and Smallness)
But the absolute highlight of the entire event was a brush with greatness.
You see, I got to meet “the boy.”
OK, some background for the uninitiated: Tool dealer Patrick Leach has been selling tools on the Internet for as long as I’ve been buying them. Every month, Leach sends out an e-mail newsletter that is (hands-down) the best-written tool newsletter in the business. His tools for sale are always the cream of the crop and his descriptions are oft hilarious.
(By the way, Leach is also the founder of the Blood & Gore web site, the best online reference on Stanley planes, and started Independence Tool with Pete Taran, which made the dovetail saw that Lie-Nielsen now sells. That saw launched the premium handsaw market.)
Anyway, one of my favorite parts of Leach’s newsletter is that he has a “Tool of the Month,” which is usually the most unusual, minty or rarest tool on offer. And every month, one of the photos that shows the tool features Leach’s son holding the tool.
As I’ve been getting this newsletter for years, I’ve watched the child grow up, and Leach always peppers the tool’s description with some comment about “the boy” or the “tool youth.” For example: “Fresh from stuffing his mouth with Oreos while playing with his toy motorcycle, the tool youth wasn’t too happy to pose with this one, the much coveted #164 low angle smooth plane…¦.”
So on Saturday afternoon I took a moment away from my demonstrating at John Sindelar’s event to browse some of the tool dealer’s tables. I was looking at a small router plane when I glanced up. Now it’s rare for me to be speechless (just ask the magazine’s staff), but I saw The Boy and all I could do was stutter: “Uhhhh, it’s…¦.uhhhh…¦ The Boy!”
He and his father were set up right by the entrance to the building that houses the collection. Leach was working the crowd, cracking jokes and making deals. The Boy was helping out, arranging the tools and tending to the tool bargains that were arrayed on the blue plastic tarp off to the side.
“The best tools are back over here,” The Boy called out to the crowd.
I obeyed him and went to have a look. I snatched up a brass router plane made by a patternmaker and an accessory for my brace that would allow it to accept small round-shank bits. The Boy was right.
I wanted to say something like, “I’ve known you since you were just a wee lad holding an ebony plow plane in a bouncy seat.” But that sounded stupid. And I’m sure that it would seem creepy if I started talking to The Boy, and so I just admired him from afar. If you’ve ever wondered about it, The Boy is a good kid. He helped Leach the entire weekend and was one of the most well-behaved elementary-school kids I’ve met.
A smallish router plane by Paul Hamler. Yes, I ordered one..
Other highlights: Getting to meet toolmakers Paul Hamler and Jim Leamy. Konrad Sauer from Sauer & Steiner was there as well. I know Konrad quite well and we spent our evenings trying to find a decent beer (we looked a lot, but that’s another story for another kind of blog). I did learn that Konrad has a profound weakness for powdered sugar doughnuts. John Sindelar, the host of this incredible event, bought about 3,000 doughnuts for the event. No lie. Konrad ate his fair share.
– Christopher Schwarz