In the Works at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks
This weekend I assisted Thomas Lie-Nielsen during a class on handplanes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. Thomas brought along some of the new tools they are working on and talked to the class about new tools in the pipeline in Warren, Maine.
Here are some details:
Panel saws: Lie-Nielsen is starting to ship its first panel saws. Yes, it’s true. I first saw the prototype for this saw about eight years ago when Rob Cosman was using it at the Woodstock woodworking show. Since that prototype, the saw has evolved considerably.
It has a taper-ground sawplate, a nib at the toe and a gorgeous curly maple handle with a lamb’s tongue detail. Thomas brought the saw in a nice leather holster. I didn’t get a chance to try out the tool, so now you know everything I do about the saw. More details to follow.
Tongue and groove plane: Lie-Nielsen is also starting to ship these planes. I got to use a prototype of this tool a couple years ago when we were shooting the “Workbenches” DVD. The production version of this tool is far and away better than my original Stanley No. 48.
Instead of two irons that you have to fiddle with to get exactly even, the Lie-Nielsen version has a single iron that is forked. Also, the fence on the Lie-Nielsen is more robust than on the Stanley and moves very little.
I made some joints with this plane during the weekend in hardwood and was impressed. While my No. 48 struggles in hardwoods, this tool had no problem in oak or maple.
O1 Steel: Thomas mentioned a couple times during the weekend that he was hoping to offer some more tools with high-carbon oil-hardened steel. For the most part, Lie-Nielsen uses A2 steel in its blades, but some customers prefer O1, especially for tools that require a low sharpening angle, such as paring chisels and blades for some low-angle planes.
Speaking of paring chisels, those are also on the drawing board.
Workbench hardware: Lie-Nielsen has begun making its own workbench hardware. Thomas brought along a new tail vise assembly to show, and it was sweet looking. Thomas says it’s much faster to install and won’t droop over time. It also has another surprise, but I’ll have to save that for another post.
One final tease: Thomas says he has a load of beech that he’s letting dry.
I’m sure I’ll hear more details at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Chicago this weekend (Friday and Saturday). If you’re in the area, stop by at this free show, say hello and you can see some of this stuff for yourself.
One final thing. To the student this weekend who brought me a six pack of Bell’s Two-hearted Ale: Thanks! My wife thinks I’m getting a reputation as a lush because whenever I go out of town to teach I come back with a trunk full of alcohol.
Is this bootlegging? And is it a bad thing?
– Christopher Schwarz
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