Probably the biggest issue about my hiatus from writing on the blog is that I never wrote about my visit to Handworks 2015 in Amana Iowa, and the Studley display that was in nearby Ceda r Rapids Iowa. Well, now that I am writing again, I am going to correct this issue!
The trip was simply flat out awesome. It was about a 7-8 hour drive for me, and I stayed neared Amana Iowa for a couple days to attend the various events. First and foremost, I met with several friends that I know from The Wood Whisperer chat room, Karen, Jason, and Kip. While we have gotten to know each other very well over the last few years, this was our first time with all of us meeting at the same place. It was really great getting to meet up with these folks!
The show itself is still a very young show. It is put on by the Bench Crafted people every other year, with the first year being back in 2013. Handworks 2015 was the second time this show was put on, and I believe in 2017. As the name implies, the show is all about traditional woodworking hand tools. The tools that are on display and available for purchase range from antique tools to high quality mass produce tools, such as Lie-Nielsen and Veritas, boutique tools, and everywhere in between. The show is put on for two days, and I needed every bit of that to really shop around! The line that formed before the show opened was amazingly long! It was incredible to see the amount of woodworkers who came to this show. In my mind this is proof that our craft is most definitely alive and well! The time spent in line actually went fairly quick as it was a great opportunity to talk with other woodworkers.
Normally when I go to a woodworking show, I spend the first couple hours or so exploring the various booths to see what is out there before I made any purchase decisions. While I did do this, I did actually deviate from this a little bit. One item that I have had my eye on for several years now is Bench Crafted’s Moxon Vise kit. Once the doors opened on the first day, I went directly to that booth, and immediately made that my first purchase! (Don’t worry, there will be more on that in future posts) The next thing I did was immediately jump into another line. The month before I was at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Popular Woodworking magazine. Besides Lie-Nielsen, Lost-Art Press was one of the vendors at that show, and I purchased “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker” by Roy Underhill. This line I was standing in was the chance to get to meet Roy and to have him sign my copy of his book! After that, I was able to explore around the show. The show itself was in three buildings around the Amana Colonies. Not only were there tool vendors there, but there were demonstrations all around. There was an incredible amount there too learn from!
The Amana colonies has a woodworking shop that they produce custom made high-end furniture. After the workers close down for the day, they do provide tours of the shop, which I was able to take. This was actually a fascinating tour to see the range of tools that professional woodworkers use. It is mostly traditional power tools, but they have also have a couple CNC controlled machines. It was really interesting to see how they integrated modern and traditional tools and methods together.
The second day of the show started with a speech from Roy Underhill. This was actually the second time I have seen Roy speak in public. One thing I can tell you is that he is absolutely phenomenal speaker. He tells a great story that is both hilarious and informative. His speech at handworks was no exception! After his speech, I spent more time shopping around, until it came time to travel to Cedar Rapids to see the Studley Tool Chest and Workbench. I am going to write more about that in my next post.
The tools I ended up purchasing, besides the Moxon Vise, included a couple rasps from Tools For Working Wood, a burnishing kit from Czeck Edge Tools, and a dove tail saw from Lie-Nielsen. However, the most memorably tool I was able to bring home wasn’t one that I purchased, but rather I won! The door prizes at the show where amazing. In my case I won a 6” compass that was made by Peter Ross. If you watch the Wood Wright Shop, that name may sound familiar. He is the black smith that Roy often has on his show! This compass now has a prominent spot in my hand tool cabinet. I will have a video coming out at some point in the future.
Over all, the show was nothing short of awesome! It was a great time to meet up with friends, learn some new skills, and of course to bring home new tools! I am looking forward to writing about the Studley Exhibit in my next post!