OtW on Tour

It has been a pretty sociable weekend, between a visit from good buddy (and regular F&C contributor) Richard Wile, and the Midlands Woodworking Show in Newark. Friday morning found Rich and myself getting a very early start to drive to Newark in order to set up before doors opened. The Newark show is not one I’ve done before, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. While much of the focus is on power tools and turning demonstrations, Classic Hand Tools had established a large hand work section and I was very pleased to find my pitch between Oliver Sparks and Lie-Nielsen, and opposite Skelton Saws. That is a good neighbourhood.

With Ollie Sparks and Molly

For me, these shows are all about getting to catch up with good friends, meet new people, and enter into a wide conversation about woodwork. The power tool element of the show did give me an opportunity to look at the new Laguna 14BX band saw (a very impressive machine), but the defining aspect of the show was definitely the company we kept for the two days. At times when my stand was quieter I was able to pitch in with demonstrations at the Lie-Nielsen stand with Curtis Turner, and also caught up with Derek Jones (of F&C) and Anarchist’s Tool Chest classmate Matt Estlea, not to mention some long time readers of the blog.

Ollie Sparks’ egg plane is functional, gorgeous, and has an ingenious adjustment mechanism

There were of course some excellent hand tools to try. Ollie Sparks always has something interesting (and enticing) to see, and this show was no exception. His “egg” thumb planes are not only striking but also highly functional and I can see these being a welcome alternative to the traditional luthier’s thumb planes, especially as he plans to offer a curved bottom variant. The other highlight was taking the Skelton Saws new Chippendale dovetail saw for a test drive. Now, I fully recognise that daddy has a saw problem but hot damn if that saw is not something else entirely. Shane has combined some seriously clever engineering with his customarily astonishing fit and finish, to create a truly special saw. I didn’t order one, but resisting that level of temptation is no mean feat.

The Skelton Chippendale saw is just staggering

It also turns out that Newark has excellent Nepalese food, and the camaraderie continued on Friday night with an fantastic meal with the Classic Hand Tools crew, as well as post-show beer with Ollie Sparks and Molly. So all in all, two days spent talking woodwork and spending time with good friends, makes for a good weekend. It also yielded some new opportunities, which I’ll be writing about very soon. Thanks to Classic Hand Tools for the invitation to join them at the show, and to everyone who stopped by to say hello and talk handwork.

Rich with the hammer he designed for Lee Valley

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