What I Learned at Woodworking In America

Woodworking In America (WIA) was held in Covington, Kentucky this year.  I attended the show as an exhibitor with Time Warp Tool Works.

WIA was a very busy show which meant that I had very little time to wander the Marketplace where our booth was located.  Here, I was chopping a mortise in a large piece of Douglas fir we secured to Shannon Rogers‘ joinery bench to use as a planing board.  His bench was ridiculously high, so I stood on his saw bench and chopped the mortise from there.  On the bench, I stand about 8’ tall.

However, in the short amount of time I did spend talking to other vendors, I learned a lot.  After show hours, there were plenty of opportunities to socialize with other woodworkers.

1.  When ripping, you can cut with the grain or you can cut against the grain.

Kevin Glen-Drake of Glen-Drake Toolworks pointed this out to me as I tried his Wild West Joinery Saw.  As I cut a dovetail, I held the saw at a slight downward angle (with the toe lower).  This is against the grain; when I held the saw at an upwards angle, I was cutting with the grain and the difference was audible.  If this isn’t making sense to you, think about how you chamfer the end of a board.

2.  More contact between the frog and blade does not necessarily equal less chatter.

As I examined a smoothing plane made by Ron Brese of Brese Plane, I noticed that the blade was floating above the frog.  In fact, the blade was supported at the mouth and on a single point further up the frog, a triangulation of support, if you will.  Ron’s planes cut as smoothly as any plane I have used.

3.  Shiny, clear-coated handles are pretty but not particularly practical.

Over dinner with a group of woodworkers, Jim Coons was showing some of his beautiful awls.  I asked about the finish he applied to the handles, which prompted the discussion about whether handles should have a film finish or not.  We came to the agreement that while shiny film finishes helped sell the tool, they were not the most practical.  From a practical standpoint, most of us preferred an oil finish or no finish at all.

4 thoughts on “What I Learned at Woodworking In America

  1. Regarding your point #2 above, I’ve often been frustrated by a plane blade that has a lot of contact with the frog, usually because some sawdust or a splinter works its way back there. The system you describe makes more sense. The brass screw holding the plane blade down can effectively increase the pressure across the mouth of the plane because there is no frog to resist the pressure. I’m gonna have to check these planes out!

  2. Great sharing.

    The wild west joinery saw should be on display at my store during our annual Stampede weeks!

    All my shop-made handles either have mineral oil or BLO or simply the French Polish as their finish. None of them are shiny or are slippery to hold. Good to hear from the experts that I’ve been doing something right.

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