Pictures from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks open house July 2015. OH1

Just a note to my family and friends here: if you are into woodworking and you are planning a visit, plan it in time for the open house this year! There were so many well-known woodworkers there, it was like a who’s who.

Many of the well-knowns are associated with Fine Woodworking Magazine, both contributors and staff.  I had the pleasure of meeting Editor Matt Kenney (check out his podcast Shop Talk Live!)  FWW  contributor Chris Becksvoort probably did this dovetail demo 10 times in 10 minutes (only a slight exaggeration.) He doesn’t have a lot to say, this one, though he is undoubtedly skilled.


Christian Becksvoort – laying-out dovetails

I have been familiar with Lie-Nielsen for many years.  The tools are as fine as they come. Lie-Nielsen Tools also have a reputation as being some of the most expensive on the market. After learning how they are made, I wonder how they can afford to make them all locally,  practically right down the street from me (not my fault Amy!) of the finest available materials, most of them sourced in Maine or New England.  It is a labor of love and after my tour of the mysterious chocolate factory, they don’t seem expensive at all for what they are.

Our tour guide gave us an almost unbelievable history about how Thomas Lie-Nielsen got into the hand tool business in the first place.  It turns out, he is kind of a genius and after picking the brain of one of the last remaining makers of a specific stanley plane, went home and re-created the whole thing step by step in his garage shop. Casting and all! He took it back to the old pro and got a flawless report.  He then found ways to use better and better steel, ways to perfect the process, adding one tool at a time to the line-up. Now there are 100 + employees and countless planes, saws, chisels and other hand tools.

The tools are so valuable, there has been a whole string of Lie-Nielsen specific robberies in Salt Lake City.  My brother’s shop was the third or forth to get hit, cleaning him out of every single Lie-Nielsen, leaving all of the “lesser” tools. The Bandit went on to hit four or five more shops.  He probably stole $200k worth of tools! He is still on the loose btw, and there is a specific ebay vendor that is moving a curious amount of familiar hand tools.  I guess Police haven’t got enough evidence to stop him. ***Please don’t buy used Lie-Nielsens from any Utah sellers!***


One of many machine rooms



a box full of rough castings



Nic Westermann, a blacksmith from Wales, did a full forging demo. Here he is cutting-in the eye of an axe head.



Clayton Thompson meets Peter Galbert. I also bought a copy of his incredible book and sat in his chairs. The real deal.



Reamer and Adze by Tim Manney (Amy- birthday, wink wink)



A few humble tools to try out…




Roy Underhill has charisma, but he is SO STRONG! I tried my hand hacking at this log and was winded after two swings. He tamed this thing into a perfect beam, barely breaking a sweat


Shaking hands with the Man, Roy Underhill

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2 Responses to Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

  1. Making it to Maine to do this tour is on my bucket list. Being in the SLC area, it is crazy that so many know who is stealing these tools and the cops just sit on their hands. Really frustrating.

    • Clay says:

      It is frustrating. There is a lot to do in Maine! If you come, also check out the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, they always have incredible things on display in the gallery. And of course: eat lots of lobster

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