A Leaf-Peeper’s Tale

My wife, Marcia, and I traveled to the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in early October. The purpose of the trip was to see the fall foliage and visit friends in Vermont. Of course I took every opportunity to include wood, tool and furniture-related stops along the way. Marcia is used to this sort of behavior, and suffers it well.

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks

We stopped at the Lie-Nielsen toolworks (factory and showroom) near Warren, Maine, where I tried their new #51 shooting board plane (very, very nice) and picked up one of their joinery floats. I also ran into Deneb Puchalski who I met last spring out here at the L-N event in Mesa.

Lie-Nielsen showroom

Deneb invited me to demonstrate in January when he and the Lie-Nielsen road show return to Timber Woodworking (January 14-15, 2011), and I’m happy to take him up on the offer.

Next on the trip was a visit with Peter Korn at the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine.

Center For Furniture Craftsmanship

Peter founded the school in the early ’90’s, and since then it has become a non-profit foundation. Peter still directs the school and has been instrumental¬† in helping it remain true to its founding principles while steadily expanding both facilities and course offerings. Instructors working during our visit included Kevin Roedel, Chris Pye, Tom Hucker, Peter Fleming, and Craig Stevens. The school’s emphasis on craftsmanship place it on par with the College of the Redwoods and the North Bennett Street school. I recommend that anyone considering attending a school for short (1-2 week) or long (3-9 month) term programs give the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship a serious look.

Also located at the school is the Messler Gallery, which was currently showing the work of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters. Included in the show was work by David Lamb, Ted Blachly, Leah Woods and others. The craftsmanship of the work displayed was extraordinary.

Further up the road in Liberty, Maine we stopped at the Liberty Tool Company. In business since 1976, Liberty specializes in old hand tools. Buckets of planes, bins of saws, walls of braces. Three floors, and far too much stuff to see in an hour visit (we didn’t even visit their annex across the street). I picked up a nice old Stanley#102 ($13) and a tiny ball pein hammer($0.50), now rehandled¬† for use as a plane adjuster.

Liberty Tools

Buckets & bins o' tools

sweet #102 and friend

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In Bridgewater, Vermont we stopped at the workshops and showroom of Shackleton Thomas Furniture & Pottery. Charles Shackleton produces several lines of furniture of all kinds, set apart from other manufacturers because each piece is made by a single craftsman, and there is an emphasis on hand tools and methods. The shop was not working the day we visited, but we were able to peer inside and of course look at the very finely made furniture in the showroom. It’s nice to see craftsmanship and hand work not only revered but commercially successful as well. A bonus for us was that Charles is a cousin of the famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, certified tough guy and one of our favorite heroes.

Shackleton & Thomas

Shop at Shackleton's

Showroom at Shackleton's

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And that ended our sojourn as “leaf peep-ahs”.

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