Hey! Suit! Put down the the blackberry, leave the platinum card in your pants, and for god’s sake wash off that damn body spray – you’re makin me squint. This ain’t no cocktail party, son. This place is diffrent

- Dem Brickton Chowles.

This weekend, I’m dragging my travel bench and spy case down to Popular Woodworking Magazine in Cincinnati for a Lie-Nielsen hand-tool event. If you’re within 4 states, you should be there too.

Need some incentive? Well, in addition to the Lie-Nielsen crew, the Pop Wood staff, and your humble narrator – both Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Toolworks and Czeck Edge’s Bob Zajicek are setting up some of the nicest handtools available today. Plus, everyone’s favorite aesthetic anarchist, temporal anomaly, and all-around woodworking euphemism Chris Schwarz is bringing Lost Art Press out in public, and apparently selling off more of his personal tools. Come early if you want some – that’s a recipe for a WHO concert in my book.

Then there’s the furniture. Chuck Bender of the Acanthus Workshop and NOBSWW will be there – check out Chuck’s portfolio (the online version is about 5% of what’s in his hard-copy) if you want to be blinded by overexposure to awesome. Plus – if we’re lucky, the Ohio River Valley chapter of SAPFM will be in attendance as well. I’ve got to say, the folks from this group who showed up last year were awe-inspiring.

And if all that weren’t enough, everyone’s favorite woodworking pirate Deneb Puchalski will be demonstrating just about anything anyone could want to with handtools. Don’t forget to ask him what he’s got in his custom fanny pack (it’s just so darn convenient!)

In all seriousness, these shows are an amazing resource for the handtool community, and there’s nothing like a hard sell anywhere in sight. Buy stuff, don’t buy stuff; hang out for an hour or all weekend. Me? I’m bringing my wallet just in case – but it’s totally optional. The focus is on education and community.

These events are just one of the reasons that Lie-Nielsen gets nothing but my unbridled admiration. I think this is one of the smartest-run, and (yeah – I’ll say it) honorable companies I’ve ever seen. No matter how you slice it, Thomas Lie-Nielsen obviously cares about this stuff – and he’s found a way to blow his marketing dollars that makes sense for his company AND is a remarkable service to the handtool community as a whole.

As a jaded, hyper-cynical alumni of the marketing world, I have to say that this sort of approach
is rare. Really rare.

Still skeptical about a ‘business’ caring? Consider this: Lie-Nielsen keeps inviting me and all these other small companies – all their competitors, in other words – to ride along on their coattails at these shows all over the country. We’re treated like ‘family’ and they thank us for coming and taking advantage of their hospitality. In return, they ask for: you guessed it. Nothing.

So next time someone tells you it’s not possible to make good products in the US anymore, and that you can’t run a profitable business with solid ethics and a sense of community – bring ‘em to one of these events. Cause the heyday of america is alive and well, and spends its days in Warren, Maine. And this weekend, it’s coming to Cincinnati.

See you there.