Turning Archive 2007

Toolmaking Contest - not just for Neanders...

Ellis Walentine
>Someone on the Hand Tools board asked about the gala Toolmaking contest here at WoodCentral, wondering who would enter and when. Here is what I posted there. Lathe turners are definitely part of this picture.

Good morning, folks. I just wanted to copy a post I added to a recent thread over on the hand tools board regarding the upcoming Toolmaking Contest. The question was, who's actually entering? Here's my reply....

One thing we've learned about contests by now is that, regardless what deadline you set, people will wait until the last minute to enter, whether to avoid tipping their hand, as someone mentioned, or to hopefully get a better idea of their odds of winning. So, please don't think that the lack of current entries in any way reflects how popular or well-attended this contest will be. And, whether or not you win one of the top three prizes or the five runners-up prizes, this contest is a no-lose proposition, as all entrants receive subscriptions to two magazines as well as a Lee Valley thickness gauge just for entering.

Now, as to whether only hand tool folks are likely to be involved, the answer to that has to be a resounding no. Our theory is that everyone, including people like me who use both hand and power tools, at some point in the course of things find a need for a tool they don't already own. I've cobbled up numerous quickie tools in the past (and a few really overwrought ones), just to get the job done, whatever the job was. And, don't rule out the turning folks either. They probably make more tools than the rest of us combined. This contest is an acknowledgement of this primal need to make tools. You Neanderthals here should know that better than anyone, as your ancestors sat around fires in caves, knapping flint spear points and arrowheads and bashing rocks or whatever they needed to get the job done. :-)

The other trichotomy that should be addressed here is the function vs form vs ergonomic factor. Stephen makes tools with little regard for appearance, since he uses everything he makes. Others make presentation quality tools that are pieces of art in and of themselves. Some people concentrate on ergonomics; I think James Krenov is in this category, as he spent a lot of time whittling his planes to fit his hands. The point we're making in this contest is a celebration of user-made tools, in every way, shape and form. There will be winners in all three main categories, so everyone has a chance.

And, remember, you can't lose. :-)


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