As the editors at WOOD were reviewing woodworking tools in preparation for our Innov8 Awards in the Dec/Jan issue, we learned of the passing of Burt Weinstein, inventor and founder of Simp’l Products. You may not recognize the name, but Burt came up with several tools for woodworkers, such as the Jointer Clamp Dow’l It, and a simple pocket-hole jig. Several years ago, Burt sold his company to General Tools, but he remained active with GT, inventing and promoting his products.
Burt was 72 when I first met him 15 years ago when I started at WOOD magazine, and he was as sharp at that age as most of us are at age 30. Every time I’d talk to him at a woodworking show about his newest offering, I could see the wheels turning in his head as picked my brain for ways to make his inventions even better. We need more guys like Burt in this business.
Here’s more about him from the from the official announcement of his passing:
On August 9, 2013, inventor, engineer and longtime General Tools & Instruments (General®) consultant Burton (Burt) Weinstein lost his battle with cancer at the age of 87. Known as a man of extraordinary kindness, patience, humility and optimism, Burt will be deeply missed by his colleagues at General, those in the woodworking industry and beyond.
In 2006, Burt first met General President and CEO Joe Ennis at the National Hardware Show. At the time, he was aiming to retire and sell his company. Burt and his partner, Richard (Dick) Deaton, founded Simp’l Products in 1989 with the goal of inventing products that would streamline woodworking joinery for both professionals and novices at an affordable price. Impressed by the jointer clamp, doweling jig and pocket hole jig Burt had already created for Simp’l Products, General purchased the company and hired Burt as a consultant.
Burt never quite got the hang of retirement and continued working with General until his passing. Together with the company’s in-house engineers, he redesigned aspects of his jointer clamp, doweling jig and pocket hole jig, which became the cornerstones of General’s E-Z Pro Line of Precision Woodworking Jigs. In conjunction with General, Burt invented two more landmark wood joining tools: the E-Z Pro Mortise & Tenon Jig and E-Z Pro Dovetailer Jig. He often traveled with General to national trade shows where he demonstrated his latest and greatest wood joining innovations to the delight of show attendees.
Over the years, Burt was awarded more than a dozen patents for his inventions. He achieved his first in 1956 for a combination woodworking machine with a tilting arbor that could be converted into a table saw, drill press or lathe. But Burt’s creations went far beyond woodworking. He also developed products for the skiing, boating and medical industries. These included BURT Retractable Bindings that decreased injuries from falls and eased recovery by keeping skis and boots attached via spring-loaded cables; a dolly that enabled the transport of a boat in a laterally vertical orientation; and an endotracheal tube holder that prevented patients from biting the tubing.
A World War II veteran and a man of many talents and interests, Burt was an avid sailor who also enjoyed skiing, flying and fishing, and was a proud member of the City Island and New York Yacht Clubs. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Carolyn; stepdaughters, Jacquelyn and Gwendolyn Wong; sons-in-law Serge Michaut and Neil Wertheimer; grandchildren Davis and Lucas Wertheimer; brother and sister-in-law Gerald and Alice Weinstein; and many loving nieces and nephews.
About 2 years after a Massachusetts jury awarded Carlos Osorio $1.5 million when he mangled his hand in an accident with a Ryobi tablesaw (a verdict that is still under appeal), an Illinois jury has found in favor of Ryobi and its parent company, One World Technologies, in a similar product-liability lawsuit.
In early May 2007, the suit’s plaintiff, Brandon Stollings, was using a Ryobi model BTS20R-1 table saw to cut a piece of laminate material when the piece “kicked back” at him, causing his left hand to make contact with the saw blade. Two fingers were severed and three were injured. Stollings filed suit, alleging three “design defects:” that the anti-kickback pawls were permanently attached to the blade splitter, so removing the splitter meant removing the pawls; that the blade guard provided with the saw clouds with sawdust, necessitating its removal to see the cut; and the saw lacks flesh-detecting technology that causes the blade to stop and/or drop away when skin touches the moving blade. Stollings admitted at his deposition that he had not read the warnings in the saw’s manual and that he understood the risks of removing the blade guard and cutting freehand.
We’re told the jury announced its verdict on Monday, August 6, but at this time, no case summary is available to give any insight into the jury’s verdict. We’ll pass that along as soon as it’s available.
In honor of WOOD Magazine’s 25th Anniversary, we posted 25 Interesting Facts about each of the folks who put out your favorite woodworking magazine. Here’s my list:
1. My earliest memory is of helping “John the Carpenter” put down new subfloor in my folks’ house. I was a preschooler with a hammer—what could go wrong there? Read more
You may recall a few weeks ago when Tom Iovino initiated a grand experiment about seasonal wood movement. He cut identical boards of several different species in his tropical Florida shop, and sent one set to me in Iowa and another set to The Wood Whisperer in arid Arizona.
We measured the boards when they arrived and Read more
The boards arrived a couple of days after my last post and I immediately measured them with a digital calipers. I recorded the thickness at each of the four corners of each board. I also charted the width of each board at four locations: across the top face and bottom face at both ends. Finally, I noted the length of each board at each edge on both the front and back face. Read more
Couple of weeks ago, I was talking a little shop with Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench (and an active blogger here at woodmagazine.com) when the subject of seasonal wood movement came up. It’s kind of a key concept because project parts change size as they absorb and release moisture as the seasons change. Fit a solid-wood part perfectly into a dado in the winter when the shop air is relatively dry, and come summer, when the humidity kicks up a notch, that part may swell enough to blow the joint apart. It usually happens so slowly, though, it’s hard for some folks to grasp. Read more
I hear woodworkers all the time who watch Norm on TV and say, “Sure, I could do all that stuff, too, if I had a shop like Norm’s.” But the more really talented woodworkers I meet, the more I’m reminded that woodworking is in the head and hands, not in the tools.
The point was driven home again when I drove home for Easter last weekend. Read more
I’ve mentioned in the past how I have “completion issues” sometimes when it comes to projects. I’ll get 90% of the job done, then lose interest.
We’ve been in our “new” house for almost 11 years now. The people who built the house didn’t put any cable TV or phone jacks in the upstairs bedrooms, which I thought was going to be a major nuisance when our kids got computers in their rooms. Of course, that was in the old dial-up modem days, so it turned out to be a non-issue Read more
This is my last day in the office before Christmas, so I just wanted to wish you safe travels and good times with family and friends.
In my family, we usually do a sort of “random” gift exchange, where we never know who will end up with the gift we give. Could go to my 72 year-young mother, or my 22-year-old pro-football-playin’ nephew. Years ago, we decided as a family to stop spending money on gifts for this exchange and instead give gently-used “white elephant” type gifts. I persisted in making a small wooden gift each year.
Until this year. Two reasons: First, my competitive older brother complained that my gifts were always the ones that got “stolen” most during the exchange, and I think he was a bit jealous. But mainly, it’s because I had a couple of other projects on the bench I needed to wrap up, so I just didn’t have time to make anything this year.
The first project is a wall desk for my parents–a “commissioned” piece that my Dad designed, but wanted me to build. The other was a pair of light boxes–solid oak enclosures to hide the ugly 8-foot fluorescent fixtures in my mother-in-law’s dining room. Nothing fancy, but I managed to squeeze them in between kids concerts, etc. I’ll try to get some pix during/after installation and post them here.
Hope your projects went as well as mine.
The other night, I was working on a wall desk I’m making for my parents. After a long day at work and a Christmas concert at school, I finally got out into the shop and starting making the two drawers using lock-rabbet joints. Call it a miscalculation, inattention at the hour, or just plain stupidity, but the drawers ended up about 3/16” narrower than the Read more