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Interesting Woodworkers We’ve Met

An innovator passes

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 Weinstein, 1926-2013

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.

A Weekend’s (Ft.) Worth of Education

 

The Woodworking Show traveled to the Lone Star State of Texas this last weekend , March 8-11, and set up camp in Fort Worth. This was a new venue for us and quite a distance from Dallas where we have been for a number of years. Read more

I wish someone had told me that when I started!

5 overlooked tips for new (and experienced) woodworkers

Simply upgrading the blade that came with your power tools can spare years of frustration and save piles of wood from unnecessary tearout.

Recently, I asked my Facebook followers to think back to their woodworking beginnings to answer this question: What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you early in your woodworking journey that would have saved you hassle and frustration?

I imagined I would hear about perfecting handsaw techniques, or crafting tight-fitting joints—perhaps wisdom about the importance of buying premium tools. But as the replies rolled in, I got a completely different sense. The things people really wished they’d learned at the start were simple and, for the most part, free. So although the advice aims at brand-new woodworkers, it serves as a wise reminder for all of us: Read more

Woodworking Show in Springfield – Mass that is

The second show of the new Woodworking Show season was held in West Springfield Mass this last weekend, January 11-13, and, as always, brought a mix of the usual and unexpected. We again assembled at the Big E, a hall well known to our woodworking attendees. The weather was typically unpredictable at this time of the year with one day cold and clear, a couple of days of rain and one with fog so thick that you couldn’t tell where you were. We relied on our fans’ built in GPS to find us and we weren’t disappointed. The attendance continues to grow at this venue year after year. Read more

Springtime in Charlotte

The Woodworking Shows moved to Charlotte this last weekend, March 23-25. For those who haven’t been there, this part of North Carolina is very nice in the Spring. Charlotte is a mix of beautiful antebellum homes in almost pastoral settings to new construction starting in the downtown and spreading to the outskirts of the city. I spent a bit of time in complete quiet in the McDowell Nature Preserve about 20 minutes from the venue. The two hours there would be a great change from the upcoming three hectic days lecturing on the show floor.

I have to admit that I had mixed emotions about this show. The woodworkers in this part of the country are some of the nicest I think I’ll see almost anywhere. Talk flows easily and is very genuine. There just weren’t a lot of attendees to talk to in spite of the fact that this area was one of the premier furniture factory areas in the country. The passion for the craft is still very much evident in those I spoke to. I just wish that I had seen more of them. I enjoyed spending time with Mike Smith, President of the Charlotte Woodworkers Association. He talked about the club and the things that they were currently involved with and told me that he had a chance to sit in on my presentations as well of those taught by Roland Johnson. He was very appreciative of the effort put forth by both the educators and all those involved with putting on a show of this size and complexity. The conversation I had with him was very similar to the ones of all the attendees I spoke with.

I also got a chance to learn a little more about two of our other show personalities,  Bob Settich and Bradley McCalister while we ate dinner at the Cajun Queen down the block from the venue. Bob teaches cabinet making to “guys who don’t think that they can make cabinets”. A very soft spoken guy with a degree in English, Bob has worked as a writer and has done technical drawings and uses a very common sense approach to encourage “guys” to try their hand at building that perfect cabinet.

I’m not sure how having been a rock band bass player in a previous life fits in with his teaching philosophy but Bradley’s dye finished turnings have garnered him a spot in some leading specialty furniture exhibitions. This is his second year at the show and, judging by the quality of his work and the crowd he draws, I would expect to see a lot more of him there.  

The “Learn to Turn” area was busy this last weekend also. Kirk, from Craft Supply, uses a truely hands on approach to help budding pen turners.

There were only three entrants in the Show Off Showcase this last weekend but each of the projects were well done and distinctly different from each other. The winner was this “Floating Top Table”  by John Bregan. The choice of spalted poplar and oak and his skill made this the top vote getter. Second place went to John Ferousen for his “Desk Box”. This was built and finished beautifully, Third place went to the “Lamp” by Blaine Johnsten. What a difference with the light off then on! Again, each of these winners chose a tool from the Bosch Tool Company and received a bag of goodies from some of the show’s vendors and the show.

The Charlotte show closed its doors on Sunday and the show crew would be on their way to Texas that evening. Their drive across nearly the entire country will end in Katy, a suburb of Houston, on Thursday to begin the set up for the show there on March 30-April 1. This will be the last show of the 2011-2012 season and the culmination of a very productive woodworking show circuit.

I hope that if you’re in the Houston area you will come out and take part in what I believe is a great woodworking experience. This is free education  in almost every discipline of the craft and the chance to get in on some of those end of the season tool and supply bargains. You’ll definitely want to preregister to avoid the lines at the gate and also take advantage of the discount on your admission. You can do all that at www.thewoodworkingshows.com. And try to make a stop  at the WOOD Magazine booth while you’re there. I’ll show you how to add just the right amount of embellishment to that special project you’re working on.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

Spring Break In Tampa

Could there have been a better place in March to hold a woodworking show than in Florida? This last weekend, March 16-18, the Woodworking Shows opened their doors in Tampa at the State Fairgrounds. We have used this venue for years so the area woodworkers knew where to find us and we knew what to expect.

On Friday, a nice crowd awaited the starting bell at noon and attendance stayed fairly consistent until about 4PM. Saturday was definitely the busiest day of the weekend with packed aisles and good sales reported by the vendors. Sunday started light but the crowd grew all day right up to the free bandsaw giveaway at 3PM. Attendance at the educational seminars seemed pretty strong throughout the weekend and those who came to my classes spent the entire day in the booth. I think that we all enjoyed each other’s company.

I also had a great weekend. I had the chance to spend some quality time with a couple of good friends. I was invited out to the home of Mark Hensley. Mark was well known to show goers when he sold Leigh jigs and later as a lecturer teaching finishing and model building. The “professor” and his wife provided great company at their home in the country. Though he misses the show circuit, he said that he is really enjoying his retirement. I also had a chance to sit for an hour and have a cup of coffee with a very prolific blogger and WOOD Magazine contributor, Tom Iorvino. As the “Shop Monkey”, Tom has a unique perspective on the interests and motivation of the average woodworker and writes about it with a very engaging touch of humor.

I was impressed by the interests of a local woodworking club. The Florida West Coast Woodworkers Club has partnered with PET FL-Tampa. The PET group produces hand carts to enable those with ambulatory difficulties. Hundreds of these carts have been sent to all parts of the globe with the help of the volunteers at the Florida Woodworkers Club. To get more information about this very worthy cause, you can visit www.pettampa.org.

The Show Off Showcase had some very nice entries this last weekend. The overall winning vote getter was the “Turning Block Sofa Table” by Terry Sanchez. Second place went to Charles Kested”s “23rd Psalm” and finally, third place was awarded to Philip R Aalli’s “Toward The Sunrise”. Each winner chose a tool from the Bosch Tool Company. There was a nice crowd at the award presentation and they were encouraged to submit one of their own efforts for next year’s show.

I apologize that there are no images with this week’s post. I did not go home on Sunday as I usually do and I’ve had some issues getting my traveling computer to do as I’ve asked. You can find images of the weekend at www.thewoodworkingshows.com and also on their Facebook page.

All in all, the Tampa show was a good and it will be on the schedule for the 2012-2013 season.  And, with the current season quickly coming to an end, I hope that you’ll get a chance to see us at one of the last two shows. We will be in Charlotte at The Park on Briar Creek the week of March 23-25 and finally in the Houston area in Katy’s Leonard Merrell Center March 30-April 1. Make sure you preregister to beat the lines at the door and, while you’re there, check out the coupon to save $2 off the admission price. When you come to the show, make sure to stop in at the WOOD Magazine booth. And when you do, plan on staying a while. I’ve got a lot to show you. Besides, I like some good conversation.

The Woodworking Shows is very proud of the product that they have created and promise to add even more to next year. Your feedback is very important to those of us involved in planning for an enjoyable experience. Feel free to offer suggestions at www. thewoodworkingshows.com.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

A Memorable Weekend in New Jersey

The Woodworking shows went to New Jersey this last weekend, February 24-26. Because there have been so few options for flights of late, I booked a 6AM on Thursday for the trip to the east coast. Read more

A Very Sunshiny State

 

After a very long, cold and snowy winter at home in Chicago, a trip to Florida was a welcome destination for a woodworking show. The predictions of sunny temps in the mid eighties in Tampa would make for a great weekend.

Read more

MEMORIES OF CHANTILLY

The eighteenth weekend of the 2010-2011 Woodworking Show season was held in Virginia and, because it was also my 40th wedding anniversary, this would be a memorable one for both my wife and I. The nation’s capitol is only about a 40 minute drive from the venue and airport and we would spend the better part of two days there. Read more

A Georgia Peach of a Weekend

The Woodworking Shows traveled to Atlanta this last weekend with blue skies and temperatures in the lower 70’s. The grass was starting to green up and there were blossoms on the trees. Though it would rain on Saturday and Sunday, this was a big change from the temps just above freezing at home.

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Read more

 
 
 
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