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.
Some nice folks from Black & Decker stopped by the WOOD shop to show us some of their latest tools. One of these was the Gyro, a compact 4-volt lithium-ion screwdriver. It’s eyebrow-raising feature: motion control.
In August at the IWF show in Atlanta, Freud will introduce a 90-tooth saw blade with a new tooth grind that will produce almost glass-smooth crosscuts. I got to see the blade and look it over at the end of a tour of Freud’s carbide production and blade manufacturing facilities in Udine (OO-din-ay) in northeast Italy, where the company was founded. More about the plants in a moment, but first here’s the scoop on the new blade.
Designed for smooth, clean cuts in trimwork and sheetgoods, the blade debuts Freud’s alternate shear face grind. In a nutshell, Read more
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
Categories: Interesting Woodworkers We've Met, Tool News and New Tools, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Affinity Woodworkers, Jeffery Noden, Jim Heavey, National Archives, The Woodworking Shows, Warwick Guitars, Washington Woodworkers Guild, White House, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
The Garden State played host to another of the Big 10 Woodworking Shows this last weekend and the town of Somerset, about 30 minutes out of Newark, would provide the setting. This venue has seen some large crowds in the past and it wouldn’t disappoint this time either. Read more
Categories: Tool News and New Tools, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Crafts Antique Tool Club of New Jersey, Garden State Marquetry Society, Jim Heavey, Somerset, The Woodworking Shows, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador, WTC Visitor Center
The Woodworking Shows traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this last weekend and just a little less than a two hour drive northeast of my home. Hard to believe, though, that I could go from below freezing temps to the tropics in that short a time. Read more
Categories: Interesting Woodworkers We've Met, Tool News and New Tools, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Big Blue, Don and Ron Angelo, Jim Heavey, Micro-Kerf 40, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, The Woodworking Shows, Total Saw Solution, Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
With the roads clear in my rural part of the county a day after the blizzard of 2011, I fully expected the nation’s second busiest airport of O’Hare to be ready for business and a short flight to Columbus. Read more
Categories: Interesting Woodworkers We've Met, Tool News and New Tools, wood, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Alex Bandar, Columbus Idea Factory, Dick Rhodes, Insight Toolworks, Jim Heavey, Ralph Jones, The Woodworking Shows, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
With 2010 quickly drawing to an end, the Woodworking Shows opened in Detroit this last weekend. I flew in to a temperature in the low teens and with snow on the ground but none forecast for our three day stint. Having visited the Ford museum and Motown in previous years, I decided to see a history of the Christmas tree and automobiles at the Walter Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills before heading to the venue. Read more
Categories: Interesting Woodworkers We've Met, Tool News and New Tools, wood, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Bosch Tools, Gibraltar Center, Jim Heavey, Supernova International, The Woodworking Shows, Walter Chrysler Museum, William Holwig, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
On Day 2 in Tennessee I traveled down I-24 to Murfreesboro, the new home of General International USA. This company is now the sole distributor for all woodworking tools, machinery, and accessories for General Manufacturing and General International. Those brands are still headquartered in Montreal, Canada, but distribution and customer service for the U.S. will now be handled in Tennessee. Heading up this new operation is Scott Box, most recently president of Steel City Toolworks, and formerly with Powermatic and Delta.
For those of you who might not know, General woodworking machines are made in Drummondville, Quebec, not far from Montreal. The General International line of tools is made in Taiwan to General’s specifications. This line features a full complement of stationary and benchtop machines.
As of May 1, Clear Vue Cyclones, makers of the see-through two-stage dust collectors, closed its doors and will no longer sell new dust-collection equipment. According to an annoucement on the company’s Web site, Clear Vue will fill existing orders and continue to support previously sold units for an unspecified length of time.