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.
The 2013 AWFS Fair (Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers) in Las Vegas was hot (at least outside) and smaller than past shows, but those manufacturers who did exhibit brought lots of new tools and products to debut. Here are some that most appealed to me:
The most intriguing innovation at the show had to be… Read more
The inaugural Weekend With WOOD event wrapped up on May 19th 2013 in the WOOD magazine shops and world headquarters. And all indications are that it was a huge hit. Of course, don’t take my word for it, instead look at all the grins on these woodworkers’ faces: Read more
Seems like forever since the last woodworking show in Houston last March. Being addicted to all the activity and camaraderie of the show circuit, it would be a long summer and fall before I would get my fix. This last weekend would finally bring relief in Baltimore as the 2013 season kicked off. Adding to the rush is the new schedule, new ownership and, for me, a new presentation. As Ole’ Willie Nelson would say, I’m “On the Road Again”. Read more
In a show as large as the International Woodworking Fair, where city-block-size industrial setups can dominate nearly all your senses, it can be challenging to not focus on the big, eye-catching stuff and instead find the nuggets sometimes tucked away in small booths. I always commit myself to looking over every booth at these tradeshows in search of new tools and accessories, and this show did not disappoint.
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware took up only a small corner booth, but WOW was it packed with lots of good stuff! Here’s a quick rundown:
• Mixing Mate lids with built-in stir paddles for paint and finish cans. Snap them on, stir, then pour—and never fill up the rim around the lid! Quart size is available now and costs $15; gallon size will be out in January and sell for $20.
Innovation has not been easy to find in the woodworking machinery sector here at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. Chalk it up to the recession mostly as manufacturers have scaled back on new product launches and research and development, as well as the fact that fewer people are buying stationary machines. Then consider that several large manufacturers did not exhibit at the show, and it left a slimmer pool to begin with. Nonetheless, I was able to find several new machines.
One of the great things about attending woodworking tradeshows as a member of the working press is being surprised by new-product launches that you didn’t expect. That doesn’t happen as much as it used to (due mostly to the last 4 years of recession cutbacks and such), but I was surprised by a few things at the opening day of the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta.
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.
It seems like every time I speak with someone at Bosch, they’ve got new tools to tell me about. Last fall I was fortunate to tour Bosch’s worldwide headquarters in Germany, as well as four production facilities, and the thing that most impressed me about this German-based company is that it’s made a commitment to reinvest 8% of its sales into research and development for new products. Well, I just returned from Bosch’s North American headquarters in Chicago, and I saw that commitment carried out in the launch of nearly four dozen new power tools, measuring tools, and accessories for woodworking, construction, metalworking, and concrete. You’d never know there was a recession in the U.S. based on Bosch’s output. I’ll focus on the tools most applicable to woodworking.
The biggest splash, in my opinion, is the launch of a plunge base for the Bosch Colt palm router. Read more
Categories: wood | Tags: 12 volt, 18 volt, 23 gauge, blade, Bosch, Colt, Daredevil, hammer drill, hammerdrill, impact driver, jig saw, jigsaw, jigsaw blade, miter saw, mitersaw, multi-tool, pin nailer, pinner, planer, plunge base, router, tools
The 2011-2012 Woodworking Shows season closed in Katy, Texas this last weekend, March 30-April 1 and I have to admit to being somewhat conflicted. As much as I enjoy meeting some of the nicest people from across the country and talking to them about our mutual love of the craft, I find that after 12 straight weekends on the road I’m really looking forward to the break in travel. Katy was the perfect venue to end on.
Though I like being “in the action” on the show floor, the educational areas for Roland Johnson and I were in an adjacent hall in classrooms off the floor proper. This afforded us the chance to speak without microphones and we both found the attendees very engaged and relaxed. So relaxed, actually, that I felt as though I had been taken hostage by my audience. On Saturday alone, I spoke from 11AM until 530PM without leaving the room. Truth be told, I enjoyed every minute of it.
There were a couple of clubs in that hallway also. The Woodworkers Club of Houston drew some nice attention to the projects they had on display. The club proudly displays a poster saying that they have donated over 6000 toys to Houston charities in 2010. Club member Jeremy Grubb brought a veneer and marquetry table for display and Steve Wavro showed his Intarsia talent. The Golf Coast Wood Turners had a number of unique pieces on the table in front of their booth.
The first place project of the Show Off Showcase this last weekend turned out to be something very befitting of the area and it was a “Wood Hat” by Don Fluker, a very nice soft spoken man who wore his entry proudly.
Second place went to another of Steve Wavro’s projects, the “Intarsia Lions Head”. Third place was a “Wooden Geared Clock” by Dennis Muras. Each winner chose a tool from the Bosch Tool Company. Bosch has been graciously donating tools all season long. Don’s hat will take its place with the other national entrants and a grand prize winner will be chosen shortly by a group of educators. You can see the results on the Woodworking Shows Facebook page soon.
Inspired by the PGA Houston this last weekend, I arrived on Thursday eager to get a quick round in at a local course only to find all but torrential rain the better part of the day. I decided to take in a movie instead. There is a point here, I promise. The movie was really lousy and, as I left, I realized that I had spent $8.50 (Senior discount) for less than 2 hours of “entertainment”. It got me thinking that, for a couple of dollars more, a woodworker could spend an entire three days at a woodworking show in free classes covering almost every facet of the craft. That attendee would have unlimited access to an educator more than willing to find an answer to any woodworking dilemma. Corporate tool representatives are at these shows and are ready to answer questions about their products or help with repair issues. Tool vendors, eager to sell their products, also care about your satisfaction and, in some cases, provide personal cell phone numbers if a question about usage or a problem arises after the show. An attendee stands a better than even chance of getting a free show tee shirt or show premium to take home. Early entrants could get a free blade sharpening or bring home a pen that they turned themselves. I know that I may be just a bit biased, but can’t imagine there being a better bargain for a woodworker than attending one of our shows. Even the food is better (and many times even cheaper) than at your local theater.
Having said all that (please excuse the venting), the 2012-2013 show season will be staring up again in the Fall. The educators I have talked to are planning new seminars and content and I know that there will be some new tools out then too. I know that I speak for all of us allied with the show when I thank you for coming out to see us and that we hope that you’ll find some time next year to see us again. I know that we have a great product and we provide some pretty nice “entertainment” too. Stay safe in your shop and healthy this Summer.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador