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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.

New products hit woodworking market at AWFS Fair

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

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A Weekend Well-Spent

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

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Atlanta 2013 – It’s a Wrap

 

This last weekend, March 22-24, marked the final show of the 2013 Woodworking Show season. I have been both looking forward to and yet regretting the trip to Atlanta because I really like this very unique city and all it has to offer but I also know that it will be our last show on the circuit until the Fall when we begin the 2013-2014 schedule. Hard as it is to admit, I’m a travel junkie.

In keeping with my somewhat normal routine, I spent my arrival day on Thursday exploring a part of the city I’m visiting and found the Atlanta History Center to be just what the doctor ordered. For over 3 hours I studied the impact of the Civil War on the city and its environs, the diverse influence of Folk art in the South as well as the contributions of Georgia on my favorite sport, Golf. A walk through the grounds led me to a Victorian Playhouse built around 1890 and also to Swan House, the 1928 mansion home of Edward and Emily Inman. And no trip would be complete without a down home Southern lunch at Mary Mac’s. All in all, a very satisfying  intellectual and gastronomical experience.

The show was held north of the city of Atlanta in Duluth at the Guinnett Center. The hall was completely packed with sales booths and educational seminar areas and attendees filled the remaining available spaces completely each day. There were portable and stationary tools of almost every stripe on display as well as more educational opportunities than one could see even over a full three day attendance. There was also eye candy in the form of wood at the CAG Lumber company. The Honduran Rosewood burls were spectacular and some of the domestic and imported figured stock were just too nice to pass up. If I had driven to this show, I would have purchased to my heart’s content but all I could do was imagine some of that stock in my shop.

One of the most beautiful furniture pieces took the honor of first place at this last weekend’s Project Showcase. Kenneth Kline’s “Hepplewhite Style Table” was the clear winner for a reason. The work was flawless and the finish perfect.

Chuck Roberts entered the second place project, his “Bloodwood Baby Cradle” that was his own design. Like the table, you had to be there to see how well done these pieces were. George North submitted his “Black Leopard”. This was Intarsia at its best and he took third place for his effort. Kenneth’s table will be entered in the grand prize judging to take place in the next couple of weeks. Each of last weekend’s winners received a Bosch tool and all entrants took home a show goody bag.

It was encouraging to see that the Atlanta show added an exclamation point to success of this year’s events. A large part of the credit goes to our new Woodworking Show owner, Bryce Beermann, and his desire to grow the show in both size and stature and make it a true “must see” event. More venues and a new Fall season start are part of his plan. Kudos, too, to the educators and the excellent seminars that have really become a woodworker favorite. Many thanks to the vendors for hanging in there through thick and thin and especially our sponsors for the financial and product support. And for all that the attendees don’t see, we are very grateful to Charlene and Rita and their crew who set up, tear down and generally run everything so smoothly.  

Lastly, on a more personal note, thanks to all those who stopped in the WOOD Magazine booth to listen to an old Italian go on and on about the craft he loves so much. I endure all the inconveniences of travel knowing that there will be some smiling, friendly faces waiting in those seats each day. Your enjoyment of our magazine and the person representing it are very much appreciated.

Next year’s season will be here before you know it. Keep an eye out for the announcements at thewoodworkingshows.com and Woodmagazine.com and plan to spend some time with us. We’re very proud of our show. Please come out and see why.

Stay healthy and safe and get back into your shop!  

‘Til then,

I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

A Lot More Than 6 Degrees of Separation

I have to admit that the time I spent in Tampa this last weekend at the Woodworking Shows went by very quickly as did my respite from the never ending winter conditions at home. The transition from a downright beautiful 78 and sunny to a blustery 30 degree snow flurry filled day is a real shock to the system but it was all for a good cause. Read more

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

A Little Something for Everyone in Columbus

 

 

I have to admit being a big fan of minutia. Learning about the small, seemingly insignificant details of things has always appealed to me. The Woodworking Show in Columbus this last weekend, March 1-3, was the perfect place to whet my appetite for those little mind expanders. 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

Winter Woodworking in Somerset

 

 

This last weekend, February 21-24, would begin as usual with a Thursday flight to the next woodworking show venue and a bit of exploration prior to setting up my booth for a Friday show opening. A day of some really stark contrasts began as the plane approached the Newark Airport. Read more

Something Good Is Brewing In Milwaukee

It may have a reputation as a great beer town but this last weekend, February 15-18,  Milwaukee could have also been known as the King of Woodworking Shows. We had some of the best attendance numbers I can remember there and each day saw packed aisles and seminars. Even Sunday, which can be a little slow, brought really nice crowds. All Paul Moore, our Crazy Canadian, could say is “Wow, what a show”!

One of the things that drew attendees was the number of free educational seminars offered each weekend. Their only lament is that they just couldn’t see them all during even a full three day show. I went through the schedule and counted over 100 opportunities to learn something that can make you a better turner, finisher, small or large tool user, furniture maker, stair builder or CNC operator. Shoot, you can even learn a foreign language don’t ya know! Couple that with some great tool and accessory prices and the chance to meet others with our shared passion (disease?) and you can see why we’re pretty excited about this and future Woodworking Show seasons.

Wisconsin is also the home of Kettle Moraine Hardwoods. They brought a very nice selection of domestic and exotic stock to tempt those looking for that perfect wood for a special project.

 The Wisconsin Woodworkers guild displayed a very interesting turning in the booth.  And the Badger State Carvers had examples and demonstrations of carved shelves and the techniques used to create them.

 Though maybe cheating a bit, but the Carve Wright people had a very impressive 3D running shoe including the waffled sole and Nike swoop logo.

 I thought that I had seen just about everything that a Dremel tool could do until I saw this demo.

 

We were very happy with the Project Showcase as it had one of the largest numbers of submissions so far this year. There was a very nice Walnut and Oak bent leg table on display as well as very unique jewelry box among the offerings.

 The winner this last weekend was the “Spill Table” made by David Scott Krenz. A composition of vertical grain bamboo, Purple Heart and Black Burl Walnut, made this the majority choice.

 Second was the huge creation of Mr. Bauer, his “Crane Miniature Replica”  which defied any attempts at photography. Lastly, the Cherry, Walnut and Maple “End Grain Table” of Matthew Schlechta took third. All the winners were awarded a tool from the Bosch Tool Company and every entry took home a show goody bag. David’s table will be judged with other local weekend winners by the educators for the grand prize to be awarded after the final show of the season in Atlanta.

We will travel from Lake Michigan to the shores of the Atlantic for our show next weekend in New Jersey, February 22-24. We will be in Somerset at the Garden State Exhibit Center where we have been for years and we fully expect to see our east coast fans and friends. As always, we promise to provide an enjoyable and educational weekend and the chance to swap a story or two. Please take advantage of the opportunity to buy your tickets on line at thewoodworkingshows.com and avoid the lines at the door. When you do come out, I hope that you’ll stop in at the WOOD Magazine booth and we can talk about my topic this year, Finishing. Bring a question or just a good story and pull up a chair. We need to talk!

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road,

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

 
 
 
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