Last month I have had the pleasure – and privilege – of attending Tom Lie-Nilsen’s annual open house event. If I were to describe Thomas Lie-Nielsen in only one sentence, I would have said: Tom is the person who single handedly, and against so many odds, has successfully resurrected the art of high-end woodworking tool manufacturing in North America. I first met Tom at Eliot House, Harvard, when he visited us to talk about his work, both as a tool maker and as an entrepreneur. It was a fascinating conversation riveted with lots of interesting anecdotes and short stories; describing the in and out of how the company make tools and grow in this climate of economic strife.
Later in the year, over the dinner table at the Furniture Society conference in MIT, he asked me if I be interested in coming over to Warren Maine for a day or two, to join a group of wood artist, tool makers, and woodworking educators who are to “set up shop” on the Lie Nielsen factory floor, and demonstrate to the guests what we do. We talked about the stuff I can show and demonstrate, and what kind of project I would/could work on during the Open House.
After few days I came up with a plan: I will bring with me the dismantled parts of an old Harvard College book case that I found in the trash, and transform the beaten-up oak boards into a coffee table top. I finished building the coffee table two years ago but I haven't built the top yet; the open house event was just the right incentive and setting I needed to complete this project.
Few weeks passed and I was on my way to Maine. My friend Brian Chan joined me for the ride. Brian who is a brilliant metal and wood artist (a sword maker and more), an origami master and an innovator, is entitled for few posting on my blog too – which I promises to write about in the future. The ride was uneventful except for an unbelievable thunder storm that came down on us while crossing the boarder between New Hampshire and Maine.
On Saturday morning I got one of Lie Nielsen's state-of-the-art work benches, and got ready to start crafting my new table top.
I will continue to describe this project in details in my next posting. I will also show my peers work few pictures I took while touring the Lie Nielsen factory floor.