Handworks 2015 the Finest Handtool Event in the Country!


Festhalle Barn at Handworks

Well, better late than never. I started writing this post while we were at Handworks over a week ago, then the crowds started pouring in and my internet signal went south so I never finished. So here it goes…..

This past weekend was spent in Amana Iowa at one of the finest handtool events in the country. Let me say that again, there is no other woodworking event that can top this show.

We were at Handworks and the man behind all of this was Jameel with Benchcrafted. He along with his family, put on the absolute best event ever. I know I am starting to sound like a broken record but unless you were there, words just can’t explain it.

First off, Amana is the perfect place to have the event. The main attraction was in the Festhalle barn which is a 10 bent timber frame barn, it is huge and was filled with toolmakers from around the globe. The line getting into the barn before the show opened was at least a block long!

Inside the main barn at Handworks


About 2 blocks down the street is the Amana Furniture Shop. We set up in there along with Sterling tool works, Blackburn tools, Mary May and Mike Siemsen. The 40′ by 40′ building was packed both days. I brought along my Chevalet and demoed some marquetry as well as half blind needlepoint dovetails while making a box.

Amana Furniture Shop


The Festhalle barn was chocked full with the finest tool makers from around the globe, makers such as Sauer and Steiner planes from Canada and Vesper tools from Australia. Larry Williams and Matt Bickford were there selling handmade wooden moulding planes. The quality of the work exhibited was simply astounding.

A Sauer and Steiner Beauty!


Patrick Leach had more old tools than I have ever seen in one location, I needed half a day just to look through his collection!

Got Planes? Patrick Leach does!


A small sampling of Patrick Leach’s molding planes


One of the highlights of my trip was meeting a very talented young man who builds exquisite miniature tools and toolchests. Marco Terenzi has built some amazingly perfect reproductions of Chris Schwarz’s Anarchist tool chest. His first go was 1/4 scale and now he is currently working on a 1/10 scale. Marco also builds miniature tools as well.

The hands of Marco Terenzi holding his miniature tools.


I was blown away by the work of William Robertson who also builds 1/12 tools, he needed a tweezers just to hold the tools!

The work of William Robertson, note the penny for size!


Oh, and speaking of tools chests. We had the opportunity to see the Studley tool chest in person! Don Williams did a super job of putting it on display in the nearby city of Cedar Rapids, the same weekend as Handworks. Sorry but I don’t think that will happen again!


The Amazing Studley Tool Chest!


Detail of Studley, the plane under the arch is a Stanley No 1!


There was also a  barn full of green woodworkers who are all a great bunch of guys. Peter Galbert was there with a few of his chairs, demonstrating chairmaking, along with Greg Pennington and Tim Manney. There was a pole lathe turner make cups and bowls.

On Saturday morning, Roy Underhill gave quite a humorous Shakespearean talk! I missed it because we had people over in the furniture shop already but you can find the video over on Benchcrafted’s website.

It was wonderful seeing many familiar faces and meeting new friends. Thank you all who made an effort to come out.

I sure hope Jameel can pull this event off again. It will be well worth your time to make plans to attend if it happens again.

Frank Strazza

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