Friday and Saturday, I participated in a Lie-Nielsen demonstration of their outstanding hand tools held at Exotic Lumber in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I was there to help take orders, for which I was paid in credits toward Lie-Nielsen tools. I had a blast! I had never done retailing before and I found that I liked the interaction with the customers, chatting about the tools (about which I learned a lot during the show) and about woodworking in general. All told, I was there and on my feet 10 hours and never even thought of getting tired! I estimate that I sold somewhere in the vicinity of $10,000 worth of tools during the two days, my two biggest orders being $1,340 and $1,175.
I also made some purchases. My first was not from Lie-Nielsen but from Exotic Lumber, whose space we were using. They have an amazing array of special lumbers from around the world, especially Africa. Though it is a long drive for me, it will be a good place to go for special needs in the future. I bought a nice zebrawood board with straight and pronounced grain that I think will make a pretty box. I also bought a burnisher for my card scraper from Czech Edge Hand Tools; it has a beautiful kingwood handle, but what I really liked about it was the size and feel of the handle, which was better, in my opinion, than the Lie-Nielsen version.
At the end of the show, I made a few purchases from Lie-Nielsen. The major items were a low-angle adjustable mouth block plane, which was paid for by my earnings, and a 15 ppi (points per inch) dovetail saw. Lie-Nielsen has offers two dovetail saws, the one I bought and a progressive pitch model, with teeth that run from 16 ppi to 9 ppi. I tried them both on a piece of cherry and much preferred the 15 ppi model; the progressive pitch model was actually harder to start and tended to slip out of position on the first stroke. The photo shows my new acquisitions.