Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Visit to Lie-Nielsen’s Plant

The Lie-Nielsen factory and store in Warren, Maine
My friend Jeff Fleisher and I, along with our wives, had an opportunity to visit the Lie-Nielsen plant last summer. Their shop and factory are located near the Maine seacoast in the little town of Warren. This was a trip we always wanted to make, and it was fascinating to both witness the production of the famous Lie-Nielsen tools and complete line of their tools in the company store.

A box of cap irons, ready for assembly.
There were two attractions—the store and the manufacturing plant. As soon as we got there, we ask for, and got, a brief tour of the plant. As we walked through the facility, workers were busy at such tasks as lapping the soles of planes, operating the CNC machines that make the bodies of the planes and other tools, and inserting plane blades in the large tanks where they are cryogenically treated. We also passed many trays of partly and fully assembled tools of all types, the area where the tools are assembled, and where they are reviewed for quality control and packaged. The plant encompasses several buildings, including a wood shop which we were unable to visit, and employs about 90 staff.

Scraper plane bodies.
We also spent time in the store, where Lie-Nielsen displays their products, plus others' tools, such as Auriou rasps. We took particular delight in examining all the specialty planes, with which we were least familiar. Each of us already has a pretty good selection of standard bench planes, but they too were fascinating, particularly because of their high quality.

Lie-Nielsen saws.
Of course, we couldn't get away without making some purchases. I bought a 1/4 inch mortise chisel and a sock for one of my bench planes and managed not to spend a lot on this trip. Truthfully I already own about all the planes I need, many of them manufactured here in Warren. It was a fun trip and even our wives, who have much less interest in woodworking that we do, enjoyed it.


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