Mainers appreciate and celebrate their history but always with an eye to the future. The Lie-Nielsen Toolworks on Rte. 1, in nearby Warren. is among the Maine businesses that epitomize that spirit. If you or someone close to you loves woodworking and fine craftsmanship, then include a visit to Lie-Nielsen on your list of things to do in Maine. The company, founded in 1981 by Thomas Lie-Nielsen, makes traditional woodworking tools like planes, saws, chisels, files and carving tools but makes them with high-quality metals for both durability and ease of use. Lie-Nielsen uses manganese bronze and ductile iron castings, and cryogenically treated A-2 steel, materials that make these tools stand above what’s found in a big-box hardware store. The prices reflect the quality of the materials and the workmanship, but these special tools are built to last a lifetime, if not generations. The company prides itself on the quality of its tools and views itself as “stubbornly local,” believing the best quality is found in New England. It buys metal castings from New England foundries and wood from Maine sawyers.
The Lie-Nielsen Toolworks showroom, which is about 17 miles east of the Newcastle Inn along U.S. 1, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday year-round, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Between Memorial Day and Christmas, the showroom also is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Woodworkers looking to hone their skills can add one of Lie-Nielsen’s summer workshops to their list of things to do in Maine. The two-day workshops are held most weekends from May through August. Sessions focus on how to use certain tools to accomplish particular projects. Subjects include spoon carving, 17th century carving, hand tool joinery and building a spice rack. The toolmaker’s workshop is full of free instructional videos, and it sells how-to books and DVDs.
Newcastle Inn makes a great central base of operations for many things to do in Maine. Call (207) 563-5685 to make a reservation or visit the inn’s website.