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129 – Woodworking in America 2010

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After taking a couple days to catch up on stuff, I am finally ready to share my Woodworking in America experience with you. This was my first WIA and my expectations were building all year long. I even vowed to skip IWF (the big tool show in Atlanta), just to make sure I could focus all my attention on this education-focused conference. And am I ever glad I did!

The Marketplace

The show consists of two main areas: a marketplace and the educational sessions. The marketplace was approximately the same size as the show floor at the traveling woodworking shows, only the vendors here were much more engaged and of a higher caliber. Even if you didn’t attend a single session, you could get some quality hands-on right on the marketplace floor! Somehow, I managed not to spend a dime but many of my comrades weren’t so lucky. In fact, I wound up helping some folks spend their hard-earned cash. And while the marketplace could easily eat up a full day, I filled most of my time with the sessions upstairs.

The Sessions

I originally had a nice schedule set up, but its amazing how quickly that all changes when you start meeting up with friends and going to sessions together. Here are some of the highlights from the sessions I attended:

Michael Fortune:
I went to Michael’s discussion on cutting veneer. The funny thing about a class like this is that there is very little discussion about actually cutting veneer. 95% of the talk is about setting up your bandsaw. Obviously you won’t get very far if your bandsaw isn’t set up properly. I enjoyed hearing Michael’s perspective on the bandsaw and some of the things he considers to be myths. These are things that directly conflict with some of the conventional wisdom that I learned from some very knowledgeable folks, like David Marks. It just goes to show you that there is always room for more than one right way to do something. To sum up, Michael says that by using low tension and setting the blade in the middle of the tire, there should be no need to adjust for the drift of the blade. And if you use an aggressive blade for resawing, a 1/3HP machine should be powerful enough for just about any resaw task. He also says the whole coplaner wheel thing is crap. This talk truly made me re-examine a number of things I simply accepted as fact.

Frank Klausz:
Frank’s demonstration was on the secret mitered dovetail. I don’t have a picture but I’ll try to explain this. Imaging a drawer with a mitered corner. But behind that miter, hidden inside is a set of dovetails. The process involves cutting a short miter into the adjoining piece first, then cutting a half-blind dovetail inside the new edge. Sounds more complicated than it is but Frank’s humor and accent would make watching him play a game of ball in a cup fun and entertaining. I’m half Hungarian so maybe that’s why I like him so much. Anyway, after watching the demonstration, I turned to my buddy Aaron Marshall and asked him if he would ever bother. Imagine going through the trouble of cutting a dovetail by hand only to hide it behind a miter joint? Luckily, a passerby overheard the discussion and explained that a real practical use for it would be in a bracket foot. You don’t want anything more than a miter visible from the outside, but a dovetail would give the foot tremendous strength. The light bulb went off! Makes perfect sense. Thanks random woodworking dude!

George Walker:
You guys have heard me talk about George many times by now. I love how he teaches design. But after watching his DVDs, most of the session was review for me. He covered all the standard ratio business and classic forms and all that jazz. He also went into some detail on the use of dividers, which works very nicely with my personal adherence to Relative Dimensioning. The most compelling part of the session for me was when an audience member asked George to address the Golden Rectangle and how it relates to the whole number ratios. After all, the Golden Ratio is NOT a whole number ratio. George’s answer was pretty straight forward. He basically said that the Golden Ratio is sexy to talk about, but if you really look at old furniture and forms, you’ll see that the prevalence of whole number ratios is undeniable. He had many examples to support his position. Good stuff!

Chris Schwarz:
Chris did a number of sessions throughout the conference but I could only make it to two of them. The first was on one of my favorite hand tools: the router plane. Chris gave us a bunch of background and usage information as well as tips on maintenance and sharpening. The second class was on scraper planes, which was a little less interesting to me. Frankly I was there simply because I was following Matt around and that’s where we ended up. But, the session was packed with good information. The take-home message there was don’t waste your money on the big expensive scraper planes when a $30 Stanley #80 will not only suffice, but actually work better than most other options. As an owner of two of these beauties, I agree 100%. I love Chris’ presentation style and it was a pleasure to learn from him in person.

Marc Adams:
I have been a fan of Marc Adams since I first started woodworking. A buddy of mine let me borrow some of his woodworking DVDs, and that includes a number of Marc Adams titles. Marc is a very clear and concise presenter and he has the added bonus of spelling his first name the proper way. He covered a few simple jigs for making circles and ellipses. I have made/used circle-cutting jigs for the router in the past, but I never had to cut an ellipse. Marc shows us a simple fixture that works in conjunction with the circle cutting jig to create ellipses of pretty much any size. I may not have picked up all the details but he said the entire thing is covered in his DVD, which I believe I still have in my collection. So I’ll be checking that out later. Marc’s enthusiasm and teaching style make me wish I had more disposable income so I could take a class at his school. Its one of the best in the country and I have yet to attend. Someday…..

The People

Between the sessions and the marketplace, it was a very busy weekend. But there was another thing to factor into the experience, and that was the people. Frankly, this was the best part of the event. It was like being back in school with a bunch of my old friends. I had a chance to put faces to names as well as catch up with some old friends like Tom Iovino and Matt Vanderlist. At some point, our little group grew to about 10 somewhat rowdy guys who were clearly having more fun than they were supposed to. Walking to White Castle with a bunch of goobers all wearing “May the Schwarz be with You” shirts was a sight to see! Watching them all scramble back to the convention center to address the resulting bowel issues was even funnier!

The very last thing on my schedule was the Guild BBQ on Saturday evening at Allen’s house. When we initially planned this, I assumed there wouldn’t be enough Guild members going to the event to actually make a real “get-together”. Holy smokes was I wrong. I think Allen’s final RSVP count was 30 people and if I’m not mistaken, they all showed up! That many people squeezed into Allen’s house was hilarious and quite a bonding moment. It really made me pause and think about the power of what we are all creating here with not only the Guild and TWW, but the woodworking community on the whole. Powerful stuff my friends…..powerful stuff…..

The excitement and buzz was infectious all weekend long and there was never a dull moment. If we were laughing in class or causing trouble on the marketplace floor, we were drinking beers and trading war stories from the shop. Certainly an event I’ll remember for a long time. Thanks to the folks at PopularWoodworking.com for creating this event and helping to push the woodworking community forward!

For more coverage of Woodworking in America, check out all the content in the Woodworking in America Round Up thread in the forum.

Category: On the Road

Comments

  1. Jason October 6, 2010

    Looks like it was a lot of fun.

  2. BedrockBob October 6, 2010

    Wow, looks like a great event and everyone had a ton of fun. I will put that on my event wish list; maybe next year.

  3. Marc –

    What can I say, brother? That was one fun weekend with all you guys… and ladies! I’m planning on attending next year for sure…

  4. Todd October 6, 2010

    Wow, great video Marc! Looks like i missed a great event. I will diffently have to go next year.

    Thanks

  5. Claude Stewart October 7, 2010

    A very nice write-up I haven’t watched the video yet but I’m sure it’s great.

  6. Marc,
    You’ve captured the event to a T. It was a blast meeting you, Matt, Tom, Rob, Aaron, Steve, Mike, Ian, Matt, Allen, Kyle and everyone else (sorry if I forgot to add you to the list). The group hangouts and in class tweets were worth attending alone. I can’t wait for next year. Time to start budgeting for the market place . . .

  7. Trimble Epic October 7, 2010

    Is this a numbered episode? The filename looks like episode 129…

  8. medfloat October 7, 2010

    Sorry I missed the show and all the fun…work got in the way. Is it just me or does that puppy have an unusually long tail???

    • TWWMom October 7, 2010

      LOL…Yes, I was thinking the same thing. That really is a LONG tail on that cute little pup!

  9. Frank Kovach October 8, 2010

    I’m such a slow starter, but now that I’ve been into this woodworking thing for almost two years now I guess I should start going to the conventions and shows. Maybe take some classes. Looks like a lot of fun. Guess you all did get to use the cameras a bit too. Marc, was that a relative of yours you took a still photo with in the video? He looked sort of like you.

  10. Andrew Ford October 8, 2010

    Great write-up. would love to get to some type of woodworking show. Does anybody know of any near south central PA, I don’t have a very big budget for travel.

  11. Michael Bonn October 8, 2010

    This settles it, I need to get this event on my calendar for next year.

  12. John H October 8, 2010

    Looks like a real fun time, I’d love to get out there one year but convincing the wife that I need to take a vacation to a woodworking expo might be a bit of a stretch. :)

  13. Kevin Ross October 8, 2010

    Dude, I’m so jealous of you guys. Looks like an awesome event!!!

  14. Ryan October 8, 2010

    Looks like so much fun i wish i could be there, you know…. and this is for all you woodworkers over there in the USA… you don’t know how good you’ve got it compared to the UK, theres just no interest for it over here, so for someone like me (17-18 years old) there’s not a lot of opportunity given to me… although, i make my own opportunities and plan on joining you all out there in the not too distant future! until then this website is the shiznits!!!

  15. WoodyWoodWrecker October 8, 2010

    As much as people think that we are a bunch of country folk here in NE Arkansas, there sure isn’t much in the way of woodworking. I don’t know of anything even close to this here.

  16. Caleb October 8, 2010

    I wish I could have gone, looks like you guys had an awesome time and what a great opportunity to learn from some of the best woodworkers out there….maybe next year.

  17. Pat October 9, 2010

    I would love to have a opportunity to take some of those classes. Found the comment about dadoes having no glue strength odd.

  18. Brian October 9, 2010

    Man I really wish I could’ve made it. Looks like it was a lot of fun, it’s been a while since I’ve slept through class. It’s a shame that I only live a few hours away. Oh well. Maybe next year.

  19. Bruce Somers October 9, 2010

    Hey Marc it looks like you had a great time at WIA. You took some awesome pics and I loved the video segment. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Bruce

  20. Jason October 9, 2010

    i saw sacster in the video

  21. Skip Florey October 9, 2010

    Thanks for sharing the experience. This event needs to go on my to do list for next year.

  22. Wow, I’ve always wanted to get over and visit the states – If I ever do I think I’ll have to time it around one of these shows!

  23. John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) October 10, 2010

    Great little video Marc and you were nice enough to post it on my birthday…I wish I could have attended. Maybe with a little luck I will be able to drowned my “I can’t attend WIA this year” sorrows with a great schwag win this month (hint hint).
    Seriously, you looked like you had a fabulous time and I am thoroughly jealous. LOL

    Cheers

    John

  24. Brian October 10, 2010

    Marc-

    It was great to see you and Matt in person after watching so many hours of awesome web content. Thanks for the tip on guild discounts coming up in late fall, I look foward to joining!

  25. mark williams October 10, 2010

    That looked like one awsome dog!

  26. Mike M (http://mmader.com) October 11, 2010

    Alas, I was not able to make it this year as we were out of town. However, I am already planning on attending next year!

  27. Justin October 11, 2010

    I bet everyone had a blast there!

  28. Bryan Huot October 11, 2010

    Looked like a lot of fun. The historical tools were really cool to see. I love seeing some cool artistic design aspects put into the tool itself instead of it being only a functional piece. That jointer plane definitely is a two handed tool. Great video!

  29. John Dinkeldein October 11, 2010

    Man I need to beg my wife too allow me to go next year….family lives in Indianapolis and its not to far to Cinci

  30. Devin October 12, 2010

    This looked like a great conference. The addition of the power tool aspect made this year far more enticing. Even though I was not able to go, I am shooting for next year!

  31. Ah snap, I saw myself in an episode of TWW. Have to check that off the bucket list. Even if it was only for .02 seconds. ;)

  32. Jeremy Bridges October 13, 2010

    Is it in the same place every year?

  33. Jerry S October 14, 2010

    Jeremy – Same place each year? No, not in the past. But Chris Schwarz mentioned in one of the classes that they would like to keep it there next year. I hope so, it just falls in an acceptable driving range for me at least. – about 7 hours.

    Marc – didn’t know how geeky i’d have come off trying to get a picture with you so I didn’t ask. But it was nifty in it’s own right to see you. I’m sure there were a ton of strangers coming up to you and acting like the’ve been a long time friend while you have no idea who they are. Maybe your used to it now.

    ps – I was the doofus that asked you after the secret miter dovetail class – “when would you use that joint?” and the “random woodworker dude” clued us in.

    Thanks for the great website and maybe next year at the show I’ll actually thank you properly with a handshake.

  34. Dave P, October 14, 2010

    Such a wealth of good info!

  35. Looks like a great time had by all. I’m making a point of going next year.

  36. Bill Melidones October 15, 2010

    Looks like you had fun. I was able to go to WIA just outside of Chicago last year. I had a blast, spent too much in the marketplace, and paid too much to mail what I brought home.

    As for Marc Adam’s classes. You really need to go. I have never had a better learning experience than I had there. I try to take at least 2 classes a year. One in early spring and one later in the fall. I went one year in july and Indy is pretty hot/humid that time of year. Marc’s enthusiasm is shared by everyone on his staff, and he gets world class instructors to teach there. Michael Fortune is a regular.

    I live outside Albuquerque so its a trek for me to get there. Maybe you could come with me and you’d only have to get to Abq for travel expenses.

    Bill

  37. MitchellM October 16, 2010

    wow. i bet it was great. would love to go some year. it must be amazing,. all those great artists, designers, creators., comming together to share one thing.. the love of wood

  38. Marc, I think your editing might be a bit off. You had a shot of me when you made the comment about “the troublemakers”. The audio and video must have been out of sync or something – I was in the front row taking detailed notes in every class.

  39. Charlie October 28, 2010

    Thanks for sharing, I am defiantly going to make the next one.

  40. nateswoodworks October 29, 2010

    Man do i wish I could have went, middle of Mn. should be the location for next year!
    Nate

  41. nateswoodworks October 29, 2010

    Next year I have to research the events going on around the show and make it a family vacation, but then I would also have to set aside money for my funeral.
    Nate

  42. Pete Perrello October 29, 2010

    I hope to attend next year.

  43. TJ October 29, 2010

    Thanks for sharing Marc. I didn’t get to go this year, first one I have missed.

    TJ

  44. Bill Melidones October 29, 2010

    Marc,

    I think Nate is Dislexic. He ment to say the middle of NM. (Sorry Nate) Ya know Albuquerque, near where I live. The place where we import ALL our wood and materials and NEVER have any woodworking events.

    Bill

  45. Gary Bell October 30, 2010

    awesome footage of the WIA. Best part was the puppy though!

  46. Stephen Edmonds October 30, 2010

    Good stuff. Wish these would end up on the west coast too

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