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A Bit of Italy In Baltimore

Following some really quality family time during the holidays with my children and granddaughters, it took more than a little enthusiasm to get back on a plane and be on the road again. The good news is that I was heading to Baltimore. This is a city that I always enjoy visiting. As the plane banked to approach from the east, you could easily see why this city has such a strong connection to the ocean.  Baltimore harbor was second only to Ellis Island as the port of entry for immigrants coming to the states. Pleasure boats line the shores in the neighborhoods of Inner Harbor taking advantage of the proximity of Chesapeake Bay and beyond. I drove into the Inner Harbor area and went to the observation deck of the World Trade Center building to get a closer look at the downtown scene from the panoramic windows on the 27th floor.Baltimore TWS 0110 002 Looking east you can see the Francis Scott Key Bridge where its namesake observed the British’s failed attack on Fort McHenry. It was here that he got the inspiration for what became our national anthem. Looking below I could also see the U.S. Constellation docked in the harbor opposite the many restaurants and small eateries there. A few years ago, I watched the New Year’s Eve festivities on board where the crew fired one of the deck guns. Very impressive.Baltimore TWS 0110 009

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The harbor is also home to a number of unique neighborhoods, a few served by water taxi. I took a quick trip to Little Italy for lunch at an Italian bakery and pastry shop named Piedigrotta. Some lasagna, a cappuccino and a cannoli hit the spot. I could have stayed all day but duty called and I was off to the venue for set up.Baltimore TWS 0110 005

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About 20 minutes north of downtown is the State Fairgrounds and the start of the winter show season which runs every weekend until Easter. This is always a great venue and this year would not disappoint. The large vestibule outside the show entrance was filled beyond capacity almost 30 minutes before the show opening. There was also a lot for these diehard woodworkers to see and the building would stay filled each day until nearly closing time. The woodworking clubs I talked with said that they expected to see an increase in their membership as a result. Those stopping by the Howard County Woodworkers Guild saw a variety of great looking projects including Ron Clemen’s 7 foot long train.Baltimore TWS 0110 012

The Show Off competition this week also saw a number of very well done pieces. This jewelry box was a personal favorite as well as the winner of this week’s competition, a figured maple night stand. This was one of a set made for a bedroom and showed nice attention to detail and some great choices in stock. The piece was finished well and has to be treasured by the recipient.Baltimore TWS 0110 014

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Mark Hagen, the publisher of WOOD Magazine, was in town this weekend also and I took him to see some examples of banding that I thought were really interesting as well as eye catching. We listened to Geoffrey Noden describe his process and what will be his product to create an unlimited variety of bandings to embellish a project piece. The cutters are made by sandwiching a simple double edged razor blade into a scroll sawn piece of stock. The design of these cutter blocks is only limited by your imagination. Once the desired width of the banding is established, a corresponding dado or groove is cut into the project and also into a piece of softer wood scrap to act as a jig to hold the stock while it’s cut. The banding stock is end grain which makes cutting it easy. By alternating cutters, spacing and stock species, these cut pieces are combined and epoxied in place in the projects groove. A little sanding results in a one of a kind mark of craftsmanship. To see more examples of his technique (and probably a better explanation than I gave you), you can go to www.adjustabench.com.Baltimore TWS 0110 024

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Columbus Ohio is next up on the schedule. I’ve been invited to tour Franklin International, makers of Titebond glue. This ought to be interesting. I’ll let you know what I saw.

Looking for something to do on the weekend? Come out to see us at The Woodworking Show. There is always room in my class.

‘Til then, see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

One Response to “A Bit of Italy In Baltimore”

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