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Hog Heaven

At just about two hours away, the last show within easy driving distance is Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I know that there is an old ad that said that Schlitz is the beer that made Milwaukee famous, but I had another destination in mind and I wasn’t disappointed when I arrived.

Less than 15 minutes from the venue is the Harley-Davidson Motor Company maker of one of the more iconic symbols combining the American free spirit and a love of the open road. I think that ever since I saw the movie Easy Rider I’ve had this not so secret fantasy about being a shorter Italian version of Peter Fonda. Milwaukee TWS 0210 012

I know that Marlon Brando rode one in a movie and that Elvis owned and gave away many of these beautiful machines but I could identify with Fonda. Maybe it was the hair. I do have the sunglasses.

This is a very impressive museum where the first production bikes, as well as the newest models, are on display. And their contribution to the military effort is well documanted. Milwaukee TWS 0210 009

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Couple this with that unmistakable engine roar in some of the galleries, and you feel like you’re at a rally. In fact, there is an area where you can sit on any number of machines, watch a video clip and imagine yourself touring the countryside. The only thing missing is feeling the wind in your face. No harm in trying this since there wasn’t any one in the area at the time. My wife doesn’t share this dream.  At least I have the sunglasses.

The Fairgrounds were as packed as they usually are and there was a veritable sea of attendees on Friday and Saturday. The numbers were down a bit on Super Bowl Sunday but that did little to diminish an excellent weekend for the vendors as well as the educational areas. There were times when you just couldn’t get down the aisles.

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I found a very interesting booth at this show and I was told that they had never displayed here before. The Mid-West Tool Collectors Association had a fascinating assortment of antique tools and a number of members who really enjoyed providing the history behind the collection.

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I had seen examples of some of the planes and scrapers but one of the more mechanical tools really put our modern counterparts in perspective. Can you imagine the time that went into mortising a lock using this machine?Milwaukee TWS 0210 062

The Show Off area this week had a few very well done pieces. This chest commemorates the story line from The Giving Tree and featured some well figured maple. What made it even more interesting was the stock inside. The holes are from sugar taps and the resultant staining made for a real conversation piece.

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The sets of salt and pepper shakers showed some very clean turning and finishing.

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The winner by popular vote was the carved chest. Each vignette was unique and painstakingly detailed. It will be part of the judging at this season’s end vying with 22 others for the Delta Unisaw grand prize.

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St. Louis and its signature arch will be the next stop for The Woodworking Shows. This is a very busy venue so, if you want a seat at the seminars, get there early and claim one. Stop by the WOOD Magazine booth. I’d like to see you. Wear your leathers.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

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