Home > Community > Blogs > After Hours with the WOOD Gang
Better Blog

Weekend in Tampa

It would be hard to picture a more perfect weekend in mid March. The Woodworking Show traveled to Tampa and we were treated to sunny days with temperatures in the low to mid seventies. What made this even more memorable was knowing that Chicago would get 3 inches of snow while I was gone. The hard part was trying to sound sympathetic when my wife told me how cold and miserable it was there all while I was getting in a quick 18 holes and trying not to get too much color. Telling her about the evening I spent around a fire pit under the stars with a glass of wine and a good friend would have been pushing it, I’m sure.

We would be at the Florida State Fairgrounds where we have conducted these shows for years. The venue itself is surrounded by a park like setting with ponds galore. Tampa, FL 0310 033

 Although the attendance seemed a bit lighter than last year, those that came had plenty to see.Tampa, FL 0310 030

 This was easily one of the best Show Off competitions to date. The number of entries was impressive and the quality of the projects was excellent. The eventual winner of this weekend was a scroll sawn rendition of the Declaration of Independence. Using an enlargement of the document by Kinkos, every character was faithfully cut out. Even the signatures couldn’t have been more lifelike. With over 1000 hours of work, this project deserved all the accolades it received. I was personally taken by the project because it was only a couple of weeks ago that I went to a museum in Philadelphia dedicated completely to this historic document. What a coincidence.Tampa, FL 0310 006

Tampa, FL 0310 008

Second place was this scroll saw building. One had to appreciate the work here also. There were two circular stained glass windows in addition to a number of mother of pearl inlays in this piece. The miniature doors had solid brass hinges and the door knobs were actually gold earrings. It had a nice visual appeal when it was first brought into the display area but it really shown when it was illuminated.

Tampa, FL 0310 011

Tampa, FL 0310 012

One of the projects that didn’t get enough popular votes to place in the competition was this recreation of an 1810 game table. It was a beautifully crafted piece of furniture with bandings and intricate veneer work. The base was very well proportioned and uniquely styled. The coves were cut on the table saw and the carvings on the skirt and the edges were all hand done.  Even the finish was flawless.

Tampa, FL 0310 019

Tampa, FL 0310 020

Tampa, FL 0310 005

Tampa, FL 0310 004

The American Association of Woodturners exhibit was also drawing a very nice crowd with the attendees seemingly mesmerized by the shavings flying from this green bowl turning.

Tampa, FL 0310 021

 In fact, there seem to have been a number of turning demonstrations and lectures happening throughout the show floor this weekend. This was a great opportunity to learn how to use a lathe and see all that was possible with a few chisels and some knowledge. If you wanted to learn this craft, admission to the show would be well worth the price. You can’t beat the free education and the talented instructors. This was, after all, a three day school for 10 dollars. Not bad at all!

I had one other highlight this weekend. I got a chance to visit and have dinner with Tom Iorvino, AKA, the Shop Monkey.  In addition to being a woodworker and an accomplished writer (Tom writes a column for WOOD), he also whipped up a mean Jambalaya that I enjoyed with his wife, Rhonda, and his two sons.  In addition to being involved with his boy’s sports, he has a passion and an enthusiasm for woodworking that’s infectious. Talk to Tom and woodworkers like him and you’ll catch that bug.  No immunizations are available or wanted.


The Easter break is now upon us. The next show is in Chantilly, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. My next stop is the show in Raleigh, North Carolina next week. It’s the show I put on for my grand daughters. Of all the stops that I make on the season, this is, by far, my favorite. Can’t wait until I have to explain how the Easter Bunny lays eggs.

Please try to catch one of the remaining shows this season. Think of it as one of the most reasonable learning experiences you’ll ever find.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.


Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

One Response to “Weekend in Tampa”

  1. Dear Jim,

    I had travelled from the Caribbean to Tampa, Florida to see what the woodworking show was all about and I was pleasantly surprised at what was on offer.I am an avid woodworker in my spare time and have learnt so much from the show and was happy to have listened in on your presentations and most of all had a chat with you as well.I’m happy that I attended and am looking forward to attending another show soon again.

© Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Data Policy | Terms of Service | AdChoices