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A DOWN HOME EDUCATION

The Woodworking Show was in Houston this last weekend and those in attendance were treated to a number of great educational opportunities and some interesting booths and woodworking projects. If you live in the area and you couldn’t attend, you missed a good one. Before you even entered the hall you walked through the Cooks Hardwood area. This was like being in a large woodworking candy store with what seemed to be an almost limitless supply of domestic and exotic hardwoods. From pen blanks to bowl blanks to huge bookmatched slabs, this was my idea of nirvana. Sadly, none of what I wanted would fit in the overhead for the flight home so I’ll have to wait until he comes to Chicago. Houston, TX 0410 013

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Even in the lobby, before you actually got onto the main exhibitor floor, there were continual presentations by clubs, schools and vendors. You didn’t have to pay an admission fee to watch Frank Strazza show how hand tools and a great skill base can be used to create some beautiful pieces of furniture. His School of Woodworking, part of the Center for Essential Education, had nice crowds all day.Houston, TX 0410 016

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 Craft Supply was out there also and their free pen turning lathes stayed busy. You could have all but camped out in front watching the videos that played on a number of big screen TVs. All this before you walked pass the ticket taker!

My seminars, as well as those of my brother Mike (Cabinet Refinishing) and Roland Johnson’s Tool Rodeo,   were held in classrooms just off the show floor. Those that came loved the quiet and seemed to so enjoy the experience that many just stayed there between presentations. I don’t know how the other guys felt but talking continually for 6 hours can be tough. Certainly not for the faint of heart nor the weak of kidney.

There were some great displays of talent in the club areas also. At the Woodworkers Club of Houston I saw one of the most interesting variations of a workbench I can recall. Made by Jeremy Grubb, this could as easily have been promoted as a piece of fine furniture. Made predominately of Purpleheart with Wenge accents, this is something every woodworker would want to have in the shop but would probably spend more time keeping  waxed than getting a chisel too close. Jeremy believes it doesn’t have to be mundane to be functional. Houston, TX 0410 002

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I also spent time talking to Denis Muras. He was quick to tell me that the club produced over 6000 toys for children this last year. He had quite a few of his projects on display including a very detailed ragtop vintage car. As it turned out, he also had the winning entry in the Show Off area with his wooden tractor. He has one thing that he seemed particularly proud of though. He makes wooden teeth for use by teachers in elementary classes as prizes for kids who lose teeth in class. The kids love it. Pretty cool.Houston, TX 0410 006

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Just down the hall from our classrooms I found a great example of bookmatching. At the Lone Star Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers, there was a miniature chest with an almost startling set of Walnut doors. This was a perfect example of why this technique should be learned by any woodworker with a desire to add interest to his or her work. In spite of its diminutive size, you couldn’t help notice it as you strolled the aisles.

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This was the next to last show of this woodworking season and it was also where the show’s owner, Joe Strong (with a six shooter at his side—this being Texas and all), held a vendor meeting on Saturday evening.Houston, TX 0410 040

 The schedule for next season was reviewed as well as some of the new things the show would be offering. There are changes planned in marketing, advertising and education all with the intention of providing a better experience for the attendee and the vendors.

The last show of the season is this coming weekend in Huntsville, Alabama. We’ve never done a show here but the hope is that this is an area with woodworkers eager to attend an event much closer than they would otherwise have found. This is also the last stop for this year’s Show Off projects and one will win the Delta Unisaw to be awarded this weekend.  I don’t know if we’ll have a quiet classroom for our seminars this week, but if we do, I may have to alter my morning coffee routine.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

 

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador




 
 
 
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