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As the flight took off from O’Hare this last Thursday, I was on my way to California for the next two weeks as the Woodworking Show continues its west coast swing. First stop is Costa Mesa, south of Los Angeles and then on to Sacramento, the state’s capitol a couple of hours from San Francisco. I have been looking forward to this trip. Maybe it’s because the weather in Chicago is predicted to be pretty cool (read cold) and the temperature in southern California will be in the 80s. To take full advantage of this show venue, I drove right past it and in about 20 minutes was having lunch on the ocean on Balboa Island. Food seems to taste better when there’s the sound of surf near the turf.TWS Costa Mesa 1010 002TWS Costa Mesa 1010 007TWS Costa Mesa 1010 004

The Orange County Fairgrounds has been the site for the Costa Mesa shows for quite a long time and is well known to area woodworkers but there were also a few other things going on. I heard the sweet sound of live jazz on Friday and found that they were playing for a political rally that morning.TWS Costa Mesa 1010 015

 A swap meet and car show was also booked for the day. Adding to all this was the Halloween festivities and you had a great number of people in the vicinity of the show. Attendees were greeted by Cooks Hardwood just outside the front doors. On display was a bookmatched pair of boards that will be given away to a lucky woodworker at the end of the season. I was drawn to some examples of an acrylic stabilization process. When combined with a dye, the results were striking on this curly maple. TWS Costa Mesa 1010 023

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Of particular interest this weekend were the number of clubs that came to show their skills and attract new members.TWS Costa Mesa 1010 048 TWS Costa Mesa 1010 049

I shared the center hall of this show with schools and clubs and because it was the quietest area of the show, it was filled all day. The educational areas throughout the show were filled and most vendors reported that sales were satisfying.

The Show Off Showcase had some very nice projects this week that highlighted the skill and creativity of their creators.TWS Costa Mesa 1010 025TWS Costa Mesa 1010 026TWS Costa Mesa 1010 035

 The winner, Robert Stevenson, took top honors with a very well done jewelry box. All done with hand tools and featuring hidden compartments, this will provide some stiff competition for the grand prize to be presented in Houston in April 2011.TWS Costa Mesa 1010 030TWS Costa Mesa 1010 033

Next week, the show will visit another familiar venue at the California State Fairgrounds. I expect the same cadre of interested woodworkers on the lookout for education and bargains. I think that we’ll have another good show for them. If you’re in the Sacramento area or around Portland the following week, please give us the chance to show you a good time.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

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