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Snow In The Forcast

The Woodworking Show set up in the Minneapolis area as the furthest north the show will be this season. I flew in on early Thursday and found a new red Camero in the car rental lot and I grabbed it hoping to really enjoy the driving experience this weekend. Evidently, everyone else had seen the forecast but me. I all but literally flew to the University of Minnesota campus to see the Raptor Center. This is a facility that takes in injured birds of prey to be rehabilitated following accidents with cars and, on occasion, hunters. There were a number of different species there including bald eagles, peregrine falcons and owls. Seeing these great birds up really close gave me a new appreciation of their size and power. The facility has seen 684 “patients” to date. The Turkey Vulture waived good bye as I left. I think he liked the car.

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A very quick drive across town took me to the American Swedish Institute.

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 This beautiful three story Indiana Limestone mansion housed a collection of vignettes of turn of the century Christmas celebrations from throughout the European region. What made this a great stop for me was the woodwork on the first floor. The entry foyer, great room and side rooms, as well as a stunning staircase, were made of bookmatched Honduras mahogany. The doors and jambs and the carvings and coffered ceilings showed the many ways that this wood could be used. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in the home itself although I was able to get a quick shot as I left. The exterior doorway gives an indication of what is in store inside.

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The venue was in Shakopee, south and west of the twin cities. It is on the grounds of the race track and casino and was in the ante way to the track and under the grandstands.

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The vendors were placed closer than usual in this labyrinth of a show hall with the schools and education in the far back end. Meant for summer entertainment, this back hall proved to be one of the coldest I’ve ever worked in despite heaters running without stop. The view out the window of my presentation area gives one a glimpse of the conditions. But, as I knew they would, attendees filled the chairs and beyond to hear the seminars. Well bundled, to be sure.

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 We even had snow in this area of the hall. It had blown through the loosely fit windows and doors. Speaking of snow, Friday saw the start of an eight inch snow fall and storm warnings for the metro Twin City area. My ego building Camero handled more like a toboggan on the way back to the hotel that evening. I sure looked good though.

One of the more interesting booths this weekend was a display and retail booth by the Wooden-Gear-Clocks company of Altoona, Wisconsin. I talked to Jeff Schierenbeck who told me that, after about eight years, his company is doing well selling everything from plans to complete kits.

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The clocks were definitely something that would draw interest and complements by any woodworker who understands woodworking and the intricacies of clock works.

The Show Off Showcase had a very interesting submission this week in the form of a turned urn. What made this particularly intriguing was that it took knowing the combination on the upper half to actually open this container. Spinning the dials and lifting the top allowed access to the inside of this piece. The creator, Richard Tendick, called this his “Cryptex Urn” and it is his original idea.

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 First place this week was also a very original work by Greg Lehman called a wooden quadro copter. Capable of actual flight, it featured great attention to detail and the inlays were very well done. Greg’s copter will move on to the finals in April at the Houston show.

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Next up is the show in Chicago and then finally Detroit. This will close out the year and allow for a break for the holidays. I’m really looking forward to the free time. I actually have 12 holiday gifts to finish before Santa can deliver them to the family. Discussions with many of the attendees confirmed that there are many of us in the same boat. I’d like to have started on these gifts Monday but I have a last minute request to build a fireplace mantle and surround for a TV taping this coming Wednesday for the Woodworking Shows. No time to lose. At least I’m getting back to the shop.

Chicago is my home town and I hope that if you’re in the area you’ll stop at the show in Schaumburg and catch a presentation. You can also pick up something as your own Christmas gift. Remember, it’s always better to give …. and also receive. You owe it to yourself, don’t you?

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

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