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Starting 2011 With A Bang

The 2011 Woodworking Show series opened in Baltimore this last weekend to clear cold skies and the promise of big things. Little did I know that this would start in Annapolis in addition to the show venue in Timonium, Maryland.  I arrived on Thursday and headed south to the seaport of Annapolis to soak in the sights of one of the oldest east coast cities. The spires of church and government buildings, Georgian architecture, classic waterfront homes and cobblestone streets are things that you just don’t see in my farm community of Huntley.

I parked in the harbor area of the city and, as I walked to the historical society and visitor’s center, the first of a number of fire trucks and specialty vehicles passed by. Soon the bomb squad was on the scene and I was told that a letter bomb had gone off in an office building within 100 yards of the Maryland State House. The result was, fortunately, only minor injuries and a street cordoned off for the next couple of hours.

I walked to the nearby U.S. Naval Academy. This is an amazing complex on the Chesapeake Bay and the training site of our nation’s naval and marine officers. The campus is immaculate with structures that date to the 1850s.


The assembly hall was huge beautifully detailed both outside and in as was the chapel with its bronze artistry alongside the front doors. 

 In the museum the third floor had wooden models of ships of long ago that were unbelievably detailed. These ships are maintained in the museum wood shop in the basement of the building by a cadre of volunteers with as much interest in  maritime history as well as woodworking in miniature. I could have spent hours walking the grounds that have been the home of military notables for more than one hundred fifty years.

Not far from the academy was a great Irish pub, Galway Bay, that would provide ideas for an upcoming project in my own home. To be cordial, I traded a couple of pints of Guinness for pictures of the interior. Ah, research.

This was the first of the Big Ten shows and the Baltimore area was the perfect site to open 2011. The show at the Cow Palace has always been well attended and again the entire show floor was packed with vendors and educational booths. Attendees jammed the atrium well in advance of the show opening. An impromptu question and answer contest by educator Graham Blackburn, show owner Joe Strong and I netted many of those early arrivals Woodshow  tee shirts, Bosch bags and Gorilla glue samples. The first 50 people with their dull saw blades had them sharpened for free in a booth just outside the show gates. In addition to the regular seminars, WOOD Magazine editor Craig Ruegsegger and forum host Matt Seiler taught classes in a booth on the opposite side of the hall from the my presentations. Attendees learned how to get the most from each piece of lumber and plywood from Craig and how to think outside the box in Matt’s classes. On the same side of the hall, TV personalities Scott Phillips and Tommy Mac greeted visitors on Friday and Saturday. I talked to many woodworkers who said that they would be spending at least two days to see everything that they wanted and did not rule out a third. This was, by far, one of the most varied woodworker experiences that the wood shows has offered in recent memory and a credit to the planning of the show’s owner.

Local woodworking clubs abounded, in particular the Howard County Woodworkers Guild, as well as woodworking schools and members projects were proudly displayed in their booths.

 There were four companies selling hardwood giving attendees access to some of the most figured and interesting species they could find for that special project. One company, Lakeshore Hardwoods, made sure that they were ready for anything. In addition to some eye popping lumber that would appeal to your emotional side, they had an answer for any potential gastrointestinal issue that may arise. Draw your own conclusions here.

The Stock Room Supply company debuted a new jig for gluing this thin resawn wood. The jig uses the spring tension in these hold downs to both squeeze the adjoining edges together as well as simultaneously producing one flat side on stock that may have dissimilar thicknesses. 

The first of the Show Off Showcase winners for 2011 were selected by a popular vote of attendees. This week’s winner was Edward Edder with his Intarsia Birds and Berries Winter Wreath. He picked the Bosch router combination kit as his prize.

 The wine cabinet garnered Mark Prickett a second place finish and he grabbed the Bosch jig saw. The Woodworking Shows also raffled off a Jet lathe to one lucky attendee.

 Everyone will have left the Baltimore area by now except for Matt Seiler. His big bang came during the evening on Friday when someone broke into his truck at the hotel. Set for repair today, he should be back on the road soon. I guess his strong suit is wood not glass.

The next two shows are in Springfield, Massachusetts followed by Indianapolis. The shows are every weekend between now and the Spring break in late March. This should give woodworkers a chance to find a show near them to attend. We would like to see you there and we’re sure that you won’t be disappointed. There’s a lot in store!

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

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