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Showing Off in New Jersey

The Garden State played host to another of the Big 10 Woodworking Shows this last weekend and the town of Somerset, about 30 minutes out of Newark, would provide the setting. This venue has seen some large crowds in the past and it wouldn’t disappoint this time either. Because of its proximity to New York City, the airport was a perfect place to start a short trip into Manhattan before the drive out to the show. Unfortunately the drive began with a very leisurely stroll through the Holland Tunnel. In the hour it took to make the traverse beneath the Hudson River (a normal 5 minute ride I’ve been told) I didn’t see a single tulip or any other form of living vegetation. The fully loaded garbage truck I had to follow the entire time evoked something completely different than the sights and aroma of the verdant fields that I thought this stretch of roadway was named after.

I parked along lower Manhattan and stopped at the World Trade Center Visitor Galleries and took a guided tour of the nearly completed Ground Zero rebuilding and Memorial. Beginning at Firehouse 10, where bronze plaques commemorate the six members of Ladder 10 and Engine Company 10 who lost their lives, the tour leader led our group around the perimeter of this multi acre site to see the continuing progress that is scheduled to culminate on September 11, 2011. The ceremonies on that day to remember the nearly 3000 lives lost, including 343 firemen, will surely be impressive.

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The show opened its doors on Friday to a huge crowd that would pass 2000 and was only kept from being larger by the relatively limited parking that day. Every area of the show floor was packed as were the educational seminars. This would continue on each of the three days of the show. Most all of the vendors reported that sales were very good and included big ticket tool purchases. In a hopeful sign that there is a light at the end of this long recovery cycle, there seemed to be no hesitation buying table saws, finishing systems and 12” miter saws. Sales by the small independent tool companies also seemed to be brisk. All in all, this would be a very good show for everyone.

There were many clubs touting the work of their members including the Garden State Marquetry Society.

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An otherwise mundane plywood box is dressed to kill with a skin of this beautiful craft.  A box of woodworker tools and an original Record 405 Multiplane and all the cutters were for sale in the Crafts Antique Tool Club of New Jersey. For a mere $1100 you would be the talk of your woodworking friends.

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The Show Off Showcase was about as diverse and well done as we’ve seen this year. Spanning antique cars, musical instruments, carvings and turnings, there was something for every taste.

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I wish that every show had the variety and numbers we saw this weekend.  The eventual winner by popular vote was the Construction Equipment by a father and son team, Glenn and Dan Peterson.

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 This is the first time a team of woodworkers has presented a project and I hope that it won’t be the last time family member teams compete. How about a father and daughter?  Second place was a very well done Chinese Chest of Drawers by Mark Prickett of Delaware.  The design, choice of material and construction as well as the finish were excellent.

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Finally, Lawrence Morgan’s Motorcycle Rocker garnered third place. Some little “easy rider” will be thrilled.

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The Woodworking Show moves to Atlanta this upcoming weekend. It is the ninth of the Big Ten and has always attracted an eager and enthusiastic crowd. I anticipate and hope for the same. Come out to see what the big guys are selling and spend time with the independents too. Listen to a seminar or two. You’ll enjoy the time you send with us.  And bring a tulip.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.


Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador

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