The New England show was the next stop on the Woodworking Show circuit and I flew into Bradley International airport in Hartford on Thursday, January 12th. I had gotten an invitation from Tommy Mac to stop out at his shop and this was the perfect opportunity to see him. The drive from the airport to his workshop in Canton, Mass would take about two hours and the time went by quickly. Located in an industrial park that was once a textile mill, his shop was spacious with machines arranged to provide easy access for the filming of his show, Rough Cut with Tommy Mac. He and his assistant, Eli, are already preparing for the next season of his show and Eli was busy turning a prototype lamp base that Tommy had envisioned. As we walked through the shop, Tommy talked about the process of producing a show and the constraints of building and explaining a project in 22 minutes. He is proud to say that these are his original designs and he hopes that his efforts will provide his audience with enthusiasm and inspiration.
Tommy is passionate about his craft and, in a room off the main machine area, he showed me his pride and joy. This exquisite furniture piece took him years to finish and I could feel his sense of accomplishment as he touched each element of it. He said that in a perfect world, this is what he would do every day.
A little later we stopped out at his home and he and his wife, Rachel, showed me more of his furniture pieces that grace a part of every room. He is a very talented artisan and a very gracious host. He indulged every question I had and made me feel welcome in what I know must have been a very busy schedule. The couple of hours that I spent in Canton made this weekend even more fulfilling. I love my job and the people it has allowed me to meet. Tommy sure succeeded in providing me with the increased desire to spend as much time as I can in my own shop.
The New England show venue was in West Springfield, Mass and the doors opened at noon on Friday the 13th to a hall filled with vendors, clubs and educational booths. I wish that there had been more tool vendors but there were places to buy table saws, jointers, portable tools and woodworking supplies. David Keller was there with his dovetail jig and Lee Valley had an impressive display of hand planes and hand tools. The Shelter Institute also sold hand tools in addition to the timber framed buildings that they have become known for. Many of the attendees took advantage of the blade sharpening at the Freud booth.
Turning clubs were out in force this last weekend also and had some very nicely crafted bowls and vases on display in the Central Connecticut Woodturners booth. I watched the process of cutting the open, almost filigree look, of a shallow bowl.
New to the show this last week was a slice of a redwood log. I didn’t ask how old it was but counting those almost imperceptible growth rings would have taken forever. It was already beginning to split with the dryness of the building and the hope is that this will stabilize enough eventually to stand up to the constant moving that the show does around the country.
The new tool I found this last week was a sharpening jig with a twist. The Sharp Skate is a finely machined guide that uses the entire length of a sharpening stone by grinding the blade edge from side to side as opposed to front to back. The wheels on its bottom side allow for a very smooth even stroke and an impressively quick sharpening on the completed edge. A video on www.getsharper.com shows this better than I can explain it.
The winner of the Show Off Showcase this last weekend went to Matthew Caveto for his Mahogany and Cherry game table. The work was very well done and the inlayed flowers really showed the craftsman’s skills.
The second place entry was a bench of Birds Eye Maple and Mahogany by Kevin Net and the very unique night stand in Curly Maple and Bittersweet by Alexander Grant took third. Each winner chose a tool from Bosch as a prize for their efforts.
The Woodworking Show heads to the Midwest this upcoming weekend of January 20-22 and we’ll be at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. We will be in the Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion with a real blue ribbon show. This has always been a great venue and there is no reason to expect anything less. You’ll have plenty to see and do with all the vendors and educational areas. It looks like the weather will cooperate and you can save a couple of bucks off your admission by visiting this link. http://thewoodworkingshows.com/styled-6/index.html. And preregister to save time in what will surely be a long line to purchase tickets at the door. The show continues to make changes to enhance your experience. Come out and see what we’ve been doing. And stop by the WOOD Magazine booth. I really enjoy seeing members of our extended woodworking family. You’ll feel right at home.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
Categories: Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Jim Heavey, Keller Dovetail, Lee Valley, Rough Cut with Tommy Mac, Sharp Skate, The Shelter Institute, The Woodworking Shows, Tommy Mac, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
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